Just saw an advertisement for a ‘new’ type of hammer — one with a wooden handle, the better to absorb the shock of hammering compared to an all-steel hammer.
Well, the reason I never bought an all-steel hammer in the first place, when these first appeared as a new and improved form, supposedly more resistant to breaking than the regular wooden-handled type, was precisely because a hickory-handled hammer was so much more comfortable to use. And, in any case, the reason the wood handles broke was invariably because the uninitiated was attempting to use the hammer as a pry bar. Just because a claw hammer could pull out a few nails did not mean that it was a replacement for a steel bar — just an additional convenience for SMALL nail removal. But who knew that!? With the result that soon steel-handled hammers started to show up bent, making it difficult to land the face of the hammer squarely on the nail. And then, of course, the steel handles had to be fitted with rubber sleeves at an extra cost so the shock would not destroy the user’s rotator cuffs. Aah, how we go backwards and forwards.
Meanwhile, my wooden-handled hammers continued to develop an honourable patina. Using such a tool, that I have had for twenty years or more, whose handle has a speck of paint spatter here, and an oil stain there, the whole haft gleaming with a patina the result of being held and wielded honestly and carefully for so long, connects me to a continuum absent from the steel-handled tool with rotting rubber handle and a bent shaft, the cheap chrome peeling from the head.
New and improved indeed!