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Where’s Your Head?


Almost every profession or commodity at one time utilized a hammer. Even bank tellers canceled checks with a small hammer that indented an “x” shape on the paper document.  Anything that was delivered by a horse and wagon, relied on the profession of  Wagon Maker (sur name Wagner) as well as the Ferrier to shoe or “shaw” the horses.  

Barrel makers (sur name: Cooper), cobblers (sur name: Shoemacher), machinists, loggers and

poster/bill hangers all had specially shaped hammers to facilitate production.  

Hammers were not only vital, they were prolific. In 1867, over 500 different

styles of hammers were produced,

each designed for a particular

craft, profession

or industry. 1




                                                                                                                The hammer in the form of a stone may very well

                                                                                                            be the first (power) tool.  Some animals such as the     

                                                                                                          sea otter often use rocks to bang open shell fish and  

                                                                                                          sea urchins. Most jobs involving hammers have

                                                                                                           disappeared or at the very least have eliminated the

                                                                                                           hammer in the process. It could be human nature or

                                                                                                           cultural motivation that causes a collective push that

                                                                                                           attempts to eradicate manual labor, such as that done

                                                                                                           with a hammer. By no means is this eradication right

or wrong, it simply occurs.  However, we have strayed from a very important moral lesson about manual labor.  When the hand is applied to a craft or professional trade, the hands are not idle. The user gains a greater understanding of the world from tacit knowledge produced by the "hands on experience". Resurrecting the trades such as the Ferrier or Cooper would be a futile attempt to prevent idle hands from becoming the “Devil’s Workshop”. Nor would this guarantee any resolve or repair of our society's dysfunctions.


I offer no absolute solution. I can only point out that we have lost our heads (minds and hammer).  Whether it is rising crime rates or the plunging dollar, we can be idle, like we have become accustomed, or we can take action and find the right tool for the job.


New jobs may not necessarily involve toil or extreme manual labor. We must employ or be employed with a sense of purpose and hold in high regard the "hands on experience".  


Leadership, partnership and life require tools and skills which, along with the hammer, are disappearing. We must respect tools, both metaphorical and physical, and the skills used to wield them. When I ask “Where’s Your Head?”,  I am asking everyone to look for the right tool for the job.  If you have misplaced that tool, it’s right their where you last left it.  It’s in your hands.







1 George Basalla, The Evolution of Technology, (Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge Press,

1988),  pg. 2.


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Where's Your Head? 2009

Where’s Your Head?

Where's Your Head? 2009 Fundamentalism, Agriculture and Economics Fundamentalism, Agriculture and Economics

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