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We talk to tool guys all the time who seem to have a connection to a certain tool, and we’ve found that two factors breed loyalty more than any others: comfort and feel.

When we ask someone why they like a tool so much, one of two things usually happens. The first is that they can’t tell you and simply put the tool in your hand and tell you to “Feel that.” Feel — it’s elusive and hard to define, but when it’s on, everyone knows it. And tool companies are doing their dead level best to capitalize on it.

From form grips to words like ‘ergonomic,’ tool manufacturers seem to be trying everything under the sun to get the perfect blend of utility and feel. The funny thing is half the time they have no idea what that is either. You just have to “feel” it.

The other scenario that happens when you ask someone why a tool is great: You get a list of hard times that the tool has bailed them out of.  Han Solo once said, “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.” What he was really saying was that he felt more comfortable with his blaster because it performed as expected every time and never let him down. The same can be said of a good hammer or wrench.

This isn’t a bad thing. We all have our favorite tools in the shop that we go to when in need. This kind of positive reinforcement breeds comfort, and comfort breeds loyalty in tool guys — it’s that simple.

But what feels good or works well for someone else won’t necessarily feel as good or work as well for you. So when you go to purchase your next tool, just remember: Use your head, take stories and marketing for what they are, and decide for yourself.


5 Responses to Editorial: What Are Feel and Comfort Worth?

  1. Fred says:

    I have small hands – so what I buy/like for myself – may not be the tool of choice for some of my crew members. That’s particularly true for hand tools – but can be extended to power tools – both corded and cordless. My wife is left handed – she thought that she could not cut straight until I got her a pair of left-handed scissors.
    This can also translate into safety – or the lack of it. Even after proper training – some tools may not feel right in you hands. That’s probably your brain telling you to leave that tool to others to use.
    I’m reminded also that practice and continual use may make you better at tool use. Just try the old Abe Lincoln myth about splitting rails with an axe. Maybe if you did this every day you might get good at it.

  2. tim underwood says:

    What’s a comfortable ergonomic grip for one person, is somebody’s elses clunker. As a hobby blacksmith, I either make my own hammers and other tools or buy from a specific maker who has the same concept of a good tool as I do.
    Plus I have no fear of taking a rasp and belt sander to any handle to make it fit my hand.

  3. ToolFreak says:

    Well, yeah. Just like your workboots, if they’re uncomfortable (like a certain pair I have), you won’t use them, and instead go for the ones that fit like a glove and you can work in all day. This is especially true for more commonly used tools. Sure, you can probably use most any hammer if you’ve just got a few nails to bang in…but if you’re going to be hammering lots of nails on a house frame…you’ll probably want that ol’ trusty one that is the perfect weight, length, and size for you.

  4. Shannon Love says:

    I think the feel and comfort of tools very important. Tools that fit one’s hand make it easier to work accurately, safely and for long periods. Even minor annoyances in a tools design become major impediments if one must use the tool over and over again.

    I am perhaps overly sensitive to such flaws due to my interest in design. I sometimes catch my self putting off a task because I must use a tool that annoys me.

    An ideal tool virtually disappears from your awareness as you use it. Mind, body, tool and task merge into a zen like state of toolvana. In such a state one can work productively for hours. Yet, it takes only a minor flaw in a tool to yank one back to gritty reality.

  5. noname says:

    I bet somebodey in the forseeable future will come up with personalised tool handles. Kits like the ones you can get for those mouthguards would be the cheapest way i can think of-but they would probably have to be tool specific.

    If you could think of some kind of cheap add-on handle kit then you could make a mint

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