Not Your Average Hammer

These hammers, knives and axes are made by hand on a forge built in the 1860s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They ooze the craftsmanship of a 24-year-old blacksmith.

The handiwork of Aaron Cergol, they are as beautiful as they are functional and grab the eye unlike anything found at a Lowes or Home Depot.

Cergol began blacksmithing about 15 years ago as a hobby, but took his craft to another level with the opening of Cergol Tool & Forgeworks in 2012.

“My tools are USA-made and made with pride,” Cergol said. “Very few places are making things that they give a damn about. I think tools should be beautiful as well as functional. I’m trying to get that back out in the world I guess.”

Cergol is clearly not alone in his love of fine craftsmanship.

In less than a year, he went from an unknown blacksmith to a businessman with a backlog of orders. Place an order today, and you’ll have to wait eight to nine weeks for your custom hammer, axe or tool to arrive.

“I’m swamped right now,” he said “I can’t complain.”

The hand-forged hammers, tools, and sundries for craft and industry are stunning and often based on designs from before the 1950s.

“I’m hugely into historical designs, but with a new-school twist. I’m a huge historical nerd,” he said. “I’ll do a traditional forged hammer but polish the whole thing, which is something that wasn’t done. I love blending the old stuff with an original twist to make it more modern.”

Want an even more personalized hammer, knife or axe? Build it yourself! Cergol teaches one student a week in a day-long class. Start at 8 a.m. and finish once your tool is complete later that day.

Cergol said that 75 percent or more of his work is hammers.

“I found a niche market and cater to it. But any traditional hand tool, I’ll give it a go. Axes, broad axes, gouges, stuff like that,” he said, adding that he would like to make more axes.

“The whole thing about blacksmithing is actually the forging process,” he said. “With axes, you get to manipulate the metal in so many ways, it’s a lot of fun.”

While Cergol calls himself “24 going on 80… I’m a crotchety old man at heart,” his work brings beauty into an area rarely seen as more than utilitarian. His joy for his creation shines through in the finished product.

“It’s something that I enjoy. It doesn’t feel like work”.

If you’re in the market for a new hammer, axe or hand tool and don’t mind investing a little extra ($130 and up) for a piece of handmade American heritage, check out his Facebook Page and place an order. Or better yet, head to Wisconsin and make a tool with your own hands.

“It’s so satisfying using tools you made,” he said. “Going out and felling a tree with a hatchet or axe you made, how satisfying is that?”

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Managing Editor Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in Denver, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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