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3 Types of Hammer Handles

A collage of different types of hammer handle.

There are three types of handles to choose from steel, wood, and fiberglass. Not everyone is ideal for every type of situation as some might even come loose from the handle. Wood in particular comes in many varieties.

These days, you can get your hands on some very stylish hammers. You’re better off with a 16-ounce claw hammer, the type that many carpenters use whenever they aren’t building, for general household maintenance and repair. 

While the hammers with straight claws may appear more robust and perform better when prying, curved-claw models are more portable and effective for pulling nails.

Let’s delve into the world of hammer handles and help you decide which one is durable for the task at hand. Keep reading!

Related: Types of Mallet | Framing Hammer vs Claw Hammer | Rip Hammer vs Claw Hammer | Parts of HammerMallet vs Sledge Hammer

Types of Hammer Handles

1. Steel handles

Groz Soft Face 14lb Sledge Hammer with 36-Inch Indestructible Handle | Soft Face Steel Head 30 HRC | Steel Locking Plate | Vulcanized Rubber Handle (34565)

You won’t find a more sturdy or long-lasting hammer handle than this one. Steel hammer handles are hefty, which can be a major drawback for the user. 

Steel handles are not only less comfortable to grip, but they also increase the risk of damage over time because of the vibrations they transmit to the user’s arms. A hammer with a steel hammer, on the other hand, is an excellent choice for demolition and masonry work.

2. Wood

PYTHON Hammer Home Kit American Wood Handle 5 Pcs Set

These hammers with handles are the classic type and are widely used all over the world. Choose the hammer with the wooden handle if your job requires you to pound nails for long periods. As you pound nails with these, you won’t feel as much vibration in your hands because of how light they are. 

It’s also easy to alter the size and shape to fit the user’s hand. A hammer with a wooden handle is inferior to one with a steel handle because wood rots and cracks more easily than steel.

What Kind Of Wood is Typically Used?

Hickory

Truper 30812 16-Inch Hickory Handle for Sledgehammer

 

Any reliable instrument must have a sturdy and well-made handle. Hammer handles have been crafted in much the same way for hundreds of years. For a very long time, hickory wood was considered to be the superior choice for a hammer as well as ax handles. 

It’s a dense wood with a somewhat uniform pattern of the grain. Hickory’s natural resilience to impact makes it an excellent material for making impact tools.

Unlike hickory, which is difficult to process and work with hand tools, ash is a very easy wood to deal with that is both robust and flexible. These handle blanks are a great place to start if you’re a bespoke hammer manufacturer and wish to form your handles from scratch.

Oakwood

uxcell 28 Inch Hammer Long Wooden Handle Wood Replacement Handle for Sledge Hammer Oval Eye Oak Wood

Because of the tree’s greater density, it ranks among the hardest, toughest, and most lasting woods you may use to make a hammer handle.

Oak wood is also highly resistant to fungal and insect decay, so it’s safe to use indoors without fear of the wood deteriorating from the inside out.

It’s also worth noting that oak wood does a superb job of dampening the impact of any resulting contact shock. Oak’s sole real flaw is its susceptibility to splintering if it isn’t frequently oiled.

Yellow Birch

As a result of its widespread distribution, yellow birch wood is easily accessible throughout the United States. It is superior to ash and hickory as a hammer handle material due to its higher hardness and greater resistance to breaking.

You can use a tool made from yellow birch since it is strong, has some stress absorption, and can be used for rigorous jobs like demolition and driving nails into concrete and hardwood.

Maple Wood

Sugar maple wood, also known as hard maple, is another excellent choice when it comes to picking the best wood for a hammer handle. It is much harder than hickory and possesses tremendous strength.

Nonetheless, remember that it doesn’t dampen the blow of the hammer on your hands in any way. Due to its superior strength, sugar maple wood is also more likely to shatter than other forms of wood.

Medium in density, low in stiffness, and moderate in crushing strength, walnut is a strong hardwood. It’s not too expensive and can be used as a sturdy hammer grip. It’s lovely and incredibly user-friendly.

3. Handles Made of Fiberglass

Amazon Basics Hammer Set - 5-Pieces, Shock-Absorbing Fiberglass Handle

In comparison to hardwood and steel handles, these hammer grips are more budget-friendly. In addition, the vibrations sent to the users’ hands are reduced compared to when using steel handles.

Even though several companies have introduced anti-vibration technologies to their products, oak handles are still favored due to their greater shock absorption. 

Professionals like plumbers and electricians, who only need to use hammers rarely, benefit from tools with fiberglass handles. They shouldn’t be used for electrical wiring because they don’t conduct electricity.

Choosing the Right Hammer Handle

When shopping for a hammer, you must get one with the appropriate face for the task at hand and a grip that fits your hand.

