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Best Hammer

Purchasing a decent hammer should be one of the first things you buy when looking to your assortment of home tools home assortment of tools. However, most people just assume a claw hammer is the either the only hammer type available or the just a option which is suitable for any job from auto body work to demolition. However, there are other hammers which have a bit more specialized use.  Just like any other hand tool, there are a wide variety of hammers out there, each with a specific use perfect for certain jobs. Our hammer buyer's guide provided below details everything you need to know if you're in the market for one of these essential hand tools.

DeWalt DWHT51054 20 Oz. Rip Claw Hammer

DeWalt is a name that has gained a lot of credibility amongst the building trades in the last 20 years. I have used a number of their tools and find them to be well designed and easy to work with. With a 20 ounce head, it's a bit heavier than a "standard" claw hammer, giving a bit more force. But the thing that really stands out is that it has an oval face. This is unique and was specially designed for toe nailing, something I always have trouble with and what ultimately sold me on this hammer. The hammer also has a side nail puller for pulling nails in tight places, a relatively new feature that isn't found on all claw hammers. The hammer is balanced to reduce fatigue along with a steel handle that features shock-reducing rubber overmolding.

Stanley Bostitch 51-855 20oz Steel Hammer Rip Claw

The thing that caught my attention on this hammer is that it has a 75 percent larger face for improved striking accuracy. In other words, if you're one of those people who miss the nail every once in a while, this hammer has been designed for you. No longer will you just be hitting with the edge of the head, but with the full face. The head also has a magnetic nail starter for those times when you've got small nails to put in, a feature which can potentially save you lots of smashed fingers and frustration. The handle is a patented design specifically created to minimize vibration and shock while being slip-resistant as well. There's also a patented torsion control to stabilize the hammer and reduce arm-twisting fatigue. If I've got to say it, this hammer has been designed for the guy who doesn't use it all the time, taking into considerations the struggles that the weekend do-it-yourself encounters.

Vaughan RCF2 19-Ounce Steel Eagle California Framer Hammer

This forged steel hammer has been designed to be a framing hammer. The face is crosshatched, which is ideal for framing, but not so good for finish work. The face is also uniquely designed, with a "D" shape to it which helps prevent misses off the far corners, the two most likely places for this to happen. This unique face also makes it possible to stand the hammer on its head, leaving it easy and quick to grab while you're positioning a piece of wood. The head has an integral magnetic nail starter as well as a side nail puller. The claws are shorter which makes them stronger and reduces the chances of breakage. Forged as a one-piece hammer, the majority of the steel is powder coated to prevent rust. A rubber overmolded handle reduces vibration and shock transmission to your hand.

Estwing E16S 16 Oz Straight Claw Leather Handle Hammer

Estwing probably has one of the larger lines of hammers on the market as they are primarily a hand-tool manufacturer. This has to be the prettiest hammer on our list with its polished head and laminated leather handle. I almost feel like I should hang it on the wall in my workshop just to show it off. But that beauty isn't all the hammer has going for it as the polished head resists rust very well, as well as making it easy to clean paint and other chemicals off of it. The leather handle actually does a very good job of shock deadening, protecting your hands and forearms when you're using this pick. It also works very well to help prevent slipping, as the leather will absorb liquids rather than having them lubricate the surface. Although this is a 16 ounce hammer, they also have it available in a 20 ounce version as well.

Stiletto TI16SC, 16 Oz.Titanium Head, Curved Handle Framer

Stiletto TI16SC, 16 Oz.Titanium Head, Curved Handle Framer

Yes, you read that title right, this hammer actually has a titanium head which is why it's the most expensive hammer on this list. While Stiletto isn't the only company to make titanium hammers, they are the leader in this regard. Titanium is all but indestructible, at least with the forces that a hammer is subject to. So, if you want a hammer that will last a lot of abuse, this one's the one for you. Although they refer to it as a framing hammer, this pick has a smooth face so it can also be used for finish work. There's even a magnetic nail starter for those small nails that are so hard to work with. The handle is carved out of hickory and is curved for comfort; I personally like a wood handle on a hammer (rather than a steel one) although the other hammers I've selected are steel handled. That's just becoming more common on higher quality hammers.

