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A nail-holding hammer

Q: Many years ago there was a manufacturer that made what I consider one of the best claw hammers. The head was smooth, not milled like that of a new hammer, and it had a spring-loaded device within its claws for holding a nail. The hammer was great for starting a nail in tight spots or when you were forced to hold a board in place with one hand. I don’t remember who made the hammer, and I’m curious if other old-timers remember this type of hammer. Is it still available?





A: Don Stevenson, a hammer collector in Woodland, Washington, replies: I believe you’re talking about a Cheney hammer. I have quite a few of them: One was made in Denmark, and the rest were made in America. Arthur Taylor patented the Cheney Nailer on March 22, 1927. With his hammer, a nail could be held between a pair of spring-loaded steel balls, and a set screw adjusted the holding pressure.

Although Cheney hammers are no longer made, there are about 150 hammers patented that hold nails. Just last year two companies -- Forgecraft (15046 East Nelson Ave. #1, City of Industry, Calif. 91747; 800-435-3748) and Ted Hammers (6152 Mission Gorge Road, Suite G, San Diego, Calif. 92120; 800-645-2434) -- patented their versions of nail-holding hammers, thinking they were the first ones.



From Fine Homebuilding 88, pp. 16 May 1, 1994