The price of a hammer isn’t as significant as the shape of the head, the style of handle, and the weight of the hammer. Choosing the right hammer for the job involves some forethought, as there is a wide variety to choose from.

The head and the handle make up the two main components of a hammer. So, let’s begin with the knob. The part of the hammer you hold is called the handle. The purchase of a hammer depends on the grip, size, and material of the handle.

Weight

Estwing MRF3LB Sure Strike 3Ib Fiberglass Drilling Hammer

When shopping for a hammer, one of the most important considerations is the tool’s weight. When it’s too heavy, it might cause muscular strain and even wrist injury. Lacking sufficient force, the nail will not be driven home.

A hammer weighing between 16 and 20 ounces is usually the best option for average DIYers who handle odd projects around the house. Use the lower end of the range for routine domestic chores and the upper end for framing or other major undertakings.

Hammers weighing up to 32 ounces are available, but they are not necessary (most framers won’t even need them) until the project requires them.

Length

A longer hammer allows for a greater swing, which generates more momentum and results in a more powerful hit. So, a carpenter may use a longer hammer (say, 18 inches) for framing and a shorter one (16 inches) for finishing. The do-it-yourself community should model themselves after this.

Grip

Spifflyer 8 oz Small Hammer Mini Hammer Nail Tool with Comfortable Soft Grip

When shopping for a hammer, the grip on the handle should be one of your top considerations. While a soft grip has its advantages, it can wear out rapidly and lose its comfort.

Hammers with soft-grip handles are not recommended for use in demanding applications. On the other hand, if you’re just going to use the hammer rarely, you should get one with a soft grip handle.

If the user’s hand is sweaty, a good grip will help them maintain control of the hammer. With increased dexterity, you’ll be less likely to accidentally shatter your thumbnail instead of your nail. Unlike their metal and fiberglass counterparts, hammers with wooden handles are often not equipped with a grip.

The rubbery synthetic material used for the grip of most hammers cushions your hands and reduces fatigue. Leather is another possibility, albeit at a higher price.

Even though synthetic materials have their advantages, antique hammers with strong, polished leather handles have withstood the test of time thanks to the preservation afforded by the oils in the tradesman’s hands.

Understanding Which Hammer Handle Fits the Task

Wooden handle hammer on next to small nail.

A curved-claw hammer may not look as intimidating as a straight-claw one, but it is more portable and has greater success when pulling nails.

If you’re doing trim work, you can get by with a 13-ounce hammer, whereas for framing, you might want to use a 20- or 22-ounce hammer. Do not give in to the temptation of the 24-, 28-, or 32-ounce behemoths.

Steel, hickory, graphite, and fiberglass, are the four materials used for the handles. Although hickory handles are pleasant to hold, steel wedges may need to be used periodically to re-secure the heads of tools that have become loose. Nail tugging or overstriking a wooden handle too forcefully might cause it to crack. 

Since the head and handle of an all-steel hammer are forged together, the force of each stroke is transferred directly to the user’s hand and wrist. Nowadays, it’s common for handles to be made of fiberglass or graphite, materials that are highly recommended due to their durability and capacity to absorb shock.

Avoid using a mill face to prevent glancing strikes plus flying nails unless you’re doing an extension frame. Even when nails are properly driven, it creates marks on wood or walls. Your greatest bet is someone with a level head.

A soft rubber covering on the grip will prevent the hammer from slipping out of our hands. If we’re talking about safety, remember to avoid hammer faces hitting each other while prying anything up; doing so can cause the tempered rims to chip and send dangerous shards flying. Wear protective eyewear; a stray nail is all it takes to cause permanent vision loss.

How Hammer Handles Are Made?

Different types of hammer and hammer handles.

Hammer handles made of wood are often shaped on a lathe. Once a piece of wood has been cut to length and clamped at both ends, it can be turned on a lathe. A cutting tool glides swiftly in and out while the wood turns around the handle’s long axis, producing the desired handle profile. 

A cam, shaped like the final handle, controls the movement of the cutting tool. The handle is gradually shaped to match the contours of the cam as the cutting tool works its way along the length of the handle.

You cut a slot diagonally across the upper part of the final handle while it is held in a holding mechanism. As a final step, the handle is sanded until it is perfectly smooth.

In the case of a hammer with a steel-cored handle, the core is created by heating a steel bar until it gets pliable and then pressing it through space with the necessary cross-sectional shape. Extrusion describes this method. 

Cores with graphite fiber reinforcement are made by threading a bunch of graphite fibers via a hole with the correct cross-sectional shape while forcing epoxy glue through the hole at the same time. This technique is known as pultrusion. Afterward, a plastic casing can be formed around the core for added protection.

Safe Use of a Hammer

Hammer and safety gear.

If the person is hit by a hammer, it could do serious damage. When handled incorrectly, hammers, whether manual or powered, can induce peripheral neuropathy and other health problems. 

