If Your Lump Hammer Gets Loose


It’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and the humidity has dropped in many climates. As a result, some customers have reported their lump hammers have gotten loose. Here’s how to tighten it up.

Wedging your lump hammer’s handle is part of its regular maintenance, just like tightening the handles of your handplanes and saws when the humidity plunges. No matter how tightly we wedge the head at the factory, it will come loose at some point due to use and the weather.

We included a metal wedge with your lump hammer for this operation. If you misplaced it, the quickest solution is to buy one at a local hardware store. They are usually about 25 cents.

Re-wedging takes a few minutes and usually lasts several decades. Here’s how we do it.

Clamp the handle in a handscrew and place it on a solid surface – the floor or over the leg of a workbench is ideal. Orient the wedge so it is 90° to the wooden wedge. Tap it in with a good-sized hammer (16 oz. or so). Drive in the metal wedge until it will not go in farther. Remove the excess wedge material at the grinder or with a file. Clean up the top of the head with sandpaper. Add a little oil to the wood if you like.

You should now be set for a long time.

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Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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10 Responses to If Your Lump Hammer Gets Loose

  1. Kapow says:

    Timely, as i noticed mine doing this the other day. I did recall the wedge packet, and squirreled it away somewhere. I’m sure I’ll find it by the time the humidity rises.


  2. Steve P says:

    I’ve always wondered this on hammers etc. Seems like any wood handled hammer, hatchet, etc this happens at some point(when you need the hammer the most). Is there any reason not to glue/epoxy the wedge in?


  3. Dean Mosey says:

    “Tap the wedge in with a good size hammer, 16 oz. or so. Our Crucible lump hammer is ideal for this……oh, wait….”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. If I don’t have a second hammer, can I use a rock?


  5. Steve C says:

    I have another BFH that fits the bill here.


  6. Daniel Williamson says:

    I was very into camping/bushcraft as a Boy Scout, so I found myself in need of appropriate tools for those outdoor activities. Being a kid who only made money based on shoveling and mowing, funds were tight. Wanted a good axe, so I had my mom take me to an antique store where I bought a head then to the hardware store to get a handle to replace the original. That was my first foray into woodworking. Slow going with no vice and only a metal file to shape it to fit the eye!


  7. Ludger Hentschel says:

    For handles that are just slightly loose, I have had good luck with Mohawk (Behlen) Swel-Lock. If I saturate the endgrain in the eye with Swel-Lock in the dead of one winter, the handles seem to stay solid for at least a few winters. I find this especially helpful when I have already driven a wedge or two deep into the handle. I cannot help but suspect that other, cheaper liquids might work nearly as well in replenishing the lost moisture in the wooden handle (or chair joints). But I have not experimented extensively.


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