The first batch of Crucible Lump Hammers will be up for sale in our store very soon this month. This week I visited the Crucible Lab, where Raney showed me how the production run was progressing, and we discussed some of the details of manufacturing.
As we were talking, I noticed one of the Lump Hammers on his bench that had a natural hickory handle – no “shou sugi ban” charred finish. The hickory was soiled from Raney’s hands. I picked it up and was immediately reminded of Alan Peters’s lump hammer, which I fell in love with years ago.
After some discussion, Raney, John and I decided to make the natural hickory handle the standard finish on our handles. For those of you who wish to make the handle black, we are going to offer detailed instructions on how to do it with inexpensive tools and a few minutes of work.
Why are we making this change? Several reasons.
- The natural handle has crisper facets and a better feel in the hand. Charring the handles rounds over the facets and noticeably reduces its circumference. Leaving it natural makes for a Lump Hammer that fills your palm and offers better feedback in use.
- The charring is functionally irreversible. If you want a charred handle, it is a simple thing to make a natural handle into a charred one. If we send you a charred handle, however, it is not possible to get back to the full-sized natural one.
- It looks right. We love shou sugi ban, but we also love the look of traditional Western tools. The natural handle looks like a new one you might find in an English hardware store (in the 1960s), and it will only get dirtier and more glorious with age.
For those of you who were keen on the black handle, we offer the following solutions. In the next week or so we will publish a video tutorial on how to char your handle with simple home center tools. If you are local to us, we invite you to stop by the Lost Art Press storefront on one of our open days (the second Saturday of each month) and I will personally char your handle for you and finish it with beeswax.
Next up: Details on pricing and availability.
— Christopher Schwarz