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[BKARTS] Bookbinder's Hammer Question

I think you mean to ask not what is the function (the claw serves the same
use with both examples you site) but rather why the differences in shape, yes?
I  presume you are noting the greater curve and length in the shank of the
claw and  the more defined claw head at
http://www.fotosearch.com/PHD248/os04001/  which is generally considered a  German backing hammer, the other an
English backing hammer. Something which is  not apparent in the photos is the
difference in size of the two hammers. The  German generally has a much larger face
and claw, the neck and the shank of the  claw are longer, and the hammer is
heavier, has more mass. I was  initially trained using a German hammer.

With a German hammer the longer neck and claw shank allow for  more clearance
and clearer sighting as one works. The neck of the face and  and the shank of
the claw are thinned in proportion to reduce weight. The  greater sizes of
the face and claw head will distribute the force over  a larger area and speed
the backing process. The greater mass means that  one can let the hammer fall
against the spine rather than applying added  force.
The curved shank of the claw allows one to bring the claw right up against
the cords while keeping the handle level and parallel to the spine of the book.
 This is more important with thick cords than thin. Not having to tilt the
hammer  to bring the claw right up against the cords reduces the strain on your
wrist;  given the greater mass of the German hammer this is an important point.
I think the German hammer is the older design and most often encountered in
early binding manuals. Cockerell cites both while urging the use of the
English  hammer. He argues that the smaller head and claw allow a smaller force to
be  concentrated on a smaller area thus reducing the risk of crushing or
zig-zaging  the folds though this at the expense of speed.
In short I think that you will find that the German design evolved for
efficiency while the English design focuses on accuracy. Best, James

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