COLLECTING WITH HAMMERS AND CHISELS
If you are going to become a mineral collector, a Hammer and Chisel are probably your most important tools. Without this pair the removal of crystals from rock is next to impossible. They are the means of extracting a crystal that is attached inside a vug and when you want to split a rock or enlarge a hole or create a crack to get a pry bar started, you need a good combination of Hammer and Chisel.
Hammer’s used for rock collecting come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from a sharp pointed Geology Hammer. These come in several lengths and are fairly light maybe 2 lb. at most. I don’t find them to be useful to drive chisels, except for light tapping of small chisels to remove a fine crystals. They can be useful in loosening dirt, the sharp end really shouldn’t be used to pound rock.
The type of hammer I find most useful is the Crack or Club hammer, really a baby sledge: they come in various lengths and weights. The solid steel hammer like the Estwing are almost indestructible, but they have their drawbacks. They transfer a lot more vibration up the handle and I find they have a tendency to twist your wrist when they rebound of steel. This type comes in several lengths and weights usually 3 or 4 pounds. The most common are the wooden handled ones ( can be bought everywhere) most with heads in the 2 to 4 pound range, but they too have drawbacks. They can break and the heads can become loose.
I myself prefer the Fiberglass handled hammer since there is less vibration and they are durable . I have used 2 different ones for over 20 years: a short handled 3 pound one and a long handled 4 pounder. They come with a hefty rubber grip and are better to hang onto; wooden ones can be slippery. I have even used a 6 pound sledge with a short handle as a crack hammer, but they are hard on the forearm.
The overuse of a rock hammer can lead to Tendonitis, sometimes called Tennis Elbow: I prefer to call it dumb Rockhound elbow. I have overdone it at Herkimer twice. The first time my right arm was so sore I couldn’t lift it high enough to change gears on my truck. I had to reach across the steering wheel and use my left hand to drive home. It took 6 months of therapy to get it back to somewhat normal. I now have to be very careful not to overdo it. I have to rest my arm more often. It’s frustrating getting older, your mind knows what to do but your body breaks down doing it. Call it either determination or stupidity , it hasn’t stopped me yet.
Another story to follow. Dick