Folk songs aside, the hammer is a striking tool, used for driving or removing nails, shaping metal or stone, and other purposes that require striking a blow to amplify the force of the wielder’s hand. While this post does not cover all of the various types of hammers out there, it does cover some of the more common ones.
The most common hammer, and the hammer every adult should own, is the claw hammer.
Claw hammers are characterized by a flat striking plate, used for driving nails, and a v-shaped claw that is used for removing nails. Claw hammers come in a range of weights; heavier hammers, due to the way physics operates, deliver heavier blows. You should select a hammer that fits comfortably in your hand, and is not too heavy for you to control.
Framing hammers are similar to claw hammers, but instead of having a curved claw, their claw is straight(er). Framing hammers are generally used for framing wooden houses, but are being superseded by nail guns. Most people who aren’t building their own home do not need a framing hammer; it is included here to ensure that the contrast with a claw hammer is shown.
The rubber mallet is used to drive nails or brads into something that a hammer could damage. Generally, this is a concern when the wielder is upholstering a chair or other furniture. Smaller mallets are used in jewelry-making.
Sledge hammers come in a variety of weights, lengths, and sizes. They are large, heavy, used for demolition, and generally wielded two-handed. If you need to break down a wall, you want a sledge hammer. Unlike the claw hammer, virtually no one who rents their home should need a sledge hammer. Some homeowners might have a need for one on occasion.
Not to be confused with certain Sith, the splitting maul is used to split logs. It is a hybrid between a sledge hammer and an axe. As with the sledge hammer, unless the renter has a wood burning fireplace and means to chop their own wood, most renters do not need a splitting maul in their tool kits. Homeowners who don’t have a wood burning fireplace don’t need a splitting maul either.
The last type of hammer I’ll discuss is the meat tenderizer. This one is not used for wood or metal, but for beating on lesser cuts of meat in order to make them more tender by softening the fibers. It can also be used to flatten a piece of meat, making a thick piece wider and thinner, as is called for in some recipes. Meat tenderizers are a good sort of hammer to have in any kitchen.
Hammer Do’s and Don’t’s
- Don’t use a hammer to drive a screw. You can use a hammer and nail to create a starter hole for the screw, but you should not drive the screw into the wall using a hammer. This defeats the purpose of the screw by making the hole bigger than it needs to be.
- Don’t throw a hammer. Throwing a hammer is a good way to hurt someone or put an unwanted hole in the wall or floor.
- Don’t hold a hammer too close to the head. Holding a hammer too close to the head takes away most of the mechanical advantage created by swinging the hammer. You can do it that way to start a nail, but once you’ve got it started, use the mechanical advantage. DO hold the hammer like this:
- DO replace the hammer if the handle is damaged. Failure to do so may cause the head of the hammer to fly off the handle. Yes, that is the origin of that phrase. If the head of the hammer flies off, it’s another good way to hurt someone or put an unwanted hole in the wall, ceiling, floor, or a window…