Sledgehammers are the monsters of demolition. They can deliver enough force to pound boulders into dust, but strangely, it doesn’t take much to break them in two. When workers miss their target and whack the hammer’s handle on debris, called overstriking, the hammerhead can snap off, becoming a dangerous projectile. Wilton guarantees its Bad Ass Sledge Hammers (B.A.S.H.) against breaks, and will cut a $1,000 check to anyone who can destroy one. Depending on the model, up to six steel rods run the length of the handle and affix to a plate inside the head, holding the two parts together. When the hammerhead strikes, the rubber handle disperses the force evenly among the rods, a design that also absorbs vibration.
Knowing that the B.A.S.H. was likely to withstand regular abuse—hours of pounding on concrete and snapping steel joints—I focused on striking its most vulnerable spot: the upper handle. I repeatedly overstruck the hammer on a one-inch-thick steel rod suspended between two-by-fours. After that, I overstruck on a four-inch-square fencepost that I was driving into the ground.
After maybe 1,000 whacks, the B.A.S.H. held strong. In fact, the test was a bit demoralizing—my back felt more worn than the hammer looked. It barely seemed used. The handle flexed gently on impact but never showed any sign of fracture. And the B.A.S.H. is one of the most comfortable sledges I’ve ever swung; the handle absorbs so much vibration that overstriking felt more like hammering a nail than clobbering steel.
Swinging Weight: 2.5-20 pounds
Handle Length: 12-36 inches
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.