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Published Nov. 13, 2018

There is more to a hammer than meets the eye. They are included in most toolboxes, but not everyone realizes that there are several different types of hammers and it is important to pick the right one. They have the potential to cause injury, so it is important to take care when you are using them.

As well as many different styles, they can be made from a range of materials, including wood, steel, fiberglass and titanium. Each material has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to weight, durability, strength and cost. Think about what you need the hammer for and then make your selection. Here’s our guide to the best hammers for your toolbox.

The Best Hammer

Here’s an excellent product from the renowned Stanley Black & Decker. The fiberglass core of the handle gives it the feel of wood but with added strength and durability. It’s very comfortable to use thanks to the vibration-reducing design and ergonomic comfort grip. The ribbed surface and flared end reduce the chances of it slipping out of your hand and injuring yourself or someone else.

The rim is tempered so there is less chance of you chipping or spalling the material that you are working on. This 20-ounce claw hammer is 14 inches long, but other weights and lengths are available. This is one of the best claw hammers to add to your toolbox.

Key Features
  • 20-ounce claw hammer
  • Fiberglass core handle
  • Vibration-reducing design
  • Ergonomic grip
Specification
  • Brand Stanley
  • Model 51-627
  • Weight 1.29 pounds

Estwing has been a highly respected US toolmaker since 1923. The quality and durability of its products have been appreciated by many tradesman over the years. From its factory in Rockford, IL it produces a range of high-quality striking tools. This 16-ounce rip claw hammer has the patented grip molded onto the handle to give the user the best levels of comfort and to reduce the transmission of impact vibrations to the hands and arms. The innovative nylon and vinyl coating gives maximum comfort.

Each Estwing hammer is made from a single piece of American steel, which makes them strong and durable and means that you will never have the problem of a loose hammer head. The head and handle are fully hand-polished and available with a smooth or milled face. This hammer is 16 ounces but other sizes are available.

Key Features
  • Manufactured in the US
  • Nylon and vinyl patented shock reduction grip
  • Comfortable to use
  • Made from a single piece of steel
Specification
  • Brand Estwing
  • Model E3-16S
  • Weight 1.55 pounds

For those on a budget, this is a good-value 8-ounce claw hammer which is only 6 inches long so it is perfect for tight jobs in small spaces. It has a strong forged steel head with a striking surface and claw. The head also features a cleverly designed groove for placing a nail when you are starting to hammer it. It’s perfect for one-handed jobs and cuts down on injuries. The groove is also magnetic to make the nail more secure.

The handle is soft and non-slip thanks to multiple small grooves, It is also contoured to make it easier to grip and ergonomic. A very sturdy and useful little hammer for smaller jobs.

Key Features
  • Smaller hammer for light jobs
  • Easy to use in tight spaces
  • Ergonomic, contoured handle
  • Magnetic nail starter groove
Specification
  • Brand MAXCRAFT
  • Model 60626
  • Weight 12.8 ounces

This innovative titanium Stiletto hammer is stronger and lighter than traditional hammers and has ten times less recoil so it is not so likely to cause injuries or repetitive strains. At 15 ounces, it is easy to lift and eliminates fatigue, yet it can deliver the same power as a 28-ounce steel hammer. It has a rubber handle that is both ergonomically designed and resistant to damage. It is superbly comfortable but gives you plenty of power and leverage.

To make starting off nails easier, there is a magnetic nail start groove on the nose so one-handed jobs will be a breeze. There is a smooth or milled face made of steel which can be replaced to extend the life of the titanium hammer. The built-in nail puller will easily remove nails with a swift 180-degree action.

Key Features
  • Made from Titanium
  • Replaceable steel head
  • Ergonomic rubber handle
Specification
  • Brand Stilletto
  • Model TB15MC
  • Weight 1 pound

This lightweight and competitively priced claw hammer bridges the gap between a tack hammer and a regular hammer for the little jobs that don’t require heavy construction tools. It has a unique pink color at the top of the shaft so it is easily recognizable in a toolbox and would make a cool, novelty gift for a householder who is into DIY.

