FATHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE 🍳

In our tagline, we often say “Lighter, Smoother, Better Handling.” The first two adjectives are fairly straight forward. So what does Better Handling mean? Better Handling begins with tacit knowledge of the way things should feel in our hands and it’s where we concentrate a lot of our design decisions at Field Company.

In my case, growing up as a jock— golf, tennis, baseball —and then working as a furniture maker, my hands have always communicated with whatever piece of equipment or tool I’m using. Some of that is personal. I have large, fairly strong hands, so I respond well to a bit of heft and firm textures. My skin is typically dry which means I respond well to tacky surfaces and have trouble gripping rough, dry surfaces.

But a lot of it is also objective and I can give some prime examples in both the world of cast iron cookware, antique tools and furniture, and sports equipment.

Let’s start from the latter and work toward the former.

An old worn in baseball bat

Information Through Touch

Baseball was my first love. In baseball, you use a mitt, bat, and a ball.

Mitt: The mitt needs to mold perfectly to your hand and provide just enough resistance so it doesn’t flop around when you don’t want it to. There is a precise way my mitt should feel on my hand. Everyone who’s played can tell you when they slide their hand into a mitt whether they feel comfortable.


Bat: The bat is another highly personal choice. Are you a slugger that wants more weight in the barrel to increase your bat speed? Or do you want a more evenly weighted bat to slap out singles and doubles? Do you want a skinny grip you can place more in your fingers or a fatter grip that is more in your palms? What about the all important tactile feels? Lots of tackiness for a firm or sure grip? Or a dryer grip for a loose grip or sweaty hands? How about length? Do you crowd the plate and specialize on hitting the inside pitch? Or do you like to stand far away and need a longer bat to reach those outside strikes?


Ball: And finally, what about the ball? I was also a pitcher and I can tell you that my ability to throw heat and junk was highly impacted by how well I could grip the ball. Are the seams raised or flat? Is the ball dry and dirty, or is it fresh with a little tackiness still on the leather? Holding the ball in my hand before I threw my pitch, I was always trying to get just the right grip so I could deliver my pitch with the greatest effect.

    What’s the common thread here? All of this information I receive through touch.

    Good Tools

    Similar tactile feedback is evident in the world of tools. Before Field Company, I became great friends with some guys who loved antique tools. When I first started joining them at antique shops, estate sales, tool barns, and the like, I would find something interesting and ask them whether they thought it was good or not. Sometimes they knew something special about the maker or material or function, but after a while, I noticed a common theme: Good stuff feels Good!! Less good stuff feels less good. And that feedback was immediate once you held the tool in your hands.

    A set of antique tools

     

    Again, the common thread is that once we overcome the noise of price and market and social value, our hands will tell us just about all we need to know about the quality of the tool. And once you learn to trust that sensibility, you need not worry about name brands and resale value, assuming you’re buying the tool to use it and not collect or sell it for more. Good is Good.

     

    How does better handling apply to cookware?

    During the R&D phase, I held thousands of pans in my hands to discover what clicked and what didn’t. The majority of antique pans use the standard tear drop shape. By hand feel, it was incredible how much variation there is within that shape and some feel great, but once the pan gets hot you run into challenges.

    As you preheat the pan to a good cooking temperature, these handles get extremely hot where they meet the base of the pan and it doesn’t take long for the heat to spread into a small, thin handle. Now you have to be aware of your hand on two different planes— the handle itself and the pan body. Unless you are using a glove, it can be difficult to prevent burns if you’re just grabbing the nearest towel (which, let’s be honest, many of us do even when we know better). You can also try to grip the handle further down away from the base, but then you run into a leverage issue, and even with a “lighter” cast iron pan it becomes a challenge.

     

    Enter: the Field Handle 

    The Field design team works through early handle prototypes

      

    Longer Handle to Grip

    Field Skillets are designed to be light enough to maneuver one-handed and we wanted to optimize that even more. We took cues from the vintage tear drop shape, modernized it to feel even better in your hands, and made it longer.

    A large hand needs 4-4.5” of handle to grasp fully. Accepting the fact that the pan would be really hot near the base of the handle, we extended that 4.5” to 6” total.

    Appropriate Heat Management

    We did not go as far as to create a “stay cool” handle. The trade-offs were not worth it—expensive, gimmicky, unable to use on an open fire, or worse, false confidence that the handle is cool enough to touch bare handed (they aren’t). So we asked, “what if we just accept that the handle is going to get hot?”

    We added a little the extra mass in the sidewall connection and in the arch support, and created a heat sink to delay the spread of the heat from reaching out into the handle. This choice also meant we could cast the pan as one solid piece, minimizing parts that could fail or break and supporting our promise of a lifetime guarantee.

    Weight Balance

    The handle itself contains a decent amount of material — about 7oz of metal. That means it takes longer to heat it up and it also distributes some weight away from the pan body making the pan easier to handle. In our original No.8 Skillet, about 10% of the weight is in the handle itself.

    Compare that to Lodge and other modern cast iron where the handle represents a much smaller percentage of the pan weight. Now you are forced to use two hands every time you want to move your skillet around. We have a helper handle for those times it’s necessary but we wanted to give you the ability for quick one-handed maneuvers around your stove, grill and oven.

    Front and back of the Field Handle

    Better Handling is not just a catch phrase, but a fundamental value at Field Company.

    The tactile dialogue between hand and object has been the bedrock of our design principles. We've borrowed from the past and made improvements—addressing issues of heat management, grip, and weight distribution. Like a well-worn baseball mitt or an old faithful tool, the products you reach for everyday must feel good in your hands.