The following comes from William Noyes’s 1910 classic, Handwork in Wood. See the whole Handwork in Wood series (so far) here. More to come.
The hammer consists of two distinct parts, the head and the handle. The head is made of steel, so hard that it will not be indented by hitting against nails or the butt of nailsets, punches, etc., which are comparatively soft. It can easily be injured tho, by being driven against steel harder than itself. The handle is of hickory and of an oval shape to prevent its twisting in the hand.
Hammers may be classified as follows: (1) hammers for striking blows only; as, the blacksmith’s hammer and the stone-mason’s hammer, and (2) compound hammers, which consist of two tools combined, the face for striking, and the “peen” which may be a claw, pick, wedge, shovel, chisel, awl or round head for other uses. There are altogether about fifty styles of hammers varying in size from a jeweler’s hammer to a blacksmith’s great straight-handled sledge-hammer, weighing twenty pounds or more. They are named mostly according to their uses; as, the riveting-hammer, Fig. 159, the upholsterer’s hammer, Fig. 160, the veneering-hammer, Fig. 162, etc. Magnetized hammers, Fig. 161, are used in many trades for driving brads and tacks, where it is hard to hold them in place with the fingers.
|Fig. 158. Claw-Hammer.
Fig. 159. Riveting-Hammer.
|Fig. 160. Upholster’s Hammer.
Fig. 161. Magnetized Hammer.
|Fig. 162. Veneering-Hammer.|
In the “bell-faced” hammer, the face is slightly convex, in order that the last blow in driving nails may set the nail-head below the surface. It is more difficult to strike a square blow with it than with a plain-faced hammer. For ordinary woodwork the plain-faced, that is, flat-faced claw-hammer, Fig. 158, is best. It is commonly used in carpenter work.
It is essential that the face of the hammer be kept free from glue in order to avoid its sticking on the nail-head and so bending the nail. Hammers should be used to hit iron only; for hitting wood, mallets are used. In striking with the hammer, the wrist, the elbow and the shoulder are one or all brought into play, according to the hardness of the blow. The essential precautions are that the handle be grasped at the end, that the blow be square and quick, and that the wood be not injured. At the last blow the hammer should not follow the nail, but should be brought back with a quick rebound. To send the nail below the surface, a nailset is used. (See below.)
The claw is used for extracting nails. To protect the wood in withdrawing a nail a block may be put under the hammer-head. When a nail is partly drawn, the leverage can be greatly increased by continuing to block up in this way, Fig. 163.
The mallet, Fig. 164, differs from the hammer in having a wooden instead of a steel head. A maul or beetle is a heavy wooden mallet. The effect of the blow of a mallet is quite different from that of a hammer, in that the force is exerted more gradually; whereas the effect of the hammer blow is direct, immediate, and local, and is taken up at once. But a mallet continues to act after the first impulse, pushing, as it were. This is because of the elasticity of the head. A chisel, therefore, should always be driven with a mallet, for the chisel handle would soon go to pieces under the blows of a hammer, because of their suddenness; whereas the mallet blow which is slower will not only drive the blade deeper with the same force, but will not injure the handle so rapidly. Mallet-heads are made square, cylindrical, and barrel-shaped. Carver’s mallets are often turned from one piece, hammer and head on one axis.
Nailsets, Fig. 165, are made with hardened points, but softer butts, so that the hammer will not be injured. They were formerly made square when nail heads were square, but now round ones are common. To obviate slipping, some have “cup points,” that is, with a concave tip, and some spur points.
To keep the nailset in its place on the nail-head it may be held closely against the third finger of the left hand, which rests on the wood close to the nail. When a nailset is lacking, the head of a brad, held nearly flat, may be used. But care is necessary to avoid bruising the wood.
Part A: Tools for Holding Work.
The advance in ease of handworking may largely be measured by the facilities for holding materials or other tools. The primitive man used no devices for holding except his hands and feet. The Japanese, who perhaps are the most skilful of joiners, still largely use their fingers and toes. On the other hand, Anglo-Saxons have developed an enormous variety of methods for holding work and tools.
Benches. The essential features of a work-bench are a firm, steady table with a vise and places for tools. The joints are either pinned or wedged mortise-and-tenon, or draw-bolt joints. The best benches are made of maple, the tops being strips joined or tongued-and-grooved together. It is common also to have a trough at the back of the top of the bench, i. e., a space 6″ or 8″ wide, set lower than the upper surface, in which tools may be placed so as not to roll off. A low pillow, fastened at the left hand end of the trough, on which to set planes in order that the edge of the cutter may not be injured, is an advantage. The tool-rack is of capital importance. It has been common in school benches to affix it to a board, which rises considerably above the top of the bench, Fig. 169, but a better plan is to have the top of it no higher than the bench-top, Fig. 166. Then the light on the bench is not obscured, and when a flat top is needed for large work it can readily be had by removing the tools. Elaborate benches with lock drawers are also much used in the shops of large city schools.