Snap-On Blue-Point BPN24B, 24 Oz Ball Peen Hammer

Snap-On Blue-Point BPN24B, 24 Oz Ball Peen Hammer

I've given Snap-On first place for their high quality reputation. This particular hammer is 24 ounce, although they have them ranging from 8 ounces, through 23 ounces. I like a little heftier hammer for the extra impact that it gives. Considering that the purpose of a ball peen is shaping metal and metal doesn't cooperate well with that, I think the extra weight is justified. This one comes with a fiberglass handle, providing long life and some shock resistance. Additionally, there's a rubber sleeve over the handle, for additional shock protection. Snap-On also provides ball peen hammers that have wooden handles. Made in the USA, this hammer is backed by Snap-On's lifetime replacement warranty.

Estwing E3-24BP Ballpeen Hammer

Estwing manufacturers one of the widest range of hammers on the market so if you need a hammer for anything, they've probably got it. Their ball peen hammers come with a metal handle for maximum durability and life. The handle is also covered by a rubber shock reduction grip, making the hammer more comfortable to use and improving your grip on it as well. Head and handle are forged in one piece so it can't come apart on you while you're using it. Both components are also polished as well which helps with keeping your tools clean. As with the Snap-On, I've selected their 24 ounce hammer, although they also manufacture them ranging from 8 to 32 ounces.

Stanley 54-714 Jacketed Graphite Ball Peen Hammer

Stanley 54-714 Jacketed Graphite Ball Peen Hammer

Stanley provides a very nice ball peen hammer, being the only company I know of to provide a graphite handle. Graphite reinforcement of fiberglass is intended to add additional strength, making for a handle that's nearly indestructible and also comes close to feeling just like a wood handle. Stanley even manages to do this at a very reasonable price. As with some of the other hammers, the handle is wrapped in a rubber overgrip, providing excellent grip and additional shock absorption. The head hammer face and peen are polished and the hammer head has an exclusive rim temper for reducing the chance of splitting or chipping. In this case, I've selected a 16 ounce hammer, although they are available ranging from 12 to 40 ounces.

Vaughan TC016 Commercial Ball Pein Hammer

Vaughn tools are made in the USA, something the company is more than glad to brag about. This hammer is wood handled, for those who like the feel of a wood handle. Of all possible materials, wood provides the best possible shock absorption. The handle is made with genuine hickory wood for strength and long life in addition to being wedged to prevent slipping. The hammer head is polished on the head and ball, with other surfaces powder coated to prevent rusting. This is a 16 ounce hammer, but Vaughan makes them ranging all the way down to 2 ounces for fine detail work, up to 48 ounces for rough duty tasks.

TEKTON 30403 Jacketed Fiberglass Ball Pein Hammer

While you might consider this hammer priced as one made for those who don't need a ball peen often, it's still a great hammer. The jacketed fiberglass handle ensures the hammer has a long life while absorbing excessive shock from each strike. The fiberglass construction also makes the hammer much lighter, with the weight being concentrated mainly in the head. The hammer also features a  vented rubber handle provides excellent grip while helping to absorb shock. The handle is bonded to the head with a permanent epoxy bond, ensuring the hammer has a nice long life while the head itself is forged and polished steel. Tekton makes their ball peen hammers from 8 to 48 ounces and you can even buy a set of four, providing you with the right hammer for an assortment of different tasks.

SE 8355HH 5-in-1 Dual Interchangeable Head Hammer

Of all the soft-faced hammers out there, this one from SE is the most versatile. It comes with five interchangeable threaded heads, allowing you to use any combination of two as you need. One of the things that makes it so special is that two of the heads are brass and copper. While it's possible to find brass hammers for non-sparking applications, it's not easy to find brass or copper in an interchangeable head hammer. Thus, these two heads give this tool more flexibility than any other soft-faced hammer around. The other three heads are rubber, nylon and ABS, so there's a nice assortment of material hardness to work with. The head is lightweight aluminum, rather than steel, which means you aren't going to have to worry about using too much force, although you might find yourself frustrated about the lack of weight at times.

