May 18th, 2009 - Vindication!

BIG NEWS!!! The Love Hammer takes the Blue Ribbon in the 2009 Minnesota Master Naturalist Convention Craft Contest!

For the uninitiated...
This project is the result of my previous blogpost: THE LOVE HAMMER.


That was back on March 13th, 2009. After shaving a lot of wood and thinking about it and re-thinking about it, I decided the that after this much work the thing had better not split, at least not right away, so I had better come up with some re-enforcement of some type.
First I thought about putting some flat banding around the head and asked the advice of the best craftsman I knew, Chuck at Wood Lake. As we were talking, and discussing why that wouldn’t work, I got the idea to cut a groove shouldered in from the face and use thick copper wire, reminiscent of the circus mallets used for the 'Ring the Bell' game and pounding-in tent stakes. The idea is that the band keeps the face from splitting and mushing out too badly. 
I admit I did use one power tool during the duration of the construction, and that was an electric drill to bore two very straight 3/8” holes down the middle of the head with a 12-inch bit, the rest of which was knocked out very patiently with a narrow chisel. I was living in fear of not getting the center hole straight and having a hammer with a non-perpendicular head. I had to make some adjustments, but it seems to have worked out.
After adding the larger wire-band behind the face of the mallet, oh, around April 13th or so, I began sanding and sanding and sanding and sanding. After I had a nice finish, I looked at my mallet and said, “It doesn’t look enough like a heart.”
I cut the band off, and started over, reshaped the head into more of a heart-shape with a Surform tool (kiss, kiss) and created a contour in the back. I poured tons of Gorilla glue into the handle space and top hole and sanded off each layer. About five layers.
I then picked it up one day and said, “I don’t like the weight. I took off too much wood.”
So I drilled out and picked out all the glue along the sides of the wedge in the top (of the actual internals, the hickory handle goes about halfway up into the head, through the knot (which was a bear to work with) and has a metal wedge driven into it and is glued. Then there is a wooden wedge on top of that to fill out the hole. Mostly.
To satisfy the weight issue, I melted down all the lead sinkers and pellet-gun pellets I had and poured molten lead in along side the top wedge. Much filing, scraping, and sanding later, it was ready to finish, around May 13th. I chose shellac and applied, sanded, applied, sanded, applied, sanded, and applied, sanded until finally applying the last coat. I brought the hammer upstairs last night after letting it dry for twelve hours, and low and behold, it picked up the grain of the cloth it was lying on, and lost a bit of gloss on the finish!  Arrgh!  Fateful mistake!
They say that oriental rug weavers weave a mistake stitch into their rugs to personalize their wares. I’m claiming a mulligan and calling that mine.
Lastly, before the last finish cycle I decided it needed a wood-burned heart on the face to help symbolize things and balance it out. Somehow burning it seemed righteous at this point.

There you have it, it's the Love Hammer! 
I brought it up to the conference and entered it under "Crafts." First there were four entries, then two mysteriously pulled out (I swear I had nothing to do with it... but if a hammer happens to fall on something, that's the way it goes... I'm kidding, I don't know why they pulled out)
So it was just me against a nicely carved bird, and the hammer beat all! (So to speak)


P.S.: I love my hammers! Now my Carpenters' hammers, the Ball-Peen Family, the General-Purpose Family, the Tack, Rock, Mini's and of course my favorite orange Stanley Dead-Blow Shot-filled hammer will be joined by another soft-faced, yet serious individual of the tribe.

I would also like to add that I am of the mind that not everything has to have a practical aspect, some things (for me at least) just have to be created and can exist just to tactile, extravagant, symbolic or for no reason at all really. I suppose for the sake of aesthetics, I guess. Like a rock you pick up because something tells you that have to. Unfortunately, this is what has gotten our house to more than 50% of it's current chaotic status...