Best Hammers

Updated October 2020
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Buying guide for best hammers

Even if you’re not the handiest do-it-yourselfer, there are certain tools that everyone needs around the house for tasks that pop up from time to time. Whether it’s to hang photos and artwork, install shelves, or put together a piece of furniture, a hammer is one of those essentials that should be in every homeowner’s toolbox.

But there is such a wide range of hammers to choose from that finding the best one for your needs isn’t always easy.

At BestReviews, our goal is to take the confusion out of shopping. If you’re ready to pick up a new hammer, check out our shopping guide for all the tips you need to choose the perfect one for your DIY projects.

Always use the proper hammer for the task. You’ll have an easier time with the project and be less likely to cause damage or injury.

Types of hammers

There are several types of hammers that can be useful around the house.

Rip claw

Rip claw (or rip) hammers are the most common type of hammer for general work around the house. This style has a straight rather than a curved claw that works as a lever. It can be used to remove nails, pull up floorboards, or do other tasks that require leverage. The rip claw hammer works well for driving and removing nails and general carpentry tasks.

Curved claw

A curved claw hammer is similar to a rip hammer except the claw is curved slightly, which provides more effective leverage when removing nails. These hammers usually  weigh less than rip hammers, so they’re a good option if you’re not used to working with tools. These are ideal for driving and removing nails, as well as general carpentry tasks.

Ball peen

A ball-peen hammer, also called a mechanic’s or engineer’s hammer, has a rounded end opposite the striking face. The rounded peen makes it easier to shape metal or round off edges on metal pins and fasteners.

Sledgehammer

The double-faced sledgehammer has a wide, heavy head and long handle. It’s used for heavy tasks like driving in stakes, doing demolition work, or breaking up concrete.

Hammer features to consider

Head weight

For a hammer to be as effective as possible, it should have a properly weighted head. Heavier hammers can handle a wider range of tasks but might be too bulky for some people to use. In general, a 16- to 20-ounce hammer is a good option for most basic DIY projects around the home. For elderly individuals or those with joint pain or hand injuries, a lighter hammer that weighs up to 12 ounces might be a better option.

Handle

Hammer handles are made from a variety of materials, including wood, steel, fiberglass, and titanium.

  • Wood handles work best for shop and trim work. However, wood is prone to breaking and can get slippery, which can make it a less optimal choice for a general use hammer.

  • Steel handles are extremely durable and work well on general use hammers, but steel adds significant weight to the tool.

  • Fiberglass handles are very durable and perform well on general use hammers. Fiberglass is lighter than steel, which can make these hammers more comfortable to use.

  • Titanium handles are the most durable but still very lightweight. Titanium handles are stronger than steel handles.
     

Striking face

A hammer’s striking face is the portion that hits the nail you’re pounding into place. Some hammers have a completely smooth face, while others have a textured face with a waffle-like pattern. The benefit of the waffle grid is that it grips the nail more easily. However, if you miss your target, the textured face can damage the work surface. A smooth striking face is usually the better option for a general-purpose hammer meant for home use.

You can find some expensive hammers with replaceable heads, so if the waffle face wears down, you don’t have to buy an entirely new hammer.

Claw

Most claw hammers have claws that easily slide beneath nail heads to remove the nails. Some hammers offer double-beveled claws, which are even easier to use. The first bevel enables you to slip the hammer under the nails as close to the surrounding surface as possible, while the second bevel provides a firm grip on the nail head. These are usually compatible with nails of all sizes, too, so you can remove any nail quickly.

Anti-vibration design

Some hammers vibrate quite a bit when you use them, which can leave you with a sore arm or elbow. Steel-handled hammers, in particular, have an issue with vibration, so you might want to choose a hammer with an anti-vibration design that will make the hammer more comfortable to use.

Hammer prices

Hammer prices vary based on weight and materials. In general, you can expect to pay from $5 to $200 for a hammer.

Inexpensive: Lighter hammers that weigh less than 12 ounces and are made of wood, fiberglass, or steel usually cost between $5 and $15.

Mid-range: Hammers that weigh between 12 and 20 ounces and are made of wood, fiberglass, or steel usually cost between $15 and $80.

Expensive: Hammers that weigh between 12 and 20 ounces are are made of titanium usually cost between $80 and $200.

Tips

  • Always wear safety glasses when using a hammer.

  • When gripping a hammer, wrap your dominant hand around the handle so your thumb overlaps your index and middle fingers.

  • To hold a nail in place before you strike it with a hammer, grip it near the top with your non-dominant thumb and forefinger.

  • When you want more control as you swing a hammer, hold it close to the head. If you need to strike a nail with more force, grip the hammer near the end of the handle.

  • Don’t use a hammer with a broken or loose handle. The head could break off when you’re using it.

It’s easy to damage your materials – or hit a finger – if you don’t pay careful attention when you swing a hammer. Limit distractions as you work.

FAQ

Q. What’s the best all-around hammer for household tasks?

A. For most common DIY projects around the house, a claw hammer can get the job done. It’s primarily used for driving and removing nails, but it can also be used for light demolition work. Claw hammers are available in various weights, so you’ll have an easier time finding an option that’s comfortable for you to use.

Q. Do I need more than one type of hammer?

A. It really depends on the type of projects you do around your home. If you’re only doing basic tasks like hanging pictures or assembling furniture, a single claw hammer is probably all you need. However, if you regularly do metalwork, you might want to invest in a ball-peen hammer, too. A sledgehammer comes in handy for demolition work or driving stakes into the ground.

Q. Does a hammer require any maintenance?

A. A hammer usually doesn’t require much care or maintenance. Some hammers have replaceable heads, so if the striking face wears down, you can simply swap out the head for a new one. If your hammer has a waffle or textured face, you can periodically roughen up the surface with sandpaper.

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