Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The effect of the handle

Through archeological research we know that the basic traditions of making stone tools can be traced back 500,000 years and according to Rudolph J. Drillis Folk Norms and Biomechanics a major development occurred 35,000 years ago when tools were first fitted with handles which "increased the radius of action and the speed of the stroke."

This same pattern is mirrored by a child's first play with a hammer. He or she will first hold it close to the head so its action closely approximates that of the hand itself, and then as strength of arm and accuracy of use develop, the hand travels in increments down the length of the handle providing greater range and striking force. You may remember this from your first use of a hammer, provided you are from a generation that did such things. You may have observed this from your own introduction of your children or grandchildren to tool use, if you are one of those inclined to pass on human intelligence to future generations.

Many animals have been noted for their tool use. But man is the animal that extends the accuracy, utility, sensitivity and power of his tools through the use of handles and the handles continue to evolve, becoming more powerful and complex. Get a grip. It is not the tool that sets us apart from other animals, but the handle.

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