If Carpenters Talked Like Camera Geeks

With the recent camera releases (or maybe Spring fever) I’ve been rather amazed watching various photography forums have major melt downs during the last few weeks. I said something about cameras and lenses just being tools, not life and death, and got immediately annihilated. They aren’t just tools, I was told, they are the means to make a living for some people, and the passionate hobby of others. That got me thinking, though: I have friends who make their living as carpenters, and others for whom woodworking is a passionate hobby. I got to thinking how silly their forums would seem if they acted like we do.

So, here’s a thread from

Thread Title: Nails for Stiletto TB15?

Hammeruser: I’ve saved up for months and just got my Stiletto TB15SS titanium hammer. At $220 they’re pricey but with the replaceable stainless steel face, ultra light weight handle, and excellent balance I can see myself using this for many years. I’ve had it 3 days now and it’s just wonderful. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good framing nail to use with this hammer?

Hammergeek: You say it’s wonderful but I don’t see any photos of nails you’ve driven. I think it’s just overpriced crap.

Hammerfiend: You know, Ken Rockbuster said the Stiletto is really overpriced and he wouldn’t have one. For $14 you can get a Tekton rubber mallet set. It’s not any good for driving nails, but it is great for body work on your car. That’s what Ken recommends.

M.C.: If you really were a professional, you’d be using a Graintex SH 1660 sledgehammer. It’s got a 36 inch handle and 20 lb head and can tear through walls in a heartbeat. Your Stiletto can’t touch this.

Hammeruser: I do framing work and carpentry, so tearing through walls really doesn’t apply to my work.

M.C.: That’s because you have absolutely no skills. A good hammer user can drive nails with a 20 pound sledghammer with no problem. You’re one of those rich doctors, aren’t you, that thinks upgrading your hammer is going to make you a better carpenter?

Hammeruser: Here’s a picture of some framing I did with the hammer yesterday in about 2 hours. I really think it’s going to make me more productive.

Hammertime: I blew up those pictures 200%, ran them through Photoshop and measured the arctan radius of the depth of the nailheads. It’s obvious that you were torquing the hammer from right to left when using it, which makes all of the framing you did inconsequenctial and of no use to anyone. A better hammer doesn’t make up for poor technique.

Banger: A real carpenter could have done that with rusty wire and a rock. It’s not about the equipment, it’s about the carpenter.

Hammerangel2: User, don’t pay any attention to M.C., he’s an absolute Graintex fanboy and has lost all perspective.

M.C.: How would you know what I am? I’ve made hundreds of dollars every year with my Graintex tearing down walls, which makes me a full-time professional. You amateurs make me sick.

Newhammerer: I’ve got an order in for mine through Amazon, but I’m concerned about getting a bad copy. How do I test the hammer when I first get it to make sure I have a good copy?

Thor: You guys are all wrong. I do all my work with an SE 11” rock pick. M. C., haven’t you watched Shawshank Redemtion? That guy hammered through a prison with an SE 11. Sure it took a few years, but anything you really love doing you’ll be doing for years. Just because something is newer, doesn’t make it better.

Hammeruser: Could anyone make some suggestions about good nails?

WhammerHammer: Why don’t you read the manual, do a Google search, and stop wasting our time with inane questions? Besides which, if you were a really good hammerer it wouldn’t matter what type of nails you used.

Whacker: H2O just released their latest Impact Index and the Stilleto rated 92.745, the highest impact per oblique force applied they’ve measured (except for jackhammers).

BigBanger: I don’t trust anything H20 measures, they’re numbers are all crap and don’t reflect real-world hammering. Besides, they down score everything to be equivalent to a 6 ounce jewelers hammer, which makes no sense. I prefer a ‘hand’s on’ review. Maxwell’s reviews over at really let you know how a hammer does in the real world.

