Monday, April 28, 2003 - Thunder Bay, Ontario

"A Thunder Bay resident is hammering down on repetitive-strain injuries with his patented invention."

It's All in the Grip

New hammer design intended to ease body stress

Article by Kris Ketonen and Brent Linton

Wolfgang Schoor is seen outside his Villa Street rooming house with a pair of ergonomic hammers, which he has patented.

Wolfgang Schoor has come up with a ergonomic hammer – the Schoor Grip – which he said will dramatically ease stress on the body from both hammering in nails and pulling them out.

"Claw hammer designs haven't really changed significantly ever since the human race had percussion tools, Schoor said yesterday. "The Romans had hammers, the Vikings had hammers, similar to what we're using today."

Schoor has made some changes, nine to be exact.

His hammer features a bend in the handle that allows for more comfortable and efficient gripping, as well as easier viewing of the target nail.

The hammerhead is altered for better leverage, Schoor said. Handles are made of wood, which he said absorbs shocks and vibration.

And the whole thing is designed to work in a gloved hand, since cold northern weather means people would be wearing gloves much of the time the hammers are being used.

If the hammer was designed for a gloveless hand, he said, the design innovations would no longer apply when a user put a glove on.

All of the changes, Schoor said, are based on the principles of ergonomics and biomechanics – helped by a motion study done at Lakehead University, he said – and reduce wrist elbow, back and shoulder injuries, as well as fatigue.

"The tool should be an extension of the human body" he said. "When that doesn't happen, that's when you have repetitive strain injuries."

"I began to see that I could make a difference, and over the last 10 years I developed it."

Schoor said he hopes the hammer will be used for professional and around-the-house work.

The patent was granted April 8, 2003 and is for an ergonomic system that could be applied to other handheld tools, Schoor said.

Now he needs to "get with the program" and begin manufacturing and selling the hammers.

He said he'd like to manufacture the hammers in Thunder Bay.

He said he doesn't have much work done in manufacturing and marketing because he's been concentrating on getting the patent.

"The big thing is you have to secure what you have first," he said.