The IKEA Plane Adjustment Hammer™

Did you know that many pieces of furniture you can buy at IKEA come with a Plane Adjustment Hammer™?

If you didn’t know this, please read on.

The IKEA Plane Adjustment Hammer™ is usually found in the see-through bag of hardware that comes with your piece of furniture. The only thing you have to do is make a handle for it. If you have (old) furniture from IKEA that has fallen apart, it is still possible to salvage several plane adjustment hammer heads from it. You just have to know where to look.

This is the hammer head we are looking for:

Standard IKEA Plane Adjustment Hammer Head

Making the handle

Start by selecting a suitable piece of hardwood that has straight grain (grain running straight through the piece from front to back). I used a small offcut of birch. You can use pretty much any wood that is straight, like ash, oak, or hickory.

I started with a piece of wood about 11″ long

It is not really that important what shape you make the handle, as long as it lies comfortably in your hand. I like to taper the handle so it is a bit thicker at the end to balance the hammer head but it is entirely up to you. In my example I made the hande using a handplane but you can also use a drawknife, spokeshave or pocket knife to shape the handle. Using a handplane will however give you the best results.

Notice the slight taper on the handle

I tapered the handle and chamfered the edges, making it roughly octagonal.

Shaping the tenon

Once you have shaped the handle it is time to make the tenon that will fit in the hammer head. You can use a pocket knife for this, or a dowel plate. If you have a lathe you could turn the tenon on there. The tenon should be about 7mm / a little over 1/4″ in diameter.

Using my dowel plate to make the tenon
Removing the waste and making a tenon shoulder

Once you have shaped the tenon, do a test fit to see that everything lines up. It should be a pretty tight fit. If things don’t line up because you messed up the tenon, just saw it off and start a new one (the hammer can be as long or short as you want).

Note the thread after screwing the hammer head onto the tenon

Interesting note: IKEA Plane Adjustment Hammer heads are threaded on the inside. This is a pretty brilliant Swedish invention, as the wedge will push the sides of the tenon into the thread making the joint nice and strong.

Turn the head clockwise to thread it onto the handle. To remove the head, turn the head counterclockwise.

Make a small wedge

When you are happy with the dry fit, make a wedge roughly the width of the tenon, preferably out of oak. Making a small wedge is difficult so what I do is make a normal sized wedge and split it to the correct width.

Wedge done and ready to be split to size

You can keep the offset and use it for a future plane adjustment hammer.

A spare wedge for a future hammer

This is how I make my wedges: with a chisel and a block in my vise.

Glue it up

With the wedge done, put the handle in a vice and saw a small kerf for the wedge. Next, add some white glue to the tenon and thread the head onto the handle. Line the head up with the handle, paint some glue on the wedge and hammer it home.

Glued up and wedged

Let it dry overnight and cut off the excess in front of the head, leaving it a little proud in case you need to make adjustments later.

Cutting off the excess the next day
The finished hammer. Please note this post was not sponsored by IKEA.

Oil the handle and pat yourself on the back. Make these for your woodworker friends and give them away to other people who might want them. They make excellent Christmas or birthday presents. Woodburning an IKEA logo on the handle is of course optional.

-Rudy Everts


The Anarchist’s Tool Chest: Making The Carving.

I carved a book for the 10-year anniversary of the Anarchist’s Tool Chest, published by Lost Art Press. In this blog post I show you how I made the carving.

The idea that lies at the origins of this carving goes back many years ago when I had the inspiration to carve a book. Combining my love for books and my love for woodworking into carving a book seemed like a great project. But I abandoned it at the time because I had no particular book I wanted to carve.

In the last few weeks the idea crept up on me again, possibly subconsciously influenced by a blog entry on Lost Art Press announcing the upcoming 10 year year anniversary of the Anarchist’s Tool Chest.

I found a small note on my workbench a couple of weeks ago, on which I had hastily scribbled ‘carve anarchist tool chest’. Not remembering having written this down, I must have been in a rush on my way to a crying kid or a burning pizza in the oven.

Coming across the note again made it all click, carve a solid wood Anarchist’s Tool Chest book. Good idea.

I had been carving some relief carvings lately and the English Square that adorns the front of the book (the big ‘A’) would be an excellent subject to carve.

In relief carving you have the choice to make the carving above or below the surface of the wood. I sketched the two possibilities to see which one would look better. The front of the original book has the Square set below the surface. After sketching both, I decided that the one set above the surface looked better – almost as if there was a real English Square glued on there.

Sketch – carved below surface
Sketch – carved above surface

I started by laying out the general shape of the book onto a piece of birch wood and made the first saw cut, right through the middle, followed by adzing out the waste. I smoothed things out with a wide chisel and sloped the edges down.

Using the real book as an example, it was easy enough to get the general shape to be convincing.

First cut roughed out, using saw and adze

The things to carve on the backside of the book were the spine and the front cover with the English Square. I sawed two notches next to the spine and adzed out the waste around them until getting the desired shape.

Back carving done

I smoothed it out with a wide chisel, carved the big ‘A’ on the cover and turned the book around to look at it.

This is an open book

Something was missing, it was too empty. But what to add to the middle pages? I initially had planned to print out two pages of the book and glue them to the carving but I abandoned that idea fairly quickly. The book is filled with a lot of text and images, hard to carve these…

Relief carving a tool chest on the left page crossed my mind (I might still do that one day).

When I browsed the book a bit more I remembered the beautiful technical drawings near the end of the book. I have always loved the simple lines and stark contrast between the black ink and the white paper. Could I somehow woodburn these drawings onto my carving?

Such nice drawings

I printed out all the pages of the book that had technical drawings and, together with my wife, picked out the ones we thought would look the best. We both picked page 404/405.

Drawings traced onto the wood using carbon paper

I used carbon paper to trace the drawings onto the wood, using a bendable ruler. After this I fired up my woodburner and used a metal ruler as a guide to get straight and even lines.

The result looks much better than I had anticipated. I love how the black burnt parts look striking and contrast nicely with the birch wood.

The back spine needed the author/title and the Lost Art Press logo which I considered carving out at first but I decided to woodburn these as well. The result is more readable than carving out the letters would have been.

I added some final details to the book: I used the iron of a toothing plane to simulate the pages in the end grain and used a tiny v-tool to imitate the pages on the sides of the book. I carved the binding of the pages as well. These are subtle details that you won’t see at first glance but them being there adds something to the overall appearance of the carving.

All in all this was one of the most fun projects I have completed. It combined many of the things I learned in my woodworking journey so far into one project.

-Rudy Everts