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How to Hammer a Nail Like Mr. Miyagi

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Do you remember the scene in The Karate Kid when Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel-san the power of concentration by hammering a nail into a fencepost in one hit? Did you ever wish you could do that, if only to speed along your next home improvement project?

Well, get ready.

Step 1. Focus your mind.

Laugh now, but this is the most important part. Later, when your thumb is the size (and color) of a blood orange, you will reflect ruefully on your hasty treatment of Step 1, grasshopper.

Step 2. Know your wood.

Knowledge is power, fledgling viper. Different woods have different densities and will therefore offer varying levels of resistance. For example, ash may resist even the most expert attempt, while pine will yield easily to any worthy nail.

Step 3. Tap, tap, tap the nail into place.

To “one hit” a nail directly out of the hand is the province of Grandmasters alone and should not be attempted by novices! Beginners should start with a nail that has already been properly (that is, perfectly perpendicularly) seated.

Step 4. Hold the hammer firmly in your dominant hand.

If you can imagine your hammer measured in thirds, your grip should be centered in the lower third of the tool’s length.

Step 5. Keep your wrist loose, but controlled.

You’ve heard many sensei say it, because it’s true: It’s all in the wrist. Get a sense of how your wrist feels when you’re holding the hammer aligned with nail and become familiar with it.

Step 6. Breathe and position.

Take calm, even breaths as you try a few practice strokes. End your practice swing with your knuckles parallel with the wood and the hammer’s head evenly over the nail. You will strike while breathing out, noble tadpole. Remember Step 1!

Step 7. Swing in a short, sharp arc.

Once you’re ready, use your forearm muscles for most of the work in a controlled “swing” that extends out from the elbow – like a striking cobra! Do not bring the hammer back and out of your line of sight with exaggerated shoulder movement.

Step 8. Repeat two thousand times.

ATGStores.com wishes you luck in achieving the master carpenter’s version of a one-hit wonder.

For those not interested in learning the ancient carpenter''s ways, Freeman Tools makes nail guns that will get the job done in 21st century style. 

By the time you get to the end of this box of 3,600 nails with your shiny new nail gun you'll have forgotten what a hammer even looks like.

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