The best hammers
- Sure, hammers have a pretty simple design, but that doesn't mean all hammers are created equal.
- The advanced anti-vibration handle on the Stanley 20-Ounce FatMax Xtreme Hammer makes it the perfect hammer to handle all kinds of jobs around the house without putting stress on your wrists and forearms.
A hammer looks like a simple tool, and, at its core, it is. Hammers have been around for centuries after all.
However, not all hammers are created equal. Different designs work well for different jobs. Think of it this way: You wouldn't use a tiny artist's paintbrush to paint your ceiling, even though you could. You'd use a more efficient tool, such as a paint roller.
Although you could, you wouldn't use a ball pein hammer to take out a wall for a remodeling - you'd use a strong claw hammer. It's just more efficient. Even though it can be fun to paint a target on the old drywall, blindfold yourself, and try to hit the target with the ball pein hammer's perfect circles because it puts an adult spin on Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
Types of hammersAfter you've had a bit of fun and you're ready to return to work, it's important to pick the right type of hammer for the job. Here are some common hammers you may need for various jobs around the house.
- Ball pein: The ball pein hammer design has a round end on one side of the hammerhead, which works for shaping metal and removing dents … and putting perfectly round holes in drywall.
- Curve claw: A curve claw hammer is great for general carpentry work around the house. It drives nails efficiently, and the curvature of the claw gives you leverage when pulling nails.
- Framing: The framing hammer design is heavier and longer than a typical claw hammer. It works well for heavy carpentry work and provides extra power for driving nails with fewer swings.
- Rip claw: The rip claw hammer has a mostly straight claw versus the curve claw. It's more efficient at tearing out boards than pulling nails, although it works for nail-pulling. It does a great job with general household tasks.
- Soft-face: A soft-face hammer consists of rubber or other soft materials to strike wood without damaging it. They're not tough enough to drive nails, but you can use them to gently tap a finished piece of wood into place.
- Specialty: Other hammers are made for special jobs, such as a sledgehammer for tearing down walls or a bricklayer's hammer for cutting and setting tile or brick.
If you only plan to have one hammer on hand at home, a curved claw hammer is the most common choice. It provides the most versatility. As your home repair skills and requirements expand, you'll need some of the other types of hammers, so you can perform specific jobs more effectively.
Key considerations for hammers
Once you've settled on a design for a hammer, you then will have multiple choices within that design. Some of these choices will make the hammer more comfortable to use or will give you more nail-driving power. See? The simple hammer offers a lot of complex decisions.
- Anti-vibration: Hammer manufacturers will use curved handles, handles of varying thicknesses, and a soft grip material to avoid vibration for the person operating the hammer. Excessive vibration can cause fatigue in the wrists and forearms.
- Face surface: A smooth face on the hammerhead will protect the wood should you have a mishit on the nail head. Having a bit of friction on the face, called a milled face, will allow the hammer to remain in contact with the nail head without slipping.
- Handle material: Wood handles have represented the standard for hammers for centuries. Wood can break or splinter though. Fiberglass handles will have less weight than steel handles, but they aren't as durable as steel. Additionally, many handles have a rubber material that provides a sturdy grip. Some use leather in the handle grip area.
- Hammerhead material: Steel hammerheads are clearly the most common in the market, and they perform very well. However, if you want a lighter weight material that delivers more power than steel, look for a titanium hammerhead.
- Weight: Most hammers weigh between 16 ounces and 20 ounces. Lighter hammers are available that are easier to control but that require more strikes to drive a nail. A heavier hammer will drive the nail faster but could cause arm fatigue if used for long periods of time.
- Wide face: An oversized face on the hammerhead should make it easier to strike the nail than a small face. However, some large faces on hammers obscure your view of the target, which can cause mishits.
Here are the best hammers you can buy:
- Best hammer overall: Stanley 20-Ounce FatMax Xtreme Claw Hammer
- Best soft-face hammer: Vaughan & Bushnell 12-Ounce Soft-Face Hammer
- Best titanium hammer: Stiletto TiBone 15-Ounce Titanium Milled-Face Hammer
- Best framing hammer: Estwing 25-Ounce Big Blue Framing Hammer
- Best ball pein hammer: Tekton Jacketed Fiberglass Ball Pein Hammer
Updated on 11/6/2019 by Caitlin Petreycik: Updated prices, links, and formatting. Added related guides.
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