I remember my first hammer like it was yesterday. It was a regular claw hammer (I had no idea there were so many different types of hammers back then). My dad bought both me and my brother one for building our many forts.
Being kids, we left them outside and they rusted, which wasn’t cool. Our dad wasn’t impressed either. From that point forward if we wanted a hammer it came out of our allowance.
Fast forward to now and last summer I bought my older son his first hammer. It’s a smaller claw hammer. Along with the hammer I bought him a pile of wood and nails so he can start building. He loves tools and building.
While many tools don’t offer much variety with respect to purposes, that’s not the case with hammers. There are many types of hammer options for all types of jobs. We set them all out below.
Table of Contents
- I. Hammer Buying Guide
- II. Types of Hammers
- 1. Claw Hammer
- 2. Ball Pein
- 3. Cross and Straight Pein (or Cross Pein Pin)
- 4. Club Hammer
- 5. Sledgehammer
- 6. Joiner’s Mallet
- 7. Soft-Faced Hammers (or Lathe)
- 8. Blocking Hammer
- 9. Geologist Pick Hammer
- 10. Planishing Hammer
- 11. Roofers Hammer
- 12. Scaling Hammer
- 13. Scutch Hammer
- 14. Upholstery Hammer
- 15. Brick and Mortar Hammer
- 16. Drywall Hammer
- 17. Welder’s Hammer
- 18. Electrician’s Hammer
- 19. Blacksmith’s Hammer
- 20. Bushing Hammer
- 21. Lineman’s Hammer
- 22. Chasing Hammer
- 23. Toolmaker’s Hammer
- 24. Railroad-spike Maul Hammer
- 25. Hatchet Hammer
- 26. Trim Hammer
- 27. Piton Hammer
- 28. Power Hammers – Nail Guns
- III. More Details
- IV. Where to Buy
I. Hammer Buying Guide
A. What Are the Typical Uses of a Hammer?
A hammer is a sturdy household or work-site tool that is designed to impact an object. These tools are used primarily to drive nails through wood or plaster, connect parts, strike and forge metal, or dismantle objects.
B. How Do I Safely Use One?
Hammers vary in size, application, shape, composition, and usage. These objects can also be dangerous to yourself or others if misused, or stored carelessly in an active environment.
II. Types of Hammers
Here’s a full illustration showcasing the different types of hammers followed by a detailed list with images of real examples and brief write-ups regarding their purposes and uses. See our parts of a hammer article here.
1. Claw Hammer
It’s possible that everyone has seen a claw hammer before — you may even have one in your residence or toolkit. These tools are the most common hammers around, are typically lightweight (weighing no more than 16 – 24 ounces), and are versatile enough to apply to a vast array of jobs in any environment, especially home improvement or interior design.
Claw hammers are, by design, levers to remove nails from wood. The claw of the tool connects to the nail head and, with a firm wiggle, loosens and levers out the nail with a firm pull, like a fulcrum.
The claw works on dismantling floorboards, plaster, timber, and smaller woodcuts as well. It’s one of the most simple and effective tools you’ll ever have in your tool bag.
2. Ball Pein
Ball Peins — also known as an engineer or mechanics hammers — have a round, ball-shaped head that is designed to shape the surface of the metal. This practice, once known as peening, is still used by metalworkers who would use the flat face of the hammer to impact metal to harden its density.
Other uses for Ball Peins include closing rivet openings and smoothing off the edges of fasteners and metal pins.
Ball Peins weigh between 4 ounces and up to 2 pounds, with the average settling somewhere in the 8 to 12 oz. area. The wood of the handles consists of ash wood or hickory, with modern versions composed of materials that absorb vibrations.
3. Cross and Straight Pein (or Cross Pein Pin)
Cross and Straight Peins are not your typical, household hammers; the use of these tools depends on their weight, which in turn influences the head-strength. For example, heavier Cross and Straight Peins are used to shape metals, while smaller ones work best with wood.
One commonality is that all of these types of hammers share the same shape of bell (or head), and a cross or pein opposite of the head.
These objects see significant action with wood-work but are mostly used to start off the initial drive for small nails or tacks. This is the most effective purpose; Cross Peins can drive a nail with relative ease, all without whacking your fingers as you hold it in place. Heavier Cross and Straight Peins are used to shape metals.
