For professional builders and people who ‘do-it-yourself’ around the home, the hammer is one of the most important tools to own. The first hammer was a stone held in the hand and around 500 BC a wooden handle was added. This remained the handle of choice even when the head changed from stone to bronze to iron to steel and to metal alloys. Here are 10 things you may not know about hammers.
1. Hammers have two places on the handle where you grip. The bell end is for heavy hitting and the flair in the middle of the handle for lighter hitting.
2. Good quality hammers improve with age. Forged steel gets better with proper use. If the face is mushroomed, chipped or cracked, the hammer should not be used.
3. A hickory handle gives the least stress to your arm. Fiberglass is the next best and solid steel hammers come last. Construction workers like steel hammers, but they are hard on the arm, so a buffer of wood and rubber is put below the head to lessen the impact on the arm.
4. A hammer’s claw is not just used for pulling out nails. It is used for picking up different size lumber. A claw hammer is depicted in an etching by Albrecht Durer dated 1514.
5. There are different hammers for different types of work. Wooden mallets for carpentry, blacksmith hammers, coopers hammers for making barrels, bricklaying hammers, farrier hammers for putting on horse shoes, ball-peen hammers for mechanics and shoemaker’s hammer are just a few.
6. The word hammer always denotes power as seen in the name hammerhead shark, the hammerlock grappler’s move and the hammer and sickle which was the symbol for the defunct superpower the USSR. The hammer represented the people working in industry and the sickle represented those working in agriculture.
7. To prevent splitting the wood you are hammering a nail into, hit the point of the nail with the hammer to blunt it a little before you use it. This will make the nail push through the wood and not cut through which may cause the wood to split.
8. Hammers were used in the late medieval times as weapons of war for close combat. In the 1300s and 1400s armor was so strong only a hammer could cause any damage to the enemy. They had long poles or handles for toppling riders and short handles when used while riding.
9. In Norse mythology, Thor wields a hammer that can crush mountains and symbolizes thunder and lightening, strength, destruction and protection.
10. There is a hammer museum in Haines, Alaska. It focuses on mankind’s first tools and displays over 1500 hammers from ancient times to today. It views man’s progress from prehistory to colonial times to the industrial age through the use of the hammer. There is a 19 foot 8 inch hammer in the front of the museum.
The hammer is so useful that many people take it for granted, but it is anything but common. From the most delicate jewelers hammer to a construction workers sledge hammer they perform the same function; they amplify force converting mechanical work into kinetic energy and back.