Different Types of Hammers for DIYersAre you planning to execute precise finishing work? Do you have a demolition task to take on, or need to pry apart boards? Choosing the right type of hammer is essential. It will optimize your performance and minimize the time required to complete a job. It will also help prevent damage to the objects you’re handling and reduce fatigue and soreness over long periods of hammering.
Claw HammerA claw hammer is the most common type of hammer. It features a striking face for driving in nails and a two-pronged claw for pulling them out. Claw hammers are ideal for woodworking and household repairs.
A curved claw hammer:
- Is usually lightweight and easy to handle (with a head weight from 10 to 16 oz)
- Offers good leverage with minimal potential for damage, making it ideal for finishing
A straight claw hammer (also referred to as a rip hammer or framing hammer) is:
- More heavy-duty with a head weight of 20 oz or more
- Ideal for framing, prying and demolition tasks
Ball Pein HammerA ball pein hammer is designed for metalwork. One end is ball-shaped for shaping metal materials, while the other face is flat for driving nails. A ball pein hammer:
- Is ideal for metalworking, rounding edges, and punching and riveting
- Comes in a range of common head weights from 4 oz to 32 oz (and can go up to 48 oz)
Framing HammerA framing hammer is a more sophisticated claw hammer with a shorter, straight claw. The straighter claw is ideal for prying wood boards apart. A framing hammer:
- Has a waffle face that prevents slippage when driving nails
- Provides more force than accuracy
- Is typically heavier and has a longer handle
- Is ideal for framing, splitting and small demolition
Mallet HammerA mallet hammer is lighter and features a round head made of moulded rubber. It is softer on impact and less likely to cause damage. Common uses for a mallet hammer are shaping metal, fitting together wooden parts, and working with plasterboard. It is also ideal for assembling furniture or items that feature interlocking parts.
Club HammerEssentially a small sledge hammer, a club hammer:
- Features a shorter handle (typically 10 inches long) for one-handed use
- Comes in various head weights such as 2-1/2 lbs, 3 lbs and 5 lbs
- Is great in situations where you require strength but have limited space
- Is ideal for driving stakes and chisels, and for demolition
Deciding Factors When Choosing a HammerWhen selecting a hammer, consider the various parts of the hammer as well as the type. How often do you use it? What tasks do you use it for? Consider the material, design and quality best suited to your project.
Types of HandlesThe type of hammer handle can affect comfort, strength and function. Wood and fibreglass are the most popular materials.
Wood is a traditional material for handle construction. A wooden hammer handle absorbs shocks well, and is also well-balanced to promote a smooth swing. Though durable with proper care, wood handles may rot, warp or shrink over time, especially if left outside exposed to the elements.
Fibreglass hammer handles are extremely durable and won’t shrink, warp or rot, but they don’t absorb shock as well as wood. Look for a fibreglass hammer with anti-vibration technology. This type of handle will feature rubber, plastic, or vinyl for comfort and shock absorption.
A steel hammer handle is extremely durable but much heavier than wood or fibreglass. Again, look for models with rubber, plastic, or vinyl sheathing to increase shock absorption.
How Heavy?Hammers within a certain type offer a range of head weights. In general, a lighter head is best for precision and finesse work, while a heavier head is ideal when greater force is needed. A lighter hammer is generally fine for household tasks and projects, and it’s handy if you are carrying it for longer periods.
Hammer Head & FacesFor DIYers and general use, a smooth face is ideal because it won’t mar surfaces. A smooth, slightly convex face is ideal for finishing work.
A “milled face” provides better traction on the nail head, which is handy for forceful hammering like framing.
The durability and quality of the metal is also important when it comes to the head. A hammer head that is too hard can chip more easily, while a head that is too soft can dent and deform. Most heads are made of steel, although you can find speciality hammers in other materials such as plastic and titanium.
Handy Hammer FeaturesThese additional features can help make your hammering performance more efficient and comfortable.
Nail Starter: A small groove and magnet that hold a nail. This makes it easy to drive the nail and allows for one handed use, which is especially useful for locations above your head.
Anti-Vibration Technology: Minimizes vibration and shock to your wrist, hand, and lower arm. It can help reduce user fatigue and soreness, which is useful for extended sessions.
A Good Grip: Gives you better control of the hammer, provides cushioning and absorbs shocks while hammering.
Hatchet-Style Handle: Traditional hammers are straight. Often found on modern hammers, the hatchet-style handle is slightly curved with a hooked end for a more natural grip and balanced feel.
Common Mistakes When Buying a New HammerCommon mistakes when buying a new hammer include:
- Buying the wrong type of hammer for the project: make sure the style, weight and material are suited to the job at hand as well as your personal preference
- Buying a poor quality hammer: a cheaper hammer is fine for light or occasional household tasks, but a durable, high quality hammer is necessary for regular and/or heavy-duty use