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I have a hammer that looks like a squirrel. And I wish I had one that looked like a goat (alas, those are pretty rare and expensive). A little bit of whimsy in your tools is a good thing – it makes the connection that that natural world and the built world are connected.

(The handsaw was said to have been inspired by the sawfish. I personally suspect hammers were inspired by rocks.)

One of the most famous anthropomorphic tools are calipers that were made to look like human legs. Popular during the Victorian era, I’ve seen calipers that were wearing stockings and some that were anatomically correct (dude, that is gonna get caught in the lathe).

Now Brendan Bernhardt Gaffney, a Maine furniture maker and toolmaker, has brought these calipers back into production (they are G-rated) with a delightful small stainless steel pair that are 3-1/2” long – capable of measuring about 6”. They work as inside calipers (toe-to-toe) and outside (heel-to-heel). I haven’t found a use for the calves yet.


They hold their setting through friction, which can be adjusted with a ball-peen hammer to tighten them, or some Prince-style stage splits to loosen.


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Sharpening hand tools is fast and easy with Steve Maxwell's setup.