- Sure, hammers have a pretty simple design, but that doesn’t mean all hammers are created equal.
- The advanced anti-vibration handle on the Stanley 20-Ounce FatMax Xtreme Hammer makes it the perfect hammer to handle all kinds of jobs around the house without putting stress on your wrists and forearms.
A hammer looks like a simple tool, and, at its core, it is. Hammers have been around for centuries after all.
However, not all hammers are created equal. Different designs work well for different jobs. Think of it this way: You wouldn’t use a tiny artist’s paintbrush to paint your ceiling, even though you could. You’d use a more efficient tool, such as a paint roller.
Although you could, you wouldn’t use a ball pein hammer to take out a wall for a remodeling – you’d use a strong claw hammer. It’s just more efficient. Even though it can be fun to paint a target on the old drywall, blindfold yourself, and try to hit the target with the ball pein hammer’s perfect circles because it puts an adult spin on Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
Types of hammers
After you’ve had a bit of fun and you’re ready to return to work, it’s important to pick the right type of hammer for the job. Here are some common hammers you may need for various jobs around the house.
- Ball pein: The ball pein hammer design has a round end on one side of the hammerhead, which works for shaping metal and removing dents … and putting perfectly round holes in drywall.
- Curve claw: A curve claw hammer is great for general carpentry work around the house. It drives nails efficiently, and the curvature of the claw gives you leverage when pulling nails.
- Framing: The framing hammer design is heavier and longer than a typical claw hammer. It works well for heavy carpentry work and provides extra power for driving nails with fewer swings.
- Rip claw: The rip claw hammer has a mostly straight claw versus the curve claw. It’s more efficient at tearing out boards than pulling nails, although it works for nail-pulling. It does a great job with general household tasks.
- Soft-face: A soft-face hammer consists of rubber or other soft materials to strike wood without damaging it. They’re not tough enough to drive nails, but you can use them to gently tap a finished piece of wood into place.
- Specialty: Other hammers are made for special jobs, such as a sledgehammer for tearing down walls or a bricklayer’s hammer for cutting and setting tile or brick.
If you only plan to have one hammer on hand at home, a curved claw hammer is the most common choice. It provides the most versatility. As your home repair skills and requirements expand, you’ll need some of the other types of hammers, so you can perform specific jobs more effectively.
Key considerations for hammers
- Max Pixel
Once you’ve settled on a design for a hammer, you then will have multiple choices within that design. Some of these choices will make the hammer more comfortable to use or will give you more nail-driving power. See? The simple hammer offers a lot of complex decisions.
- Anti-vibration: Hammer manufacturers will use curved handles, handles of varying thicknesses, and a soft grip material to avoid vibration for the person operating the hammer. Excessive vibration can cause fatigue in the wrists and forearms.
- Face surface: A smooth face on the hammerhead will protect the wood should you have a mishit on the nail head. Having a bit of friction on the face, called a milled face, will allow the hammer to remain in contact with the nail head without slipping.
- Handle material: Wood handles have represented the standard for hammers for centuries. Wood can break or splinter though. Fiberglass handles will have less weight than steel handles, but they aren’t as durable as steel. Additionally, many handles have a rubber material that provides a sturdy grip. Some use leather in the handle grip area.
- Hammerhead material: Steel hammerheads are clearly the most common in the market, and they perform very well. However, if you want a lighter weight material that delivers more power than steel, look for a titanium hammerhead.
- Weight: Most hammers weigh between 16 ounces and 20 ounces. Lighter hammers are available that are easier to control but that require more strikes to drive a nail. A heavier hammer will drive the nail faster but could cause arm fatigue if used for long periods of time.
- Wide face: An oversized face on the hammerhead should make it easier to strike the nail than a small face. However, some large faces on hammers obscure your view of the target, which can cause mishits.
Here are the best hammers you can buy:
- Best hammer overall: Stanley 20-Ounce FatMax Xtreme Claw Hammer
- Best soft-face hammer: Vaughan & Bushnell 12-Ounce Soft-Face Hammer
- Best titanium hammer: Stiletto TiBone 15-Ounce Titanium Milled-Face Hammer
- Best framing hammer: Estwing 25-Ounce Big Blue Framing Hammer
- Best ball pein hammer: Tekton Jacketed Fiberglass Ball Pein Hammer
Updated on 11/6/2019 by Caitlin Petreycik: Updated prices, links, and formatting. Added related guides.
The best hammer overall
The Stanley 20-Ounce FatMax Xtreme Claw Hammer is a sturdy all-around hammer with a comfortable handle and a reasonable price.
The Stanley 20-Ounce FatMax Xtreme Claw Hammer may be a heavy tool, but you’ll be able to handle it comfortably throughout an entire DIY project. Stanley gave the FatMax an anti-vibration design, which prevents fatigue in the forearm and wrist when nailing.
Additionally, the design features a type of grip and handle that works to reduce torque on the wrists and elbows, according to the My Hardware Store review. Basically, if you’ve ever wished for a hammer that’s easy to use without any pain, this is it.
The Family Handyman likes the solid feel of this Stanley FatMax hammer. The hammer is made from one piece of steel, so you know the hammer won’t just fall off one day and break your toe.
However, there are some disadvantages to this big hammer. The Wirecutter says both the 20-ounce FatMax rip claw hammer and the 16-ounce FatMax curve claw hammer have striking faces that are too large, which obscures the view of the person using the hammer, occasionally causing mishits.
