How to buy a hammer
A hammer buying guide
From framing a picture on the wall to repaving a walkway, a hammer is one of the most common and versatile household tools. There are a variety of hammers available to suit any home improvement project you can do, so knowing the specific hammer you need will help you complete the job easily and efficiently.
>> What will you use your hammer for?
The first consideration when determining how to buy a hammer is to decide what specific function(s) it will serve. Functional uses of hammers can range from simple nail placement to complete structural demolitions, so knowing the purpose it will be serving will help you more easily decide the best hammer to buy.
Driving or extracting nails and tacks are the most basic hammer uses, but even then, the type of hammer best suited for the project varies with the size of fastener. These hammers generally consist of a wooden or fiberglass handle attached to a metal head, one side of which drives the nail while the other extracts.
Larger carpentry or construction projects might require more heavy-duty hammers for demolition work. Ranging from chipping hammers to sledgehammers, the largest types of demolition hammers can weigh up to 16 pounds, depending on the type of demolition required. Moreover, these hammers can often be used to drive larger fasteners, such as stakes and wedges, but don't require the extraction function of lighter models.
For more particular home improvement projects, there are several different types of hammers that specialize in specific materials, such as brick or stone. These specialized hammer features, such as hatchet-shaped heads for cutting drywall, minimize the number of tools needed to complete your particular project. Knowing the various types of specialized hammers will help you decide how to buy a hammer that will get the job done most efficiently.
>> Choose a type of hammer
Once you've decided the function your hammer needs to perform, the next step in determining how to buy a hammer is to decide on a specific hammer design.
Claw hammers, for instance, are ideal for simple carpentry and home improvement projects that only require a basic nailing function. Commonly weighing in around 20 ounces, these hammers can also extract previously mounted nails with a V-shaped protrusion, from which they get their name, on the rear head end of the hammer. A longer, heavier version of this type of hammer, the framing hammer, is suited for driving and extracting much larger nails.
When a lighter blow is needed, such as when forming sheet metal or upholstery, tack hammers and rubber mallet hammers are well-suited for the task. Unlike their metal counterparts, these models don't leave imprints or marks where they strike, and they might be the best hammer to buy for more delicate projects.
On the other hand, engineer's hammers and sledgehammers are the heavy hitters of the bunch. The sizes of these hammers make them ideal for demolition and heavy hammering, and they're much more robust than their smaller counterparts. Suitable for nearly any job that requires a large amount of force applied to a small area, these heavy hammer designs are well-suited to a wide variety of construction and home improvement projects.
As for the more specialized types of hammers, considering the material you'll be working with will help you decide how to buy a hammer well-suited to your project. Ball pein hammers have a rounded protrusion, the "pein," that aids in shaping metal. Both drywall and shingler's hammers are equipped with a hatchet-shaped pein for cutting drywall or roofing material. Bricklayer's hammers have a wedge-shaped pein that aids in cutting and setting tile or brick, while the rock pick has a similar pein that comes to a point that's suited for masonry.
>> Consider hammer material
While the most common hammers consist of wooden handles with metal heads, there are other materials available, which will help you determine how to buy a hammer that will survive your projects. If you plan to use your hammer to extract nails frequently, fiberglass and steel handles are recommended, as nail extraction puts more stress on the handle of the hammer. Steel hammers are generally the strongest, as the head and handle are one piece, but fiberglass and graphite handles are better at absorbing shocks from driving nails, which reduces the stress on your hand. Fiberglass is also non-conductive and can be used by electricians. For rubber mallets, making sure the head is bounce-resistant will improve usability and minimize marks on your work surface.
>> Consider features for your hammer
There are still other considerations when deciding how to buy a hammer to suit your specific projects, such as the option of using a mechanically-powered hammer to complete your projects. Hammer drills, for instance, combine the power of an electric drill with a hammering function, which shortens the time needed to drive the fastener. Air hammers use pressurized air to accelerate the hammering process and are often used in stone or metal work.
The style of the head can also be customized, from the common smooth finish to a waffled surface that aids in gripping the hammer while driving nails. Certain models, such as shingler's and drywall hammers, are more likely to be equipped with this feature.
Hammer handles can also come with rubber coatings, either form fitting to your fingers or fully coating the handle of the hammer. These improve your grip on the hammer, minimizing the risk of accidental injury and generally improving the efficiency of the hammer.