Plane-setting Hammer

Recently when I was visiting plane maker extraordinaire Steve Voigt I had the chance to use his Sterling plane setting hammer, and I liked it and said to myself, “Self, you gotta have one of those.  Right now.”  Since even in the era of the interwebs, on-line purchasing does not provide instantaneous delivery so I got up the next morning and made a plane setting hammer for myself, using scrap from my inventory of stuff.

My first step was to take a piece of brass and turn one end of the head on my wood lathe, which is easy enough to do when using turning chisels set up as scrapers rather than turning gouges (virtually all of my turning is with beefy scrapers with very rare use of gouges; it’s an old habit from my early years in the pattern shop).  I then turned a wooden end of the head from a scrap of lignum vitae, then drilled and tapped both sections and screwed and epoxied them together.

Then I grabbed a piece of exotic wood from the waste bin (probably bubinga) and made a handle in about ten minutes.  I drilled the hole in the head through which the handle passed, then used material from an ivory piano key as the wedges for the handle in the head.  All told I spend maybe 90 minutes on this hammer.

The result was immensely gratifying and its weight and proportions and performance have made it my “go to” tool for this purpose, and several folks I have shown it to have expressed interest in purchasing one.  Who knew?  I guess I will have to get set up to do it.  I might have to actually order some supplies.