Estwing DHF24 Softface Black And Grey Rubber Mallet Hammer

Estwing DHF24 Softface Black And Grey Rubber Mallet Hammer

A rubber mallet is always handy for persuading things together but this pick from Estwing goes far beyond the typical rubber hammer. Rather than the head being all rubber, this one has a forged steel body weighing 24 ounces to give some impact to your blow. Two different rubber heads, one soft and one hard, give you a choice of striking surface. The heads are larger than your typical soft-faced hammer, providing you with a good striking face. The carved hickory handle is comfortable to hold and rugged enough to last. Estwing has elevated the rubber mallet to a whole new level with this one.

Vaughan SF12 12-Ounce Soft-Face Hammer

I've got a hammer just like this one which I've had for years. The soft red face and harder yellow face allow me to use it for a wide variety of projects. The heads are also replaceable so you don't need to worry about your tool becoming useless if you overuse it. With a 12 ounce head, there's enough weight to give some impact to my blows without the risk of beating delicate parts to death. The hammers hickory handle is epoxy sealed and wedge locked to the forged head, ensuring there's a permanent connection between the handle and the head.

Craftsman 9-38388 Soft Face Hammer

Craftsman has taken a slightly different route on their soft-face hammer, creating one with a fiberglass handle. While I like wood handles, there's no denying that fiberglass will last longer. Impervious to changes in temperature and humidity, a fiberglass handle can even be immersed in water without any risk of damage; of course, that's not saying the head would like all that water. The handle is also overlaid with a rubber grip, providing comfort and excellent grip even when wet. This hammer has a 12 ounce head with four different rubber/plastic tips for use on different types of projects and with different types of materials. You're sure to find a tip that matches your need regardless of whatever you're working on.

TEKTON 30812 35mm Double-Faced Soft Mallet

Tekton's mallet has a tubular steel handle overlaid with a rubber grip. The idea here is to keep the handle light so all the weight is in the head where it does the most good. A lighter weight actually provides a better balance, affording you greater accuracy with your blows. Two replaceable faces are threaded onto the mallet's head, making them replaceable if they become damaged. With a diameter of 35mm, it's a bit bigger around than most of our hammers we've been looking at which have one inch heads. There's also a rubber grip on the handle which provides comfortable use and a non-slip surface.

STANLEY FMHT56006 FATMAX 3-Pound Drilling Sledge Hammer

I give Stanley the best marks on this style of hammer, mostly for producing one of this type with the best impact absorption. The handle is considerably more complicated than competing club hammer, combining several elements to make it more comfortable and protect the user from shock. This includes a rubber shock collar just below the hammer head and a particle-filled fiberglass handle that absorbs vibrations, rather than transmitting them. Finally, a rubber grip helps provide you with a good anti-slip surface while absorbing even more vibration. The hammer head has also been designed with rounded edges, reducing the overall surface area in order to increase the force applied in a narrower area.

Estwing B3-3LB Drilling Hammer Nylon Vinyl Shock Reduction Grip

Estwing counts on their molded and bonded shock reduction grip to reduce vibration and shock transferred to the user by this hammer. The porous grip of this hammer compresses well under the force of impact, absorbs the shock, then returnins to its normal shape. This happens so quickly that you don't really notice it but the impact of the blow is significantly reduced in your hand. The head and handle are one-piece forged steel, making this hammer basically indestructible. They're also powder coated to protect the tool from rusting and the hammer faces are polished as well. While I've chosen their three pound hammer for this list, they also have a two pound and a four pound version available. The two pound is the lightest drilling hammer on the market.

Vaughan HD3 3-Pound SuperSteel Hand Drilling Hammer

Vaughan provides a more traditional design of drilling hammer with a hickory handle. While some of the new handle designs have been created to overcome vibration, it's hard to beat what our noble ancestors used. By their nature, wood handles naturally absorb vibration, flexing slightly to reduce the amount of shock transmitted to your hand. The head of this hammer is finished on the sides, to prevent rusting and the hammer faces are polished. There's also the inclusion of wide bevels which help to concentrate the hammers striking force.