4. Club Hammer
Club Hammers are useful, tear-down tools that are used in tandem with chisels to chip away masonry or completely dismantle smaller structures, much like a little sledgehammer. The Club has a double-face, with a durable resin or hickory handle, and weighs up to 3 pounds on average. (Though some have been found to weigh nearly five pounds.)
If you are a builder and are in frequent need of a tool for demolition work, or to drive masonry nails and your steel chisel, then consider a Club Hammer for the job. And remember: Always wear proper eye-wear and worksite gloves to protect yourself from flying debris.
Similar to Club Hammers, but much, much larger, Sledgehammers have a lengthier handle and can weigh nearly 15 pounds, though some versions come in smaller weights. These tools are demolition-specific and can be useful in driving down stakes.
Users swing the sledgehammer like an ax, by delivering a fluid swing and using the momentum to add hitting power to the weighted head.
Types of Sledgehammers
Sledgehammers are mostly similar, though some variations exist, like the Deadblow. These hammers are specialized, mallet-style tools designed for partial demolition. The unique design allows them to strike with precision yet also to minimize surface damage as it provides maximum impact.
Deadblows do this because of internal cavities of shot — usually lead or even steel fragments — which distributes power across the impact of the stunning blow. This channels the blow to a specific point without causing collateral damage to the target.
Deadblow swings have very little bounce back or rebound, after strikes, with the hammer head remaining on the surface after the hit. It’s helpful in that it helps you to avoid any accidental damage. All of this ensures a safer work environment, especially if you work in maintenance or in tight locations.
Machinist hammers can be used to split or strike objects with its downward angled steelhead. The square face of the hammer is meant to bash other materials, and the 11-inch handle is designed to create a secure, confident grip.
c. German Hammer
German sledgehammers have much shorter handles than most tools in its category, but with a much more substantial rectangular face. These devices are noticeably much heavier than counterparts — usually up to 23 pounds — and provide the opportunity for forceful impacts. The German hammer gets straight to the point and can drive most objects into place with one firm strike.
Custom versions come with specialized coatings, like non-magnetic or anti-corrosive and even non-sparking, which allow safe usage in otherwise hazardous environments.
d. Soft Steel Hammers
Soft Steel Hammers are much lighter at about 10 pounds and have more extended, thinner handles. Shearing is reduced when these tools strike the surface of the hardened steel. The handles are made of fiberglass, or hickory wood and measure about 36 inches.
6. Joiner’s Mallet
Joiner’s Mallets are wooden blocks that rest on handles. These tools drive chisels into the ground or foundation, place dowels, or can be used to tap joints into position. These are excellent tools for carpenters and are ideal where a metal hammer would create unnecessary damage or unsightly bruising.
Joiner Mallet heads are tapered by design, to ensure proper contact with whatever it’s striking. The handles are made of hardwood, such as a Beech or even Lignum Vitae.
7. Soft-Faced Hammers (or Lathe)
Soft-faced or lathe hammers come in styles of a firm or soft rubber, with an option of copper or plastic for the face. Others have interchangeable faces and adjustable. Soft-faced hammers have the main purpose of making blows that won’t cause too much damage. These are used primarily for cabinet setups or interior door installations, like closets, without harming the wood finish.
8. Blocking Hammer
Blocking Hammers are heavy-duty tools that shape or “block” sheet metal into the desired appearance before it planishes, or settles into a flattened state. Practical usage of blocking hammers leave beautiful, blemish-free metal surfaces.
If you work in a metal shop, more than likely you’ll need a blocking hammer from metal-work on aluminum and steel-based projects.
9. Geologist Pick Hammer
Also known as a rock pick or geological hammer, the Geologist Pick is designed to split apart or break rocks. Field geologists use these to determine the composition of rocks and further examine their mineralogy, strength, orientation, and nature.
Geologist Picks are also used to uncover fossilized remains, and can be used for scale in impromptu measurements. For a geologist, these picks are an extension of their bodies and can help them understand the environment at a higher level.
10. Planishing Hammer
Planishing hammers are mechanized tools that make precise, simple strikes to pre-formed metal. The goal of planishing is to restore metal or welds back to its original, smooth surface. Most planishing hammers can bought as part of a kit that includes crown anvils, foot operation, and a mounted bench.
