TOOL TIPS-Tool Pick for December

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

Hammers?!?!

I’ve lost it,right?!?! The phrase is meant to say that the names of things do not matter, only what the object actually is. Takes me back to a college philosophy class at Wooster. This leads me to the topic of December’s Tool Porn article, hammers. We use the term “hammer” way to indiscriminately and do not think about what the purpose or use of the hammer is. “Do you have a hammer?” “Sure!” This then begs the question; framer, finish, sledge (mini or regular and what weight), air (more of a drill), all-purpose, etc. If you will forgive me, I would like to wax poetic about two of my hammers in this month’s tool spotlight.

First some historical background. You can hardly think of a tool that has been around as long in one crude shape or another. We have been fashioning things to pound other objects with for as long as we have had a thumb to hit with said pounding device. The oldest evidence of these, probably rough stone objects, are said to date back 2.6 million years ago. Wow, can you imagine their tool belts! A tool with this much history definitely deserves more thought than most of us put into it when we go out and purchase a hammer for our home tool collection but sadly it rarely gets any respect. I have been at the homes of friends and family members and asked to borrow a hammer to help fix something at their request and seen some pretty interesting options. Everything from a hammer covered with flowers which matched all the other tools in the set (sorry to rat you out Mom. The marketing to women worked I guess!) to those hammers that contain all the different screwdrivers in the hammer handle. OMG! Please people, stop the madness as Susan Powter would say. I’m not expecting you to take out a mortgage to buy a hammer but a well thought out tool is such a pleasure to use. Won’t make you a carpenter but it will generally work better and more efficiently.

OK, now onto my first hammer for this spotlight. This would be my all-purpose hammer or claw hammer. My choice was a Douglas 15 oz finish hammer. Douglas classifies it as a “finish” hammer but don’t let that fool you, this hammer can handle most things. You wouldn’t want to frame out a house with it because of the weight (They have heavier options), but it will cover a wide range of DIY projects. When I first saw this hammer, I felt like an art fan seeing a beautiful sculpture for the first time. There is more thought put in to good tools and their design that many will ever know. The Douglas finisher has a handle that reminds you more of an axe handle than a typical hammer handle. This handle settles into your hand and just feels natural and comfortable. A tip I got out of a great book about tools recommends lightly sanding the gloss finish off the handle to reduce the possibility of blisters. The head of the hammer is flat on top which enables you to nail closer to a wall when working on trim and a magnetic nail set on top to set a nail with one hand while you are holding the piece to be nailed with the other hand. You can also conveniently start a nail up high over your head without having to hold the nail with the other hand. It also has a side nail pull to remove a nail that is close to a wall so you won’t damage it with the claws. Now, this hammer was $60 (this is the first time I actually hope that my wife does not read my blog! I’m sorry honey, think of it like shoes……or art supplies…….better yet just don’t think about it.) This hammer is a joy to hold and to use.

My next hammer to spotlight (not my only other hammer) is truly a finish hammer. It is a Japanese two-sided hammer. Why twoMy Japanese "Geno" hammer. sides you are asking, yes I can hear you through the computer. Well let me tell you. The first side is for starting the nail and doing most of the driving. It is flat for this purpose to enable the hammer to be less likely to slip off the nail head. A little side note; when the hammer slips off the nail head and bends the nail to the side while someone is watching, just look at the nail and say that it must be defective box of nails or you are using a left-handed hammer and you need a right-hand version. Works every time. The great mystery of the other side of this hammer? This side is for the final hit on the nail to drive it home. This end is convex, it curves outward. I always remember the concave/convex thing because my Dad and I would tease each other about how it looks like the other person never works out because the y have a concave chest. Yes, that passed for humor in my house growing up. Back to important stuff! Why convex you ask? Well, those crafty Japanese realized that this would allow the nail to be set below the surface of the wood by compressing the wood fibers with the last hit. The wood fibers would

One side is concave and the other convex.

swell back up and VOILA, the nail would be set below the surface without the use of a nail set. Brilliant! It actually does work well. This gives you a little dimple to fill with wood putty or caulk depending on whether you are staining or painting. Now, this is not the only interesting feature of this style of hammer. The head of the hammer is generally made of two types of material. The center part of the hammer is a soft material which adds weight but deadens the impact which would normally transfer to your hand and arm. It also tends to transfer more of the blow into the nail since there is less bounce-back. The front of the heads are a harder material to stand up to the nail head impact. How freakin’ cool is that. Talk about a tool with some thought behind it! Because of the efficiency these hammers can also tend to be light in weight which will further save your arm and hand from some fatigue.

When you go to purchase any tool you are considering purchasing, pick it up. Hold it in your hand and feel it’s weight. Borrow someone’s tool to see what you do and don’t like. Think about what its use will be. Find the beauty in the functional sculpture.

Thanks for allowing me to share,

That Home Inspector Guy

About Travis "That Home Inspector Guy" Moyer

I am a certified home inspector, rehabber, landlord, carpenter, handyman and generally inquisitive person who wants to know how everything works. I love to educate other DIY homeowners and potential homeowners about projects that they may be interested in.

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