Craftsman 3 Pound Hand Drilling Hammer

Craftsman's drilling hammer also comes with a hardwood hickory handle, following tradition. The handle is 10 and 1/4 inches long, making this short hammer easy to control. The wood works well to absorb shock and the overall short length makes the hammer easy to store in your toolbox. The head of this hammer is painted black to prevent rusting and the broad faces are polished. Craftsman uses a smaller bevel than some of the others, which helps reduce the chances of missing the punch or chisel you are striking.

TEKTON 31201 Jacketed Fiberglass Stubby Drilling Hammer

I've included this hammer because it's the only 2 1/2 pound drilling hammer I've seen. While not as light as Vaughan's two pounder, the 1/2 pound less in weight makes this hammer easier to use with much lower operator fatigue. While it might seem like you want the heaviest head possible, you'll be able to swing this slightly lighter hammer a whole lot longer before you get tired. The handle is fiberglass with a poly jacket surrounding the fiberglass which makes a great combination for absorbing vibration and shock, especially when you cover it with a rubber grip. The grip itself is actually molded to the handle so it can't slip or come off. A permanent epoxy bond holds the head and handle together.

EstWing CCBP47 47 Oz. Compocast Ball Peen

Estwing makes a number of different dead blow hammers, most of them more typical than this. But I've picked this particular hammer because it's a steel faced ball peen dead blow hammer. As best I know, Estwing is the only company using dead blow technology in a hammer that's something other than a mallet. By adding the moving shot weight to a ball peen hammer, they've created a tool which will produce much better results than a typical ball peen hammer or a typical dead blow hammer. While the face and ball peen are steel, the fact that it's a dead blow will eliminate the problem of any marring to your work surface caused by the head bouncing. This makes for a great combination. The head (other than the faces) and handle are encapsulated together in polyurethane which is oil and chemical resistant. I've selected their 47 ounce as my favorite, but they also have the same design available in 20, 36, and 50 ounce versions.

Vaughan 1-1/4" Dead Blow Hammer

Vaughan's dead blow hammer is considered a soft faced hammer, because it has nylon faces on both sides. The nylon faces are replaceable, threading into the aluminum head. The faces also have a shoulder on them to absorb the force of side blows which in turn protects the threads. The hammer head contains the shot and is serrated under the nylon face, preventing it from unthreading. By providing replaceable heads on the hammer, Vaughan has eliminated the problem of the hammer itself becoming damaged and causing problems. The head and handle are cast together for added strength and a neoprene molded handle provides for user comfort.

Lixie 300L-MH 110 Ounce Dead Blow Hammer

I've picked this hammer from Lixie because it's the heaviest dead blow hammer I can find as well as for the quality of its design. Lixie has a whole series of these hammers which can be customized to your exact needs. Weights range from a mere 14 ounces all the way to this up to this monster which weighs 110 ounces. That's almost seven pounds, making this quite a hammer to heft with one hand. However, if that's too much for you, the 19 inch handle will allow the use of use two hands to effectively swing this hammer. The hammer head is made of aluminum and is three inches in diameter to allow for enough weight inside the head. It comes with two replaceable faces of the five different ones that Lixie offers. In particular, this model has a hard black rubber head on one side and a medium (green) rubber head on the other side. This pick hammer also comes with a hickory handle which is rather rare in these types of hammers. I like that they've cut grooves in the handle which helps a lot to improve your grip on it; with as much as this hammer weighs, I'd hate to lose it because I couldn't hang onto it.

Grizzly H6320 12 Oz. Brass Dead Blow Hammer

Grizzly H6320 12 Oz. Brass Dead Blow Hammer

This unique hammer has a brass head on one end with a plastic head on the other. The brass head provides greater impact than plastic will but remains soft enough to prevent marring polished steel and aluminum parts. That's a great option to have when working with metals and situations where a bit more force is required; I say a "bit more" because this is actually a very light hammer with only a 12 ounce head although there's also 24 ounce version available. Brass is also non-sparking so if you need to use this hammer in a workspace where there's the danger of volatile fumes, this hammer is totally safe to use. For example, if you've got a drum of gasoline you need to knock the bung out of, this hammer could handle the task safely and easily without any risk of starting a fire.