However, it is far from a toy. It may be competitively priced but it comes with an easy to grip rubber handle to prevent it slipping out of your hand. The head is made from steel and has a smooth face on the one side a claw on the other side. The handle has a durable fiberglass core which is very efficient at reducing vibrations and a resin coating.

Key Features
  • Distinctive pink handle
  • Durable rubber coating on handle
  • Fiberglass core
  • Smooth, steel head
Specification
  • Brand The Original Pink Box
  • Model 1.3 pounds
  • Weight PB12HM

This is a lightweight (2.5 pound) club hammer which is sometimes called a lump hammer or a mallet. It has a head that is short but is double-faced so it looks a bit like a miniature version of a sledgehammer. It is a very useful addition to any toolbox and can be used for driving steel chisels or masonry heads and comes in handy for light demolition work.

You can safely use it for heavy-duty striking work because the shock-absorbing fiberglass core will prevent the vibrations being transmitted to your hand, arm and shoulder. This hammer is manufactured at least to the minimum standards set out for this type of tool by the American National Standards Institute. It comes with a lifetime warranty.

Key Features
  • Lightweight club hammer
  • Shock absorbing fiberglass handle
  • Lifetime warranty
Specification
  • Brand Powerbuilt
  • Model 648332
  • Weight 3 pounds

A very reasonably priced 16-ounce mallet hammer that would come in very handy when working on your home or car or for hobbies like woodwork. The head is manufactured from solid rubber and delivers a powerful but soft strike so it will not cause damage. This makes it perfect for jobs involving delicate parts on trucks, cars and motorcycles. It is less likely to cause damage to delicate metalwork than a steel hammer.

The handle has a high-strength but lightweight fiberglass core which is practically impossible to break. It will also absorb a lot of power from impacts to protect your hand and arm. Covering the core is a poly jacket which will absorb even more impact. Finally, the soft, rubber outer coating is superbly comfortable and is integrated into the handle so it cannot work itself loose.

Key Features
  • Mallet hammer with rubber head
  • Suitable for automotive work
  • Fiberglass core handle
  • Integrated rubber coating on handle
Specification
  • Brand TEKTON
  • Model 30603
  • Weight 1.5 pounds

This 16-ounce hammer is small enough to be perfect for more intricate automotive jobs or tasks around the house like picture framing. It has a titanium head with a serrated edge to prevent slipping. The head also has a built-in ‘Nailco’ magnetic nail holder to help you when starting off hammering a nail. It will take both standard and duplex nails. The head also has a handy nail puller for extracting nails and the claws are reinforced to give them extra strength.  

The handle is made out of traditional hickory wood but with a modern patented design to make it shock-absorbent. There is a cleverly designed overstrike guard to provide additional protection for your hands. It is also available with a smooth face if required.

Key Features
  • Titanium head with serrated edge
  • Built-in magnetic nail holder
  • Built-in nail puller
  • Traditional hickory wood handle
Specification
  • Brand Dalluge
  • Model DDT16
  • Weight 1.45 pounds

This 20-ounce nailing hammer is an investment for your toolbox but it will be worth it. It’s perfect for heavier duty jobs where more power is needed. There is a rim temper which reduces the chances of you chipping or spalling the surface that you are working on. Compared to traditional hammers, the strike face is 75 percent larger so the strike accuracy of this tool is improved.

Because it has been designed for professional use, it has been manufactured to make it comfortable to use over long periods without causing fatigue. It has a torsion (twisting) control stabilizer to prevent pain from arm-twisting during prolonged use. There is also a slip-resistant handle so you do not need to grip it so tightly. The innovative ‘AntiVibe’ technology cuts down on the amount of vibration and shock that is transmitted to your body during use.

Key Features
  • 75 per cent larger striking face
  • Rim temper to prevent chipping
  • Slip-resistant handle
  • Suitable for professional use
Specification
  • Brand Stanley
  • Model 51-165
  • Weight 1.75 pounds

A lightweight but perfectly balanced hammer with two faces that extends to 12.5″ in length. The faces are small (1 3/8″ diameter) and one is soft. You can remove them and replace them when needed. They are also colored red and yellow so that you can easily distinguish between the hard and the soft heads when you are in a hurry.

