Hammer Time

July 17, 2018

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© Lincoln’s Tool Chest


          While most people have used a hammer at some point in their lives; few have probably ever looked into just how many types of hammers there actually are. Most all hammers share a common feature in that their handles are made of either wood, steel, plastic or fiberglass, but their heads can differ significantly and serve many purposes. Below is a list of the most common varieties and more importantly, their specific uses:

  • Claw Hammer: This is the hammer that has found its way into almost every home. Most often found in the 16oz size, but available up to at least 24oz, the claw hammer is the tool that comes to mind when anyone says the word hammer. With its smooth pounding face and curved v-claw which incorporates a slot for removing nails, this hammer is great for general use.


  • Rip Hammer/Framing Hammer: Brother of the claw hammer, the rip hammer has the same head design with one exception. The v-claw on this hammer is flat with no curve to it. The flat claw design is well suited for both removing nails and separating boards. More often found in the heavier sizes such as 21oz and 24oz, this is a great hammer choice for jobs such as demolition and framing. The head on these is usually steel, but can be made from exotic metals such as titanium, while the hammer face can be found in both smooth and waffled varieties. Another feature these hammers sometimes have is a magnetic slot to hold nails built into the topside of the hammer head. This allows you to start a nail into wood hands free. If you are doing any remodeling, I would highly advise picking one of these hammers up.

  • Drywall Hammer: As the name implies, this hammer is designed for those who are installing and removing drywall. This hammer is similar to a rip/framing hammer in shape, except the claws are replaced with a hatchet on the opposite side of the head. The striking surface of this tool is usually waffled to grip nails better, as well as beveled to avoid tearing the Sheetrock paper when creating dimples at nail points. The hatchet can be used to score Sheetrock instead of a razor knife. This bladed side also usually has a slot for pulling nails and a hook on the bottom side of the blade for carrying Sheetrock.

  • Peening Hammers: Peening Hammers were developed for working with metal to accomplish an assortment of tasks but are most often used forming, stretching and shaping sheet metal. Often made of high carbon steel and less prone to chipping than claw/ripping hammers, Peening hammers come in many different varieties and are even available in larger sledge forms:

  • Ball Peen Hammer: Like the name implies, one side of the ball peen hammer’s head is dome shaped, like a ball, while the other side is cylindrical and ends with a flat surface. The flat faced side of the hammer is used for driving things such as punches and chisels while the round face has many uses such as shaping, closing rivets and making gaskets.

  • Cross and Straight Peen Hammer: These hammers are similar in that they both have a a flat side for striking, and the opposite side is comprised of a blade or a wedge. It is the bladed side from where the name is derived. On a cross peen hammer, the blade or wedge is perpendicular to the handle, while on the straight peen hammer it is parallel to the handle.

  • Upholstery Hammer/Tack Hammer: An upholstery hammer is designed to install tacks or small nails into furniture frames. These hammers have a smaller head and are much lighter than their counterparts listed above. One face of the hammer is often magnetized to assist in starting the tack. This magnetized side is often split to allow for a stronger magnetic hold, while the other side is used to drive the tack into place.
  • Sledgehammer: Designed for jobs that require a lot of force, sledgehammers are available in sizes ranging from less than 10lbs to over 20lbs. A large head with two flat sides attached to a long handle. The sledgehammer is at home performing heavy duty tasks such as breaking up concrete, block walls and general demolition. The weight of the head combined with its long swing ark allow for maximum impact force when needed.

  • Mini-Sledgehammer/Club Hammer: Similar in form to the sledgehammer listed above, the club hammer is a scaled down version designed to be used with one hand. Available in weights up to 4lbs, this hammer has many uses, ranging from general demolition to striking chisels and punches. While not as powerful as the sledgehammer, the weight of the head is still capable of generating a large amount of force.

  • Mallet: Most often the tool comes with a relatively large head, usually made out of rubber. That’s not always the case, however, as some mallets can be made completely out of wood. Mallets come in different sizes and unlike the destructive nature of the sledgehammer, mallets are used when an impact is desired that will not damage the surface they are striking. The mallet is used in many applications such as automotive body work, wood working, upholstery and more. These are great to have when you need to lightly persuade something without worrying about causing damage.

  • Dead-Blow Hammer: The dead-blow is a special type of mallet. This hammers design allows it to deliver a balanced impact force while still minimizing damage the object being struck. Often made out of plastic, the head of the dead blow is usually hollow and contains sand or steel shot. As the sand/shot shifts to the side of the impact during the swing, it helps distribute the force over a longer time span, minimizing peak force and reducing rebound. While usually hollow, some versions of the dead blow are solid. These are usually made of rubber or polyurethane and are used when there is a risk of sand/shot contamination if the head where to break.