I was working on a house rehab last week with my Habitat Chapter and a group of 20 High School students from two of the local high schools. The kids were great and the instructors were outstanding. These kids are really into this carpentry stuff and they are well trained. I am so happy to see this happening and it is a joy to work with them each year.
When I am on a job site in a supervisory role and not doing a lot of actual work, I carry a tape and a small trim hammer. I use the tape as a pointer so I don’t have to climb a ladder all the time. The little hammer makes me the butt of many jokes as some people call it a girlie hammer (no offense people) or think it is just a toy. I can assure you it is not a toy and it will flat move a nail. Something about the size of the fight in the dog. Last week the kids named my hammer “El Nino” or “Little Boy”. I’m going to take that as a sign of respect for its skills cause they saw I can sink a nail with it better and faster than most of them.
Besides El Nino, I think I may have fifteen hammers in the shop. I cannot throw one away and they tend to accumulate on me. Of course, there are some special favorites. My favorite big one is a large framer with a replaceable wooden handle and a waffle pattern on the business end. Talk about moving a nail, that one will do it. The joke on the job site for an old guy like me is that this is the only hammer with an age limit molded into the head. Look right there under the claw and it says “21”, and if you are older than that, you will not still be swinging that hammer at the end of the day. The straight claws are a real joy in framing, since you can set them under a board and hit the head with another hammer to really put on some pressure. And to double the pressure, pull the handle sideways instead of back, a trick which I am surprised that most people do not know.
In the furniture making trade there is the Warrington pattern hammer. I like this hammer a lot since it is so well balanced, light and easy to use. It is made without claws since it is designed to drive brads that you could probably pull out with your teeth if you had to. If you are using it, you are so close to the end of your project you are not going to want to pull anything out of the wood and mess up your project. The cross peen on the end is made so you can hold a brad with your fingers and then strike the hammer between your fingers to hit the brad. It works like a champ.
Highland has a wonderfully large selection of hammers of all descriptions. I’m not sure if anybody still makes a hammer like El Nino anymore, but if you can find one, you will really love it. Have you got a favorite hammer?