Vises for holding wood are of three general styles, (1) those with an upright wooden jaw, Fig. 167, which holds wide pieces of work well. They are now made with an automatic adjusting device by which the jaw and the face of the bench are kept parallel; (2) wooden vises with a horizontal jaw, guided by parallel runners, Fig. 166, and, (3) metal rapid-acting vises, Fig. 168. The latter are the most durable and in most respects more convenient. Special vises are also made for wood-carvers, for saw-filing, etc.
The best woodworking benches are equipped with both side- and tail-vises. The tail-vise is supplemented by movable bench-stops for holding pieces of different lengths. In planing the side of a board it is held in place between the tail-vise and one of the bench-stops. A board should not be squeezed sidewise between the jaws of a vise when it is to be planed, lest it be bent out of shape. In planing the edge of a board it is ordinarily held in the side-vise. A long board, one end of which is in the vise, may also need to be supported at the other end. This may be done by clamping to it a handscrew, the jaw of which rests on the top of the bench, Fig. 169. When the vise is likely to be twisted out of square by the insertion of a piece of wood at one end of it, it is well to insert another piece of equal thickness at the other end of the vise to keep it square…. In this case, (Fig. 120,) the extra piece also supports the piece being worked upon.
The vise is also of great use in carrying on many other processes, but a good workman does not use it to the exclusion of the saw-horse and bench-hook.
Horses are of great use both for the rough sawing of material and in supporting large pieces during the process of construction. The common form is shown in Fig. 170, but a more convenient form for sawing has an open top, as in Fig. 171.
The picture-frame-vise, Fig. 172, is a very convenient tool for making mitered joints, as in picture-frames. The vise holds two sides firmly so that after gluing they may be either nailed together or a spline inserted in a saw cut previously made. If the last joint in a picture-frame does not quite match, a kerf may be sawn at the junction of the two pieces, which can then be drawn close together.
Handscrews, Fig. 173, consist of four parts, the shoulder jaw and the screw jaw, made of maple, and the end spindle and the middle spindle, made of hickory. The parts when broken can be bought separately. Handscrews vary in size from those with jaws four inches long to those with jaws twenty-two inches long. The best kind are oiled so that glue will not adhere to them. In adjusting the jaws, if the handle of the middle spindle is held in one hand, and the handle of the end spindle in the other hand, and both are revolved together, the jaws may be closed or opened evenly, Fig. 174. In use care must be taken to keep the jaws parallel, in order to obtain the greatest pressure and to prevent the spindles from being broken. It is always important to have the jaws press on the work evenly. To secure this, the middle spindle should be tightened first, and then the end spindle. Handscrews are convenient for a great variety of uses, as clamping up glued pieces, holding pieces together temporarily for boring, Fig. 247, p. 152, holding work at any desired angle in the vise, as for chamfering or beveling, Fig. 175, etc.
Clamps are made of both wood and iron, the most satisfactory for speed, strength, and durability are steel-bar carpenter clamps, Fig. 176. They vary in length from 1½ ft. to 8 ft. The separate parts are the steel bar A, the cast-iron frame B, the tip C into which fits the screw D, on the other end of which is the crank E, and the slide F with its dog G, which engages in the notches on the bar. Any part, if broken, can be replaced separately.
Iron Handscrews, also called C clamps and carriage-makers’ clamps. Fig. 177, are useful in certain kinds of work, as in gluing in special places and in wood-carving. All iron clamps need blocks of soft wood to be placed between them and the finished work.
Pinch-dogs, Fig. 178, are a convenient device for drawing together two pieces of wood, when injury to the surfaces in which they are driven does not matter. They vary in size from ¾” to 2¾”. For ordinary purposes the smallest size is sufficient. For especially fine work, double-pointed tacks, properly filed, are convenient.
The bench-hook, Fig. 179, is a simple device for holding firmly small pieces of work when they are being sawn, chisled, etc. It also saves the bench from being marred. The angles should be kept exactly square.
The miter-box, Fig. 180, is a similar device with the addition of a guide for the saw. The iron miter-box, Fig. 181, with the saw adjustable to various angles, insures accurate work.
Such tools as pliers, Fig. 182, pincers, Fig. 183, and nippers, Fig. 184, made for gripping iron, are often useful in the woodworking shop. So are various sorts of wrenches; as fixed, socketed, adjustable, monkey- and pipe-wrenches.
|Fig. 182. Pliers.||Fig. 183. Pincers.||Fig. 184. Nippers.|
Noyes, W. (1910). Chapter IV. WOOD HAND TOOLS. In Handwork in Wood (pp. 95-104). Peoria, Ill.: Manual Arts Press
Learn all about woodworking and more online here at the Heritage School of Woodworking’s Online Woodworking Courses. See our Basics of Joinery Course for all about how holding tools are used. For more on making workbenches and our workbench classes, see our Workbench blog posts and Workbench Class page.