Stanley Proto J1430DB Dead Blow Hammer

I had to get at least one "fairly normal" dead blow hammer in this list for those in the market for one. Of all the normal dead blow hammers, I think that the Proto is the best. This one weighs two pounds which is a nice weight for a variety of tasks without getting heavy. The encapsulated head is spark-resistant as well as non-marring while the fiberglass handle is covered by a rubber grip which absorbs vibrations and shocks well. This is the dead blow hammer you'd want to use on wood projects as well as to knock a dent out of a car's fender. As a general purpose dead blow where you don't need any of the special features of the others, this is the one to reach for.

STANLEY FMHT56019 FATMAX 10lb Sledge Hammer

Stanley has put a lot into their handle design, bringing it as close to something considered "high tech"  in any sledge hammer you'll find anywhere. The hollow fiberglass handle is filled with vibration dampening particles and over-coated with a rubber grip. There's also a rubber shock absorbing pad just below the head. This combination provides the greatest comfort and most vibration absorption of any hammer handle I've ever seen. You wouldn't think so much design could go into something so simple, but the extra considerations make it worth it. Although the head is only 10 pounds, the bullet-nosed strike face on the hammer is capable of delivering much more force than other hammers the same weight. Overall this sledgehammer excels because of the excellent design.

Truper 10lb, 36" Sledge Hammer with Rubber Grip Fiberglass Handle - 30930

There's not a whole lot of difference between sledge hammers so it can be a little hard to pick out a best in this category. Nevertheless, I thinkTruper has one of the best sledges on the market, with a hammer head which is machined rather than simply just forged. While that doesn't make a whole lot of difference, it does mean that the head was produced under less stress so it's less likely to break. The rubber and fiberglass handle seems to be the best combination for reducing vibration and shock for the user. The rubber grip also provides secure handling, especially when your hands are sweating. I've selected the 12 pound hammer as the little bit of extra weight seems to help, even if it does require more strength to swing. This hammer is also available in 6, 8, 10, and 16 pound weights. Every hammer in this series come with a 36 inch handle which provides you with plenty of leverage for a solid swing every time.

Jackson Professional Tools 12lb Sledge Hammer - 119940

Jackson Professional Tools 12lb Sledge Hammer - 119940

Although I personally prefer the idea of a rubber and fiberglass handle on a sledge hammer, most manufacturers make them with both fiberglass and the more traditional hickory handles. Hickory does a great job of absorbing vibration and is extremely strong; in fact, tools with hickory handles aren't likely to break, even if you drive your vehicle over them by accident. The handle is 36 inches long, providing you with plenty of swing while the hammer head is forged with machined faces to ensure perpendicularity to the hammer head and the handle. I've picked the 12 pound hammer, but Jackson Professional Tools provides the same design in 6, 8, 10, 16, and even 20 pound versions.

Kobalt 10lb Sledge Hammer - MD-10F-K

Kobalt 10lb Sledge Hammer - MD-10F-K

Kobalt is the proprietary brand of Lowe's Home Improvement Center. Created more than anything, to compete with Craftsman tools, they've come up with some good designs which are rugged and built to last. This 10 pound steel sledge hammer has a fiberglass handle for user comfort while the tail end of the handle is rubber coated to provide you with extra grip. There's also a molded-on guard to provide the handle with some good overstrike protection. While the handle is only 36 inches long, you'll hardly notice the difference between that and the 36 inches handles on some of the other hammers we've looked at.

