A strong, well-built handle is essential to any quality tool. The hammer handle-making process has been perfected over hundreds of years. Hickory wood has long been thought of as the best material for hammer and axe handles. It is a heavy wood with a fairly straight grain. Hickory is also uniquely shock-resistant, a valuable characteristic for an impact tool.
In 2008, the Hammer Museum recieved a generous donation from the Keathley family of several handle-making machines their company, the IXL Manufacturing Co., used to use. These machines are wonderful examples of the precise art of hickory handles. Although the museum does not currently have the space to display these artifacts they can be experienced through the images below.
These drawings represent the types of machines currently in our collection.
Below is a gallery showing the process of how a hickory tree becomes a tool handle.
Hover over an image to view the caption. Click an image to view the larger version in a slideshow.