With many different hammer types flooding the market, keeping track of their specifications and functions can get overwhelming. Some work best with metal, while others are specialized woodworking tools. Picking an ill-suited hammer for the task means wasting time and energy, potentially leading to equipment and home damage that can require costly repairs.
We’ll discuss five popular hammers and outline their uses.
Different Types of Hammers and Their Uses
Let’s look at five different types of hammers and how using them may benefit you.
When we think of a hammer, the first thing that comes to mind is a claw hammer. Its durable steel head serves a dual purpose. The face drives nails into the wood while the claw removes them without difficulty. Its handle is typically made from steel, wood, or fiberglass for a firm grip on the tool. Steel and fiberglass models also come with a rubber or vinyl layer that acts as a shock absorber so that users feel comfortable wielding the hammer.
The design of a claw hammer depends on its size and purpose. A powerful framing hammer requires a lot of force to drive nails, so a 28-ounce head gives it the extra kick. However, medium-sized hammers with a head of 16 ounces will successfully tackle most household repairs, and it’s best to steer clear of the larger options. Unless you’re a construction worker, they can be challenging to control, and improper handling could result in property damage.
Smaller models are recognizable by their curved claws, while bulkier framing hammers come with flatter claws perfect for demolition projects.
The hammer’s face is another feature that influences its performance. Generally, a reliable claw hammer will have:
A Milled Face
Due to its textured appearance, a milled face is also referred to as a waffle or checkered face. It enables the hammer’s striking surface to firmly stick to nail heads, preventing glancing blows and injuries.
A Bell Face
With its slightly curved shape, a bell face is commonly used for putting the finishing touches on professional and DIY projects. However, avoid claw hammers with a flat face as they’ll offer a subpar performance.
A claw handle is an indispensable tool for:
- Pounding and extracting nails
- Splitting smaller wood pieces
- Demolition work
Keep in mind that claw hammers with a wooden handle aren’t the best option for extracting nails from wood or metal surfaces. Removing nails exerts a lot of force on the tool, degrading its effectiveness and minimizing its service life. You can pull out nails with your wood-handled model occasionally. However, consider buying a wrecking bar if your DIY project involves getting rid of larger nails.
Ball Peen Hammer
Small and user-friendly, ball peen hammers excel in metalwork. While there are also larger models, the smaller hammers are preferred by jewelers. Once you size up, the tool allows you to shape metal and manufacture items like armor, horseshoes, and more.
The hardened head is more durable than that of a claw hammer and less prone to chipping. You’re less likely to find this model in a home toolbox, but it’s the way for professional and amateur metalworkers. This hammer has no sharp edges. Instead, one half of the hammerhead is flat while the other is rounded.
The unique construction means that the tool can perform a variety of daily tasks, including:
- Repairing metal
- Fixing dents
- Striking chisels in carpentry and metalwork
- Making knives
Depending on what you want to achieve, you can go for:
A Hard-Faced Ball-Peen Hammer
The face is manufactured from heat-treated high carbon steel or alloy steel, allowing the hammer to withstand the challenges of heavy-duty forging jobs. In addition, their rounded design effectively shapes metal without lowering its quality.
A Soft-Faced Ball-Peen Hammer
The hammer’s brass, lead, or plastic head is used for manipulating softer metals like copper or bronze without leaving dents. If you’re thinking of hanging a ball-peen hammer in your garage, you’ll get more use from a soft-face model. Its hard-face counterparts are specialized tools that best serve blacksmiths.
Metalwork is where the ball-peen hammer shines, but there are more efficient hammers for those looking for a woodworking tool.
Club hammers are often described as miniature sledgehammers, enabling users to drive stakes and chisels.
The two faces are identical on most models and sit on top of a handle no longer than 10 inches. Therefore, you can use both faces for hammering. In addition, their construction adds stability to the tool, minimizing discomfort so that the handle fits snugly into your hand.
Small enough to wield with one hand, you can complete a variety of different jobs with a club hammer, like:
- Driving masonry nails
- Demolition work
- Driving cold chisels
Unlike a claw hammer, a club model won’t help you dismantle wooden objects. However, a relatively light model with a three-pound head is a handy home renovation tool, capable of completing demanding tasks successfully.
