Harbor Freight hammers

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I picked up a few inexpensive Chinese hammers from Harbor Freight a
few weeks ago, just to see how they work out. These have wood handles
and smallish heads, in the 1-2 pound range. When you look on the top
of the head in the eye where you'd expect to see a wedge, there is a
smooth white plastic looking filling. Today I was using the smallest
one for the first time and the head flew right off. I realized what
that white stuff is. It's hot glue, like from a hobbyist hot glue gun!

I like the hammers so far but it looks like I'm going to have to
rework all the head fastening. Takes some of the joy out of a new
2# crosspeen for $2.59 ..

Grant Erwin
Kirkland, Washington

Re: Harbor Freight hammers
On Mon, 15 Sep 2003 15:33:38 -0700, Grant Erwin

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Chuckle..been there, done that. Unlike the fiberglass that is in the
top of an Irwin, etc..that simply cosmetic.

I always make a point of digging that stuff out of Chinese
hammers/hatchets etc and pounding in a wedge. Once you do that. they
are useful.


" >>     ......The world has gone crazy. Guess I'm showing my
       I think it dates from when we started looking at virtues
    as funny. It's embarrassing to speak of honor, integrity,
    bravery, patriotism, 'doing the right thing', charity,
    fairness. You have Seinfeld making cowardice an acceptable
    choice; our politicians changing positions of honor with
    every poll; we laugh at servicemen and patriotic fervor; we
    accept corruption in our police and bias in our judges; we
    kill our children, and wonder why they have no respect for
    Life. We deny children their childhood and innocence- and
    then we denigrate being a Man, as opposed to a 'person'. We
    *assume* that anyone with a weapon will use it against his
    fellowman- if only he has the chance. Nah; in our agitation
    to keep the State out of the church business, we've
    destroyed our value system and replaced it with *nothing*.
    Turns my stomach- "
        Chas , rec.knives

Re: Harbor Freight hammers
Grant Erwin wrote:

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I think you just disclosed the origin of that olde expression, "Now, don't
fly off the handle about this, but..."


Jeff Wisnia  (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

"If you can keep smiling when things go wrong, you've thought of someone
to place the blame on."

Re: Harbor Freight hammers

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I'm surprised the lawyer types aren't all over this. Surely someone could
claim some kind of injury and sue for big bucks couldn't they?

Re: Harbor Freight hammers

Lane wrote:
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Don't encourage them!

Re: Harbor Freight hammers
Grant Erwin wrote:

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I had to replace my HF 2# cross-peen hammer yesterday.  The head started
flying off.  Once the glue fell out, I put a wedge in the top of the
handle, and did the "soak in water upside-down" trick.  The handle is just
too small at the top inside the hammer casting.  I ended up getting a made
in USA 2# cross-peen for $6.50 at a REAL hardware store.  No glue, and a
nice & tight hickory natural finish handle.

Hope this helps
John L. Weatherly
Nashville, TN

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Re: Harbor Freight hammers
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i have had a HF 24oz Claw hammer for 5yrs, still as new but it only
gets occaisional use, which is just about what they are suited for.
a lot of HF hand tools are like that, if you intend to make a living
with them, good luck.   --Loren

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Re: Harbor Freight hammers
As of late, I've been filling my axe handles with 5 minute epoxy.
It's been an experiment so far, but I did a 5# axe and an 8# axe and
the handles haven't budged at all since.  I got the idea when looking
at some axes in a store and noticed that most were filled with epoxy.
I figure if the handle breaks, I'll just drill & chisel the junk out.


On Mon, 15 Sep 2003 19:27:26 -0700, Grant Erwin

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Re: Harbor Freight hammers
I got a nice Chinese cross-pein hammer from Pacific Industrial.
Handle attached to head with a steel wedge.  The first time I used it
in earnest, the wood handle shattered in my hand.  After digging them
out with an ex-acto, the splinters and the rest of the hammer went in
the trash.


Re: Harbor Freight hammers
On 16 Sep 2003 19:24:08 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@dogpatch.com (Bob Powell)

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"Next time you might try holding it by the wooden part
and using the -metal- part to strike your object, Bob."  
said the guy who -has- replaced sledge handles before.
     Interpreted Interpolations Done Dirt Cheap.
http://diversify.com Website Application Programming

Re: Harbor Freight hammers
Grant Erwin wrote:

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Choose from the following responses:

1) You get what you pay for.
2) Buy American, your job depends on it.
3) Fast, Good, Cheap, choose two.
4) Of course the Chinese deserve WTO status
5) All of the above
6) None of the above


Re: Harbor Freight hammers and hammer handles
It has been a while since I posted, but I thought I would pass on several
comments regarding Harbor Freight hammers, and hammer handles in general.

First, the quality of the Chinese hammers varies to a great extent, but most
are actually pretty good, so far as the steel goes. I bought a large lot of
2 pound smithing hammers a number of years ago to pass out to my
apprentices, one to each man at the start of his time in my shop. The first
task he has to do is remove the handle, clean out the "potting," reshape the
hammer handle to fit his hand properly, and then properly set the handle. It
takes most of them a full day to do this right.

