A hammer is an indispensable and invaluable tool around the house or job site. But, like many household tools, there isn’t just one type of hammer. Chances are, if you took some time to look around the house for hammers, you’d find at least two different kinds.
Since the type of hammer you want depends on the kind of project you’re doing, Build.com has laid out for you the most popular hammers in use today. Also, is there a right way to use a hammer? Well, since there’s definitely a wrong way, that must mean there’s a right way. That’s also explained below.
How would I know if it was right for my project? Of the many varieties of available hammers, each is designed for a particular task. How do they differ and how do you know if you have the right tool?
- Air hammer: Also referred to as a nailgun or nailer, this could make your project much easier to accomplish. All that’s required from you is to hold the air hammer in place, and by pressing a button, a nail is driven. This tool is a common choice among builders.
- Ball Pein hammer: The head on this tool is round and very compact, while the other side is flat. This hand-held tool is specifically designed to shape metalwork.
- Bricklayers hammer: The extended, square head distinguishes this hammer, which is used to smash concrete and to cut bricks and place them in mortar. The handle is significantly longer, and it requires the use of two hands.
- Claw Hammers:
- Curved claw hammer: This is the most popular hammer around the home and is ideal for driving and removing nails. Opposite the hammer’s head is the distinctive curved bisected claw.
- Straight claw hammer: Use this if you’re planning to tear up and remove sheetrock, tile or flooring. It looks similar to a curved claw hammer, except it’s, you guessed it, straighter.
- Sledgehammer: This is one of the largest—and heaviest—hammers around. The large head and longer handle create more force and impulse than most any other hammer. For this reason, they’re usually used in some type of construction.
- Upholstery hammer: These lightweight tools are used for much smaller projects, like upholstering furniture or tapping nails, tacks, or brads into something, like a picture frame. It’s also sometimes referred to as tack hammer.
A hammer is simple to use, right? See hammer. Pick up hammer. Hit stuff with hammer. Well, there’s more to it than that. Using a hammer the right way seems like an obvious thing to do—until you smash your thumb and it throbs and pulsates like Fred Flintstone’s. Here’s a brief checklist of things you might want to make sure are in place.
1. Check it: Make sure the hammer’s head is attached firmly to the handle, and inspect the tool for any defects.
2. Get a grip: Hold the hammer with a strong grasp at the end of the handle. Not only is it safer, but it’s more energy efficient.
3. Hittin’ it: Strike your surface squarely with the hammer’s head, and avoid banging it sideways. For a better response, use your entire arm and elbow.
4. Know your surroundings: Work against a hard surface, since hammering against a softer surface only requires more energy. Also, make sure people remain at a safe distance and your workplace is void of objects that could get in the way.
5. Practice, practice, practice: The proper technique comes from practice. Work from a natural position and over time you’ll develop what feels best.
- Wear eye and (if needed) ear protection.
- Never strike another large piece of steel, like another hammer or an ax, with your hammer. Not even for fun.
- Never use the hammer’s handle to strike something. The hammer’s head is designed for pounding, not the handle.
Finally, if your hammer shows signs of weakening—cracking, bending, becoming brittle—replace it with a new one. Never attempt to repair it on your own.