Tag Archives: hammer

Every tool is a hammer


DO – In scene shop construction, “every tool is a hammer, except for a screwdriver, which is a chisel.” Basically what that means is you can use anything to bang something (like getting a stubborn bolt through a hole), but a screwdriver you use for cutting things like a chisel.


The informant was working on constructing a set for a theatrical performance, when a coworker asked for a hammer for a bolt they were struggling with. The informant walked over, grabbed their measuring tape, and whacked the bolt into place. Then they recited the proverb.


There is a tool for every function one might need when constructing a theatrical set, props, furniture, etc. Some of these tools are very bizarre in appearance, have no obvious appearance upon first glance, or have only one, minuscule function that may get used only once every few years because it is not a common technique. Other tools have always remained relatively the same, like the hammer and chisel. That may be because… anything can be used like a hammer to smash something, and any strong sharp thing can chip away at a softer material.
Wood shops will likely have hammers that are made to be durable, ergonomic, highly engineered improvements on the most rudimentary tools humanity has always had. But sometimes they aren’t within reach or you weren’t expecting to need a hammer so you didn’t bring one. Same for specially crafted chisels. But theater construction is fast-paced, and usually, rudimentary tools and basic hand-eye coordination will do the job just as well and way faster than going to get a real hammer or chisel.

Thors Hammer

Treat is a new friend of mine. We shared two classes this semester. He’s a sophomore transferring from Norwich University. He is in the same NROTC unit I’m in here at USC. He’s lived in some very interesting places like Italy and the Netherlands. They move around to such cool places because his father is in the military and that’s where his father got orders to. Treat really likes ghost stories and Mythology. It was not hard interviewing him in the least bit. He had stories I had never heard of or could’ve even imagined.

Treat is also a Pagan. He believes in Norse ‘Mythology’. Oden and Thor and all the other gods of Asgard resemble a huge part of who he is. Treat started practicing in his sophomore year in high school. Below he told me the story of Thors Hammer.

Mjölnir the Norse word associated or given to Thors Hammer. In Translation in means “that which marks and pulverizes to dust”. Treat tells the story of how it came to be: Loki bets with Sindri and his brother Brokkr that they could never succeed in making anything better or more beautiful than Odins spear. Sindri and Brokkr accept the bet and start crafting some magic. The two workers worked until they made thei masterpiece.

Loki in the form of a fly came by and bit them yet they continued to work. Sindri takes out a boars shining bristles (Gullinbursti) and puts it into the forge along with the pig skin. Then they put fold. Loki in the disguise of the fly comes back and bites Brokkrs neck twice. But he stilled worked.

Then Sindri takes out Odins ring – this ring duplicates 8 versions of itself every ninth night. Lastly, Sindri put iron into the forge and they stop. Loki comes in one last time and bites his brother in the eye. He stops working and blood runs down his face. It was a hair too soon. When he took the hammer out it could only be wielded by one hand!

“They still won the bet – it’s Thors Hammer” said Treat. Loki get’s his mouth shut as a means of losing the bet. mjolnir_1


Farrier Lore: Laying down the hammer

Informant : “Horseshoe-ers when you lay your hammer down for the last time the only thing you have to look forward to is dying”


The informant is a kind, older, “cowboy” who has been working with horses and farm animals for his entire life. He is a Certified Journeyman Farrier (the highest level of certification by the American Farrier’s Association) and is very well respected in the farrier and greater equine community. He was born in Wichita, Kansas to a family that has been farmers for generations. In fact, the informant said that some of his family is still farming in “places like Oklahoma.” He shod his first horse when he was 13, and so he has been shoeing horses for about 51 years. * To “shoe” or  shod a horse is to put horse shoes on the horse’s hooves. Horses need to be shod about once every six weeks, so quality farriers are highly sought after in the equine community. A farrier is a very specialized and difficult profession because if a horse is shod improperly the horse could become crippled.* The informant learned of this lore from a fellow farrier during his many years in the trade.

When asked what the informant thought of the saying, he stated “…layin the hammer down. I used to think it was funny, but now, now I’m startin’ to believe it.” This particular lore is very relevant to the informant because he is “reaching that time when I’ll have to put my hammer down.” This saying indicates a right of passage. When the older and experienced farrier is going to retire, he will “lay his hammer down for the last time.”

The informant is very passionate about his profession and really enjoys working with horses, so I find that this is a somewhat depressing saying. Furthermore, having been born and raised in a society that avoids death and treats death as a taboo topic such a statement is disconcerting. We do not like imagining those we know passing away or acknowledging that they might.