Hammered: The History of Hammer Design
From rocks to titanium, hammer design has a rich history.
Synopsis: Hammers designs have evolved over the millennia, and they are a time capsule with a story to tell. They reflect our history and the history of their design. For example, the necessity of devoted framing crews in the the post-WWII housing boom gave rise to a tool that could meet the task: what is now known as the California framing hammer. Framing hammers began as rigging hatchets, which were the primary tools workers in California used to make wood oil derricks before World War II, but crews began cutting the blades off and welding on the claws from an old hammer. California framing hammers have short, milled faces that grab nails well; they are balanced; and they have a long hickory handle and a heavy head weight for lots of striking power. In “Hammered,” Aaron Fagan guides us through the history of hammers, from rocks and the earliest claw hammer in Rome, to David Maydole’s adz-eye hammerhead and today’s ergonomic wonders made of titanium.
The first nail I ever drove was with my father’s hammer—a True Temper A16 Rocket, which he had won in a nailing contest at an annual picnic for the hardware dealers of Rochester, N.Y., in 1963. His instruction to me that day sounded quite simple. He said, “It’s all about letting the hammer do the work.” I am certain that, like anyone wielding a hammer for the first time, I must have made a rather sad scene: There I am, holding the hammer too tightly, my hand and arm singing with vibration; choked too high on the handle; missing, repeatedly; the bent nail mirroring my defeat with its head slumped down; and, ultimately, that ancient rite, the Dance of the Purple Thumb.
That was 30 years ago, and the art…