Truper 20lb, 36" Sledge Hammer with Hickory Handle - 30923

I've had to return to Truper for those who really need a beefy sledge hammer. Weighing in at 20 pounds, this one will give you a whole lot more force than other sledgehammers you might try. However, be sure you're in shape if you plan on ordering it. Swinging a heavy hammer for any length of time is going to challenge anyone's physical conditioning. The sledge has a 36 inch hickory handle for long life as well as reducing the shock from blows. The interface between the handle and the head are very interesting as you have a poly shock guard installed to help dampen the shock of blows, while also protecting the hammer handle from overstriking damage. While this hammer design is available in lighter versions, I've picked this one for the extra power it can provide. It also features a machined face on the hammer head to ensure perpendicularity and a smooth striking face.

Buyer's Guide

Hammer Buyer's Guide

The hammer is one of the most frequently used hand tools found in any toolbox. While simple and straightforward in their use, there are many varieties of hammers with each designed specifically a range of tasks from driving nails to shaping metal. If you’re a contractor, construction worker, or just a do-it-yourself-type looking to expand your tool collection, here’s a listing of the most common hammer types along with other essentials you should keep in mind before make a purchase.

Hammers Types

Claw Hammer
Claw hammers are probably what most people think of when they envision a hammer. These tools are great multitasking with the flat, blunt end is used for pounding objects like nails and fasteners, while the “claw” end is used for prying things up like embedded nails and more.

Ball Peen Hammer
Ball peen hammers have a dual hammer head, one spherical and one flat. These hammers are used for “peening” which is the art of expanding and shaping various materials. Naturally they’re very popular in the metal working industry.

Soft Faced Hammer
Soft faced hammers feature soft heads made from rubber or plastic compounds. They’re perfect for hammering sensitive or delicate materials without fear of damaging them making them the logical choice for auto bodywork.

Club Hammer
The bulky-looking hammers stand out for their heavy, dual flat head which makes them great for masonry work such as driving chisels into stone. They’re also great for DIY projects where light-duty demolition is required.

Dead Blow Hammer
Dead blow hammers feature hollow heads filled with shock-absorbing material. This allows you to focus the point of impact at a single point rather than spread out across a wide area. These hammers are great for woodworking projects or auto body tasks like popping out dents.

Sledgehammers have heavy, durable heads that apply tremendous amounts of force when swung to smash apart wood, glass, brick, concrete, and more. They feature a long handle and ideal for home improvement projects requiring large amounts of demolition.

What’s in a Hammer?

Most hammers heads are either metal or fiberglass while handle options are either wood, metal (if the hammer is one solid piece), or fiberglass. Hammers with wood, particularly hickory, or fiberglass handles are better at absorbing impact than metal, which reduces hand fatigue.

Metal is durable and hefty, but also quite heavy versus fiberglass which is very strong but lightweight. While wood is strong and light, it’s not as durable as its metal or fiberglass counterparts.

Full Body or Wedged
Hammers generally come in one solid piece, or feature a handle with a wedged head attached with a strong adhesive. Full body hammers are naturally stronger and more durable so if you plan on purchasing a hammer with a wedged head, ensure it’s sealed with epoxy or an industrial-strength adhesive. 

Magnetic Tips
Magnetic tips help to keeps nails and other fasteners in place which is handy for hammering at an extended reach or when restricted to using only one hand. This feature is generally found only on smaller hammers like the claw.

Strike Face Size
Strike face size is what determines the hammers accuracy. The larger the strike face, the more accurate your blows will be, making it easier to strike successfully strike nails and fasteners. Also keep the shape of the strike face in mind. Domed faces drive fasteners into the surface of what you’re striking with little to no damage, while flat faces carry sa higher risk of damaging a surface.

Hammering can be a grueling task, particularly if you’re going to be doing it for long periods of time. As such, the hammers weight should factor into your decision. The lighter the tool, the less arm and hand fatigue is accrued.

Hand Grip
Hammer handles are wrapped in a range of materials including rubber, nylon, vinyl, or leather, which makes them easier to grip and hold. These materials also make them a lot more comfortable to use, as well as provides a safe measure of anti-slip grip.

Corrosion Resistance
For hammers with metal handles or heads, corrosion resistance is important, especially if you plan on using your hammer outdoors. The corrosion resistance in hammers generally comes in the form of a polished surface or powder coating.

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