Tools that have evolved over many years tend to be of high quality and often survive breakthroughs in technology. Think of the common hammer, one of my favorite tools. It has certainly benefited from many years of development, and still holds its own despite the presence of nail guns, which have captured a large piece of the “commercial” market because of their speed.
I was introduced to “hand” tools early in life, as my family used few power tools and did all of its own construction. Here is a photo of me at 21 months of age, helping build the family house.
I had my own small hammer, and was attacking a nail that was a bit beyond my size, but I was definitely encouraged to learn to use tools. And I did. And the basic skills have served me very well indeed.
One advantage of the common hammer, is that not only does it perform its job well, but it has not changed a great deal over my life. The two hammers in the photo below are one used by my grandfather, which I acquired upon his death 60 years ago and have used constantly since then, and one I acquired a few years ago because it is heavier and better suited for framing.
Evidence of maturity can be seen because there is not a lot of difference between the two, even though the one with the wooden handle may be pushing 100 years of age. Having trained on my little childhood hammer, I seem to be able to pick up any hammer—new, old, mine, my neighbor’s, one in our student shop or belonging to anyone in my family— and use it equally well with no training, no short course, and no manual/video. It is a hugely flexible tool, useful for everything from driving nails to demolishing unwanted structures, preventing pieces of paper from blowing around, and scratching my back. And it does not need time to boot, deliver spam to me, post advertisements, crash, or die.
Examining the hammer in the context of my Good Products, Bad Products book, it certainly delivers great value for its cost, fits me, is nicely made, is a beautiful, elegant, and sophisticated device, gives me membership in a culture I respect (those who work with hand tools), is very easy on the environment, and I obviously love it. Happiness to me is building things, and nothing surpasses banging on things with my hammer.