Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More About Hammer Care

While thinking about hammers some thoughts came back to me from over 30 years ago when I first read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values. It is one of the few books I have read more than once. It explores the notion of quality from the perspectives of romanticism and rationality. It seems to conclude that striving to combine the views may result in the greatest satisfaction. I suppose it appealed to me because I regard some concepts such as art/craft metaphorically as poles of a bar magnet. The poles can be stretched very far apart yet the field is never broken. Art isn’t worth much unless crafted well and craft is worth much is not artful.

So part of any project is forming the creative vision of the tactical goal and part is planning the strategic approach. I was thinking about an extension of the “Choosing a Hammer” ideas and the maintenance issues crept in.

It didn’t take long for me to learn to treat my forging hammers with special care and not use them for demolition, chipping slag, driving and stamping which are better accomplished with hammers whose face polish isn’t as critical. Appropriate segregation of use for each hammer is a starting point for maintenance.

Keeping the head solidly connected to the handle hasn’t been any problem for me since I switched to the Gorilla super glue bonding technique.

With use the handles of my forging hammers get worn slick and hard to grip so I lightly sand them to increase the friction. I like the flexible pads about 1/4” thick and 4.5” x 5.5”. Some handles have been spray painted for identification and that seems to do about the same thing as sanding.

The faces of the frequently used hammers get dressed about monthly. Sometimes I have to use a zirconia flap wheel or sanding belt but usually only the silicon carbide wheel and hard felt wheel with chromium oxide buffing compound will do the job.

With the tools in good shape I can turn my imagination loose to do some creating.

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