When I was growing up, the way to fix things was to strike them. TV not picking up a channel? Whack it on the side. Post in the yard crooked? Whack it. Dog keeps peeing on the carpet? Whack it. Hitting things is the American first line of repair. And when you're a dad, you're expected to fix a lot of things. Not because you want to DIY, but because everyone who isn't a dad will want to DDI- Dad'll Do It. That means you need tools. My personal favorite is the Leatherman WAVE Multi-tool. But don't overlook the whacking tools. They're very handy. And there is one whacking tool many a dad may have overlooked.
Now, don't get me wrong- claw hammer's are great when you're doing some carpentry. Ballpeen hammers are great for gear heads. Sledgehammers are great for busting bricks or driving posts. But the reality for those of us that aren't in the trades is that we're going to be hitting things that are far less durable than a claw hammer. Things made of plastic or wood.
That's where the Mallet, or more specifically, the rubber mallet comes in handy.
Imagine you're a new dad and you're putting together the baby's pre-fabricated crib. You screw this and that, but at some point you're going to need to tap some wooden pegs in place. Use a trusty metal claw hammer if you must, but don't be surprised when you miss with one swing and put a huge gash in the finish. If you can't turn the crib so that gash is against the back wall, you're going to catch nine kinds of hell from the missus- who is out of her damned mind anyways with all those pregnancy hormones.
Fast forward to little Johnny's first camping trip. You're driving tent stakes into the ground. You beat the hell out of them with a claw hammer- because claw hammers are the everyman of hammers. The tent stakes are going to look like Fido got ahold of them.
When Little Johnny starts getting school pictures, the wife is going to start demanding that you put up frames. Sure, sure, you could use a claw hammer to drive nails into the drywall. But again, miss, and you've got a hell of a dent. Worse, when it's a billion degrees in the house, and you've ben holding that frame up so she can stand on the other side of the room to see if she likes it there, your arms are going to get tired. Sweat+fatigue=butterfingers. A claw hammer is going to hurt your feet way more than a nice rubber mallet.
What about when you slip on the ice loading the van for that trip to the in-laws, and you put a small dent in the hood? With a rubber mallet, you can pop that sucker out and the wife will never know.
Mallets are awesome.
Look at the name: M-A-L-L-E-T. It's like a cross between MALE and WALLET. "Male" means man, and wallets are of course the more masculine, pocket-sized versions of purses. Every man needs to own a mallet.
Some of you may want to point out that the way to prevent denting with a claw hammer is to put a piece of wood between the hammer and the object you're striking. Pashaw, I say! The right tool for the job is ALWAYS the better way to go. Claw hammers are for nails. Not building furniture, popping dents or camping!
The next time you're out shopping for tools, grab a mallet. They're pretty cheap- I got mine at Target for $1. That's a lot of banging for a buck.