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Cutting hammer handles

826 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Rob Bragg
Hello! First post here.

My background is in CNC metal cutting, not so much wood. I've done a thing or two here and there with hand routers, but nothing industrious.

I am looking for a solution to cut oval-eye blacksmith hammer handles from hardwood. I would say it's a perfect match for a pattern-following machine, but we don't have the technical abilities to operate or maintain such a machine, and the parts are just a touch more complicated than simple turning. It's not super high-volume, maybe 60 handles in an 8 hour day, so once every 8 minutes?

Here's my pitch: A gantry CNC router with four tools; two for the side, two for the front, and one of each of those contoured to the handle eye and the largest handle contour. Stock is held in an old wood lathe with an index plate for 90 degrees; shouldn't need a 4th axis as this doesn't need the versatility. They're symmetrical hammer handles, just not round ones. I've tried to insert a few images of some CAD I messed with:

Rectangle Line Slope Parallel Font

Water Parallel Thermometer Electric blue Font

Parallel Metal

If I were the person who had to surface grind these cutters, I'd be swearing right now and would end up asking if I could just use a round wheel and call it a day, which is probably what I'll end up doing. CNC with contour tools to get 80% of the way, then take the rest off with belt sanding.

Anyone with experience making non-round handles? Any suggestions? How do you belt-sand something like this?
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Using the rotary axis on my CNC and Aspire from it is fairly easy to create shapes like you've posted. And if you just need many of the same detail the design time for one will be minimal. where I bought my CNC has made custom machines for clients with several rotary axes attached for making several duplicate shape at the same time. If all you want to make is hammer handles you don't need a large machine. A wide machine with several 4 or maybe 5 4th axes should cost well under $10k.
To make the handles without a rotary axis a 2-sided job will be required. Getting the job time down to minimum time depends on how much sanding you want to do after the CNC is done.
If I was going to do the job for you I'd set up a fixture area on my CNC bed. Make all the blanks the same size before bringing them to the CNC. Quickly set a blank into the fixture and clamp it down then hit "R" on the keyboard to run the job. I'd do a day's worth of top sides first, then load the bottom side into the control software, stick each half finished blank upside down into the fixture and hit R again to finish the bottom sides.
I'd personally let the CNC do all but trimming the ends and final sanding and finishing.
8 minutes of CNC time might be possible with some thoughtful optimizing of the toolpaths. Leaving much to belt sand on each will likely take much more time and result in slight variances in each.
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Welcome to the forum.
Welcome to the forum.
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