Hi. My name is Jean, and I'm addicted to hammering.
For a custom order that I created recently, I estimated that my hammer struck metal more than 11,000 times in a single day. This type of activity inevitably impacts the body, and I exercise various precautions to minimize it.
In the studio, I consistently do the following:
- Wear ear protection...a pair of industrial strength ear muffs in the studio, and a minimum of ear plugs while I'm traveling.
- Layer the bench block to absorb the shock of each hammer blow. My bench block sandwich begins with a folded shop towel on the bottom, a rubber block in the middle, and a steel bench block on top of it all.
- Let the tools work for me. I first heard this sentiment in a workshop taught by Keith Lo Bue. Prior to that, I held my hammer in a death grip, and struck it each time as if I was trying to ring the bell at the top of a game on the midway. Since then, I hold my hammer with the lightest of touches. (You can literally pull it from my hand mid-motion.) I also allow the dead weight of the hammer to fall with each stroke instead of the actively swinging it with force toward the bench.
- The movement of my arm when hammering is generated from my elbow and not my wrist or hand.
- And finally, I take frequent breaks and vary my activities, both within an individual work session and also within the scope of my work week
These are just a few of the steps that I take to avoid bodily harm, and it's my sincere hope that they'll also prolong my ability to happily hammer my way for years into the future.