Walter Walker's tack hammer?

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The nice cover photo of Walter Walker setting canoe tacks in the 70's shows him using a hammer that resembles a cobbler's hammer with a wide rounded face. It appears to be heavier than 7 oz. The broad rounded face should break the fibers of the planking surface less than a sharp edged hammer. Has anyone used this type of hammer? Does anyone know where one could be found other then flea markets and garage sales?

Thanks, R.C.
 
I've been using an Osborne leatherworkers hammer for several years now, and it is very similar to the one shown on the cover of Wooden Canoe, but just a bit larger. I bought mine new in Seattle at Hardwick's (a great hardware store to get lost in for a few hours when in the U district of Seattle!). It set me back quite a bit of money, but it was worth the investment. Doing a quick search just now on eBay I found several listed with no bids yet. You can also see Osborne hammers at their website at http://www.csosborne.com/l-hammers_1.htm

If you're on a budget, you could probably achieve the same thing by rounding off the head of a standard-sized claw hammer with a grinder, then buff to a smooth finish.

The only drawback of the round head that I've found is that you have to quickly learn where the sweet spot in it is - because it's rounded, hitting a tack on the edge of the hammer face tends to drive the tack in crooked!
 
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It is a pretty special hammer. Walter carved his own design and had it cast. It is the result of many Peterborough canoe builder’s attempt over the years to make a better hammer for use on soft cedar planking. It is about 12 to 13 oz in weight. As Pat Chapman points out, the round head takes a little time to get used to.

Dick Persson
Headwater Wooden Boat Shop
 
R.C.
Check out cobblers hammers on Ebay. There are several that would fill the bill.
I have two that were my Grandfather's. He was a shoe maker. I'll take photos tomorrow and ask Kathy to post them. One is very similar to the one Walter is using - it weighs about 14-15 oz. the other is heavier at about 18 oz.
Happy Holidays all! :D
Denis
 
Tack Hammer

Thanks to all for the suggestions. I will check them out. Darn, Pat, I was at Hardwick's at Thanksgiving. The only place in Seattle I could find #2 brass screws. I hate to go in there, I have far more Japanese saws than I need.

Hope everyone had a great Holiday.

R.C.
 
Two Hammers

Two cobbler's hammers Denis inherited from his grandfather... the lower one has a handle Denis made out of lilac, shaped for left-handed use.

Kathy
 

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Tack Hammer

Thanks Kathy,

With all this help I am getting close.

Great story on Belle Isle. Must have taken a lot of research.

Happy New Year and lots of new canoes!

R.C.
 
You're most welcome, R.C.!

And I'm glad you liked the Belle Isle story. I'm still on the prowl for small factoids and pictures to fill in some gaps... but figured if I didn't dive-in and get as much of the story out as possible, it might never get written.

Wishing you a Happy New Year and successful canoe-hunting and fun paddles... we're pretty-well stocked-up on canoes right now, but sometimes they come our way... and we can't say "no"...

Kathy
 
Ralph,
I'll answer this one. If you look at the photo I took you can see that the bulge on the bottom seems to rise towards the camera. Indeed it does. I am almost wholly left handed. So I made the handle so when I hold it the head is almost directly in line with my arm instead of slightly to the right. I took advantage of the natural shape of the Lilac branch I used. I does help a little. Basically it was an experiment. IF one were to hold it in ones right hand the head of the hammer is way out of line to the left. Not a joke! :D
Denis
 
Walter Walker's TacK Hammer

I am staying out of the right/left-handed cross fire.

A tool collector friend answered my call by dropping by these three tack hammers. From the descriptions I have gathered two seem to be cobbler's hammers. The third appears to meet the description of the leather worker's hammer with a longer striking end and a rounder face than the other two. I will give it a try on the next planking job.

The long handled hammer is not marked. The middle one is marked "Whicher Hand Forged Tool Steel #2". The third, on the left, is marked on the top surface "Stahl". I am told it is French.

Thanks again to all who added to my inquiry.

R.C.
 

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Since the thread is hijacked anyways, here goes. I've got a cobblers hammer and dont like it for much, short handle and the face is way to wide and round. Now go get me a bucket of steam to use with that left handed hammer.
Here's what i use, slightly rounded face and a dream to hold and swing.
http://www.japanwoodworker.com/product.asp?s=JapanWoodworker&pf_id=11.505.18&dept_id=12903
12 oz, not 6 of course.
careful on the rest of the site though, its hazardous to credit cards.
 
Walter Walker's hammer

The long headed hammer that resembles Walter Walker's now has a new offset handle and polished face. The handle should be long enough to reach around to the keel of a 36" canoe. There are no canoe tacks that need driving just now so it can't be tested right away. A not very reliable kitchen scale weighs it at about 13 oz.

Walter Walker would be proud that his work has caused others interested in canoes to investigate alternative tools for traditional jobs. I know of another canoe builder who saw a photo of Walter with a larger faced hammer some time ago and switched to a Leather workers hammer. There is nothing new about a hammer but he saw that with a little redesign it could meet the needs of an individual.

R.C.
 

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Tack Hammer

Denis,

Started with 120 grit on the 6" sander. Doesn't help the belt designed for wood.

Then worked it down through three grits of emery cloth, course to fine by hand.

R.C.
 
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