When All Your Problems Look Like Hammers…
Some day I expect one of my little girls to tell a school counselor (between sobs): “Daddy has a hammer problem.”
My, ahem, problem started innocently enough years ago. I got interested in David Maydole, the father of the legendary adze-eye hammer. I read James Parton’s 1884 article about Maydole and thought: Wouldn’t it be cool to own one of his hammers?
So I bought one off eBay for $20. It had a cool bull’s eye cast into its face. Its handle was worlds better than the rubber-wrapped hammer-shaped object I’d had since childhood. I even think that Maydole drove nails a little faster. So I bought a 16-ounce Maydole for my shop at home.
Fast forward about five years. I’m looking for a plane at the bottom of my tool chest. I pull out a few hammers. Then a few more. Then a big Cheney. My bench has a heap of hammers on it. How many dang hammers have I bought?
Fourteen, as it turns out. And probably another seven at home (I can’t bear to count).
You don’t need this many hammers. However, I do think you need more than one. If someone put a nail gun in my mouth and made me choose my three essential hammers for making furniture, here would be my list:
1. A 16-ounce hammer for all-purpose nail whacking.
2. A Warrington-style hammer with a cross-peen/pein/pane. I use this hammer to tweak the lateral adjustment on my metal-bodied handplanes. I use the cross-peen/pein/pane to start short brads. And I use the striking face to finish small brads.
3. A plane-adjusting hammer. I have one from Chester Toolworks. It has a brass face and a wooden face (Lee Valley makes one like this). I use this tool for adjusting my wooden-bodied planes. The brass face is for tapping the iron. The wooden face is for tapping the stock and the wedge.
If you are similarly afflicted, I warn you there is little hope. Lie-Nielsen Toolworks just started making Warrington-style hammers. I ordered all three, however I don’t remember how that happened. It’s a bit of a blur.
– Christopher Schwarz
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