Friday, May 16, 2008

Hammer collections and hardware thoughts

When I was in college, I started a hammer collection.

In fact, my college roommate went to Europe and my only request was a hammer, which turned out to be a sweet Warrington cross-pein version. What a cool

Over the years, I've lost track of my friend, but not the hammer.

In every foundry class I took, I took the opportunity to cast solid metal hammers - in bronze, nickle, and even a small one in sterling silver. It's not a collection that I work hard at keeping up, but last year, I bought a sweet set from Garrett Wade, a set of Double-Faced Traditional Style Japanese Hammers.

Be still my heart.

Which got me thinking about one of my favorite books, Tools of the Trade by Jeff Taylor.

For any of you like minds out there (tool whores at heart) this book is sure to stimulate your tool lust.

Someone stopped by my studio the other day and saw the small Japanese hammer on my workbench, and inquired about it's purpose. It's very small, so it's not like you're going to drive many nails with it.

What do I use it for?

I keep this hammer handy for purpose, and ONE purpose only... breaking ceramic pieces that I deem of poor quality. I figure - if I've put my time, energy, creativity and money into making a piece - and it turns out bad, I don't want to simply toss it in the trash.

My pot and tile breaking ceremony probably seems a little ostentatious to some, but it's important to me.

Which brings me back to thoughts of great hardware stores. I can think of two that are near and dear to my heart - West Hill Hardware on Market Street in Akron, Ohio, and San Diego Hardware. They used to be located in the downtown area of San Diego, but moved in 2006. I haven't been to their new location, but it would be hard to beat their quaint old location.

Great hardware stores are hard to find. I'm not talking about the big box ones, the huge mega stores that have tons o' stuff, but not really anyone that cares about what they're selling you.

I'm talking about the old time, odd stocked, personal stores of my youth. The kind where it didn't seem odd to see a mouse run across the floor, or a bird caught in the eaves. Or the lumber dude with a couple of missing fingers.

The kind of store where you can buy one toggle bolt, or a cork for the bottom of your grandmother's salt shaker. Or a nails by the pound, measured with an old time hanging scale.

My kind of place.

So today, when I read The Poop today, a blog in the San Francisco Chronicle by Peter Hartlaub. It was entitled " Hardware Stores: the new Disneyland" and
I feel a little mixed about what he wrote. (You may have to scroll down a bit to find it on his blog.) I was thrilled that he's introducing his son to the thrills of hardware stores. But I sure wish he'd picked a better hardware store than the one he chose - they are out there, you just have to look.

I just thought of another: Lehman's Hardware in the heart of Amish country.

Anyone care to add to the list? Where are the cool stores in your neighborhood?

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