22 Years of Making Tools

The Slammer story all starts with trying to solve a problem, like many inventions do. There was a large patch of bamboo growing into sewer pipes, rocks, asphalt, and concrete that my neighbour wanted removed. It was a job that most people put into the ” too hard basket”. I tried a small digger but the terrain was too steep and tight. The chainsaw made sparks and the chain got caught and tangled. The concrete cutter was useless with roots, mud, and dirt. This was not going to be easy and it was going to have to be done manually. So axe, mattock, digging bar, sharp spade, pick axe and muscle were going to have to do it. It was very hard work and slow-going. I had thoughts about quitting and I very much cursed the existence of bamboo. I remembered a tool that was used by coal miners in the old days called a jackpick, a type of slidehammer that could be used in tight places. I welded an axe head to a pipe then put a solid bar down the middle to create a good tool for cutting roots and breaking rock and concrete. This made the job quicker and improved my posture so that I didn’t have such a sore back at the end of the day. There were problems though. The axe head got stuck in the ground and was hard to get out. I kept breaking the weld (even with help of a good engineer.) The pipe was always bending and not so strong. Using the tool was very loud and the vibration on the hands was severe, as was the risk of pinching part of your hand or finger between the two moving parts.  It was, however,  getting the job done and it took the place of all those other tools and doing jobs that expensive motorised tools could not do. It was the beginning of a very long road that just recently led me to Germany and one of the largest tool shows in the world.

In the last 22 years I have made 25 versions of the Slammer Tool, some lasting longer than others. Different materials, connections and suggestions from lots of people, engineers, labourers and companies all had a part to play. It was a tool I made for myself that made my life/work more productive and safe and enabled me to get jobs done that other people would not touch. So, after making tools with multiple head attachments, putting the male part on the bottom and the female part on the top, and lots of other combos, it is with much pride I now have the most effective design of this tool I have ever made. Ironically, it is, after all these years, the most simple design for the connection of the parts. And after tons of use and trials, the strongest. This connection is now how we make all of our tools and some of the old favourites like spades and rakes. It is also the Intellectual Property of The Slammer Limited.

My faith in the simple, strong design is why after all this time of working with this tool in the United States, and New Zealand I (along with my colleagues and shareholders) decided to make the big step to take The Slammer to the Eisenwarenmesse Tool show in Germany in March, 2014 and show it to the world. We were surrounded by lots of quality tool makers with big budget exhibits from all over the world but we, The Slammer Team, demonstrated our tools (from a budget stand with a block of concrete!) and the world took notice. I am so happy that fellow tool-makers liked and appreciated the design and our range of tools. Of course I could not have done this alone. I am lucky to have good business partners and the manufacturing prowess of a one hundred year old engineering company. We are now providing tools from NZ by the pallet load worldwide.

And to the customers that have bought tools from The Slammer and provided feedback over the years, you are our greatest asset and have made us what we are today, so, thank you and  slam ON!

T.J. ” Slammerman” Irvin and the Slammer Team!

P.S. here are some pictures of my old man and the early Slammers plus some pallets headed for a town near you!

My 72 year young father holding some of the originals.


The Slammer 7 years ago.


Stock in our first retail hardware store. Mitre 10 Wanaka.


A pallet of tools ready for export.


Slammerman, Lady Sue, and Sir Slams A Lot in Germany 2014

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