Awkward handles could lead to arm joints suffering repetitive stress injury (RSI). There could also be uncontrolled shock surges from multiple hits that can hurt nerves and the skeleton.

Fragments of metallic projectiles created when striking metal objects with a hammer can also become embedded in the eye. In light of this, goggles with side shields are a must.

Changing the Hammers’ Handle

When compared to metal or plastic, wood handles are far more likely to shatter, sometimes through simple wear and tear, but more often than not due to striking mistakes. It’s not hard to find a new handle for your ball-peen or claw hammer. It may take a little more work, but not much, with larger striking instruments.

Helpful Tools 

Different types of tools on wooden table.

To fix a broken handle will take one hour at most. If the handle is too big for the eye, you can reshape it with a drill and a twist drill bit (a 1/4-inch is about right), a wood rasp, a Stanley Surform tool, a sander, or.

To position the wedge, you’ll need another hammer, plus to set the handle correctly, you’ll require a soft-faced hammer. You can remove the old handle from the socket by using a power drill.

A metal boring bit with a twisting point of either 1/4 inch or 5/16 inch is ideal for most handles, especially those of sled size. Never use a wood-boring bit such as a Forstner. 

You’ll damage the side of the eye, effectively eliminating one eye. In addition, the wooden wedge is typically pinned in place by one or two metal wedges.

Battered chisels, available for roughly fifty cents at most flea markets in the United States, are useful for two tasks: first, removing the handle; then next, opening the wedge hole inside the replacement handle. In extreme circumstances, a rat tail file can be used to thoroughly clean the eye, but typically, sandpaper or emery cloth would suffice.

You can avoid the requirement for a soft-faced hammer by placing a piece of wood over the handle you’re trying to drive and then striking the wood with a steel hammer. For this kind of job, I suggest a two-pound rawhide or copper-faced hammer.

How to Choose the Right Handle Size?

Man hand holding hammer.

To begin, you should take a look at the handle’s eye to establish its general shape. There are only two fundamental forms, but many sizes. Most people have oval eyes, which also come in a wide range of sizes.

Axes and certain splitting mauls feature ax eyes, but they are otherwise rarely seen. If you’re uncertain about the eye size or type, you can check by taking off the handle and comparing the tool’s head to the new handle. Determine the length of the grip.

The standard length for the handle of a mechanic’s or carpenter’s hammer with a head weight of 20 ounces or less is 15 inches. An increase in handle length occurs between 22 and 24 ounces of head weight. Finding a replacement handle of the right size and form could prove more challenging than actually replacing the old one.

Because wood-handled tools aren’t in high demand any longer and since Chinese alternate hammers are sometimes the exact price as the new handles, hardware stores no longer stock the wide variety of sizes that we were formerly able to find.

You can find them in hardware stores, farm supply stores, and possibly some others. The time spent looking will be well worth it if you own striking instruments made in the USA and care about their condition.

Constructing a Hammer’s Wooden Handle

Man hand's draw a hammer on wood.

Get rid of the old knob first. Cut the handle off around the eye’s base. The proximity to the metal eye necessitates the use of a hacksaw or jab saw comprising a disposable blade.

Remove the debris from the tool’s viewing hole. The task required the use of a corded drill, which I subsequently employed. BAnydrill will do the job, so long as it has enough power to pierce through hardwood as thick as two inches and contains metal inserts. Smaller hammerheads, in particular, tend to turn around the bit if the tool head is not held tightly.

Create a cloverleaf pattern by drilling three holes. Next, free the clover of its webbed “leaves.” A chisel from a garage sale should do the trick. Then, lay a dowel over the head of the handle and use it to pry out the skeleton.

Emery paper to clean the crown and a thorough inspection (any magnifying glass between 3 and 4x will work). You should inspect the instrument for any damage, especially any cracks around the eye that could render it useless or even deadly.

Any damage to this area means the tool is no longer usable. Tiny cracks and spots of rust usually aren’t a big deal. For the final polish, we utilized a wire brush attached to a Bosch power drill.

Check the size and form of the grip by holding it up to your head. Slightly too big is fine, and slightly too tiny is fine, too. If the handle is too big or too little, it must be returned and a new one must be selected.

When there is only a slight size disparity, the right-sized wedges can compel the eyes to meet, but the wood can only be spread so far before it breaks. Whenever the handle is too big for the object, the wood may be weakened during the installation process.

Having good chemistry right off the bat is preferable. The insert part of the handle can be shaped with sandpaper, a wood rasp, or a Surform as needed; just make sure to confirm the fit after each pass.

Put the handle further than halfway into the eye by pushing it in with your hands. Put the adapted handle where the pupil is. For the best possible fit, a soft-faced hammer is required to push the replacement handle into the eye.

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