Hammer time

I had a box of miscellaneous stuff to drop in our shed while we were up on The Mountain yesterday, including a rock hammer I’d bought for Deb — she’s an incurable rockhound, and I thought it might add to her enjoyment. I brought it out to show her cousin.

Turning it over in his hands, he looked at me and said, “Do you have one?”

I confessed that I didn’t. He stood up, disappeared into his shed and emerged with a well-loved tool, which he handed to me.

“Now you do.”

I looked closely — damned if it wasn’t an Estwing, a vintage E3-20BL mason’s hammer. Where Deb’s has a pick opposite the striking face, this one has a chisel. I brought the surprise gift back to the bus, intending to clean it up a bit before putting it into my toolbox on The Mountain.

Today’s rain and gloom gave me the perfect opportunity to do the job. I could weave it into other outdoor chores, and I knew exactly what I’d need — a small bucket, white vinegar, steel wool, a wire brush and a few paper towels. Dish soap and a scrub brush would take care of the molded rubber handle.

Thing is, I had to make do with what was on-hand. The vinegar we have is weak (diluted to 5% acidity), our steel wool is finer (#0000) than I would’ve liked, and we didn’t bring a wire brush. I figured I’d see how much I could accomplish with what I had.

A little over an hour later, after repeated cycles of soaking and scrubbing and wiping — again, while tending to other stuff — I judged that I’d taken the old hammer about as far as I could.

No, it still doesn’t resemble a gleaming new Estwing. That wasn’t my aim. Truth is, I have a certain affection for tools with character, and this old made-in-USA hammer has that in spades.

It’s reminding me a lot of the vintage Estwing carpenter’s hatchet we have with us. It’s at least a half-century old, best I can tell. And despite bringing along a better, newer, never-been-swung hand ax to do campfire duty, the venerable Estwing is all we’ve used.

There’s just something about old tools, a thrill to getting maximum mileage out of things that are made well. I spy a glimmer in the eye of this scarred masonry hammer, as if it’s ready to get back to work.

It will.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

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