Since I now make or remake most of my hammers, especially Repousse' hammers,
I always put a lot of time and care into shaping the handles to fit my hand
correctly. I recently learned the importance of doing this carefully and
correctly. I had a piece of ironwork that needed to be cold "adjusted," and
it was a simple matter of inserting a feather wedge and driving it home
repeatedly, and testing the fit each time I removed it. It was a task that
took half a day to do the four parts that needed precise fitting. For such
general bashing of cold 1/4" thick by 2" wide iron I don't use my good
smithing hammers, but one of the Chinese hammers that I reset the head on,
but never bothered to shape the handle. That was a huge mistake. By the time
I was done I had a distinct pain in my right hand at the base of my middle
finger. Over the next few weeks the pain got much worse. I finally gave in
and went to the doctor. I was quickly referred to a specialist in hand
problems. I had created a problem called "Trigger Finger," and after six
months of treatment I can either just live with it and be careful, or have
an operation where they cut one of the "pulleys" in the hand. What struck me
right between the eyes was what the doctor said to me. He asked me if I had
been using a hammer with a straight handle a lot lately! When I explained
what I had done, he explained the reason to form the handle carefully. A
straight handle will apply the impact shock to the exact same location on
your hand each time you strike, where a formed handle distributes the force,
and also shifts the point of impact on the hand each blow, preventing the
damage I had caused.

Well, I can tell you that my general "bang around shop hammer" now has a
very nicely formed handle, like all the rest of my 50 or 60 hammers. It was
pure stupidity, and laziness for me not to have worked the handle on that
one hammer too. It has caused a problem that I will live with until I lay
down my hammers permanently. I have been hammering iron since 1958, and not
until this year did I manage to cause permanent damage to my hand. Now-days
most of my heavy forming and shaping is done with my power hammer, or I use
my fly-press, but one time of carelessness and ignorance cost me the
remainder of my life to have a painful problem I need to care for and be
careful of. Shape your hammers carefully, and that means they need have a
very narrow neck to take out the shock, a smoothly contoured swelling in the
center to allow you to grasp it firmly, and another narrow section toward
the back end for the contours of your hand to fit into.

My personal mentor, Nahum Hersom, an 85 year old Repousse' artist, taught me
how to form my handles years ago so that you can hammer all day without
having your hand get tired. As he showed me, you should be able to come up
behind any smith at work and basically lift the hammer right out of his hand
at any time during the stroke, except at the moment of impact. The hand
needs to be relaxed, with the shape of the handle keeping the hammer in
place in your hand, preventing it from flying out. Shaping your hammer
handles correctly is arguably the most important thing you will do in
tooling up of your smithy.

Heed the above words, or not. It is only your entire future of hammering
that may be at risk if you don't shape your handles carefully. As I said, I
have hammered since 1958 without a problem, and four hours of hammering with
a poorly shaped hammer handle and I now have a permanent lifetime injury.
Don't do that to your hand. Being lazy or careless just isn't an excuse. I
regret my stupidity, and will continue to do so for the 15-20 years of my
remaining life. I have learned how to work around the problem, but it was
sure a lot nicer when I didn't have to.




               Golden Age Forge
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Re: Harbor Freight hammers and hammer handles

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Great report .  Can you show a picture of the shape.  I swing a
Estwing brick hammer alot everyday pounding concrete nails and
chipping gunite.  With the Estwing claw hammer I can't set concrete
nails for the life of me , I'll pull off a job if I forgot the brick
hammer at home.  I just looked at it and its straight except it has a
wider end.  I have about 10 hammers and would like to know more about
what your saying.  I had to retire my old one , I call it the shaw
shank redemption hammer.  I wonder if they would send me a new one if
I shipped it to them.  I have one china hammer somewhere , it feels
bad , sounds horrible ( the handle is tight ) , and a plain piece of
junk IMO.  Maybe the dog will find it a choke on it.

Don't believe those MD's , I was cured of tennis elbow  by a guy I ran
into in a post office. His card says Theraputic Massage, Reflexology,
Polarity, & Reiki .  I was to the point of seriously changing jobs
cause I couldn't swing a hammer and many other things for months.
I'm pretty skeptical and when this guy grabbed my arm with arms that
seemed as big as my thighs I was worring about other things.  Within
15 seconds the pain was gone.  I have noticed that I should stay away
from the air powered chipping hammer , which did it in the first
place.   Check it out before you let them cut on you !

Re: Harbor Freight hammers and hammer handles
On Wed, 15 Oct 2003 01:44:12 GMT, Sunworshiper

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I don't know if it was tennis elbow - never played tennis in my life -
but several years ago I developed an annoying ache just outside of my
right "funny bone". Finally my doctor got me an appointment with a
physical therapist at a rehab centre. On my first visit the very
pleasant "eye candy" 90 pound therapist looked me over and said
"You've been on crutches for a while in the last couple years, haven't
you." Then she went on to explain that the use of crutches strengthens
muscles along the spine, giving a hunched back, and if not remedied by
exercise, affects nerves from the arms. Five minutes of straightening
exercise twice a day for a week and the problem was gone after more
than a year of discomfort. It's amazing how little it takes sometimes.
Gerry :-)}
London, Canada

Re: Harbor Freight hammers and hammer handles
Great info there Ron!

