Choosing The Most Suitable Hammer for Your Job
One of your first choices as a woodworkers is choosing which hammer is more suitable for your job. Your choice can mean the difference between building and destroying your handiwork.
Each hammer is suitable for a job hammers come in all shapes and sizes. While these look and work in a similar manner, their differences are more important. Your choice should depend on what you’re hitting with it and why you’re hitting it.
First Read: Safety tips while driving nails with a hammer
You can choose the best shape, material, and weight by considering these aspects. You will find that a single hammer can be used for a few types of jobs but not for all jobs.
Also Read: Choosing the best screwdriver for your job
You can keep these rules of thumb in mind when choosing the right hammer for a job:
- A narrow head can deliver its blow’s entire force into a small area.
- A broad face will spread it around.
- A longer handle provide greater power.
- A shorter handle allow greater control.
- A steel handle is more durable but it can also be painful to use for long periods.
- A wood handle is less durable but it absorbs more of the vibration from the blow.
No matter your choice, always go for the hammer that you can actually control well. You can switch to a hammer with a lighter head for more control.
Also Read: Choose the right nail for your job
Types of Hammers
You can also use the basic guidelines in choosing the right hammer for each job. This isn’t comprehensive list although the most common are listed here.
Instead of a claw, ball-peen hammers have a round ball at their end. The round head is suitable for stretching and shaping metal, too. The small head is also great for working on small areas since it applies plenty of force.
You can choose from a wide range of sizes, styles and weights in ball-peen hammers. These include cross, point, and straight shapes for refined metal shaping.Ball-peen hammers are suitable for several uses including:
- Shaping sheet metal like steel and aluminum
- Rounding off rivets
- Pounding out dents
- Striking metal punches and chisels
But ball-peen hammers aren’t as versatile as claw hammers. For this reason, these hammers are mainly used in metalwork.
Their main benefit in these tasks lie in their small and flat head. The head places all the force of a swing into a small area. Claw hammers have a split claw opposite the head. The claw itself are in two basic shapes:
- A rip version with a straighter outline for ripping boards apart
- A hooked type for pulling nails
These also come in several weights ranging from 8 to 16 oz. and above. For example, framing hammers have head weights ranging from 20 to 32 oz.
As with most hammers, choose a claw hammer based on your preferred degree of control. Longer handles and heavier heads deliver more powerful blows.
But these are also harder to control and heavier to handle. Tip: Choose the heaviest claw hammer that you can easily control.
These hammers are characterized by a single-handed sledge. Their large flat heads usually feature a heavy weight and a short single-handed handle. Engineers’ hammers provide their users with greater control in comparison with sledges.
The shorter handle also allows for use in confined spaces or when one hand has another material. These are less powerful than a full sledge and less precise than smaller hammers, too. These hammers are suitable for:
- Light demolition
- Metal shaping
- Driving posts, wedges and stakes
Tip: Choose a club hammer with a heavy weight that will achieve the task. In general, a lighter weight is necessary for metal shaping. A heavier weight works best for driving wedges.
These hammers allow for the application of a large force over a wide area. The long handle coupled with the heavy head means getting a good two-handed swing.
The heads usually weigh from 7 to 20 pounds.Sledge hammers are great for hitting things with powerful blows without destroying them. These are suitable for:
- Driving posts, railroad spikes, and posts
- Destroying plaster, masonry and drywall
But since these are harder to control, you can also accidentally smash things.
These are different from other hammers because their heads. The softer heads lessen damage to the area.
The heads are made from materials softer than steel, such as brass, wood, and rawhide. The broad face also spreads the force of the stroke over a wider area.
Tip: Choose a soft hammer with a softer head material that the material being hit. Rubber, for example, is great on wood. Many mallets also have removable faces.
You can swap the face for a softer or harder face depending on the material being worked on. Since rubber mallets have plenty of bounce, these can be difficult to control.
The best way to counteract it is use a dead blow mallet, a soft hammer with a hollow head. The hollow head is usually filled with steel or lead shot. This reduces bounce and maximizes power.
Soft hammers are suitable for:
- Driving wood chisels
- Working on soft metals Forming sheet metal
- Sitting stone or dowels
- Forcing joints together
These are just a few of the modern hammers available. You can even find specialty hammers for specific purposes. These include working on bricks, glass, and shingles.
But even with the right choice in a hammer, you should be careful about its use. You must always remember that it’s a blunt instrument that can result in injuries. You want to respect the power of the hammer!