The handle is made out of flame-treated hickory and is triple wedged with a tapered eye. Vaughan hammers have an epoxy resin for “Sure-Lock” handle tightness. Computer design ensures that the handle is perfectly balanced and to prevent fatigue.

Key Features
  • Lightweight but perfectly balanced
  • Color-coded head
  • Flame-treated hickory wood handle
Specification
  • Brand Vaughan & Bushnell
  • Model VAUSF12
  • Weight 1.19 pounds

Best Hammer Buying Guide & FAQ

Things to Consider When Buying a Hammer

There are many different types of hammers that have been designed to suit different purposes. Before you head out and buy one, here are a few of the things that you should consider.

  • The job it is needed for

Different styles of hammers are used for different tasks. Thinking about automotive jobs alone, there will be tasks that require heavy-duty hammers and others that need a more delicate touch. Sometimes it is necessary to have more than one type of hammer in your toolbox.

  • The price

The old saying ‘A poor workman blames his tools’ is not always true. Sometimes the tools really are to blame. It is wise to think of a hammer as an investment and buy the best quality that you can afford. Cheaper hammers are likely to be less robust and not as comfortable to use.

  • Handle material

Hammer handles are generally made from steel, fiberglass or wood. Steel is very strong but is also heavy and will transmit vibrations to the user. Fiberglass is not so strong but is better at absorbing vibrations. It does not conduct electricity and so is safer for electrical work. Wood is the most traditional and is the lightest; it is good at absorbing vibrations but can snap.

This is important because it is dangerous when a hammer slips out of your hand. Many modern hammers have non-slip rubber coatings to prevent this from happening. The handles are also ergonomically designed for comfort.

  • Head material

Heads can be made from titanium or steel. Titanium is more expensive but is much more efficient so more of your effort is actually transmitted to the nail! It also protects your arm by absorbing most of the recoil. Steel heads are cheaper but heavier and transmit more of the vibrations to the user.

  • Added extras

Hammer heads come with various added extras that you may find useful. For one-handed work, a magnetic nail holder can be very useful. A side-puller is a great way to get added leverage to pull out stubborn nails.

  • Replaceable parts

You may find it useful to be able to change or replace the head or the handle of your hammer. This is now possible with some brands. It means that you can extend the life of your hammer if one part of it fails.

  • Strike guards

These are an extension of the steel head of the hammer that extends down the handle. They are most often seen on wooden-handled hammers. It protects the soft wooden handle from damage if you miss the nail and it strikes the top the handle instead of the head.

  • Milled vs. smooth face

The striking surface of the head can be milled (textured) or smooth. A milled-face is best for driving in a nail without bending. However, it will leave an imprint of the milled face on the nail. If the appearance of what you are striking is important to you a smooth-faced head is essential.

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hammer on a wooden table

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Types of Hammer and What they are Used For

There are several different types of hammers that have been specifically designed for particular jobs. To the novice, it can be a little confusing. Here is a basic guide to the main types of hammers out there.

  • Claw Hammer 

This is the most popular hammer incorporating a hammer face and a ‘V’ shape to prize out nails from wood or claw up boards.

  • Ball Peen Hammer

The hammer has a normal head on one side and a ball shape on the other. It is used to beat out dents in bodywork on cars. The handles are usually wooden.

  • Cross and Straight Peen Hammer

Another hammer that is used for shaping metal. In some, the peen (ball) is at right angles to the handle.

  • Club Hammer

This can be also be called a lump hammer or a mini-mallet. It has a double-faced head and is most often used for driving chisels or masonry nails. They can make debris fly around so goggles are essential.

  • Sledge Hammer 

A very heavy and large hammer for heavy demolition jobs or driving posts into the ground. Suitable protective clothing, including footwear with re-enforced toe-caps, need to be worn.

  • Joiner or carpenter hammer

An entirely wooden hammer used for working with wood where a steel head would cause damage. The head is slightly tapered to make sure that it makes a correct contact with the work surface.