You just explained why my hand was sore after I spent about an hour and a half
chiseling off a "bulge" along one edge of our home's 120 foot long blacktop

We'd had the old driveway completely torn out and replaced last spring.. I
complimented the paving company on the nice job they did and paid them off. A
couple of weeks later I noticed the line of one edge didn't follow the same
smooth curve as the other edge, but bulged out about 5 inches wider than it
should have been in over about a 20 feet portion of its length..

Once I saw that I couldn't stop noticing it and got pissed off every time I
looked at it.

I figured it would be easier and quicker  to DIY it than to try and get the
paving contractor to come back and do it. I attacked it with a 4 inch wide
mason's chisel and my old 5 pound short handled sledge. The job went easy enough
as the weather was hot and the blacktop was still "green", but took lots of
heavy hammer strokes to complete. When I got through my striking hand was
hurting and remained somewhat tender for about a month.

I don't think I did any permanent damage thank G-d, but that hand sledge of mine
has a straight stiff handle. This weekend I'm gonna attack it with a spokeshave
and belt sander and shape it like you described. I hope I know when to stop when
thinning nown the neck part, or I'm gonna get a graphic description of something
"flying off the handle."


Jeff Wisnia    (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

"If you can smile when things are going wrong, you've thought of someone to
blame it on."

Ron Reil wrote:

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Re: Harbor Freight hammers and hammer handles
Ron Reil wrote:

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Do you have any pictures that show the correct shape of a handle?  I'm a
really visual guy & I'm having trouble figuring out where the bulges
should be.

Thanks much, and good luck with the hand!

  - ken

Hammers II
I received a lot of e-mails, and there are some postings here also, about
the shape of the hammer handles I use. If you will look at the following
http://www.reil1.net/hammers.jpg, it shows a variety of my hammers,
all with the same basic handle design. I form every one by feel, and no two
are identical, which is probably a good thing, because switching hammers
changes any potential pressure points. The hammer that is second from the
left is the offending hammer that did all the damage to my hand, and that is
now properly shaped. It is a Chinese hammer, and is one of the hammers I
give to my apprentices. I do not have all of my hammer handles shaped this
way, only those that I tend to use for long periods of time, or to use with
a lot of force. The Repousse' hammers on the right can easily be in my hand
for 8-9 hours in a day. The Peddinghaus hammer in the center has a new
looking handle in it, even though I have had it for three years, because I
simply have not used that hammer like I thought I would. I bought two of
them of different weights, and have not found them to be hammers that I will
normally choose for a task. The Ferrier's hammer on the far left is my
favorite hammer, and the one I use more than any other for general forge
work. The hammer to the right of the Peddinghaus is a converted ball peen.
It has a 45 degree angled peen on the ball end (hard to see), and the other
end I formed into a square shape. I use that hammer a lot too, as well as
several others. BIG ball peen hammers are wonderful to forge into hammers of
this type, and are far more useful for everyday forging when reshaped like
this than their original shape, although you do want a full assortment of
normal ball peens in your rack too. Most ball peens in my opinion have too
small a radius for the ball on the end. I like to reform them to have a
flatter curve in many cases. When you are dishing the backs of leaves, a
flatter curve does a much nicer job if the curvature isn't extreme. And of
course, dish them hot on the end grain of some kind of hardwood log. I make
wood anvil tools that are simply sections of Madrona tree with a hole
drilled in the bottom, and a 1" square rod driven in to allow it to fit the
hardy hole on my anvil. I have four anvils in my shop and two of them are on
removable casters so that I can roll them over under my exhaust hood for
work such as hot dishing of leaves, otherwise the shop would be full of

If you are interested in my shop layout or tools, go to my Shop at a Glance
page, http://www.reil1.net/glance.shtml . I have lots of images there of all
parts of my shop and my tooling. It is there, as well as my Shop
Construction Page, which is linked from the Glance page, to give beginning
smiths ideas that may be of value to them for tooling, general shop layout,
and specialty features to consider when building a shop.




               Golden Age Forge
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Re: Hammers II

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Cool. Just a bit of rounding makes all the difference, putting
the bulge in the middle of your hand?

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Do you have one of the bulbous-ended, thin-handled Repousse' hammers?
I've seen them in repousse' books. They look like a cross between a
ball peen and a bodyman's hammer, with a large, thin face. I read
that the handle was thin and flexible to allow the recoil to be
absorbed, saving the silver/goldsmith's hand/wrist.

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I always wondered why they had that precise shape when most
usage had overlapping taps. The last time I used one like
that was in 8th grade shop. <blush>

             Iguana: The other green meat!
http://diversify.com Comprehensive Website Development

Re: Harbor Freight hammers and hammer handles
Do you happen to have some pictures you can share?  I'd sure like to
see what you're describing.

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