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Hammers 101

A hammer is a tool meant to deliver an impact to an object. The most common use for hammers in woodworking is to drive nails.

Claw Hammer

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Claw hammers are the most common types of hammers used for woodworking and general repairs around the home. They are available with different types of handles, wood, steel with rubber or plastic grips and fiberglass composition. There are different weights, 16 ounces is a good general purpose choice, for heavier work perhaps 20 ounces. Smaller weights are suitable for tacks and light work or children.

Using a Hammer to Drive Nails


Hold the hammer near the end of the handle. The nearer the end of the handle you take hold, the harder blow you can strike, just as the longer the handle, the harder the blow. Use light strokes—mere taps—in starting the nail. After you are sure it is going straight you can then use more force to drive it home. Do not try to sink the nail-head quite flush with the wood. Leave that for the nail-set. You may think that any slight depression you may make if the hammer strikes the wood will be too slight to be seen, but that is not so, as the slightest dent or depression will probably show in finished work.

correct hammer use
Fig. 603

The head of the hammer should be swung back and forth through an arc of a circle of which the wrist is the centre. You must make sure that your wrist is in such a position that the hammer-head can strike the nail squarely—that is, the hammer-handle, when the head rests squarely on the nail-head, must be in a line parallel with the flat surface of the top of the nail (Fig. 603).

Incorrect hammer use
Fig. 604

If the wrist is much above or below this line, the nail will be struck slantingly, and either be driven crooked or bent (Fig. 604).

pulling a nail

When withdrawing nails place a block under the hammer-head as shown to protect the surface of the board.

Framing Hammer

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Framing hammers, used for framing wooden houses, are heavy duty rip hammers with a straight claw. The hammer heads typically weigh from 20 to 32 ounces for steel heads, and 12 to 16 ounces for titanium heads. Heavy heads, longer handles and milled faces allow for driving large nails quickly into dimensional lumber. The straight claw serves the dual purpose of removing nails and acting as a pry bar to rip apart lumber.

Ball Peen

Ball peen hammers are used more in metal working than woodworking however there are times when they are used. The rounded top on the head is used to peen rivets, (the end of the rivet is flattened and rounded so it is tight in the hole). They come in weights ranging from 2 ounces to 3 pounds.

Dead Blow Mallet

The heads of dead blow mallets are loaded with a loose weight to prevent bounce, and covered with a non marring material, these are used for assembling pieces that have to be tapped into place.

Sledge Hammer

Made for heavy hitting, driving stakes, posts etc. these big guys mean business, the one shown above weighs in at twelve pounds.

More sledge hammers at Amazon.com







Colt "Peacemaker" 1875


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