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Thread: HDPE Mallet - AKA Milk Jug Hammer

  1. #1
    mr95gst's Avatar
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    HDPE Mallet - AKA Milk Jug Hammer

    I have been wanting to try this for a while. I started saving milk jugs several months back along with some other random HDPE containers I found. It is surprising how many containers it takes to have a have enough HDPE to make a block like I did. I would estimate this hammer took between 20 to 25 jugs. The initial block turned out very well. It more heavier than I expected and had no void. While the chips were still hot I folded them together several times and I think that worked out any air pockets. I started melting at 275 F but ended up around 330 F. Most of jugs were either white or clear/opaque. The color came different lids. I squared up the block on the table saw and then smoothed it out with the belt sander. The surface finish is smooth and feels like a bar of soap but it much harder. I guess it looks like a giant piece of candy because when I handed it to my 3 year old she immediately tried to taste it.


    *****PHOTOBUCKET HIJACKED MY PICTURES SO I HAVE EDITED THE POST TO ADD THE PICTURES BACK. THEY ARE NO LONGER IN ORDER TO MATCH COMMENTARY MADE WHEN THE THREAD WAS STARTED. MORE PICTURE AT THE END OF THE THREAD


    Processing the jugs:
    Melting the chips:
    Melted HDPE in mold:
    Side 1:
    Side 2:
    Sanded:
    Hold for handle:
    Handle from shipping pallet:
    Finished:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails HDPE Mallet - AKA Milk Jug Hammer-imag1671.jpg   HDPE Mallet - AKA Milk Jug Hammer-imag1678.jpg   HDPE Mallet - AKA Milk Jug Hammer-imag1682.jpg   HDPE Mallet - AKA Milk Jug Hammer-imag1701.jpg   HDPE Mallet - AKA Milk Jug Hammer-imag1713.jpg  

    HDPE Mallet - AKA Milk Jug Hammer-imag1719.jpg  
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    Last edited by mr95gst; 09-11-2017 at 03:59 PM.

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  3. #2
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    Thanks mr95gst! I've added your Milk Jug Hammer to our Hammers category, as well as to your builder page: mr95gst's Homemade Tools. Your receipt:


  4. #3
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    very cool I had no idea hdpe could be heated and former in this manner! my eyes are open now I will have to start hoarding plastic now with al cans now too. great use of the pallet wood its a great untapped resource for hardwood.

    how does your hammer hold up after multiple impacts? any guesses as to how it would turn on a lathe? last one is there a certain number of hdpe that you use?

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    HDPE takes machining very well. You can turn it on a lathe or mill it. I hit the edges of mine with a router. I have banged the hammer against a few things and it has held up ok. If I slammed it against a pointy surface it would gouge just like a wood mallet. If you are not familiar with HDPE, for comparison, most 5 gallon buckets are HDPE. If you have ever handled one of those, that could give you an idea of the hardness. There is a guy on Youtube who melted buckets. Buckets have much more material than the milk jugs I used.

    When you find plastic containers, you have to look for the ones that have a 2 in the middle of the recycle symbol. You cannot do it with the other numbers, with the exception of 4 which is low density polyethelene (LDPE). Most of the time the caps are made of the same material as the jug, but occasionally they are not. If it is questionable, then just toss it. Some plastic can off gas toxic fumes.

    I have been trying to think about what to make next. I have little kids so I have a steady stream of milk jugs right now. The surface is slick. I could see it begin a good bearing surface. It could be used as better alternative in instances where people use two pieces of wood sliding against each other. With a lathe you could make single or step pulleys.

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    Very interesting.
    Curious about the melting process, how many layers of melted chips to make your hammer face?
    Are they all in the oven at the same time? How do you go from oven to form? Do they pour off heating pan or do you scoop them?
    In my head I see it coming apart if the process is off?

    Cool stuff-want to try this, how smelly does the kitchen get, could be a deal breaker for me.

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    Some people use toaster ovens, but since I had so much to melt, I used the kitchen oven. There is no smell. The first time I did it, I put the chips in the wood form while in the oven. The wood gave off some fumes. My wife wasn't happy. The next time I didn't put the wood in and you could barely tell anything was in the oven. If you look at the picture I have of the chips in the oven, I probably used 6 to 7 times that much for the hammer. When you mound cold chips in a pan they take up a lot of space. Once they heat up the mound will collapse since all the curved pieces are flattening out. At this point it is about the consistency of chewing gum. It does not melt into a puddle and they don't really melt together. You have to ball it all up together in the pan. The HDPE will stick to a bare pan but only tacky against wax paper. Once the chips get hot a sticky, I used the wax paper to fold them over on themselves a couple times. That allowed more room on the pan to add more chips. Once I got a decent amount, I folded it to as close to the size of the form as I could and peeled it into the mold (still like a big wad of chewing gum). The first night I started I melted a ton of chips and only filled the mold 1/3 after clamping. The next time, I melted chips in one pan and reheated my previously molded block on another pan (you can kind of see that in the picture). When the new chips and block were hot, I tossed it all in the mold together. It took several hours to cool. The HDPE shrank so it just fell out of the mold.

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    now.. if I could only find a use for all the "crate" or Injected EPS foam used in packing boxes, you know the stuff that is molded foam, used to secure medium size appliances in shipping..

    we could make a killing on it... and it wouldn't end up in a landfill, which is a waste of resources.

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    MORE PICTURES
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails HDPE Mallet - AKA Milk Jug Hammer-imag1717.jpg   HDPE Mallet - AKA Milk Jug Hammer-imag1719.jpg  

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    Brilliant idea! Thanks..

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    I do a lot of ornamental blacksmithing and non-marring hammers are always on my list- I wonder how apt this is to delaminate under heavy use? Hate to do all this work and them have it come apart.... anyone else build one and really beat with it? Used one on steel?
    Thanks for sharing this!
    Dave

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