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Friday, August 13, 2010

Increasing the survivability of your hand tools.

A set of carpentry tools found on board the ca...Image via Wikipedia
When the ballon goes up we are going to have to revert to hand tools pretty quickly when the grid goes down so while we have it best make use of it to enhance the survivability of our hand tools.

There is a old and very true saying that says, "A man is no better than his tools" which I have found to be quite true all my life. Lack of a simple tool can mean the difference of how well something is done. For instance what good is a hammer with a broken handle? Plastic handles are available these days but they are very expensive.

Was out in my shop the other day and ran across a hammer head with handle broken off cleanly where they always do right at the junction of the head/handle area.
Since I was going to the lumber yard anyway I decided to get a handle and what I saw made me cringe as I knew the wood handles were designed to fail easily at the same place so I decided to see what I could do to increase the survivability of this simple but highly effective hand tool.

I left the lumber yard and stopped at a Ace Hardware store and found a really neat and nifty hammer handle for a baby sledge. Basically it was for the 3 lb hammers and are designed for heavy beating and remarkably one rarely sees one broken and they are made leaving more wood right up to the base of the hammer head.

Thinking on it as I drove home I thought what can I do to increase the survivability of this handle and it dawned on me how to do so.

Got home and was starting to get handle out which is normally done in a vice and a drill is used to remove the broken handle. I quickly determined a easier method - arbor press ! ! ! Set hammer upside down , found a small section of steel rod and placed it on bottom of handle and though still very tight it eased right out cleanly making a 30 minute job into 45 seconds.

Next I drilled a 4 inch deep hole down through top of handle with a 1/4" drill. Then I cut a piece of "all thread" or theaded rod 4" long that dropped easily in and out of the hole. After cutting the all thread to length I cut a notch in one end so a common screwdriver could be used to turn it.

Next I dressed the handle down to easily go into the hammer head with plenty of clearance all around and this left open gaps at the bottom of the bottom of the handle. This area was wrapped with masking them to keep the next step in place.

Next I mixed up a goodly amount of Devcon 2 Ton Epoxy. There are several variations but you want the slow setting stuff and it is much tougher. As a rule of thumb the slower epoxy sets up the stronger it is.
I made sure to mix the 2 part epoxy very well (directions say one minute but I go for two minutes with a spatula. After mixing well I set the hammer handle up in a vice held in vertical position with head in place but not the "all thread" and started to fill the deep hole first letting the overage fill the rest of the hammer "eye" hole.

Into this I inserted the all thread and started turning it with a screw driver as it went in so the thead and epoxy will have full contact. When it was just about in I pulled it out to insure there was 100% coverage of the theads.

I filled the opening to the top of the hammer head and left it just above the surface so it would flow over about 1/8" on all sides and left it to cure so now the hammer head is secured by 2 Ton epoxy to the handle which has been reinforced for all thead and all bonded together making the handle far stronger than a conventional wood handle increasing its survivability in the process.

Next I am going to take a sling stud for a rifle stock (the small theaded portion with a hole in it for sling swivel) and drill another 1/4" hole in bottom of handle and set the sling stud in 2 ton epoxy and a piece of parachute 550# cord through the hole with a loop long enough to wrap around my thumb, go around the back of my hand. This does two things, it really secures the handle in your hand so it won't slip out whether you are wearing gloves or not.
It also provides a security loop for carrying.

Note: running screws into wood only is a wasted exercise as the theads will just strip out from the end grain but this situation can be fixed by first cross drilling the handle at right angle to the grain and inserting a wood or steel dowel rod then drilling up through base into the dowel giving the threads far stronger attaching point with epoxy securing the dowel and sling stud to the handle which will also strengthen the base of the handle from chipping off.

Note the ice axes mountain climbers use; they all have similar set ups so they can let go of the tool and use their hands when needed and not worry about it falling never to be seen again.
Obviously the same and similar thing can be done with hatchets, axes, rakes, hoes etc increasing the survivability.