This is a really simple question, but one that has many answers. The reason I’ve decided to post on this topic is because many visitors to the ITCHTHATBITCH website have asked questions like “What’s the difference between a Fingers and a Knuckles? They look about the same in the photograph. What’s the difference between an original and a Heavy Duty? Are the differences just cosmetic, or do they make a difference in how well your back actually gets scratched?”
In each of the ITCHTHATBITCH product descriptions, I’ve tried to list the specific attributes, but with our line expanding from one simple scratcher, to the current ten, differentiating between the models has become confusing.
Since developing the original Fingers, I have had an additional four years of experimenting with various back scratcher designs to try and duplicate scratching that feels like real fingernails, and works best on bare skin and through clothing. It’s really hard to make a back scratcher that works well for everyone. In fact, it probably can’t be done, but I think I come very close. That’s the real reason for having all the various models. Each fills an actual scratching function that is slightly different.
Probably the best way to clarify the differences in the various models of ITCHTHATBITCH back scratchers is to chronologically describe their evolution and the reasons for the changes made along the way.
The original genesis backscratcher began with a crude model constructed of galvanized iron wire and scraps of copper electrical leftovers that I cobbled into the original Christmas Stocking Stuffer prototypes in December 2013.
These were very simple, and not really aesthetically pleasing, but they more than made up for their crudeness with the basic unique design. According to the original giftees, my original backscratchers were very effective. Since these were family gifts, I did not pursue commercialization for about two years, when I finally decided to look into making a really high-quality back scratcher with a lifetime warranty. This was to be a special and unique one-of-a-kind back scratcher, unlike anything else on the market.
I decided that stainless steel, like regular dinnerware or kitchen pots that seem to last forever, would be a good material for making the best backscratcher that would really last forever. In addition, we would tag each back scratcher with its own unique serial number-embossed dog tag to further emphasize the fact that each of these handmade backscratchers are really one of a kind.
Regretfully I started selling while I was still practicing the making process. I didn’t really know it at the time, but I began to receive a number of customer comments about being too scratchy or too limber or not stiff enough. With practice and patience you get better. I changed the grade of wire, I changed the number of wraps on the fingers, and in general listened to the feedback and suggestion from you, the customer. The original models were pretty good, but the customer suggestion and comments have greatly improved the product we sell today. This is also when I began to evolve from one basic model to the current ten.
The first model, Fingers, is just five stainless steel wires twisted like a fly swatter, with some copper wire trim twisted around the individual wires at the end to keep the scratching fingers together. These early models did not use as much wire as the ones I’m making today, and accordingly, were not nearly as strong. Some of those were held together with as little as 6 to 8 inches of wire, while everything I make today has about a foot of tightly twisted and hammered wire. While these original models worked, they were plain, so I started to wire wrap the handle to match the scratching end.
This was the beginning of Knuckles, our second model, a Fingers with a wire wrapped handle. This is the same great back scratcher, but a little nicer looking. Actually the wire-wrapped handles are a lot nicer looking, but the scratch is still the same.
The third in this progression of new models was the Brass Knuckles back scratcher. It has the fingers and handle wrapped with jewelry-grade brass wire, often called Nugold for its resemblance to real gold. This is mostly a cosmetic change because the fingers scratch the same, but since the Nugold brass wire is just a little more rigid than bare copper wire; the Brass Knuckles back scratcher is also a little stiffer than the Fingers and Knuckles models. Personally, this model is one of my favorites as the Nugold brass wire is more tarnish resistant than the copper wire, and keeps its shine for a longer time.
The last addition to the Original line is Silver Fingers. A number of customers had commented that they really liked my back scratcher, but the fingers weren’t stiff enough or they seemed to twist and not line up properly on their back. So, back the shop for me with the goal of creating something that would increase torsional rigidity. It turns out that the closely wrapped and hammered copper wires are perfect for the addition of plumber’s solder. So, the Silver Fingers was born. It still had a way to go, in spite of the major leap in quality and performance. There is a delicate technique to sweat soldering and puddling of silver solder to enable a buildup on the back scratcher. One of my customers nicely told me that while the scratcher really worked nice, my solder job was ugly, and I should take some lessons. Well, I did, and I practiced a lot, and today my Silver Fingers back scratcher is just about as good as it gets. It costs more because I have the extra step of using a propane torch to puddle in the Silver Solder, and then I scrub off the tarnish from the burnt flux, but the end result is really worth the slight extra charge.
THE HEAVY DUTY QUANTUM LEAP
In spite of the cosmetic changes to make backscratcher models with more aesthetically pleasing features, such as extra wire trim or different wire colors (copper and brass), the original model was just a little bendier than a straight stick bamboo back scratcher. My Eureka! moment was when I realized, “Why not just make the wire thicker?” And that is how the Heavy Duty back scratcher was conceived. Several weeks of research and some large wire samples and trial runs with larger bending tools, and the Heavy Duty ITCHTHATBITCH backscratcher was a reality.
The larger wire makes an overall stiffer back scratcher that can scratch your back through clothing, but still is wonderful on bare skin. I also hammer forge the round wire finger tips to a flattened and rounded miniature fingertip shape that very closely resembles the scratch and feel of real fingernails. These tips can be filed or sanded to make them sharper or duller, whatever feels the best.
Deciding between an Original ITCHTHATBITCH backscratcher and the Heavy Duty version is really a personal choice. My daughter, a biased true believer in the ITCHTHATBITCH back scratchers, uses a Heavy Duty to just scratch and scratch and scratch over her whole back, kind of like pleasure scratching. But for the monster itch, the kind that needs to be scratched RIGHT NOW, she goes for an Original model because of the sharper tines and smaller surface area.
The previous descriptions cover seven models. These variation and changes in design have mostly been driven by suggestions from customers like you. I take these suggestions seriously because the customer knows what they want.
One change I haven’t discussed account for the other two models. These are the Fingers Junior and Knuckles Junior. They were developed for a customer who had to wear a suit jacket and tended to get hot and itchy, but needed to be able to carry the back scratcher discreetly in his jacket pocket. Turns out a lot of folks like having the shorter 14” to 15” model that will fit in a briefcase, jacket, or purse.
I hope this description of the various ITCHTHATBITCH back scratchers helps to clarify the differences between them and how they might be used.
All of my backscratchers are technically “heavy duty,” since each one is handcrafted to last a lifetime. But no matter which one you choose, I guarantee my back scratchers will get the job done.
Even though I feel I’ve perfected each model of back scratcher I sell, I am always interested in feedback. Please leave a comment below, or write a review on Google.