Toolipedia: Hammer

Toolipedia: Everything you ever wanted to know about hammers.

A bunch of hammers laying next to each other | Construction Pro Tips

What is a hammer?

A hammer is a tool most often used to drive in nails, spikes and stakes. It’s also used for demolition tasks like pulling nails and breaking up concrete.

The heads on nailing/carpenter’s hammers are most often steel, but titanium heads are also available. The face of the head will be either smooth or milled (waffled). At the opposite end of the head is the claw, which is designed for pulling nails.

The hammer is one of the most basic tools. Prehistoric man used various-shaped stones as hammers about 3.3 million years ago. Handles were added about 30,000 BCE during the middle of the Paleolithic Stone Age.

How is a hammer used?

Using a hammer couldn’t be simpler: Just pull it back away from the intended target and swing it down onto the nail or surface.

The hammer may be the most common tool in construction. Hammers are used by masons for building forms, by carpenters for framing houses, and by most all the other trades in one capacity or another.

Hammers also can be used to shape metal on an anvil or to strike tools such as cat’s paws or chisels.

It’s always best to wear safety glasses and hearing protection when swinging a hammer.

What are the different types of hammers?

Some common types of hammers include: framing, ball peen, sledge, deadblow, stonemason’s and splitting mauls. There are also many specialty hammers for trades and activities like geology, upholstery and rock climbing.

Mechanized hammers, such as breaker hammers (jackhammers) and hammer drills, are also available. 

What makes a good hammer?

  • Durable handle (especially for masons and demolition workers)
  • Lightweight handle (especially for carpenters)
  • Low vibration (especially for carpenters)

Recommended hammers

Hammer claw splitting a board | Construction Pro Tips

Hammer Tool Tip

Hammers can do more than pound in a nail. A good hammer claw works well as a sort of rudimentary hatchet. Need a 2×2 when all you have are 2x4s? Need to carve out a crude dado? Grab your rip hammer and get to chopping.

Find out which hammer is right for you here.

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