Tuesday, January 31, 2017

hammers part two

As a professional woodworker, hammers and nails were to be avoided. The finest work is fitted together with intricate hand or machine cut joints. But in woodworking with kids, using softwoods, hammers and nails are essential. In the photo above or at left the hammer is a blaze of motion, and gripped near the head. A Vaughan and Bushnell Bear Saw is shown on the bench.

Vises are essential both to hold stock while it is cut (thus keeping the hands safe) and during assembly as is shown to hold parts while they are being assembled (again keeping the hands safe).

These students in first grade are making tiny foxes to further animate a book they were reading in class. To make animals like these, I supply a block of wood with cut lines marked. Some help is always required to get the wood firmly positioned in the vise. My students often have collections of work that are treasured for years to come.

I remember being told by my father to move my hand down the length of the handle to get more strength. But that will come in its own time.  Just as it took primitive man some time to develop the handle, the full potential of the handle is not immediately grasped. As the child matures his hand will move further down the length of the handle, the result of growing strength and confidence.

We use Vaughan and Bushnell Little Pro hammers that were a gift to our school when I won my first Golden Hammer award for my how-to writing in 2002. The tools is rather expensive, but has held up well through many years of use. Chinese import hammers can be found online for as little as $2.22.

Make, fix, create and extend the likelihood that others will become intelligent through similar means.


  1. Anonymous4:16 AM

    For my kids pliers are the non-plus-ultra addition to the hammer. Getting the nails out is nearly as interesting as hammering them in...
    While the claw hammer seems a little more tricky in use. But in this case the longer handle (the easier to get the nail out) is an eye opener - every time.

  2. René, as you note, it is difficult for kids to remove nails, and pliers are a good idea. Do you have any particular ones to recommend?

    End nippers are made to roll small nails out as they are gripped. There are some larger nail pulling pliers that are made more for demolition work, but too large for what we have in mind. A pair of good pliers shared among students is a good idea, as (hopefully) the kids will bend a few nails and get better at nailing.