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A Hillbilly Hammer Calibrater


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:tongue Actually, I've come up with more of a procedure for hammer calibrating than an actual device. It's very simple, so maybe someone else has thought of it before.

You would place a specific width strap at a standard distance in from the end of the handle. Attached to the end of the strap would be your loading pin and weight. Moving towards the hammer head, but only a couple of inches or so, you would have the handle resting atop a 1" or 2" pipe or bar. The distance in from the handle's end that this pipe is placed would also be standardized. When the weight you've loaded to the strap brings the hammer's handle to level you have your calibration weight. Ideally, we'd choose these distances so that calibration figures are not too heavy, nor too light. Something like 150 pounds for a 16 lb. hammer would probably be reasonable and easy to work with.

The idea behind this is to calibrate hammers so that we can compare levers performed with different length handles, weights, and hammer head sizes in an objective fashion. For example, a 10 pound hammer with 6 pounds of weight strapped to the head may or may not be equal to an actual 16 pound hammer, and that's assuming they have equal length handles. I can see that this could do for levering what calibrating stock has done for bending. It would also enable levering to be contested at grip contests with at least the same degree of objectivity as a calibrated gripper event.

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I tried it out tonight and it worked better than I could have hoped for. I'm very pleased with the entire system. I was afraid it would have to be a two man operation, but going solo works fine once you're properly set up. I calibrated my 10 lb. hammer with a 31" handle (measured to where the handle first contacts the bottom of the head). Here's how I did it:

I used a 1" nylon strap set flush with the base of the handle to which is attached the loading pin and weights. Measuring 3" in from the base of the handle I marked this spot with a piece of tape. I added weights to the loading pin until the handle maintained a perfectly level balance resting atop a 2" diameter pipe. The 3" mark on the handle was placed centered on the 2" pipe.

The key is to get the strap adjusted so the weights just barely miss the floor when the handle is level. You don't even have to remove the strap from the handle, nor the hammer from the pipe once you're set up. Just shifting the handle back or forth on the pipe will maintain a balanced position while you adjust the weights as needed.

My hammer hit 123 pounds.

If anyone cares to use this method for calibrating hammers for a contest, or just for the fun of it so we can compare our hammering abilities scientifically, just let me know and I'll help with any questions you may have.

I'm starting to rethink my idea that hammers can't be objectively contested. I also have some ideas on the judging of hammers as a contest event.

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Let me know any thoughts you have Eric! I am still debating different judging methods for my next contest.

The easiest way to contest WRT length is to standardize it- 31 inches is about right, none are really shorter. For a contest, mark the 31" point with tape.

Calibration may work if you keep lengths constant or within a narrow variance. Heavier hammers feel harder, say if levering force is equal (from different handle lengths), than a lighter hammer cause of the momentum. Harder to stop a heavier hammer.

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Unless I'm missing something, Bob, I would think that an equal calibration rating would insure that two hammers being held at level would feel the same in terms of difficulty. But maybe you're referring to the lever range of motion from vertical on down to the level point, in which case I see your point. The heavier head would be applying more force to your hand at a decreasing rate as you approach level. I guess we're both coming to the same conclusion here, now that I've given it some more thought. A standard length handle with a loadable head, on which the plates are loaded on a perpendicular axis to the handle, might be the way to go. I wonder what the FBBC model weighs empty. It looks pretty beefy.

I kind of like the 45 degree angle way of judging it. Here's two ways of judging for 45 degrees I've thought of. You could attach a piece of cardboard or some similar material, cut in the shape of a 45 degree triangle, to the hammer's handle. When the hammer hits 45 degrees the triangle side that was at 45 degrees would now be vertical, and very easy for the human eye to judge as such. Another idea is to perform the lever in front of a series of 45 degree lines on the wall. The judge would simply watch for the hammer to line up parallel with one of these lines.

The other variables that need to be addressed are how much up and down movement of the arm is acceptable and how much, if any, elbow bend is acceptable, and how to easily judge these criteria with a reasonable degree of objectivity. Since we're only going to 45 degrees, I think the elbow should remain locked throughout the entire lift. This is easy to judge. The up and down is tricky. The best I can come up with is allowing for a certain allowable distance the wrist can deviate from parallel to the floor. Something like two or three inches might work. But how do you judge this? Maybe it's best to just go on the judge's discretion? What do you think?

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As far as up and down, locked arm- I know it isn't ideal, but doing it off of a platform seems to be the best way, with the person having to maintain contact with both the upper and lower arm on the platform during the lift.

The idea with 45 degrees sounds neat. I will play with taping a marker to the hammer. The Michigan guys will be getting together one more time before our contest, so I will have a chance to see how it works with a couple of other people.

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