Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pein, Peen, Pane, Pain

     There's no sorting it out.  I referred to a ball-pein hammer the other day, a tool sometimes used to peen over the end of a rivet, and got corrected to the latter spelling.  As it happens, both are acceptable and I learned the "ei" spelling as a child.

     Cross-pein hammers are seen in metalwork -- a blacksmith might use cross-pein, straight-pein and diagonal-pein hammers -- and "pinhead" hammers are not unknown, with the pein side tapering down to small cylindrical end.  "Pin" and "pein" (or "peen") seem to share a root word, with a meaning something like "peg."  But wait!  A woodworker might use a Warrington-pattern hammer, a sort of modified cross-pein hammer with a longer pein end, but among them you're about as likely to hear it described as a cross-pane hammer, with the explanation that the long, truncated-wedge pein is there to drive the nails that hold the pieces of wood that comprise the muntins (aka glazing bars) and, I suppose, the mullions of a multipane window without risking striking the glass.

     What's the real story?  I don't know.  "Pane" sounds suspiciously like folk etymology, and may suffer from the same sort of cross-Atlantic phonetic shifts that have an American cabinetmaker carefully making a rabbet along a board while his British cousin forms a rebate, and yet they're doing the exact same thing.

     Whichever term you use, let the weight of the hammer head work for you and don't "choke up" on the handle -- use the whole thing and if you need less force, go get a smaller hammer.  And by "smaller hammer," I include one of my favorites, the tack-hammer edition of the Warrington-pattern known as a "telephone hammer."  Why?  Well, you see, in the day of wooden wall-mounted telephones, it was easier to carry them around in knocked-down form, and tap in a few brads to hold the body of the thing together as part of the installation process....

9 comments:

John said...

Someone gave me an MC Hammer, but I couldn't bring myself to touch it.

My father and I both held to the philosophy of using the right tool for the job, and after I inherited his tools I ended up with quite the collection of hammers.

stuart said...

Pein is definitely the spelling I've always used, we've made hundreds of thousands of them here in Sheffield in the past, Stanley, Marples, Footprint
You might be interested in this, although they spell it Pane (page 98)
https://archive.org/stream/Marples1959CatalogueAndPriceList/Marples%201959%20Catalogue%20and%20Price%20List%20142%20MB#page/n97/mode/2up

Chas Clifton said...

I agree on the folk etymology part.

JC said...

Peen. There's a rather good novelist (James Burke, if you've read his stuff, good local color) who describes all hammers as ball peen. Including roofers. To round over metal surfaces, it's peen. If you're doing decorative surface work, you're an artist not an artisan, and you may call it what you wish. That does not forgive Mr. Burke, who I understand is a very nice person who obviously knows dick about hammers.
I've got a dozen or so currently, and most of them have names.

Roberta X said...

My co-workers chortled when I bought a very small ball-pein hammer and carefully-selected pin punches, to be used taking apart and putting together the expensive, rugged but hard-used collapsible tripods for electronic news-gathering cameras inplace of the heavy claw hammer (!) and twist drills (!!!) they had been using. But I have noticed, ever so slowly, that they're all using the proper tools now. It doesn't take much force to tap free the pins that hold various parts together, and they're generally in corners where a real pin punch is a lot easier to use.

Rich in NC said...

I was taught the double 'e' spelling as pein would have been pronounce 'pine' because German, as we had 1st generation German friends when I was a kid. I've acquired quite the bag of hammers from now passed relatives. Most of the hammers as special purpose (goofy shaped) as various uncles were in different industries.

It seems, you can never have enough hammers.

Rich in NC

Rick T said...

I'm partial to using a bit bigger hammer to give me more control. I've found *I* do better with a medium strike using a medium hammer instead of trying to do a hard strike with a smaller one when more force is required. YMMV, of course.

A small tool set for a delicate job is exactly right. A claw hammer striking a drill bit??? I'm surprised they weren't digging drill fragments out of body parts on a regular basis, a drill is the LAST thing I'd want to strike like a nail....

Anonymous said...

Tools and Their Uses
NAVEDTRA 14256...
As proper and concise military communications requires consistant and proper terminolgy be used at all times. it refers to them as Ball Peen Hammers.

Roberta X said...

Rick T writes: "...do better with a medium strike using a medium hammer instead of trying to do a hard strike with a smaller one when more force is required." Yep, thus my remark about letting the weight of the head do the work and choosing the proper-sized hammers. The camera tripods mostly hold pieces together with stainless-steel, fluted-head pins though polymer parts: it takes very little force to install and remove them. There are a few places where they use steel roll pins through aluminum or carbon-fiber parts (with a counterintuitive disassembly procedure: tap them all the way into the hollow part, let 'em fall, and dump them out when you take thing apart!). I bought the right sized roll-pin punch for that, of course. Once you have used the proper punch on a roll pin, you won't want to use anything else.

On the claw-hammered drills used as punches: it's dangerous, it dulls the drills, and it's no way to treat a four-figure camera tripod. But it's very difficult to stop people doing the expedient thing, especially if you don't have the right tools on hand. So I bought the proper tools, put out an e-mail saying we had a set of metric pin punches sized for the Sachtler tripods plus a matching hammer, and made sure to be seen using them when I worked on the tripods. Lo, other techs began using them, too. (Helps that McMaster-Carr sells nice Starrett pin punches at a good price, a real treat to use.)

Anon, 1:09 AM: the U.S. military spells weapons fuses as "fuzes," too. I don't do that, either, nor do I say "fife" for five or "niner" for nine unless I'm on the ham bands. I also don't wear a uniform or salute anyone. This here is the United States of America and if I want to own ball-pein hammers and call them ball-pein hammers, I darn well will. If yours are ball-peen hammers, I'm fine with that, and with the lads and lasses in Sheffield who call 'em ball-pane hammers. I recognize and understand all of those words.