Nailguru2: Hammeruser, while others will stick with the mainstream manufacturers, I’d take a real hard look at Grip Rite galvanized zinc coated sinkers. They’re a classic design, the sharpest nails made, and have amazing microcontact. Plus they’re hand assembled in Germany, not mass-produced in Taiwan.

Hammergeek: All I can say is after reading this thread I’ve cancelled my order for the Stilletto TB15. I’ll wait until the price drops. In the meantime I’m thinking about buying a used TB10 on the Buy and Sell forum.

Banger: Why don’t you rent one for a few days and see how you like it? has them for $29 for 4 days. You could build a nice shed in that amount of time and really get a feel for how it works for you.

WhammerHammer: I agree with Hammergeek. The price is insane. I’ve started a petition to boycott Stilletto until they make their prices more reasonable. They think just because there’s a 4 month waiting list for their new hammers they can charge whatever they want. They’d sell twice as many if they just charged $25.

Euronailer: You guys think you’ve got it bad? Over here the Stilleto is 300 Euros and we’ve got 17% VAT. You guys in the U. S. need to stop complaining. I may fly over to the U. S. and pick one up, the money I save would pay for 1/162 of my air fare.
Justgotmine. I just finished using my brand new Stilleto. Here’s some shots of nails I’ve driven. Do you guys think I have a good copy of the hammer? The nails seem a little crooked to me, but that might just be technique.

Hammerguru: Justgotmine – looking at your images those are pretty long nails. Were you using good technique with a nail stabilizer? It also seems the hammer wasn’t lined up square to the target. It’s impossible for us to help you if you don’t eliminate all the other variables. It could be the hammer, could be the nails, could be technique.

Nailed’em: Nailguru, you’re always over here spouting about ‘microcontact’ and the way the nails ‘render’. That’s all BS put out by you Grip Right elitists. I can get 4 boxes of Smegma nails for what just one box of Grip Right costs and they work just fine.
Banger: I had to try 4 boxes of Smegma nails to get just one that was sharp.

Nailguru2: I’m not a Smegma fan by any means, but if you get soft nails you can send them back to the factory to be resharpened under warranty. I had them resharpen a box of mine and they were incredible!

Nailer: Did you guys see that says that Big Blu hammers is coming out with an X-2 in time for Hammerkina? It’s going to have a synthetic rubber grip, fiberglass shock absorbing, and a semi-square rocker face. I’m holding off any new purchases till I see some nails driven with that baby.

About the author: Roger Cicala is the founder of LensRentals. This article was originally published here.

Image credit: Practical uses for the 5D now it’s obsolete – Day 59 of Project 365 by purplemattfish

  • Ann

    What makes you think they DON’T talk like this?

  • Heidi

     I ran a very large forum for a particular model of car, and yeah… it can happen anywhere!  Though I do agree it is WAY more prevalent during photography discussions…

  • Dave

    You nailed it.

  • Simon wardenier

    Loved reading this, puts things in perspective. 

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    When I hear or read this kind of consumerist gibber jabber I just replace everything they’re saying in my head with “Product product product, product product!”

  • Herb Derb

    This is awesome. 

  • MattB

    They do talk like this about both hand and power tools.  Don’t believe me? 

  • Anurag Sharma

    Bloody awesome

  • german

    You nailed it with Smegma nails. I cried.

  • Brandon

     my real job is carpentry, and this is awesome. I actually know a guy with that Ti hammer. He gets laughed at all the time. ” you spent how much on that?!!” I broke my nice 25 or so $ stanley after many years, and they sent me a replacement for nothing. His Ti come with service like that? hell no, but that guy is looking into getting the matching Ti pry bars!  really, you might get smacked for talking like that on a job somewhere. 

  • Persio Pucci

    Smegma, really? gross

  • Rayon Carlos


  • Persio Pucci
  • Gavin Stokes

    First thing I thought of when I read the start of this thread… Author obviously didn’t think hard enough and petapixel  seem to be just filling space lately with half arsed articles like this, sure the tools get over hyped but it happens in many walks of life, get over it and write something worth while.

