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Nailed it! Choosing Your Hammer

Considering which hammer you need to clobber your next project? Here is our rundown on some of the most common types of hammer along with tips on finding the right features and extras to make sure you come home with a keeper.

6 Common Hammer Types

Our non-exhaustive list of the most common hammers you’ll come across on your DIY journey.  

Claw hammer

The Platonic ideal of a hammer; an essential in any toolbox. The claw hammer is a  hard-wearing, multi-purpose tool that’s ready for everyday projects. With a simple face on one end of the head and claw on the other. 

Framing hammer

A modified claw hammer with a waffled head, heavy, long handle, and a curved claw. Meant specifically for framing out houses. The rough head gives extra traction for nailing. 


Its wide face, short neck, and long handle make it a common choice for demolition but is also good for driving stakes and even blacksmithing. 

Tack Hammer

Small, lightweight, and perfect for upholstery (driving tacks). One end of the face is magnetic to hold a metal tack in place before driving with the non-magnetized end.

Rubber Mallet

While it may resemble a sledgehammer in shape and face size, a rubber mallet is lightweight and gentle enough to deliver soft blows to plasterboard, upholstery, and wood-workin projects. 

Ball Peen Hammer

With a rounded peen (claw), perfect for closing metal fastenings, rounding out edges, punching, and riveting.

Rubber Mallet, Claw Hammer, Ball Peen Hammer, Shingling Hammer, Tack Hammer, Sledge Hammer. (Left to right.)

Find Your Perfect Hammer

A few tips for finding a claw hammer that’s just right for you and your everyday projects

Head Weight

Claw hammers are differentiated by their head weight in ounces. For most folks, a 16 to 20 ounce weight works best. When you hold a hammer, you want to feel most of the weight in the head, which translates to striking power. It also means the handle is relatively lightweight; this is especially important if you’ll be hammering above your head or if you’re using the hammer in long bursts.

Handle Material

Speaking of weight and striking power, a stainless steel handle is the strongest of three but is also the heaviest. The steel handle adds to the hammer’s overall weight without adding overall striking power. Stainless steel also carries the most vibration from the hammer head to your hand, which can lead to strain over time. Most folks use stainless steel hammers for demolition and masonry projects—destruction not construction. 

Fiberglass handles are lighter, keeping most of the weight in the head. Fiberglass is non-conductive, making it an excellent choice for electricians. These hammers are also the most affordable. 

Wood handles are prone to splitting and, without a grip, are slippery. That said, they are excellent for cutting down on vibration and are often lightweight. Good for lower impact, higher frequency nailing projects, like framing and trim work. 

Handle Length

Standard handle length is anywhere between 14 to 18 inches long. Pro tip: if you’re remodeling or building homes, a 16 inch hammer can serve as a quick measuring guide for where to place (or where to find) studs. 


Side Puller: More efficient and easier to pull nails out than with the claw. 

Magnetic Nail Holder: Keeps nails in place before hammering, which is especially useful when you’re on a ladder, nailing above your head, or in any hard-to-reach spots.

Flat Head: Gives you the flexibility to nail in tight spots, like at the corner of a 90 degree joint. 

Adjustable Claw: A nice, but not necessary, add-on to customize a single hammer’s capabilities with different style or size claws. 

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