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My minimalist tool list – a good chisel hammer

For more information on chisel hammers, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.

This is my hammer for chisel work
I know that it doesn’t look much, but I have used a Thor 12-712N Nylon Hammer for at least two years and really like the way that they handle my chisels. There are other weights and sizes, but my favourite is 1 1/2″ – 38mm model.

When I bought the hammer I didn’t like the plastic grip sleeve and nor did I like the shape of the hammer shaft.

First I removed the sleeve cover with a knife and that already felt better in my hand.

Next I further shaped the shaft to suit my hand size and feel using a spokeshave for most of the shaping work. the nylon peels away like soft wood and it soon gave me the shape I wanted which was oval.

The heads are screw-in into a steel barrel and it’s the steel barrel that gives it the weight I need, which is perfect for chopping mortises and all other aspects of chopping work.

The handle, being nylon, felt quite slick so I used a coarse rasp to create a roughened grip. You could use a checkering tool for this and make a really neat job (as you might for checkering a gun stock) but on nylon this seems an overkill. I simply wanted something practical to stop slippage. A coarse rasp does the job neatly and rapidly …

… as a first level, but the somewhat roughness can be rough on to the hand so I refined it with #180-grit sandpaper.

The face of the hammers are smooth and slick and slip from the chisel. A quick rub with #180-grit sandpaper does the trick.

The stark whiteness of the nylon didn’t fit quite right so I used two coats of coloured shellac to reduce the starkness. At first I didn’t like it too much but after a short time in use it looked fine.

The hammer in action gives perfect COP (center of percussion) every delivery.

4 Comments

  1. Paul Sellers on 2 February 2012 at 11:24 am

    I am sorry Ralph, but I think that the Thor company products are available through a US based company called The Hammer Source
    Here is the link. The nice thing for the US is that for the US market the supply it with a wooden hammer shaft.

    http://www.hammersource.com/Soft_Face_Hammers/Replaceable_Tip_Hammer_1_1/4_face_diameter_chrome_plated_zinc_head_wood_handle._Nylon_faces._14oz/



  2. jmpurser on 18 October 2013 at 1:37 pm

    After reading this I purchased this hammer:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001HWAGC2/ref=oh_details_o09_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I’ve done enough with it to provide a little feedback if anyone else is looking. This the “Vaughn” make instead of the “Thor” line but I’m going to guess the two function much alike and the Vaughns are of course available in America.

    For myself I think the model hammer I purchased is too heavy for my best work. I hit the chisel much to hard and the small muscles in my hammer hand tire too quickly. When I was knocking out notches in some green oak 4X4 for garden boxes this came in rather handy but when trying to do controlled work in pine for my work bench it was hard to keep from getting sloppy. I also didn’t like the handle finish that the manufacturer put on it. It’s slick and I’m sure would last forever but just doesn’t feel right in the hand. So I took it off with sandpaper and turpentine and am putting a boiled linseed finish on it now.

    I’m going to go back and order the 1lb version of this same hammer. The one I have seems to be well made and I like the way the force transfers smoothly to the chisel which I think is related to the “center of percussion” (COP) concept Paul talks about.

    I haven’t been able to find these hammers in the stores locally. Amazon is pretty good for returns so I’m going to go for the 1lb version here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Nylon-Face-Hammers-584-10-hammer/dp/B001HWAG72/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=2RIYNGIMK0WAW&coliid=I171WPHSZ3WJQJ



    • Michelle on 3 July 2016 at 9:31 pm

      Thanks for sharing this information



  3. Anuj Prateek on 22 August 2018 at 7:03 am

    Sandpaper on hammer face to prevent it from slipping is just what my Thor needed.

    It’s a simple advice from your experience. I love the fact that you mentioned it. Saved me frustration from using the hammer.



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