The Chisel or Hammer Method..!

It was a terrible sound coming from the house next door and having been in this line of work before, I realised their walls could come crashing down. I went over and met my neighbour, “They’re just repairing the roof!” he said.

“No!” I said firmly, “They are breaking your roof, come let’s get onto your terrace!”

We climbed the stairs, there were workmen all over. We watched as they pounded the flooring, my host shuddered as each thud felt like the hammer would go through the concrete and into the rooms below. “Is this the only way to do it?” he asked.
“Wrong way!” I told him firmly, and asked him to call the contractor.

The contractor came and I asked him, “Where are the chisels?”

“In the godown,” he said sheepishly, “I told the men to use them, but they prefer using only the hammer!”

“Tell your men to use their chisels,” I told him, “Hold the chisel against the crack you have to pry open, then hit with the hammer sideways: That way, only the part that is defective comes out, then continue using the chisel to wedge out the rest of the pieces!”
“What happens with the hammer method they are following?” asked the owner curiously.

“With every blow, they are also loosening good areas, your walls, your columns, your beams, they will all get weaker with this terrible method of repairing! The workmen find it easier as they just have to pound the terrace flooring, not prise open the cracks! ”

I took the chisel the contractor had brought, placed it against a crack and hit it with the hammer. The opening it made was clean and straight. “Think of it like surgery,” I told the contractor gently, “You are opening the building to remove the defective parts, not pounding a patient to death!”

I said goodbye and moved back to my home, and soon heard delicate blows, which I knew was that of the hammer hitting the chisel and the chisel opening the crack.

In life many of us follow the hammer method: We chastise our children or spouse, not by addressing the problem, but by breaking their confidence: Your little one comes back from school failing in a subject, “Let’s see how you can improve,” speaks the chisel part of you.

“You are stupid!” shouts the hammer in you.

So, likewise with our husbands and wives, we want to pound them with the hammer, when a carefully aimed chisel would solve the area of concern.

My neighbour called me later, “Thanks Bob, you’ve saved my house!”

I smiled and cocked my ear to hear the sound of the chisel; such a simple method that can build not destroy: I wish we all can start using the chisel, not just in our individual lives but also in our country and not bludgeon each other with the hammer..!

Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at and can be reached at