Pros: Comfortable hammer to use for long sessions because of design of handle, includes anti-vibration feature, solid one-piece steel design, reasonable price point, very nice all-around hammer for many jobs
Cons: Large strike face that can obscure your view, 20-ounce hammer may be too heavy for some
The best soft-face hammer
- Vaughan & Bushnell
The Vaughan & Bushnell 12-Ounce Soft-Face Hammer has two ends that work perfectly when you need a gentle hammer.
If you want one of the most versatile soft-face hammers on the market, the Vaughan & Bushnell 12-Ounce Soft-Face Hammer is the one for you. This hammer gives you the option to use either end of the hammerhead to achieve the desired results.
Each end of the hammerhead has a different soft material on it. One side features a hard consistency and the other end is soft. With two different ends, the 12-ounce hammer works well in a multitude of situations.
Each of the two faces on the hammerhead is replaceable should it become worn down after repeated use.
Top Products loves the hickory wood handle on this Vaughan & Bushnell hammer, which serves to reduce vibrations. However, we found a few buyer reviews that say the grain orientation of the wooden handle was off in the models they received, which will eventually cause a crack.
Pros: Well-made soft-face hammer, specialty hammer that won’t damage the surface of delicate materials, very good price point, two-headed hammer with different consistency in the two faces
Cons: Specialty hammer won’t work for all jobs, occasional problems with wooden handle construction
The best titanium hammer
The Stiletto TiBone 15-Ounce Titanium Milled-Face Hammer drives nails in without putting stress on your wrists and forearms.
Some things just seem more desirable than others. When we hear something is made of gold, it feels like it should be better than a silver object. Super-size French fries may not taste better than regular-size fries, but you’ll be able to enjoy them longer. And it just feels like titanium tools should be better than steel tools.
In the case of the Stiletto TiBone 15-Ounce Titanium Milled-Face Hammer, the improvements over steel hammers are more than just a feeling. By using titanium in the construction of this hammer, you’ll receive more power and durability than a steel hammer with the same weight.
Some buyer reviews say swinging the TiBone all day won’t cause fatigue, thanks to its ability to drive nails with less force than a steel hammer.
Additionally, the titanium material in this hammer is able to absorb shock better than steel hammers, meaning you won’t have concerns over wrist and forearm fatigue from vibration when using this hammer during long work sessions, according to the Research Core review.
The Tough Ass Tools review loves the durability of this Stiletto hammer, which features a one-piece construction.
The biggest downside to this hammer is the price. You will pay almost 10 times as much for this hammer as you’d pay for a steel hammer, so it really will only appeal to those who plan to use the hammer frequently.
Pros: Drives nails with less force required versus steel hammers, long-lasting hammer with titanium one-piece construction, workers can use the hammer all day without the fatigue found with steel hammers
Cons: Extremely high price versus steel hammers
The best framing hammer
If you want some extra power and drive in your hammer, the huge Estwing 25-Ounce Big Blue Framing Hammer delivers.
Hammers are all about power, as in the power to drive nails into tough wood, or even the power to easily break apart a wall during a home improvement project. The destruction part of home improvement is always more fun than the improvement part, after all.
The powerful Estwing 25-Ounce Big Blue Framing Hammer takes power to a new level. This hammer is huge, weighing more than 1.5 pounds and measuring 18 inches in length. If you can control this heavy hammer, you’ll love its ability to drive through walls or hit nails quickly.
A writer at Pro Tool Reviews says the Estwing framing hammer offers good balance, despite being much heavier and longer than typical hammers. However, we did come across some buyer reviews that say using this hammer for certain jobs is awkward because of its size.
Estwing includes a molded grip on the hammer to reduce the amount of vibration you’ll feel. The 25-Ounce Big Blue Framing Hammer features a one-piece construction, and it’s available with a smooth face or a milled face on the hammerhead.
Pros: Made in the USA, much larger than typical hammers, molded grip reduces vibration and fatigue in forearms and wrists, sturdy and durable construction, made for heavy construction work
Cons: Can be awkward to use for some because of size, may feel fatigue using this heavy hammer all day
The best ball pein hammer
One of the Tekton Jacketed Fiberglass Ball Pein Hammer models is sure to meet whatever metal working needs you have around the house.
Ball pein hammers primarily are used in metalworking, setting rivets by hand, or removing dents in metal. This isn’t the type of hammer you’ll use regularly at home, as it’s not made to drive nails. But it doesn’t hurt to have this special use hammer on hand because your kids are sure to put a dent in something at some point.
Regardless of why you want or need a ball pein hammer, the Tekton Jacketed Fiberglass Ball Pein Hammer ranks well. It comes in a variety of weights and sizes, ensuring you can find the exact model to meet your needs.
Garage Tool Advisor says the build quality of the Tekton hammer ensures it will work well for many years, even though the hammerhead is epoxied to the handle in a two-piece design. The Best Covery review says the fiberglass handle is tough, yet lightweight, which leaves most of the hammer’s weight in the hammerhead.
Some online customer reviews do mention that the finish on the hammerhead is poor, which may yield problems with rust for the Tekton Ball Pein Hammer down the road.
Pros: Excellent price point for a ball pein hammer, multiple weights available in this family of hammers, tough build quality, fiberglass handle delivers a lightweight feel, works well for jobs around the house
Cons: Finish on the hammerhead may wear off, two-piece hammer design
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