Back in January of 2012, a little more than 4 years ago, I bought a Dewalt 17 oz hickory-handled smooth-faced hammer.
I intended to use this Dewalt hammer as my primary nail hammer, but lost track of it in the bottom of a tool cabinet drawer.
I recently emptied out my tool cabinet to move it, and rediscovered my Dewalt hammer. It’s always nice to find a tool that I forgot I had, especially with some nailing projects coming up.
But… it’s decomposing. The entire thing is covered with a sticky and slimy reside. The handle is just a gummy mess. It’s not falling apart, it’s just… gross. Part of the sticky mess extends up to the clear lacquered part of the handle.
It’s not uncommon for some plastics to decompose in the presence of other materials. I have a certain pencil eraser that decomposed part of a clear plastic pen that it was in contact with and undisturbed for a long period of time.
I have some hammers that stuck to mesh drawer liners after being undisturbed for a long time. I just peeled them up and used them. I guess there’s an interaction between the lacquered finish and the drawer liner material.
But with this Dewalt hickory hammer, the black handle grip is just… uch. I could probably stick to the wall and it’d stay there.
I threw it into a plastic bag and back into the tool box. I figure I should get to it soon before things get worse.
Any idea as to what might have caused this, and how to clean it? I’m guessing that I’m not the only person and this not the only tool that this has happened to.
The issue isn’t localized – it’s the entire black part of the hammer handle that’s affected.
The only thing I could think of is that some other tools outgassed a chemical the led to the decomposition of the Dewalt hammer handle. I had some seldom-used tooling in the same drawer, and while there might have been a little bit of oil residue to prevent rust, it’s not like they were dripping oil all over the place.
Oil will degrade certain polymers, so perhaps that’s what happened here.
My gut feeling is that the handle is trashed and will never be the same. When new, it was soft and grippy. I’m worried that it’ll never be dry-grippy again, and that it’ll be sticky-grippy no matter what I do.
Maybe worst case scenario I dump it in a dark corner of my workshop (again) and hope that when I find it again I’ll have time to strip it down to the bare wood. It would be nice to restore the black grippy area of the handle, but a bare wood-handled hammer is better than a gripped-handled hammer I refuse to use.
Buy Now(via Amazon, and don’t lose it in a drawer for 4 years)
The model I’m specifically referring to is DWHT51411, but there are a few other 17oz hickory handled models with the same handle design.