Most of the hammer’s weight comes from its head, allowing users to easily adjust the forcefulness of their blows. But it’s essential not to grip the hammer too tightly. For example, if you’re doing light demolition work, a tight grip could transfer the shock of the blow to your arm, potentially injuring your shoulder or wrist.
Additionally, the hammer’s head can send debris flying, so always wear protective goggles before picking up your club hammer to avoid accidents.
Sledgehammers boast a daunting look, but they’re arguably the most helpful tool for home renovations. This long-handled hammer features a powerful steel head that exerts much blunt force when appropriately wielded, saving you time and energy.
Surprisingly, a sledgehammer’s effectiveness isn’t determined by its size or weight. Instead, much of its performance hinges on its leverage. Long-handled models allow users to quickly produce more forceful blows and tear down walls.
Home remodeling usually means changing the layout by removing interior walls, and a sledgehammer takes the hassle out of the process. However, before using the hammer, make sure you’re familiar with the home’s construction to avoid damaging weight-bearing walls.
Interior walls are lined with wood boards and nails, so using smaller options like claw hammers opens you up to injury. But a sledgehammer will take down a wall, come out unscathed, and protect you from airborne debris.
Home improvements sometimes require you to remove an exterior wall which is even more challenging.
Luckily, a sturdy sledgehammer will rise to the occasion.
Unlike other hammers, which are best suited for woodwork or metalwork, this tool is efficient at breaking down concrete. The trick is to aim for the mortar cushioned between the bricks and concrete. Your exterior wall will soon disappear when the sledgehammer hits these soft spots.
Although you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more helpful home upgrade tool, a sledgehammer is a multipurpose instrument that lets you:
- Install bolts and hooks into concrete
- Demolish concrete slabs
- Shape iron and metal
- Drive stakes
- Install fence posts
The nature of your project should guide you in selecting the appropriate sledgehammer. First, choose the optimal size and weight that allows you to leverage the tool appropriately. Once you master the swinging technique, gravity will do the rest and provide sufficient force to take down sturdy walls.
Dead Blow Hammer
A dead blow hammer features a mallet-like design that helps the tool absorb shock and tremors and eliminate rebound after hammering.
When used for delicate jobs that involve soft, damage-prone materials, a dead blow hammer keeps the materials intact and provides the user with more precision. Its head is full of steel balls that stop the tool from bouncing back toward the user.
The tool is meant to aid you with small-scale tasks like chassis repair. It won’t fare well with jobs that require forceful blows, like driving nails or installing hooks.
Dropping a dead blow hammer could cause damage, so users should store the tool in a secure area when not in use. Unlike traditional solutions, this hammer may break when mishandled. Avoid striking hard surfaces with a dead blow hammer, or the tool might fall apart. Even if it appears intact, improper handling will significantly reduce its service life.
To make the most out of a dead blow hammer, use it to:
- Install car parts
- Set joints
- Install floorboards
Tips for Using a Hammer
Whichever hammer you select, taking proper care of it will prolong its lifespan. It will also make the tool more reliable and prevent property damage.
First, never strike wood, concrete, or metal with the side of the hammer’s head. This area is less durable than the striking face and might permanently damage your tool.
Another helpful practice is inserting a piece of wood between your workpiece and the hammer. If you’re unsure about the strength of the workpiece, this method will preserve its quality and protect it against dents and scrapes.
Continuous use might take its toll on a hammer and prevent it from gripping nails. When you notice the head is slipping, rub it with abrasive paper to optimize its performance.
Wooden handles may shrink over time, especially if you live in a dry area. Periodically inspect the point where the handle and the head meet to ensure the two are firmly held together.
Finally, remember always to don protective gear when handling hammers. Concrete pieces, dust, and nails move unpredictably when attacked with enough force, so using hammers must go hand in hand with safety precautions.
Select a Hammer That Gets the Job Done
Although most hammers appear similar at first glance, they all feature unique specifications that designate them for specific purposes. When you become familiar with the different designs, you can choose a hammer that matches your requirements and is best suited for the job. Selecting the appropriate tool saves time and effort and gives you peace of mind.