Thursday, October 11, 2012
Tool of the Month #1
Okay, first the title is probably way to optimistic for my reality - but I will try.
In case you didn't already know, I love tools - especially old tools with stories to tell and skills to teach. I've shared some of these in past posts, but will now be attempting to be more regular about it.
The idea is I will pick one tool a month and post about it. I'll share its story if I know it, how I use it, any unique features, any questions I have about it, and what I love about it. So, that's the idea - let's get started.
"Worth" 16oz Bell Faced Claw Hammer
I picked this up with a broken off handle on one of my early tool hunting expeditions back East - probably Maine or New Hampshire, but I can't remember exactly. I punched out the remaining part of the handle, salvaged the wedges and made a new handle from local Alaskan birch.
I had never done that before, and at first I was rather intimidated by the idea. But, like so many other things I have learned on this hand tool adventure, it's really just a matter of getting started and figuring it out as you go along. As I worked on the shavehorse with drawknife and spokeshaves, I just kept holding the handle and pretending to hammer with it, and my hand told me what to do - thinner, longer, more flair, etc. In my mind it was going to be a round handle, but as I worked on it, the flattened octagon shape just felt right. In the end, I had a handle that was custom made to fit my hand. There are some pretty big dividends to NOT having a plan sometimes - in fact, in my experience, this is true most of the time. So if you've ever thought about rehandling a tool - I say do it!
In this shot you can see the "Worth" logo and also some marks that show a previous owner did some hammering with the side of the adze eye. Hmm. I wonder how this little guy ended up with that broken handle? (Not that the side hammering would do that, but I think it shows a level of disrespect for the tool.)
Worth was a house brand sold by the large hardware company of Bigelow & Dowse located in Boston, MA. From what I can find, this brand was made for B&D by Pexto, and sold between 1925-1945, which makes this hammer at least 67 years old. Cool. It also has a "REG US PATT OFF" imprint, which I find a bit unusual, as I don't see anything unique and patentable about it. Curious.
I also have a drawknife with the Worth mark on it (and strangley enough it is my "go to" drawknife, just like this is my "go to" hammer) but it also has an asterisk or star stamp as well, which I think I recall seeing elsewhere as being a symbol that Worth used. I'd love to learn more about this stuff.
Another thing I really appreciate about this hammer is the smooth, slightly convex face. I can consistently sink nails to just below the surface without leaving the so-called "French marks" - an old English term I rather expect.
And a shot of my initials - I'm not sure why I didn't brand this one - maybe because I was thinking of it more as an "owner's mark" rather than a "maker's" mark? Of course, I did make the handle...
I think hammers are under appreciated - but this one makes me happy every time I pick it up.