A while ago I was out scavenging for stones to try and make a stone axe head. I found one that was a sedimentary stone and wouldn't be useful for making an axe, but its shape suggested to me some kind of hammer or mace. This page shows the steps used to make it. I used primarily a paleolithic level of technology to accomplish this. Ways I "cheated":


^ Here is a side view of stone head. Several hours have already been invested in shaping it both by pecking and grinding.


^ Top view. The end product as it is used in the hammer has much wider "grooves", and it is overall thinner behind the striking side so as not to put more stress on the wood split than necessary.

Note that bare feet will be used for the entirety of this project.


^ The head beside the handle. The wood is peach, and it was cut approximiately a month ago. Since the hammer head is so light, I opted to make it very long for significant impact speed. The handle is 43.5 inches long (110.5cm).


^ The first step will be to create the notch in the handle to house the head. To accomplish this, I will first use the bow drill to drill partway through the shaft and create a central weak spot where I can break out the bulk of the housing slot.

To that end, I created a new spindle for my bow drill. The problem with using plain wood is that the spindle was burning up faster than the handle, since the handle was fresh and the spindle bone dry. I hit upon the idea of inserting a small flake of slate into the tip of the spindle to prevent it from wearing down as quickly.


^ The insert gently tapped into place. From here I used my standard slate grinding toolkit to remove all the excess stone hanging out. I was soaking both the handle and the spindle in water to get more grinding and less burning.


^ What the spindle looked like after I was satisfied with the depth of the hole. The very tip of the stone snapped off, but on the whole it held up rather well I think.


^ Side view of the spindle. It is clear that the corners of the slate were being ground away. Using the slate insert clearly doesn't stop wear, just slows it down. :)


^ The hole in the handle which will form the base of my split-out. You can just see a kind of ridge in the hole where the corners of the stone were gouging it.

At this point, I made two splits in the end of the handle, intersecting the sides of the drill hole. I started the splits with a pocket knife, and then performed the work with small disposable wooden wedges. That done, I made a kind of punch tool, which had a rectangular front end. I placed the punch on the central, unsupported section of the handle between the two splits, and then hammered on it. As I'd hoped, the central "wafer" snapped out and left a quarter inch gap in the end of the handle. I regret not having the presence of mind to take a picture at this stage!


^ Using a scraper to remove the bark. I put way more work into this tool than I really needed to for this project. But hey you can always use a scraper right.


^ Scraping and scraping and scraping... Remember this stick had been cut a month ago. My hands were cramping badly by the time I finished this stage.


^ Hacking on the knots with an impromptu axe. I wanted to make the handle nice and smooth so it was comfortable to hold.


^ Abrading the handle on a rough boulder to continue the smoothing after the rough hacking.


^ Finally, I used first a handful of coarse sand and then this piece of stone to finish smoothing the handle.


^ Cutting up the hide of a fearsome chapsbeast using my slate knife. Cutting the tough leather took a lot of effort, and I had to score it several times to get through. Certainly a slate knife can cut leather, that doesn't mean it's all that great at it. :(

I cut a long, narrow strip of leather and then soaked it in my water bucket for a while to let it become stretchy.


^Behold!, the hammer is born!


^ A view of my worksite and all the tools used.


^ Right to left, arranged in order of use: bow drill with spindle, bow drill bearing block, extra cord; wooden wedge and punch to form the housing slot, along with the chunk of wood used as a mallet; scraping tool to debark; hacking tool, small abrader, used to remove knots (not shown: abrading boulder)...


^ (continuing right to left) small peck stone and disc grinder, to refine the shape of the head; slate knife used to cut leather, sheath, and sharpening stones; roll of leather; square of birch bark with sand, and sanding stone, for final finish.


^ Side view of the finished head.


^ Front view. Notice that the head is sitting on the "shelf" where the chunk of wood was broken out of the middle of the handle, and that only one of the splits was allowed to continue past the drill hole.