A hammer is one of the most basic tools you can use, which is why there are usually small hammers included with most children's tool sets. Standard claw hammers are easy to recognize, even for individuals that don't have a lot of experience with tools, but there are many other types of hammers, each with distinct purposes and designs.
When it comes to DIY projects, it's always recommended to find the best tools for the job, which includes using the right hammer instead of simply opting for an old claw hammer buried in your toolbox. Keep reading to find out more about these 6 types of hammers and how to choose the right hammer for your next project.
Buying Considerations for Hammers
Before deciding on a hammer to add to your toolbox, it's important to understand what features to look for and the product factors that should be considered in order to select the right hammer for the job.
The face of a hammer is the part used for striking an object, like a nail or a piece of metal. Hammer faces differ based on the type of hammer, but they can also have special features like a patterned or textured surface that helps to prevent glancing blows. The textured face grips the head of the nail as the hammer strikes, preventing the face of the hammer from sliding off the head of the nail.
Convex hammer faces are common on claw hammers for finishing work, while a ball peen hammer has one completely flat face, and a significantly rounded face for shaping metal. You can also find hammers with broad faces that are intended for hammering chisels or demolition work.
One of the most important parts of a hammer is the handle. The user needs to grip the handle with either one or both hands to apply force through the head of the hammer and into the target object. Handles come in three common materials, including wood, fiberglass, and steel.
- Wood handles are a classic option that some people still prefer because wood is lightweight and insulates against vibration, heat, and electricity. However, wooden handles are the least durable option and they are vulnerable to rotting or warping in wet or humid conditions.
- Fiberglass handles are designed to insulate the user from vibrations, heat, and electricity, similar to wood handles. But fiberglass is also waterproof, so you don't need to worry about the handle rotting or warping. Fiberglass handles are heavier than wood, but lighter than steel and typically have a rubber grip to help the user control the tool during use.
- Steel handles also typically come with a rubber grip to improve user control. Steel still conducts electricity, heat, and vibrations, but the rubber grip acts as an insulating layer. While a wood handle is prone to breaking, steel handles are the most durable option available, though they can become bent and warped with years of use.
Weight and Length
Swinging a hammer is relatively easy, but after a significant number of strikes, the weight of a hammer can quickly tire you out. Consider the weight of the hammer head and the length of the handle. Some hammer heads can weigh as little as 8 ounces, but other hammers may have heads that weigh up to 20 pounds.
When a user swings the head of the hammer on an arc, the head reaches the top of the arc, and the weight of the head pulls the hammer down, increasing the force of the strike. This force is further increased by lengthening the handle to create a larger parabolic arc and a faster head swing. Just keep in mind that as the length of the hammer and the weight of the hammer increases, the amount of control required to swing the hammer also increases.
In order to get the best results for your project, choose a hammer with a balanced weight and length that can provide enough momentum to generate a significant amount of force without requiring too much effort to control the swing.
Types of Hammers
There are several common types of hammers that are frequently used around the home for DIY projects, including claw, framing, ball peen, club, mallet, and sledgehammer.
One of the most recognizable tools is the standard claw hammer. It has a slightly convex striking face and a split claw for pulling nails. Most homes will have a claw hammer buried somewhere in a toolbox, workshop, or garage, but if you don't, it's recommended to pick up one of these essential tools for common household tasks, like hanging picture frames.
Similar to a claw hammer, a framing hammer features the same convex face and claw as a claw hammer, but it is about twice as heavy. The reason for this oversized design is that framing hammers are used for driving long, thick framing nails into tough studs and beams. The weight allows the user to strike with greater force than if they were using a standard claw hammer.
Ball Peen Hammer
While club hammers can be used for rounding off the edges of rivets, a better option is a ball peen hammer, which is also known as a machinist's hammer. These hammers have a flat face that is ideal for striking punches and driving chisels. They also have a rounded face that is very useful for metalworking projects.
Similar to a sledgehammer, but smaller, club hammers are also known as drilling hammers because they are used to drive chisels and punches. Club hammers usually have a flat face on one side and a wedge peen on the opposite side and they can also be used for rounding rivets, shaping metalworking projects, or even in during the metal forging process.
A mallet is a type of hammer that is used for shaping metal, driving chisels, or fitting wooden dowels without damaging the surface of the wood. These hammers can have wooden or metal heads for more heavy-duty jobs, like metalworking, but a mallet may also have a rubber head that is excellent for striking soft objects, like wood, without leaving marks or indents behind.
Whether you are tackling a demolition projects around the home or driving stakes into the ground outside, a sledgehammer is a heavy-duty tool that is useful to have around. These tools are much larger than a standard hammer, with handles that range from 2 to 3 feet in length and heavy heads that weigh 10 to 20 pounds. To get the full benefit of a sledgehammer, users need to let the weight of the head do most of the work, otherwise you may tire yourself out in a hurry.
When it comes to the cost of a hammer, you won't need to worry about spending thousands of dollars on a new addition to the toolbox. Hammers can cost as little as $10 or range to as much as $300 for large, heavy-duty sledgehammers. Prices can fluctuate based on the type of hammer, handle material, weight, length, grip, and even more specialized features, like a textured face can impact the price.
Keep in mind that while you can find hammers at a very low price, this price often reflects the quality of the tool, so if the price seems too good to be true, then it's likely that the tool was made with cheap material or it may be shoddily constructed. Hammers aren't expensive. Spend the extra $20 or $50 to ensure you get a high-quality product.
How to Choose a Hammer
With information about the various types of hammers, you can research several products and make an informed decision about the right hammer for the project, based on the purpose, suitability, and the frequency with which the hammer will be used.
What Will the Hammer Be Used For?
The first question to answer is what will the hammer be used for? Standard claw hammers are great for hammering nails or pulling nails, but if you are starting a demolition project, then a sledgehammer or even a club hammer would be a better choice. Ball peen hammers are the way to go if you will be working with sheet metal and it can also be used to drive chisels or round off rivets. Mallets can also be used for shaping metal. However, if you need to build the framework to finish a room in the home, then a framing hammer can drive nails with more force than a standard claw hammer.
Is There a More Suitable Tool?
Sometimes it's tempting to just grab whatever you have on hand to get the job done, but if there is a tool that is better suited to the task, then it's recommended to use the more appropriate tool. For instance, a standard claw hammer can be used to pry wood boards, but a pry bar is literally designed for this purpose, so it's better to go with the pry bar than taking more time and effort with a claw hammer.
How Often Will You Use the Hammer?
Another factor to keep in mind is the frequency with which the tool will be used. Standard claw hammers, framing hammers, and even sledge hammers tend to have a lot of uses around the home, but this may not be the case with a ball peen hammer or mallet. Consider whether you will use the hammer frequently enough that investing in a new hammer makes sense, or if you have a suitable alternative on hand that can fill in when necessary.
Why do the nails keep bending when hammering?
If the nail is getting bent every time you swing the hammer, it's an indication that the hammer isn't hitting the nail straight on. Instead, the curve of your swing is causing the hammer to hit the nail at a slight angle. Go slow and make minor adjustments until you find the right angle, then drive the nail in.
What is a hammer used for?
Hammers have many different purposes, including general carpentry, framing, nail pulling, furniture assembly, metal shaping, and demolition. However, not every type of hammer is suited to every purpose, so make sure to choose the right hammer for the task.
Do hammers wear out?
While a hammer is a strong, durable tool that can last for many years if it is properly stored and maintained, these tools do wear out over time. Signs that you need a new hammer include chips or dents in the head, a warped hammer neck, and a torn, cracked, or otherwise damaged handle.