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Modified Tools for Saddle Maker

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A woman is extremely talented at her trade as a saddle maker, but the job has begun to take its toll on her wrists. She also has excruciating pain in her back and arms.


Saddle maker in action
Saddle maker in action

Many of her tools were adapted to require less gripping force. One of the most significant changes, was the addition of a palm-held Pneumatic Hammer. This tool, normally used by the furniture industry, was internally altered by replacing a hard rubber bumper with a softer material. This provided the more desired 'tapping' rather than a hard hammering effect.

To alleviate her back pain, she was provided with a powered height-adjustable table to house her very heavy granite anvil and embossing tools. She could use the table for various job functions, at any desired height within the range of the table.

Cost Analysis

These accommodations increased her on-the-job endurance and decreased back and wrist strain. The entire set-up cost less than $900, and she has been working successfully ever since.

Repeatability of Solution

Powered (i.e., electric, pneumatic) tools can often be used to reduce stresses on the wrists and hands. In this example, the modification of the commercially available pneumatic hammer involved consultation with a furniture tool manufacturer. The company now provides this modification to their product at no extra cost.


David F. Law, Jr., Rehab Engr.

VA Dept of Rehabilitative Services

CRCMS Division

8004 Franklin Farms Drive

Richmond, VA 23288-0300