Homesteading With Joe

Hammers, Mallets, and Handles

By: Joe Cowan, COO & Co-Founder, Dr. Cowan’s Garden


For the past couple of months, I have been working on refitting handles for worn out gardening tools and workshop tools. I started with an old splitting maul that I had broken splitting wood last fall. Purchasing the new handle was a far less expensive solution than replacing the axe entirely. However, a finished handle still cost more money than I wanted to spend (~$30). I have enough handle tools, and a few power tools at this point, that I can easily make a rough version and develop the skill to make much better versions in the future.


A ball-peened hammer and a joiners mallet were the next projects, both of which were pretty rough and took a lot longer than they should have. The look achieved was really pleasing, and the tools are fun to use. I found another larger ball-peened hammer for $2 at a flea market, and I corrected a few mistakes that I had made in the past. I also added some ergonomic features to the handle, and spent the extra time finishing it to an even nicer level. I have honed my skill set with five or six smaller projects similar to these, and can confidently cut and shape new handles for nearly any tool or gardening implement.


The reasons for doing this are more than economical. Sure, you can buy an old hammerhead or gardening tool head at a nominal cost, but the skills you can acquire and the enjoyment of using a tool made by you is unparalleled. Now, add the fact that the wood was cut down by me or my neighbor, and is completely free of pressure-treating chemicals or toxic finishes. Tools made using your own materials become extremely special and fun. With a big fence post mallet or a nice ergonomic ball-peened hammer, I have never been more keen to search for little projects with which I can use them.