Wednesday 30 March 2011

A Tale Of Two Hammers

Anyone who knows me knows I love my tools, almost to the point of obsession (I think its actually well past this point but never mind) but there has been a chink in my armour. When I first started on a building site I was told I could do a couple of little jobs if I brought in a hammer and a tape measure so I went off to a hardware shop and brought them (and so began my apprenticeship...), the hammer was a Stanley Steel Master and the foreman I was working with said it was the one he used. I was proud of my purchase and I even managed to ignore all the "advice" on how to break it in (cruel tricks to play on a youngster). Ever since then though I've had to justify my choice of hammer on site as it isn't an Estwing like every other carpenter uses. I've been told horror stories of the heads flying off Steel Masters as they're not one piece construction and doing serious damage on their way back down to earth.
(old Steel Master head, well used and looked after)

My Mate Dan, who I sometimes work with, was the worst (or is that best) at taking the piss. "Why don't you get yourself a real hammer?" He'd quip. "When you can do with yours what I can do with mine, then you can comment." Was my normal reply, or something a little ruder perhaps, but all in jest. But for all his piss taking I was taken aback when he came over this weekend for my birthday and said he'd got me a present - out of his bag he pulls a new Estwing hammer. I was very touched and not sure what to say. "It was getting embarrassing working with a man who got his hammer out of a cracker, so I thought I'd get you a real one" A lovely present I thought, and one I will use for many years to come. I've enjoyed nine years with my Stanley Steel Master hammer but now its time to retire it to the workshop and break in a new one, I'd love to know how many nails my old one has knocked in (and bent over!). I did text Dan Monday morning to say thanks again for the present and how my hammer had already done more work that morning than the total his had done!


  1. I've got an old hammer of my dad's thatlooks a lot like the Stanley. It's probably almost as old as I am and still works fine. When I BUY a hammer, it's always one with a WOODEN handle, but they're getting rare these days.

  2. A wooden handled hammer is a fine thing, but it just wouldn't last with the abuse I have to give it on site. These days a site carpenters job isn't just carpentry, we have to turn our hands to everything (annoyingly!) and so the hammer has to hit and lever many things that aren't nails!
    It's a shame as I agree no handle feels as nice as a wooden one.

  3. Hey Avalti your old steel master has served his time . I first swung a estwing hammer when I worked in my school holidays with my uncle building a house over on the Isle of Islay when I was 14 and now have a few of them . To me Estwing is king long live the wing!!
    Enjoy your new hammer but you won't forget your old steel master .

  4. Kev,

    Great story! I found your blog while searching "tale of two hammers" a title I used for a recent presentation about craftsmanship to a gathering of corporate design and facility executives. You might enjoy it. Here is the link:

    All the best it looks like you are on the right path!

    Scott Francisco
    Founder and Director, Pilot Projects Design Collective
    New York, NY

    1. Interesting perpective from the top, so to speak. I say one thing though - The first phrase you use is missing a word "To a man with ONLY a hammer every problem looks like a nail"
      Intersting way to look at your issue though and I like what you're suggesting. Mind you reading that makes me glad that I'm self employed and no longer work for big companies!


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