Hammer buying guide

Hammer buying guide

Joan, Young art-school graduate, Cardiff

Guide written by:

Joan, Young art-school graduate, Cardiff

From electrician's hammers to sledgehammers, there's a hammer for every task. Roofing hammers are designed to install slate, glazing hammers to fit glass while claw hammers are used by carpenter or joiners. When picking a hammer you need to consider the head, handle and application. Read on to find the right hammer.

Important features

  • Head
  • Face
  • Peen
  • Handle
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What is a hammer?

What is a hammer?

Hammers are designed to deliver blows. They are made up of:

  • a handle the length of which varies depending on the force of the blow required;

  • a head which features a face which is the striking surface of the tool;

  • the peen or claw which is the part opposite the face.

Hammers are extremely versatile tools. From demolition to assembly and even carving, there's a special hammer out there for every task – try knocking down a wall with a mallet or fitting windows with a sledgehammer and that will soon be obvious! Check out the information below to find the perfect tool for the job.

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Sledge and club hammers

6 common types of hammers

1. Joiners hammers

6 common types of hammers

The most commonly used type of hammer is the joiners hammer, also known as a carpenters hammer. Used for a range of tasks, from driving a single nail to using on a construction site, this is the hammer that everyone will recognise! With a stainless steel head and often rectangular face, a joiners hammer is perfect for any kind of joinery or carpentry task or simply to hammer in small nails.

2. Claw hammers

6 common types of hammers

Instead of a ball peen, a claw hammer features a claw which is used to remove nails while the round face is used to drive nails in (or back in!).

3. Electricians hammer

6 common types of hammers

An electricians hammer features a long head with a flat face. These hammers are compact for getting into tight spaces which is fairly commonplace in electrical work.

4. Glazing hammers

Glazing hammers are used by glaziers. They feature a flat face which is used to protect glazing while driving in nails. They will often feature a claw (like a claw hammer) to remove nails. Just remember not to trust anyone who asks you to look for a glass hammer...

5. Roofing hammer

6 common types of hammers

Roofing hammers are essential for slate installation or any other roofing work. Precise and lightweight, the peen of these hammers can be used to cut slate or even punch holes through it.

6. Riveting hammer

6 common types of hammers

These hammers are ideal for metal surfaces. A riveting hammer features a thick head with a rounded face designed to leave no marks. The face is triangular with a rounded end. But these aren't the only hammers designed for metalwork: planishing hammers and panel beaters are also used to shape metal.

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Riveting hammers

What is a mallet?

What is a mallet?

A mallet features a symmetrical head made of a soft material like wood, plastic or rubber. It is used to deliver blows to harder materials without any risk of damage. These tools are essential for tilers. It is also possible to find carver's mallets which look a bit like a bell clapper. These mallets are designed to deliver precise blows directly to the head of chisels or gouges. It's worth noting that some mallets feature interchangeable heads of different weights that can be swapped out depending on the task.

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Mallets

What is a sledgehammer?

What is a sledgehammer?

Used primarily for demolition work, sledgehammers are the heaviest hammers that you can use with one hand. The weight of these tools ranges from 500 g to 1.5kg.

Sledgehammers come in different types including:

  • a stonecutter's hammer which looks like a metal version of a standard carver's mallet;

  • a lump hammer which is designed for accurate striking thanks to its double faced head. These tools are often used alongside cold chisels.

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SDS chisel bits

Hammer handles: 5 common materials

As mentioned, it is essential to choose the right hammer for the job at hand. But it's also important to pick a model that is comfortable to use. It is also possible to find hammers with anti-vibration handles to reduce the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Of course you also need to think about the wood and metal that make up the tool. The materials used depend on the type of hammer. For example, claw hammers will have a strong handle designed to cope with the strain of nail pulling.

1. Metal handles

Hammer handles: 5 common materials

Metal hammers handles are covered with rubber for a strong and reliable tool. These tools can even be used to apply leverage like a mini crowbar.

2. Two-component handles

Hammer handles: 5 common materials

Handles made of two materials provide a soft, firm grip. They are robust yet very comfortable to use.

3. Three-component handles

Hammer handles: 5 common materials

Three-component hammer handles aren't very common but they offer very high quality. They combine strength, comfort and safety with an inseparable connection between handle and head. These hammers tend to be made of fibreglass, polypropylene and elastomer.

4. Plastic handles

Hammer handles: 5 common materials

One-piece plastic handles are stronger than wooden handles. They are fairly comfortable to use and provide adequate shock absorption.

5. Wooden handles

Hammer handles: 5 common materials

Wooden handles, ash in particular, provide good shock absorption. They are comfortable to use but do require a bit of dexterity. Remember that if you're hitting nails with the handle half the time, you will eventually damage it!

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Hammer handles

Hammer head characteristics

Hammer head characteristics

Hammer heads can feature a soft face for noise reduction and can be non magnetic, non sparking and non rebound. Pay close attention to the head characteristics to find a hammer to match your task.

Choosing a paint

Choosing a paint

Choosing the right hammer means avoiding accidents. Try to drive in 140mm nails with a sledgehammer and you'll wear out your arm. Attempt to drive glazer's nails in with a roofing hammer and you'll soon find it's an impossible task. And you'll be taking a bit of a risk trying to level tiles with a claw hammer... In short, don't forget that each hammer is designed for a specific job.

When it comes to maintenance, hammers aren't exactly the most demanding of tools!

But in terms of selection, don't scrimp on your choice of handle, especially if you plan to use the hammer for hours at a time.

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Hammers and mallets
 
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Guide written by:

Joan, Young art-school graduate, Cardiff

Joan, Young art-school graduate, Cardiff

I realize many of my works, fed by my taste and my passion for DIY, might be called “made up. My projects are born from reflections (more-or-less logical to others but they always make sense to me.) This process has culminated in the realization of a mobile greenhouse so I can walk my plants, an effervescent aspirin, a dispenser built from canned foods. I consider DIY to be a way of moving at your own pace. We live in a world where the uncomfortable idea remains that our failings often teach us more than the projects themselves would. My wisdom is useful to me, whether it’s re-machine screws, reel a reel from camera springs, or using a torch. I am delighted to use my experience and finally be able to share it.

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