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Replacing Handles of Striking Tools


When we look around today, many striking tools’ handles available are made from something other than wood. As a rule, if you bend or break a steel handle, you can immediately discard the tool. However, such breakage is nearly impossible under most conditions of use. Wood handles do break much more often, sometimes from no more than wear, but just as frequently from striking errors.

For claw and ball-peen hammers, handle replacement is usually quick and easy. For larger striking tools, a bit more effort may be needed, but not much. It’s not as much fun as watching a good ball game, but it isn’t a difficult work, either.

When replacing a broken handle, you’re going to spend an hour or less, from start to finish. You’ll need a drill and a twist drill bit (a 1/4-inch is just about right), possibly a sander, or a wood rasp to slightly reshape the handle for a good fit in the eye. Also, you’ll need another hammer to tap the wedge into place, a soft-faced hammer to tap the handle in place, and that’s about it.

To replace the hand of a striking tool, use a power drill first to get the old handle out of the eye. For most handles, including sledge size, a 1/4-inch or 5/16-inch twist-point, metal boring bit is preferable. But don’t use a wood-boring bit, like a brad point. You will hit the sides of the eye, which will ruin either bit almost immediately. Too, there’s almost always one or two metal wedges that pin the wooden wedge in place. A couple of flea market chisels help, first in removing the handle, and second in opening up the wedge slot in the new handle.

In difficult cases, a rat tail file cleans out the eye nicely, but usually a bit of clean up with either emery cloth or sandpaper does the job. The soft-faced hammer isn’t needed if you use a chunk of wood on the handle being driven, hitting the wood, instead of the handle, with a steel hammer. By doing so, it can ensure that neither your striking tool nor the handle will be damaged.