Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 1
   September 2011
   Featured Patents

Shoemaker's Hammer

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is loosely defined as an injury to the musculoskeletal or nervous systems. It can be caused by repetitive motion and affects a specific part of the body. Some common injuries include back problems caused by repeatedly lifting heavy objects, or tennis elbow from overusing the forearm. The application of new ergonomic solutions can prevent some of the debilitating injuries endured by workers who do certain tasks without variety throughout the workday. The tool described below could be considered an example. At the least, it was one individual's contribution to his trade and an innovative solution to a perceived problem.

Shoemaker's hammer model

With his patent #73,141, dated January 7, 1868, Jacob Vigeant of Marlboro, Massachusetts, sought to improve the versatility of the shoemaker's hammer by having two inclined opposing faces to allow the user to rest his hand at a lower position. This meant that striking required a smaller movement, as compared to the larger arm and hand movements used in striking similar implements extant in the leatherwork trade, most notably by cordwainers (who made shoes) and cobblers (who repaired shoes). The wooden handle had appropriate flats for the handgrip to provide correct alignment of the striking face. It was claimed that by having the two striking faces, if one became damaged the other side could be used.
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