Hammers and Mallets

Pick the perfect hammer to achieve the best results for jobs big and small

Hammers Mallets - Hammers and Mallets

An essential part of any toolbox, hammers assist in everything from installing drywall to setting and splitting bricks.

This guide will help you understand the different types of hammers and choose which are best for each of your projects.

Hammer Head Weights, Claw Design and Handles

While they may look similar, not all hammers are the same. Head weights can range from a couple of ounces to a few pounds, handles can be made from a number of different materials, and the faces may be smooth or textured.

Claw Design

  • Hammers with a curved claw provide leverage for removing nails from wood, a particularly useful feature when working with hard woods.
  • Hammers with a straight or ripping claw can be used to pry apart two joined pieces.

Head Weight and Construction

  • While the head weight of most nailing hammers can range from around 10 ounces to more than 20 ounces, a 16-ounce hammer will be sufficient for most tasks.
  • The heavier the head, the stronger the impact during use.
  • The head of a hammer can be constructed of titanium or steel. Titanium heads are more expensive but they are lighter, easier and faster to swing, and are less likely to transmit shock.
  • Smooth faces are less likely to damage work surfaces and are ideal for finishing work.
  • Textured surfaces prevent nails from bending, allowing for more efficient hammering.
  • Heavy hammers can cause fatigue more quickly as well as increase the chances of injury.

Handles

  • Handles are typically made from wood, steel or synthetic materials, such as fiberglass or reinforced graphite.
  • Look for hammers with a cushioned grip that help absorb shocks.
  • Wood handles are economical and do a good job of absorbing shocks; metal handles are tough and durable for long-lasting use; and fiberglass handles offer the toughness of metal with better shock absorption.

Hammer Types

Using a hammer specifically designed for your project will ensure more efficient, higher quality work while increasing your safety.

Hammer type Characteristics

Ball-peen

  • Features a flat face for use with chisels and punches, and a round face for bending, shaping and creating decorative patterns
  • Designed for use on metal
  • Head weight can range from 2-48 oz. (20 oz. is best for most tasks)
  • Head is constructed from hardened steel

Dead-blow

  • Made of polyurethane or steel covered in polyurethane to prevent damage to surface
  • Eliminates post-strike rebound common with steel and other solid-head hammers
  • Absorbs energy from each blow and redirects completely into the blow instead of into your arm

Drilling

  • Somewhat heavy with a short handle
  • Used in conjunction with chisels, punches, star drills and hardened nails
  • Can be used to strike heavy blows in tight spaces
  • Head features both crowned and beveled striking faces

Framing

  • Similar in design and function to nailing hammers with heavier heads and longer handles
  • Designed for general framing work
  • Features a milled face to help drive nails

Mallet

  • Designed for removing dents from metal surfaces Also used for assembling various wood or metal components
  • Head may be black or white rubber; black rubber can sometimes leave a mark on work surface
  • Available in various head weights and handle lengths

Sledgehammer

  • Large, heavy hammer designed for demolition and driving stakes
  • Lighter weight sledgehammers are available for smaller jobs

Hammer Use & Features

Learn how to use a handle properly to prevent injury.

Safety: Always wear safety glasses when hammering and never use a hammer to strike the head of another hammer. Not only can the heads chip off or break, but dangerous debris may fly back toward you. If you are using the hammer on a chisel, punch, or other striking tool, make sure the face of the hammer has a diameter approximately 3/8-inch larger than the tool you are striking.

  • When hammering, try to keep your wrist straight and use your entire arm.
  • Strike nail surfaces squarely with the center of the hammer's head.
  • Hold nails close to the head to steady them and reduce the chances of missing.
  • Immediately replace a hammer if it is cracked, dented or chipped.
  • Replace handles as soon as they begin to wobble or show any signs of damage.

Features

  • Hammers with a convertible face allow you to switch back and forth between smooth and textured depending on which surface better suits the job.
  • If you are assembling something that requires pegs or a similar fastener to be pounded into place, look for a soft-faced hammer. These tools won't mar the finish of your work piece.
  • Using hammers on a daily basis can put you at risk for repetitive stress injuries to your hands, arms and wrists. If you find yourself using a hammer frequently, look for one that's designed to minimize vibration. Some hammers accomplish this by incorporating a tuning fork into the handle. The tuning fork absorbs most of the shock and stress that would otherwise be absorbed by your hands and arms.
  • A nail-removing notch is located on the side of a hammer's head and makes it easy to pull nails out without marring the surface or when working in tight spaces.
  • Handles with ergonomic design are contoured to fit your hand more comfortably, reducing fatigue and tension, minimizing shock and helping you achieve more accurate strikes.