There were a couple of “oh poohs” (or words to that affect), one amusing, the other not so. Nobody is going to confuse this with a lathe turned handle. I didn’t notice I was carving a banana and didn’t even notice when banging on some nails so that goes in the giggle column.
I decided not heat treat the head, nails seems to leave about the same amount of marking as my other small hammers so I’m calling it good. If it is too hard (and hence slippery), it will skate off the nail heads so a slight “dentability” is a good thing as it keeps the hammer on the nail.
I did “acid wash” the head to get a nice matte grey color, make the stainless real obvious and add some mild rust protection. I use phosphoric acid (DuPont Metal Prep), which is sold to clean and prep metal for painting.
The problem is how I attached the head, it’s [now] loose. I made the taper on the head mortise a bit less than 1/32″ on each side about 3/4 depth. I’m pretty sure this is too much. Probably way too much. The handle has a stopped tenon (which was a pain to do). I thought I was going to be cleaver and shrink the handle, cut the tenon and let it expand to self wedge on the taper but that didn’t happen. I use a bunch of sand in an electric skillet dry the top of the handle, do some cutting and fitting, back in the hot sand, repeat a zillion times, let the handle sit (overnight) and rehydrate. Well, if it shrunk, it wasn’t much because it didn’t get much bigger. Several days latter, it still isn’t. Plan B: go with tradition and use a wedge. Sawed a slot most of the way down, made some wedges and noticed I couldn’t get enough flair to fill the taper. But it was tight so I drove the wedge home. What I think I should have done is put it back into the sand and when the fibers got hot and pliable, then drive in the wedge (got that idea from reading about bending guitar sides). But it really was tight! Now, several days later, it ain’t, the wedge is going nowhere and the damn head wobbles. Plan C: glue on some side plates, I have room and didn’t put finish on the top.
Something I’d like to try is putting a double taper in the head. The idea is to slooowly drive the handle in (as in over the course of a week or so), letting the wood compress (not crush) to fit through the narrowest part of the taper and then re-expand to form a self locking joint. Konrad Sauer has an example here. For some beautiful Japanese hammers and handles, check this out: http://www.japan-tool.com/ (the site mentioned in Konrad’s post).