This kind of hammer is most commonly used for woodworking and household repairs. For most people, the claw hammer is the basic hammer that everyone reaches for and uses the most often, thanks to its two-function design. The face drives nails and the two-pronged claw pulls nails out of wood. The handle of this hammer can be made of many different materials, the most common being fiberglass, wood, or steel. Choose a fiberglass or steel option, and it will also have rubber, plastic, or vinyl handle for comfort and shock absorption.
Claw hammers are available in many sizes, and most hardware and home improvement stores have a wide selection to choose from. Small tack hammers may weigh only a few ounces and are meant to be used on delicate small nails such as those used in picture frames. Large framing hammers are the ones made for driving large nails and can have head up to 28 ounces and handles as long as 18 inches. An all-purpose hammer with a 16-ounce head and 16″-long handle gives you a good balance of weight and control so you can perform a variety of tasks, though if you do a lot of renovation and construction type projects around the house then a hammer over 20 ounces may be the best for you!
Ball Peen Hammers
This is a more advanced hammer design and is specially made for metalwork. Sometimes called an engineer’s hammer, the ball peen hammer is used for many metalwork tasks. Rather than having a claw, this hammer features a flat striking surface and a rounded face on the other side. The steel ball peen head is hardened so it is more resistant against chipping; this makes it perfect for driving punches and cold chisels, set rivets, and shape metal. The handles of the ball peen hammer are usually made of hickory because it is a very durable and sturdy wood that won’t crack or splinter as easily.
Common head weights for ball peen hammers are four, eight, 12, and up to 32 ounces. Metal is much more durable than wood so you need a hammer that is heavy enough to drive your nails or pins. However, too much weight can distort the base metal you are working on and too little weight will render the hammer inefficient at the task you need to do. The right balance is essential to getting the job done correctly and efficiently. The ball peen can also be used for driving heavy nails and can be used for other household tasks or in situations where its weight and hardness will be an asset.
Club hammers are essentially small, homeowner-sized sledgehammers that are specially designed for driving chisels or stakes. Most club hammers have two identical faces and handles that are under 12 inches in length. Wooden handles are typically made of hickory, though fiberglass is also commonly available. The club hammer is light enough that it can be managed comfortably with one hand which allows it to be used in a range of ways and in situations where a longer-handled hammer would be too awkward or cumbersome. A club hammer with a two-and-a-half-pound head is a useful size, though three- and five-pound models are also common for more intense driving needs.
When you use this type of hammer, you need to let the weight of the head do as much of the work as possible. For light blows, simply allow the weight of the hammer to fall onto your target. For more force, swing the tool as you would other hammers. When dealing heavier blows, it is important to remember to not lock your arm when swinging the hammer. Swinging with a rigid wrist and elbow can cause injury, especially when you are doing demolition work, as the shock impact from each blow can easily travel up into your arm and cause wrist, arm, and shoulder damage. Proper form is necessary in order to use this specialized hammer safely.