Full Chisel Blog

October 30, 2012

Traditional Veneer Hammer in Wrought Iron

Filed under: Clamping,Hide Glue,Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Techniques,Veneer — Stephen Shepherd @ 12:37 pm

I have always used what I considered the American pattern veneer hammer made of wood with perhaps a brass blade, but generally hardwood such as boxwood or lignum vitae.  The one on the right is my first veneer hammer with a brass blade, I made this about 40 years ago.  The one on the left is the American pattern.

A while back I taught a workshop on hammer veneering and the class made veneer hammers, it was a fun class at the Nevada WoodChucks.  We built the American pattern with one fellow turning the head as well as the handle.

Recently a friend borrowed my veneer hammer for a big job he had designed and built.  Then I found myself in need of a hammer for a restoration job.  I borrowed an all metal German Veneer Hammer from a friend to do the job in a timely manner.  I really liked the way it worked and was able to warm the head to aid in the hammering down of the veneer.

I did some research on old metal veneer hammers and came up with a traditional style in the size I wanted, and these are generally considered Continental patterns and this one is French or German in influence.  And it was constructed from a wagon wheel out of wrought iron, forge welded together to make the proper thickness by master blacksmith Mark Schramm.

The handle is split hickory, wedged with beech and glued in place with Fish Glue after I etched the eye with garlic.  Washed it off with alum and water to make the glue waterproof and I will finish with Moses T’s Reviver [a lean oil] followed by Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish [a fat oil].

I have a big veneer job to do so this will fit the bill.

[I have also seen this type of hammer with the head mounted with the blade inside toward the handle, which is correct?  I think this way with the maker’s mark on the underside.]



  1. I built mine like the one in your right hand drawing, with brass blades, and one with a head of bloodwood and the other of granadillo. Ed Wright, Colonial Williamsburg’s harpsichord maker, points out and demonstrates the advantage of the American Pattern hammer on the left. Specifically, flipping it around and tapping the vener with the square head, you can test for loose veneer and air bubbles by sound, giving you time to correct them before the glue tacks. Of course, the other head will perform the same function, but it is not quite as easy to isolate the location of the bubble.

    Comment by William Duffield — October 30, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

  2. That is a beautiful tool. I have a veneer job coming up, any chance the heads will be for sale?

    Comment by Zach Dillinger — October 30, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

  3. That’s a nice tool. Is there any chance you could post the dimensions?


    Comment by David Gerber — October 30, 2012 @ 7:37 pm

  4. Could you ask Mr. Schramm if he would make some more? I’d like to have one as well.

    Comment by Wesley Tanner — October 31, 2012 @ 7:34 am

  5. Could you describe why lean oil followed by fat oil? I have a sudden desire for fast food. Just kidding, but the question is serious.

    Comment by Gary Roberts — October 31, 2012 @ 7:56 am

  6. The hammer is 4 5/8″ tall, the blade is 5″ wide, the head is 7/8 by 1 1/8″, don’t know how much is weighs but I think it is around a pound.

    And yes the heads are available at $225.00 if any of you are interested.

    Fat over lean is the way the masters painted, a fat oil contains more oil than thinner and a lean oil has more thinner [solvent] than oil.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — October 31, 2012 @ 8:47 am

  7. Thanks Stephen. I’ll remember that for the future.

    Comment by Gary Roberts — October 31, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

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