It’s a 22 oz framing hammer.


It was swung by a younger man eight-hours a day, five days a week. The head has teeth to bite into inaccurate strikes and continue the nail’s drive as the driver intended. Back in the day I saw one save a man as he fell from a roof and the hammer in his leather tool belt caught on a purlin and stopped him. Big, fearless guy, he went white for a second hanging there in mid-air, broke into a running sweat, then the biggest smile. He bought the crew a round that night.

The 22oz hammer suggest three strikes per nail. At most, four. We’re talking eight-inch ring nails. Noon breaks, we’d see who could drive ‘er deep with one strike. Macho stuff. June won frequently and I don’t think she ever missed hitting the tall sucker right on the head. The down side of that hammer was, if you hit your thumb you were ground meat and it hurt to your nutz. The day I quit, I was 36 feet in the air, stretched out way too far on the top of the ladder in the freezing Pennsylvania rain. I was hungover and had one more goddam rubber-washered siding nail to drive through the steel sheet and we’d be done. I went for it and missed.

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