We supply a metal wedge with every Crucible Lump Hammer in case the head ever comes loose because of heavy use or extremely dry conditions.
I’ve rewedged dozens of hammers, sledges and axes since my days on our Arkansas farm. But some of our customers have some trepidation about the process. This morning I noticed the head of my personal hammer was loose after four years of use. So I asked Megan to record the process.
Clamp the handle in handscrews and place the hammer over a leg of your workbench. Position the wedge perpendicular to the hammer’s existing wooden wedge. Drive the metal wedge in with a sledge or heavy hammer. It will take heavy blows. The hickory might crack a bit. That’s OK.
Sink the wedge as much as you can. If you want to preserve the patina of your hammer, stop here. If you want to tidy things up, file the wedge flush to the wood. To get the surface finish back to the same sheen as the factory, sand the head with #220-grit paper. Then finish the head with a grey 3M woven pad and some wax.
After you see how easy it is, you’ll want to wedge all your other tools. And the neighborhood bully.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. If you need steel wedges, go to any half-decent family hardware store. Wedges usually cost 30 cents.
20 thoughts on “Video: Wedge a Sledge”
I do not know how I feel seeing the Schwarz use a competitor’s sledge to wedge is sledge.
dang, I cannot type — ‘the Schwarz use a competitor’ sledge to wedge HIS sledge’
The mechanic might drive his pickup to go get parts to fix his porsche. Or in this case, a yugo to fix the jaguar
Humidity here, about 20 miles from the ocean in New England, can range from almost nothing in winter to swimming in summer. I long ago cam up with a system to ensure zero problems with hammers. I have summer hammers, and winter hammers. When I put my white Nehru suit away after Labor Day, I put my summer hammers away, and reverse it in spring when the Cadbury Creme eggs come out.
In my workshop, too, there is a noticable variation over the seasons – last year, for example, the lowest measurement (in mid-April) was 28% RH @ +/- 18° C (≈ 64° F) while the highest (mid-August) came out at 72% RH @ 26° C (≈ 79° F). I haven’t calculated the average, but I think it’s probably in the region of 50% RH @ 20° C (≈ 68° F).
(By the way, I don’t keep an RH diary; it’s just that my digital weather station (that includes an RH/temperature sensor in the workshop) keeps track of all its measurements, and so I could just look them up when writing this.)
Any way, last month I noticed yet again that the head of my Crucible lump hammer was getting a tad too loose for comfort, and thus added the wedge that came with it. I pretty much did what Chris does in the video; my only issue was that the head was loose enough that it kept creeping upwards on the handle tenon as I was striking the wedge, and that I had to reseat it after every four or five blows to wedge. It came out alright in the end, though; I just have to get around to filing down the 1/32″ or so of wedge that is still sticking out … but the hammer now feels very solid indeed!
What’s the music in the video?
It’s titled “The Old Guys” from Acoustic Guitar Vol. 3 at freeplaymusic.com. It does not list the artist I’m afraid.
The lump hammer …
I invoice every fortnight and these last weeks have been good, productive days in my little shop (7 windows (casements ?) with 28 sashed window frames nearing completion). I seldom get to bill 10 full working days but this time I can. That means there will be some extra money that I can invest in the best possible way; in tools.
I immediately liked the look of this hammer when I first saw it. It just looks right. But being (if only inside my own head) a rather refined maker of fine furniture who has no conceivable use for such a blunt, brutish implement I’ve put it out of my mind. I need a pair of Starret 6″ calipers first, and some new slipstones, and …
But I want it !
It looks right !
I’m sure I can find something needs bashing with it.
So it seems I’m off to my local Crucible dealer to see if I can score a big hitter.
I swear; It’s like an addiction.
I take the liberty of thinking you won’t regret getting one – I have found this lumphammer to have a much wider repertoire than one would think just from the look of it. It is as nice to hold and to handle as it looks, and very well balanced, so not only does it pack a serious wallop as per expectation, it can also dole out surprisingly gentle and precise taps.
The only problem most customers will have: where on earth did I put the wedge I once received ? 🙂
With most customers, we recommend putting the wedge in a balloon, swallowing it and leaving it in the third chamber of their stomach until needed.
If you can’t find the wedge, your local hardware store sells them for 25-30 cents. If you can’t get one there, send a message to email@example.com and we will mail you one.
HTML typo above. Drop the ‘to’ from help before sending the message.
When I first received my lump hammer I used candle wax (from a dripping beeswax candle) to seal the wood handle at the top and bottom of the head. I have also applied beeswax (though not dripping, just rubbed on) to the handle itself. I have done this with all my wood handled tools (axes, hammers, adze) and have had no problems with loose heads despite a very dry environment for storage while being used often in very wet locations. I may have just been lucky, but it doesn’t cost much to do, and the bees wax gives a nice protective ‘grip’ to the handles themselves It may be the reason I have not experienced any loosening of the heads as it would slow down expansion (and attendant compression of the wood handle) followed by contraction, which leads to them becoming loose.
For some reason was expecting some more intense music, more pounding…..
It does kind of lend itself to an industrial death metal vibe…
You’re paying way too much for your wedge guy. My friend gave me one for free when I had to do that a couple weeks ago to the lump hammer. (Yes, like you, I used my backup lump hammer. It’s so awesome I bought 2). I didn’t even have to use a wooden clamp! He held the handle for me. He trusts me way too much, but he’s a good fellow.
Any rules of thumb/guidelines related to the size of the wedge in relation to the width of the eye?
The wedge in this video seems to be roughly half the eyes width. I have a hatchet I’d like to tighten up but the only wedge I could get at the hardware store is practically the entire width of the eye.
My first inclination was to cant the wedge diagonally – but if that is for some reason a bad idea, I’ll happily spend the time to hunt down smaller wedges.
Any input is appreciated.
The wooden wedge should be as wide as possible. I don’t know of rules of thumb for the metal wedges. There are different sizes. I think I look for a metal wedge that is about one-third. But I could be full of poo.
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