I've stated it before: I'm a total workshop rat. There's something about spaces where skilled work gets done that invigorates my spirit. At various points throughout my life, I've wandered into blacksmith shops—on my great uncle's farm in southern Ohio, at a permanent exhibit on the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, at the dead end of a street on the outskirts of my college town in West Virginia—and each time I've quieted with reverence, among the tongs and hammers and slack tubs, as if walking in the glow of stained glass windows.
Short of actually hanging around the shop, smelling the hot metal and hearing the clank of a hammer on an anvil, I get my forge fix by following metalsmiths on Instagram. Here are thirty of ManMade's favorite accounts that we totally recommend.
ManMade Essential Toolbox: A Hammer Is Not Enough - A Guide to Other Must-Have Mallets and Striking Tools
Each week in 2015, ManMade is sharing our picks for the essential tools we think every creative guy and DIYer needs. We've selected useful, long-lasting tools to help you accomplish a variety of projects, solve problems, and live a hands-on lifestyle that allows you to interact with and make the things you use every day.
While it's great when pieces fit nice and tight, sometimes you need a bit more . . . persuasion. Enter the mallet. A mallet is generally larger than a traditional framing hammer, and adds a bit of heft right where it's needed. Plus a mallet's striking surface usually isn't metal, which allows you to knock-together pieces or strike wooden-handled chisels without damaging them. Remember, the rule is: metal strikes metal, wood strikes wood. (Or plastic and rubber).
Think of a hammer as a primitive tool? Think again. Though it sorta performs the same function as some Cro-Magnon fellow bashing stuff with a rock, it's actually a remarkable piece of industrial design that dates back thousands of years, and has been relatively unchanged since. Respect.
Best Made Co., the New York-based design company known for producing rustic yet infinitely stylish accesssories and tools with a modern masculine feel, first gained attention for their colorful (designer?) axe and tool handles. And now, they've created a how-to that gives you full, step-by-step instructions to customizing your own tools.
While a design student at Cornwall College of Art and Design, Marcus Levine began to play with the idea of creating human forms with nails. He explains, "the interplay between the rigid, angular nails and the soft curves of the human torso, would be more striking".
Years later, Marcus has perfected the technique, and he's nailing it.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Peter Buchanan-Smith and Best Made Co., and I haven't been able to shake the imagery of their color-adorned urban axes since. I can't help but check out the ax and shovel handles at the hardware store and garden center. And while I have immense respect for Best Made Co. and their amazing work, I'm just not at the point in my life where I can swing investing in a high-end functional art piece.
But that doesn't mean I couldn't take a cue from their bold color meets wood-grain handles and deep silver blades - so I decided to create my own colorful high-end tool, using a claw hammer. And you can too.