Jul 5, 2012
Here at Topline we have a love affair with the average everyday tools that you use in your DIY projects. These tools in one form or another were around long before DIY stores like your local Topline were around to sell them. Tools like chisels and planes, saws and screwdrivers. Today though we start a series of articles about these tools, of tradesmen and DIY enthusiasts alike, with a story of the lowly hammer sent to us by a Topline customer in Co. Galway.
To me the most useful practical tool ever invented is the lowly hammer. Wait, let me be more specific, the claw hammer in particular, is the one tool that no matter what situation or job I’ve been working on, if I don’t have it I always regret it.
It is the ultimate all purpose tool and while it may not be the exact tool for a job, my claw hammer has been involved in every kind of situation from working on car engines to fixing chair legs to taking a roof apart on a house. It’s even been used to break up digestive biscuits (inside a cloth if course) for use in the base of a cheesecake.
So let’s have a chat about hammers. The idea of the hammer has been around since some man realised stones were better for hitting things than his hands or his head. How many of us have used a stone in exactly this way to drive in a tent peg or to knock down the pegs that hold the net at the back of a goal. Well one day, way back in the day, a Tuesday I think it was, one fella realised that if he tied his rock securely to a stick he could swing it a hell of a lot harder. He may have been using it to bash heads as much as drive pegs but still this is how the hammer was born, probably.
The hammer has been with us for a very long time, obviously, and after a while, with our mastery of metal, we developed nails to hold things together more securely. And with this method of driving nails in, came the obvious problem of taking them out again when you made a mistake. And so the ultimate putting things together, ripping things apart and hitting things just a wee tap, multipurpose DIY tool that is, the claw hammer, was born. Even the claw hammer though is pretty old. To throw a bit of the art world in here, the old German Master Albrecht Durer‘s well known print “Melancholia I” has a claw hammer that is much the same as the one we use today about half way up the picture on the left hand side, and it was produced in 1514. So the claw hammer, as we understand it, has been around at least 500 years and probably a good bit longer.
My own love of the lowly claw hammer started with my father. Back in the 1980s my father, like many others, was a young man struggling to find work, but rather than sit around on his hands, he spent his time on DIY fixing up our house. Building beds, cupboards, shelves and tables from nails and screws obtained from the local co-op, whatever wood he could lay his hands on for half nothing and a bit of knowledge of how wood had to be put together to stick. I was born into this environment and when my father had to make some trips abroad to work to put bread on the table, the story goes that the only thing that consoled me as a child of two or three in his absence was having my Dad’s hammer under my pillow where I could slip my hand up and touch it as I went to sleep. I have no recollection of this myself, but as you can see, of all the tools used in DIY, I recognised, even then, that the hammer was very important. It could be a story exaggerated by my mother and older siblings but it’s a nice story all the same.
So into DIY I was born, with a hammer in hand from a young age and soon enough it was put to use banging together bits of lath to make guns to shoot at errant siblings or invading Nazi’s or some other marauder. For a lot of people their first experience of DIY and the use of tools is in the deconstruction of something with spanners or screwdrivers, for me, it was the simple act of construction. Two pieces of wood held together with three nails. My joy in DIY was born of putting things together, of making things and it was this blunt instrument that allowed me to do that. Of course since then I’ve used every tool imaginable from tenon saws, to torque wrenches, to wood turning machines, but there is something simple and wonderful about this humble tool that means it’s something I’ll never be without. Take it anywhere and it’ll always be useful. It’s certainly this man’s opinion that you’re not a real DIYer unless you have a little bit of love for your hammer.
What do you think is the best DIY tool? Is he right about the hammer being the King of DIY tools? Tell us below in the comments.