Wow… A huge thank you to my good friend Gerhard Marx. He has been hinting for some time now that he was working on making a tool that he wanted to send me, but being very cryptic on the details. He previously mentioned something about a metal worker he had commissioned to do part of the project, and that he would be making the wooden parts of the tool. Beyond this, I had no idea what it might be.
Earlier in the year, I sent a package to Gerhard via the U.S. Postal Service. It took over two months to reach him in Namibia. Gerhard emailed me saying that he had sent a package to me on November 30 so we figured it would be late January or early February before it reached me. However, two days ago a package from Gerhart arrived. Windoek to Washington in under two weeks, nice!
I opened the package and found this in inside:
This is a seriously cool hammer. There was nothing else in the box, explaining how it was made, or if it has some specific intended use. So, this blog post is mostly going to be my assumptions about what it’s made of and it’s intended purpose. I’m guessing, so I might get some of this wrong.
I’m also assuming that Gerhard will have a blog post forthcoming explaining all about it. Hint, hint.
The wooden handle has a nice sweep to it, and feels really good in the hand. The head of the hammer looks small. In fact, at first glance it looks disproportionately small, that is until you pick the hammer up. This thing is heavy!
A typical (standard) hammer weighs 16 ounces. This one weighs 18 ¼. It really is deceptive, it looks as though the head is too small for the hammer, but it’s just perfect. I’ve found that if you choke up a little bit on the handle, the balance is fantastic. There is so much mass in the head of the hammer that it really packs a punch.
I think that the handle of the hammer is made from Assegai (Curtisia dentata). I’m certainly not the expert in African hardwoods that Gerhard is, but I seem to recall from reading on his site that the white flecks in the wood are indicative of this species. I believe that this is the same kind of wood that the Zulus used for making the shafts of their spears.
When it comes to the head of the hammer, I’m less certain. I would assume that it is steel, but it seems much heavier. Perhaps Gerhard got a hold of some depleted uranium somewhere. Just kidding! I know he had commissioned a local metalworker to help him with this part of the project, but I would love to know what the hammer head is made out of. It has a great hand-worked look to it. Certainly more craftsman-made than commercial.
Based upon the direction that the handle curves, the front face of the hammer head is perfectly flat. The rear face has a slight dome do it. I tried to capture this in the photos below.
I tried to guess Gerhard’s reasons for designing it this way. I tried gripping the hammer backwards and using it with the domed face down. The sweep of the handle keeps your knuckles well clear of the work surface, and the domed head would probably be good for setting nails without denting your workpiece. The front (flat) face of the hammer head, works great for striking Japanese chisels.
Japanese chisels are designed to be struck with a metal hammer. These Japanese hammers are called Genno. Click the link to read more about them. I think Gerhard’s hammer is going to do this job superbly.
So what to call it? Gerhard’s Genno? The Marx Mallet? The Windhoek Whacker? The Namibian Nightstick? Feel free to comment below with your suggestions. I think Gerhard should weigh in here with his.
You can read Gerhard’s amazing blog by going to www.jenesaisquoiwoodworking.com.
Thank you very much for your generosity. I truly appreciate your kindness. I love this tool and I’ll keep it forever.
All the best,
Gerhard has since posted about how the hammer was made. It is an excellent post with loads of amazing photos. Check it out here: