I was flipping through an issue of Country Living the other day and I came across a little story on tools by Estwing Manufacturing
and I thought ... "Hey, those look familiar."
I have a vintage Estwing hammer, once my grandfather's, then my father's, now mine. I've had it for years, and though I actually have a couple of other hammers in my tool box, this one is my favourite by far. And now I know why! According to CL:
"Swedish immigrant Ernest Estwing was a self-taught engineer who started as a six-cents-an-hour machinist before eventually striking out on his own in 1923. His big idea: Hammers forged from a single piece of steel would be stronger than the traditional wood-handled models. He developed prototypes in his garage and then patented his 'unbreakable' design."
Photo from Country Living taken by Alison Gootee/Studio D; Styling: Paola Andrea.
Tool shown: Estwing sportsman ax with leather grip.
These bad boys really do seem to be unbreakable. My hammer, though old and worn, works beautifully and feels wonderful and aerodynamic in my hand. The leather-wrapped handle is soft and the patina is lovely. Apparently, Estwing had already been making tools for a couple of years by the time he opened his first factory in 1925. I'm not sure how old my hammer is, but I suppose it doesn't really matter. It's just a great tool.
You can still get Estwing tools today. A brand-spankin'-new Estwing Leather Claw Hammer (English Pattern) costs about $30 and looks like this:
My vintage one, however, looks more like this:
I think i'm going to keep my eyes peeled for more leather-handled vintage tools by Estwing. Maybe start a bit of a collection.