11. Roofers Hammer
Roofers are made of solid steel heads with nylon vinyl in the handle for useful grip. These tools cut, snip, and trip every type of shingle on roofing. They are built for comfort and are extremely durable. These also come equipped with a retractable cutting blade.
12. Scaling Hammer
Scaling hammers ensure an effective removal process of coats, most corrosion, and a variety of accumulated materials on just about any surface. Its parts are made up of steel, which provides a longer tool shelf-life.
Scalers come in two versions: regular and also heavy-duty, with the latter used to break down thick materials. And aside from removing materials, these tools can perform the following:
- Casting and billet
- Removal of paint
- Removal of rust
13. Scutch Hammer
Scutch Hammers can cut bricks in half or quarters, much like how chisels can deliver precise blows. Scutches come with single or double grooves in the head, which aids in user control.
14. Upholstery Hammer
Upholstery hammers, also known as tack hammers, are smaller tools that secure upholstery to the frames of furniture with the use of tacks and nails. This is made possible by the magnetized face of the hammer, which provides placement. Next, the tacks are stacked through and into place.
Though once widespread, Upholstery hammers have mainly been replaced by staple guns and other automated hammers.
15. Brick and Mortar Hammer
Brick and Mortar Hammers come in two primary forms: Rubber Mallets and Brick Hammers. These demolition style tools share similarities in function and also variations.
a. Rubber Mallet
Rubber Mallets knock away massive masonry, like concrete blocks or slabs; however, the flat-striking region of the mallet is designed to cause very little damage to the surface it’s striking, even in the heaviest of impacts.
b. Brick Hammer
Brick Hammers are chippers rather than full-on demolition hammers, like the rubber mallet. These can be used to cut back on masonry where needed. These tools are ideal for any hardscaping project in a backyard or deck, and professional masons always work with these close by.
The handle of the Brick Hammer absorbs the impacts of the strikes against stones and bricks, and its opposite end used as a chisel.
16. Drywall Hammer
Are you an architect or drywall hanger? Or maybe you fashion yourself as a do-it-yourself home professional? If your answer is yes, then consider all the ways a drywall hammer can aid you:
- Lightweight. Drywall hammers weigh about 12 to 13 ounces — less than a pound.
- Mobile. It is the tool of choice for drywall hangers that are always on the move on a job site.
- Round striking face. This surface prevents dents and impact on drywall surfaces, unlike square-faced hammers.
17. Welder’s Hammer
Source: Hammer Source
Welder’s Hammers have funnel-shaped noses and pointy, flat opposing ends with a beveled tail. The unique feature of the hammer is its hanging hook, which can suspend the tool from nails or onto pegboards. Welders will also appreciate how simple it is to remove leftover slag from welding jobs.
18. Electrician’s Hammer
These are fit for the typical working occupations and hazards of electrician’s, utility workers and linemen. These usually weigh up to 18 ounces or less. The forged, steel heads of the hammer has straight claws designed to reduce the difficulty in removing electrical style fixtures, such as striking inside boxes. Its one-piece design also promotes excellent strength.
19. Blacksmith’s Hammer
Blacksmith’s are real artists, at their core, and depend on a durable hammer to move and shift metal in different directions, all while maintaining an orderly path. Blacksmith’s Hammers can consist of Ball Peens or other round-faced versions — which run metal elliptically — while humanmade, forged hammers give blacksmith’s greater control of their metalwork.
20. Bushing Hammer
This tool is designed for masonry work, such as to add texture to hardscaping. However, bush hammers come in various shapes and forms: some are handheld, and others are bulky and electric. The same design of the conical, pyramid-esq points that sit on the tip of a metal slog still applies across each version. These pyramid points make rough impacts against texture to form what resembles weathered rock.
Bush hammers also can aid in increasing bonding as new concrete is applied to a pre-existing surface.
21. Lineman’s Hammer
Source: Hammer Source
Lineman’s Hammers work best with medium-duty work or less, mainly finishing nails. These tools are manufactured out of solid steel, polished, with grips that absorb shock.
22. Chasing Hammer
Source: Hammer Source
Chasing Hammers have a large, smooth head and face, and can be used to planish metal or strike objects. The other end of the tool has a polished, round steel head that is perfect for peening. The head weighs 3 ounces, with 2 to 3-inch head length.
