How one of the most common hand tools has evolved into the efficient, ergonomic instrument it is today
Certain tools are considered staples of a toolbox (including staples themselves). As one of the oldest devices in use today for tasks requiring a significant impact, the hammer can take on many forms for each task. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the term “hammer” can be used “in a general sense to cover the wide variety of striking tools distinguished by other names, such as pounder, beetle, mallet, maul, pestle, sledge and others.” But most recognize the basic hammer as a tool with a weighted head attached to a handle for leverage and impact.
As one of the oldest devices in use today for tasks requiring a significant impact, the hammer can take on many forms for each task.
Hammers date to Stone Age, with early models typically involving a stone, as the head, affixed to some other material as the handle. Historical examples of this construction include the roughly 500-million-year-old London hammer, discovered by Max and Emma Hahn circa 1936, which features a wood handle and rock head.
As its function evolved from more rudimentary impact tasks to assignments requiring more precision, so did the hammer. The head was developed with a flat face for better contact with the object it was hitting. Hammers also began to become lighter to suit their new functions.
Today, hammer designs have evolved to take into account not only the shape of the user’s hand for better grips and more comfortable use, but also the effects of the impact. Tools such as Stanley’s FATMAX Anti-Vibe two-piece hammers further isolate vibration so the user feels less. And, of course, there’s greater variety in the size and style of hammers, from nailer hammers to tack hammers to finisher hammers.
The tool is so popular and versatile that there’s even a Hammer Museum in Haines, Alaska, dedicated to showcasing a variety of contemporary and historical hammers.
Do you have a favorite hammer model or one you like to recommend to customers?
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