Get the Most Out of Your Hammer

Did you know a hammer can be used for all sorts of jobs besides pounding nails? Here are some of those uses including: demolition, chopping, measuring, bending, digging and more.

A hammer with a duct-taped handle | Construction Pro Tips
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What can a hammer be used for?

When is the last time you saw a carpenter whack a nail with a hammer? Air nailers have subjugated the humble hammer because they're just so darn fast.  But that doesn’t mean carpenters don’t use hammers anymore. They’re still the tool of choice for an incredible number of tasks, including driving the occasional nail. The vast majority of carpenters prefer hammers with a straight “rip” claw over “claw” hammers, which have curved claws. That’s because they use the claw end just as much if not more than the pounding end. Here are some great tips for using a hammer for all sorts of jobs (except pounding in a nail).

Splitting lumber with the claw of a hammer | Construction Pro Tips
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Lumber Splitter

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. They also work great at hacking off a projecting piece of framing for the drywall to fit flat.

In the market for a new hammer? Check out our ultimate hammer buying guide.

A hammer being used as a measuring stick | Construction Pro Tips
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Measuring Stick

For some reason, most of my electrician buddies don’t like tape measures. I guess that’s why they use their hammers to position outlet boxes. A hammer’s length from the floor to the bottom of the box is about the right height. It’s not so important how high the boxes are, just that they’re all the same height.

Tearing out drywall corners with a hammer claw | Construction Pro Tips
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Weapon of Mass Destruction

Anytime there’s demo work on my plate, I grab my flat bar, recip saw, sledgehammer and, of course, my rip hammer.  You can use the claw to pull off corner beads, drive through plywood, pry studs apart, just about anything that needs destruction can be demolished with a hammer. If I had to, I could probably demo a whole house with a ripping hammer. (Or at least I could in my twenties).

Pushing caulk out of a tube using the shaft of a hammer | Construction Pro Tips
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Caulking gun for airheads

Can't tell you how many times I've forgotten a caulking gun and needed just a little dab or two to seal up a hole. That’s when I shove the handle down the tube and force out some caulk with my always handy "hammer gun." Wipe off the grip to avoid sticky fingers.

Man hanging from roof with the claw of his hammer | Construction Pro Tips
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Say you find yourself sliding down the sheathing of a new roof. As you're flying towards the edge, you have the presence of mind to pull out your hammer and slam the claw through the plywood to arrest your fall. Sound farfetched? Well, I have two friends who have pulled off this stunt. Of course, if they had any brains, they wouldn’t have been wearing fall protection.

Straightening a recip saw blade with a hammer claw | Construction Pro Tips
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Blade Straightener

When my recip saw blade gets jammed and bent (which is pretty often)  I grab my hammer and straighten things out with the claw. You could also lay the blade flat on a 2×4 and beat it straight.

Digging holes in dirt with hammer claws | Construction Pro Tips
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Hole Digger

Sometimes I think I’ve spent half my life on extension ladders. In spite of that, I’ve never taken a fall. That’s because I’ve always made sure the ladder feet were anchored in little pockets dug into the ground, especially in the winter. Didn’t matter if the ground was frozen or not; the rip claw on my hammer would dig through anything.

Carpenter scratching his back with a hammer | Construction Pro Tips
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Back Scratcher

Don't try this with your nail gun!!

Want to get even more out of your hammer? Read our story on the best hammer upgrades.


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