At the Lie-Nielsen event we had in our offices in May, I gave away hammers. A lot of hammers. (No, this isn’t the “making amends” portion of a 12-step program. Aw crap, I just offended all the addicts. Sorry addicts.)
Instead, I wanted to share the joys of cross-peen hammers. Think of it as giving away the first rock of crack for free. (Sorry to my readers who are hubba pigeons!)
During the last few weeks, however, my hammer collection has ballooned again, and it has me thinking a lot about the shape of their handles. One of the hammers that made it into my hands is a strapped C&S upholsterers hammer. It’s a beautiful specimen that no collector would want because it was “cleaned” by a previous owner.
What’s interesting about this hammer is the handle. Like many early strapped hammers, this one has a beautiful swelling (Megan, can I really write that?) at the base. As a result, when you pick up the tool, your hand automatically slides down the handle to grasp the swelling (no really, HR is gonna have my head on a stick). The problem with this form (for me, at least) is that it is not really comfortable to choke up on the hammer to take light taps. The handle is a little thin there.
Today, a too-kind reader sent me a Soviet-era hammer still sealed in the packaging. The hammer is labeled as the “Stankoimport” brand, which I’m sure is a noble name in Russian. The hammer is wonderfully graphic, rugged and has a bright red (naturally) section at the bottom. The handle is basically rectangular in cross section, and we all agreed that it wasn’t very comfortable. Ah, the price of revolution.
The most common hammer handle shape is the one on our shop’s Plumb hammer (which also is red, like the blood of patriots, I suppose). It’s ovaloid in cross section at its base and evolves into something with a few chamfers at it goes into the head. This is the handle shape I used for many years, from the time I was a boy really. And I thought it was the best.
Several years ago, however, a friend sent me a Hamilton hammer (above) that has an octagonal handle. This is, hands down, my favorite hammer handle. The flats on the front and back of the octagon are small (about 3/8″ wide). The four chamfers that are 45Ã?Â° are about 1/2″ wide. And the two wide flat areas that are parallel to the cheeks of the head are 3/4″ wide. The octagonal shape extends up the handle about 6-1/2″ where the shape becomes more ovaloid at the neck.
If I had to have one hammer for nails, this 16-oz. hammer would be the one. If I had to have one hammer for crushing in the skulls of the aristocracy, I’d say: “Fetch me my Stankoimport!”
– Christopher Schwarz