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You could
call this
a Jake
Hammer

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, poet, and philosopher

Today's hammer was probably invented by a clever Barney Flintstone long before the year dot. The basic design remained unchanged for thousands of years.

Then, 13 years ago, Jake Tyson, an 18-year-old apprentice carpenter in Sydney, Australia, found that his hammer didn't hit nails very effectively (yet they say a good workman never blames his tools) and the reverberations sent uncomfortable shocks up his arm.

So he set out to design a better hammer. For the next three years, working in his father's shed, he tried out different designs. He decided not to change the metal head of the conventional hammer, but to give it a radically different handle, with an arc in the neck.

After much trial and error, he invented a tool he called the Maxistrike, and patented it worldwide. Then he offered his former boss a partnership, and they formed a company, Redback Tools, to manufacture the new hammer.

"Due to the arc shaft it has transferred the energy, so instead of when youíre hitting the object the energy coming back up your arm, itís transferred directly into the hammerhead through the balance of the arc shaft and into the object youíre hitting," he told Rebecca Martin in an ABC Catapult interview early this year.

In a later interview , he said "The design is innovative with the balance the hammer has, and the way it hits the object is about 50% harder than a standard hammer will."

Ten years after Jake first thought of the idea, he persuaded a few hardware stores to sell it.

The Maxistrike took off like a space rocket. Carpenters acclaimed it as the best hammer they had ever used. Its fame spread overseas. Last year Jake's hammer gained the award for the best new item at the National Hardware Conference.

"We're the first non-US company ever to win this Dealers' Pick award, and for the Americans to admit that anyone does something better than them you know it has to be innovative" said Jake when he returned to Sydney. "The design is innovative with the balance the hammer has and the way it hits the object is about 50% harder than a standard hammer will."

Radio Australia's science and technology specialist Desley Blanch asked him how multi-national tool manufacturers had reacted when he approached them. He replied "The big guys --basically these are multi-billion dollar companies -- [first say] 'Come see us, letís have a look at your product.'

"[They try to] dishearten you because they know itís going to cost a lot of money, so theyíll say 'Move on' or 'Weíll give you x per cent for your idea', so if nothingís hurting them in their sales, theyíll just put it in a bottom drawer and they donít have to worry about it.

"So theyíre in their cushy jobs making their hundred thousand dollars or whatever and they donít want to put their necks on the line in case it fails, so thatís why youíve really got to do it yourself."

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Story first posted October 2005

Copyright © 2005

Eric Shackle

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