  • Dan Howard

    Priceless! you should go into comedy sketch writing, loved this post.

  • Giovanni B.


  • Jackson Cheese

    Ken Rockbuster!  LOL!

  • Igogosh

    This was entertaining. Those needing to replace a tool they make a living with right now won’t wait till the coming Hammerkina for sure. 

  • James Heaslip

    Couldn’t agree more!  Photographers are idiots.  Of course everyone wants to best tools to do the job, but these gear heads need to get off the internet and actually try making something.

  • Lyn Rees

    Fanboys and idiots are every where!

    Not an example of either of those two things, but an example of ‘tool’ talk elsewhere:

  • Honey

    Very funny!! Good insight into how crazed we are all by camera equipment.

  • Rdoimages

    As someone who makes a living with a hammer, I’d be more likely to change camera brands than the brand of my favorite hammer…just saying  !!

  • Mark Dodge Medlin

    When the only tool you have is a Canon EOS 5D, every problem looks like a nail.

  • TSY87

    you guys should check out any audiophile forum… it can get worse… much much worse.

  • Allan Aylard

    Woodworkers are fixated with their tools.  The high end hand tool market is very analogous to the photo sector.  People pay huge sums of money for high end tools that they don’t need becuase at their skill levels they couldn’t really tell the difference between a cheap and an expensive tool.

  • Steve S

    Hilarious! Loved it (as both a woodworker and photographer).

  • Jonathan Sander

    classic, nicely done.

  • Aubrey Stone

    A fine quality and copious amount of smegma will ameliorate any problem, including all carpentry or photography problems.

  • Jason

     You’re in a group of one. Well done. Everyone else seemed to think it was priceless!

  • Deborah Roberts

    Hilarious! I LOVE it! lol

  • Tim Gander

    The carpenters’ forum should be called “splintr”.

  • Jim S.

    Thanks, I got a good laugh out of this, and it reminded me again why I stay away from the forum discussions on well-known photography websites.  It all gets to be too much.

  • Ashlee Scherer Adams

    no pun intended , eh ? hehe

  • Ashlee Scherer Adams

    ditto – it goes waaayyy over my head  and usually I get overwhelmed wondering if I should be wiriting all of  it down for googling later haha ?

  • TechnoGeek4Life

    This is awesome. You could have the most expensive camera out there and royally suck as a photographer. But you could have a point and shoot and create some awesome art if you know how to use it correctly! But God forbid anyone use a point and shoot, they automatically become a “faux”tographer. I didn’t spend a fortune on my camera but have turned out some really nice work. I got my camera at a pretty good discount when circuit city closed. A Nikon D80 and I love it. Practice and continuous learning make a good photographer into a great one. Technique and knowing how your particular camera works is 90% of being a great photographer.

  • CJ

    Spot on … but who’s on first?

  • goodinuf

    My favorite hammer is a curved claw, hickory handled, smooth octagon faced Stanley 100. Sadly not longer made. Regarding nails: not Chinese crap steel. Now with power nail guns carpenters can be known to wine if they have to pull out their hammer for nailing. No problem with hammers for whacking boards into place or getting ahold of something just out of reach.

    Many of the carpenters I work with have hammers with straight claws not curved claws.  Some hammers have metal handles, some steel, some fiberglass. Some handles are short some are very long. The hammers are made buy a dozen different companies.

    I can’t imagine a Carpenter buying a hammer mail order. Buying a hammer is a hands on activity.

    Regardless — in my experience the carpenters — we have always worked together — not talking brand of hammer we are using — and got the building built. 

  • Red

    It’s most important to use Only the Stiello and the grip rite for at least one year to become a “real” nailbanger. all others are “Harry the Homeowner” trying to look like a PRO.

  • Kent Sievers

    Yep. Lack of an effective jerk filter keeps a lot of us old pros from sharing knowledge/opinion.

  • Patrick Downs

    Well done. Big LOL!