Hammer time

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When I travel, I hit every antique store I see. When I do this, I buy things.

Case in point: On my recent trip, I got off the interstate for no other reason than there was a sign saying "Antiques." It was a good time to gas up and stretch my legs anyway (antique-shopping rationalization ploy No. 1).

When I go casual antiquing, unless I'm looking for something specific, I'm strictly a pocket-money spender. If I have to pull out plastic or my checkbook, I usually pass the item by. As a result, I tend to examine the "junk" shelves, which is where most of the cool stuff is anyway. Boxes with rusty tools are a favorite, and at this antique store I found a rusty claw hammer with a split handle. The handle had seen temporary repair – if you consider a handle wrapped with frayed cloth tape older than me a temporary repair. The head was loose and thoroughly rusted, but otherwise in OK shape with no breaks or chips.

As it happens, I'm a hammer short. I have two that I use most, and one of those has disappeared. (I suspect borrowed by a certain family member, who shall remain nameless, and not put back.) Those two hammers are, or were, two of my favorite tools. Neither was new when I got it, and I think that's why I liked them so much: They had a history of creating things before they came to me.

Since I still have one of them I had no real need of getting a "new" one, but I liked that rusty hammer in the antique store. It was the right weight, the head and claw the right shape, and just felt good in my hand. Best of all the price of $4 was certainly right; a perfect example of a pocket-money antique.

At the moment, it's still in the paper bag they put it in when I bought it, but when I get a bit of time I'll clean it up and get it back to working shape, starting by thoroughly de-rusting the head. Then I'll see if I can do a better repair job on the handle, and if not I'll replace it. I won't restore it to like-new condition, but rather to its former in-use condition before long years in that junk-tool box degraded it to a rusty relic.

It's undoubtedly been a long time since that hammer created anything, but I'm sure it remembers how and is eager to get back to work. I'm just as eager to give it the opportunity to do so.

Before long, we'll create things together.

Till next time,


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