  • Soft-faced Hammers

These could have hard or soft rubber, plastic or copper faces. The faces can also be interchangeable in some hammers. A rubber hammer can be used for automotive jobs where a steel face would cause damage.

  • Special Hammers

Some specialist trades and crafts require special types of hammers. For example, a brick hammer is used for splitting bricks and a tack hammer is used by upholsterers to drive tacks and nails in confined spaces. The best framing hammer is a Sprig Hammer which is a perfect size for delicately driving in small framing pins and staples.

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hammer and nails

Safety Advice for when Using Hammers

Hammers are often misused and this can lead to injuries. They are made for specific purposes and for use on different surfaces. The key to staying safe when using a hammer is to select the correct tool for the job.

  • Choose a hammer that is comfortable. Many hammer injuries are ‘over-use’ injuries or repetitive strains. They are caused by using that is uncomfortable to hold for long periods. This puts added strain on the soft -tissues of the arm and hand. The hammer needs to be the right size and weight for the user.
  • Choose a hammer with the correct size striking face. The hammer you choose should have a striking face diameter that is around half an inch bigger than the face of what you are hitting. Therefore, if you are hitting a chisel or a wedge you will need a much bigger face.
  • Choose a hammer with a suitable handle. When you strike a surface, a recoil force is transmitted back up the hammer and into your hand. Over time, this can irritate nerves in the hand and arm. Handles that absorb a recoil are safer.
  • Choose a hammer that you can grip. Hammers with non-slip handles can be gripped more easily and are less likely to slip out of your hand during use.
  • Choose a hammer with electrical insulation. If you are working anywhere near electrics or there is a possibility that you could hit an electric cable, it is essential that you have a handle that will not transmit the electrical current to your body.

Make sure that the hammer head is securely fixed to the handle before you start and that the handle is not splintered or cracked. Keep the area free of debris and wear safety goggles. Make sure that you are standing securely when using a hammer because the recoil could throw you off balance. Also, make sure that there is no one behind you when you swing back.

The Best Hammer FAQ:

Q: How do you use a hammer properly?

Once you have made sure that you have the correct hammer for the job and have checked it over for damage and wear, you are ready to start. Take hold of the hammer as if you were shaking hands. To start off a more intricate job such as hammering in a nail, it may be best to grip the hammer close to the head. On the other hand, if you need to strike something with a lot of force, grip the hammer towards the end. To start off hammering in a nail, place it in the desired position and either hold it with your thumb and forefinger (at the top of the nail) or place it in the magnetic nail holder on the hammer. Tap the nail lightly until it has sunk in a little and can stand on its own. Swinging from the elbow gives more power for heavier jobs but you have more control when you swing from the wrist. Let the weight of the hammer do the work for you.

Q: What is the peen of a hammer used for?

The peen of a hammer is a part of the hammer head that is ball-shaped. Traditionally it was used by engineers and machinists and is harder than a claw hammer so it hardly ever chips on contact. In manufacturing, they are still sometimes used for shaping and expanding rivets. They are also widely used for shaping or flattening dents in metals and this is why they are regularly used for automotive jobs like removing dents in bodywork.

Q: What kind of hammer is good for simple chores?

For simple chores, a lightweight multipurpose hammer is a useful tool to have in your toolbox. Choose one with a medium-length handle so you can use it in tight areas but that is not too short for heavier jobs. Also, choose one with a steel head with a striking surface on one side and a claw on the other. A rubber handle will make it easier to grip. If you prefer the idea of a traditional tool, hickory handles are ergonomic and durable. Related Post: Best Work Glovesblack hammer

Our Top Pick

This is a durable general-purpose claw hammer with a fiberglass core for strength and durability. It’s comfortable to grip and has a ribbed surface and flared end to prevent it from slipping.

The tempered rim reduces the likelihood of chipping or spalling for added safety. At 20 ounces in weight and 14 inches long, it is large enough to tackle medium-sized tasks and would be a highly useful addition to your toolbox.

Sources:

  1. Essential Tool 5: Hammer – howstuffworks
  2. How to Use a Hammer Safely – wikiHow

 

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