Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tips and Tricks from The Studio Hammer Time

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:
  1. Wear ear protection...a pair of industrial strength ear muffs in the studio, and a minimum of ear plugs while I'm traveling.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. The movement of my arm when hammering is generated from my elbow and not my wrist or hand.
  5. 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.

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