23. Toolmaker’s Hammer
Source: Light Tool Supply
Toolmaker’s Hammers come equipped with a high-powered magnifying glass that is mounted in shock-resistant rubber. This tool can make it easy for you to find your punch and strike zone while keeping your eyes fixed on the work. The hammer weighs four ounces and is made of forged steel and in a chromium finish.
24. Railroad-spike Maul Hammer
Spike mauls, also known as railroad sledgehammers, are tools used to drive spikes on opposing sides of the railing to safeguard the handle. They weigh around 8 to 12 pounds and have 30 to 36-inch handles.
Spike mauls have an elongated, twin-faced head made of hardened steel. The heads measure 12 inches and are long enough to help you use your swing to drive each spike down.
Spike mauls also come with symmetrical heads, with a longer, thinner side and larger diameter. The long side creates the opportunity for you to drive spikes over really high rails, or to drive spikes near planks that cross highways.
25. Hatchet Hammer
Hatchet Hammers, also known as half hatchets or a rigging ax, is an emblem of the past, and resembles the nifty wood-cutting ax your grandfather used long ago.
The Hatchet Hammer can be used on just about any work project at home, the farm, or worksite. The head is made of carbon and steel alloy and weighs 22 ounces. It sits on an 18-inch hickory handle.
26. Trim Hammer
Source: Hammer Source
This tool may be a small, 10-ounce lightweight made of titanium, but it has a powerful striking force — especially in driving nails with precision or pulling polished nails at ease. The axe-style handle is durable and offers great comfort. This tool is 14 and 1/4th inches and weighs up to nearly 17 ounces.
27. Piton Hammer
Piton Hammers, also known as rock-climbing hammers, walls, big walls, and aid hammers, is a specialty tool used to help rock climbers place pitons and circle-heads or apply fixed bolts.
28. Power Hammers – Nail Guns
Nail guns have revolutionized hammers by simplifying the process of fitting nails, stapling fabric, setting floorboards and driving new nails into the material. They are most useful when applying a huge number of nails to a project quickly and accurately.
Nail guns can perform light-duty work, such as upgrading moldings and picture frames, or heavy-duty, like floorboard maintenance and building a garden deck. They come in many different varieties and functions.
III. More Details
Here are some other important factors to consider when buying a hammer.
1. Safety First: How to Prepare to Use a Hammer
Let’s face it: You use hammers to bash and hit things. That means that there could be flying debris, leftover fragments, and containment issues to consider. Also, hammer usage can naturally can create an environment ripe for injury with any misuse, or reckless behavior.
Additionally, depending on your project, you’ll need even to protect the very object you are striking so as not to provide further damage.
Here are a few safety precautions you can take to make your “hammer time” safer:
- Always use protective out-wear, like wearing goggles, gloves, workman’s boots, and a tool belt.
- Strike with the head of the tool, and never with side, claws, or cross.
- Make time for hammer maintenance by soaking wooden handles in water, which expand the wood — gripping and securing the head.
- Roughen up the face of your hammer to prevent polish and slips.
- Place scrap wood around your striking zone to protect any other delicate work, especially in a confined worksite.
- Use nail punches to sink them without hitting the delicate woodwork.
- Investigate what type of hammer you need for your project before you begin.
- Store your hammers — and all of your tools — in a toolbox or a wall rack after use. Keep out of direct sunlight and also away from active heat sources.
2. Mechanisms Associated with Hammers
If you are considering home repair, then most likely you’ll need a few tools that go hand in hand with hammers, such as nails, screws, screwdrivers, fasteners, tacks, staples, and gel levelers.
Any of these can be found at your local hardware store or neighboring retailer, as well as online ecommerce sites like Lowes or The Home Depot.
3. Costs and budget
Mallets are the cheapest brand of hammer, with some starting as low as $3.97 at most online retailers and home improvement ecommerce sites.
Hammers with unique features, like fiberglass handles, soft-faces, chipping claws, and Ball Peins can cost between $4.00 and $12.00. The majority of customers will most likely pursue a hammer somewhere in this cost range.
Deadblow hammers, splitting tools, and all steel tools of various ounces can cost between $15.00 and $30.00, but more expensive variations of all hammers can cost up to $280.00
Depending on your task and amount of work required, your hammer needs could be broad or simplistic. Price ranges vary though, so compare and contrast before you make a purchase using our commerce guide below.
IV. Where to Buy
Now that you know the details of all the hammer available, here’s our selection of the best online merchants to buy one from, including accessories from: