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Tools are a fundamental part of what makes us the most evolved species on the face of the planet (at least by our measurement). Tools allow us to make so many things, from shelter to furniture, to food, and even other tools! One of the most rudimentary and surprisingly indispensable tools we’ve created as a species is the hammer. Although you probably don’t think about it, there are many types of hammers out there, each designed to suit a specific application. This being said, let’s have a look at a few of the most commonly used hammer types, what their characteristics are and what they’re used for. Keep in mind that certain types of hammers are only used in specialized fields, so you might not see them in your local hardware store.
Table of Contents
- 1 Anatomy of a Hammer
- 2 Types of Hammers
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions
Anatomy of a Hammer
There are loads of different types of hammers out there. Different types of hammers are designed for various applications, but at the end of the day, the primary function of any one hammer is to, well, hammer things. This being said, let’s have a look at the different parts of a hammer, what the different parts of a hammer are used for, and why they are designed the way they are.
Generally, a hammer will consist of between eight to nine parts. These parts are:
- Grip: This is the part of the hammer that you hold.
- Handle: This is the part directly above the grip.
- Eye: This connects the handle to the head.
- Head: This is the part to which the peen/claw attaches.
- Cheeks: These are the side faces of the head.
- Head and neck: These are the parts of the hammer that are used to strike things.
- Peen/claw: The end that typically faces you will have either a peen or claw, which can be used to round off things or pull fasteners, respectively.
Each type of hammer will have a different weight and size to suit a certain application or trade, and it’s best to familiarize yourself with which hammer type is best suited for each application to avoid any confusion in the future.
Types of Hammers
Now that you know what each part of a hammer is used for and why it has been designed a certain way let’s have a look at some of the types of hammers you might encounter, what they are used for, their individual characteristics, as well as their size and weight. Keep in mind that while some hammers can be used interchangeably, it’s best to use the hammer type that is best suited for your intended application.
The Clawed Hammer
Starting off with a classic, we have the claw hammer. This type of hammer is a fundamental part of pretty much any handyman, contractor, and even artist’s toolbox. It’s quite simple, these are generally outfitted with fiber, wood, or insulated steel handles to absorb shock and ensure a good grip when being used. These hammers are commonly sold in weights of around 16 all the way up to 14 ounces.
Why is it called the claw hammer? Well, because of its claw!
This claw is usually V-shaped with a slight curve to it. It’s designed to allow you to use leverage to remove nails and other fasteners from a workpiece. If you’re going to be using this type of hammer quite a bit, particularly the claw end, get one of a decent quality to ensure the claw doesn’t break away from the head of the hammer.
The Ball Peen Hammer
If you’ve done metallurgy or watched the discovery channel in your life, then you’re probably well acquainted with the ball peen hammer. This type of hammer is generally used in engineering and metallurgy industries for the purpose of shaping metal and rivets.
These hammers tend to be hard-wearing, and generally have a wooden handle to aid with shock absorption.
They’re also able to withstand loads of abuse and heat fluctuations while experiencing little to no metal fatigue. They’re also a pretty decent tool to have around the house if you need to hammer in some nails or flatten any fasteners. Compared to most claw hammers, they are quite small, being sold in weights of around two to four ounces at the heaviest.
The Cross and Straight Peen Hammer
Another tool that seems to be very common in both engineering and home use is the cross and straight peen hammer. This tool is most commonly used to shape and form metal workpieces, even though it’s quite small.
This type of hammer is best characterized by the uncurved peen, which can be used to strike pretty much any material.
These hammers have a relatively small face compared to their counterparts, but this is because they’re intended to strike with precision instead of brute force. The difference between a cross and a straight peen hammer is that the straight peen hammer’s edge is parallel to the handle, whereas the cross peen’s runs perpendicular to it.
These hammers typically have a weight of around four ounces.
If you’ve watched a horror movie in the last decade or so, then you probably know what a sledgehammer is, even if you’ve never been outdoors before. These hammers are huge, heavy, and typically operated with both arms. Their grips and handles are made out of hard-wearing wood species that not only resist the effects of shock, but also prevent it from transferring to the user.
What would use a sledgehammer for? Well, it is heavy and has a solid steel head, so it’s pretty good at breaking things. Thanks to this it’s often used to take down walls (solid or not) load-bearing pillars, nail in railroad spikes, and drive chisels into tough surfaces.
As we mentioned previously, these can be heavy, ranging anywhere between seven and 14 pounds.
The Club Hammer
Think of the club hammer as a light-duty sledgehammer. It’s called a club hammer because of its size, and it does feel like you’re clubbing a workpiece instead of driving into it when being used. This hammer is heavy, short, and is capable of light debris removal and demolition work if the job demands it.
It’s generally used in metal and concrete work.
This hammer is used to drive chisels into concrete surfaces, remove or damage metal and/or concrete surfaces, or simply break things. Its head is quite large, with similarly sized faces on both ends, making it a pretty robust tool.
These usually feature dense wooden handles to assist with sock and stability, and they generally weigh between one to two-and-a-half pounds.
As the name suggests, special-use hammers are used for specialized trades and/or scenarios. These hammers can be hard to find and usually aren’t stocked in your typical hardware store. This being said, let’s have a look at a few of them, why they’re made, what they’re used for, and what some of their characteristics are.
The Brass or Copper Mallet
This type of hammer is used in applications where you wouldn’t want to risk damaging the surface of the workpiece. These hammers consist of metals that are far more malleable than those used in construction, load-bearing, or fastening applications.
They aren’t so malleable that they’ll be damaged, but just enough to ensure they don’t damage the surface of your workpiece.
A lot of the time these hammers are used for applications where a workpiece needs to be driven into a recess, but the face it’s being driven into cannot be damaged, either for aesthetic or operational reasons. They’re also used in applications where a softer metal needs to be used to drive a harder metal.
The Blacksmith Hammer
This type of hammer, as the name suggests, is used by blacksmiths. They resemble sledgehammers, and in most cases, they have handles made of the same type of wood. However, the head of these hammers is often made of hardened metals that are used to draw iron and shape other metals.
Unlike the sledgehammer, this hammer has a peen on one end and a face on the other.
We should mention that while this hammer will suffice for small blacksmithing projects it can get exhausting to use these on particularly large projects. These days many in the metallurgy trade prefer using a mechanical hammer or press.
This being said, these can take up a lot of space, require more maintenance, and can be quite expensive.
The Electricians Hammer
Think of the electrician’s hammer as a small claw hammer. These hammers are used by home electricians to remove wall mounts and pins that may be in contact with live wiring. Since the grip and handle of this hammer are insulated, there is no risk to the operator of electric shock.
This makes this hammer the ideal tool for any scenario where you suspect a metal workpiece may be electrically charged.
The Bushing Hammer
The primary purpose of any hammer is to allow you to drive into a surface, usually to secure something and remove it. The bush hammer is a bit different in this regard, as it has a face resembling that of a manual meat tenderizer. Instead of leaving its pattern on a fine cut of steak though, this hammer allows you to leave an imprint on a masonry or concrete surface.
Bushing hammers are essential tools for carving stone.
The Drywall Hammer
The drywall hammer might look a bit strange but it’s one of the best tools to have around if you’re doing a home renovation or contracting. This hammer has a face on one end and a notched blade on the other.
The blade can be used to cut off the end of drywall sheets and the notch can be used to hold drywall nails in place, which is pretty cool.
The Mechanic/ Engineering Hammer
This hammer is essentially a cross-peen hammer with a uniquely shaped head. In the automotive repair and customization industry, this hammer is used to secure, remove, or even shape bodywork in some instances.
This hammer is highly resistant to shock, heat, and corrosion, which makes sense considering the application.
The Planishing Hammer
A rather unique hammer, instead of being used or excessive force this hammer is used to shape and smoothen a variety of workpieces. This hammer has a face and peen, with the face being used to smoothen any surface that has been worked by the peen.
This hammer is used to form bezels, forming metal against mandrels, and even size rings!
The Welding Hammer
If you’ve ever done fabrication work, then you should know this one pretty well. If not, the welding hammer is a tool designed to chip off slag from a workpiece that has been welded. It’s pretty unique in appearance, sporting a spring on the grip. The head features a chisel on one end and a vertical peen on the other, allowing you to bow cut and chip slag where needed.
This hammer is often sold with a welding unit, but they can be purchased separately too, be it at quite the price. Why? Like any specialty tool, they aren’t used every day and because they seldom break (if ever) they can be a pretty penny to find and/or replace.
The Trim Hammer
The trim hammer is one of the smallest special-use hammers out there. This hammer has been designed to drive and remove the little nails used to install trim. In appearance, this hammer has a long handle and small grip ensuring greater leverage.
It has a flat head on one end and a slightly curved claw on the other.
The Rip Hammer
The rip hammer is pretty generic in appearance and if we’re being honest could be used for a wide variety of applications. Its intended use, though, is to allow contractors and home improvement enthusiasts to tear through various materials like wood and drywall. It has a long handle, half of which is used for grip. Its head consists of a long, curved claw and a flat-faced head.
This hammer is one of the best tools for manual disassembly considering that it has a long reach and therefore creates a lot of leverage for the user. Trained teams are capable of using this in combination with other tools to deconstruct entire floors of buildings in just hours, which is a great testament to the effectiveness of this tool.
The Double Face Hammer
The double-face hammer resembles the club hammer in both appearance and application. Like the club hammer, it Is generally used in metallurgy or blacksmithing. This being said, the hammer is short, has a heavy double-sided flat-faced head, and can be used in any application where little leverage and maximum weight are required.
The Blocking Hammer
The blocking hammer is one that is used for blacksmithing and metalworking almost exclusively. The blacksmith version is characterized by its medium length and a thin head that features peen on both ends. One of these peens is often smaller than the other and is used by blacksmiths to shape metal. Once a metal has been heated and placed on the anvil, this is the tool that is used to shape it.
The blocking hammer used to shape metal sheets is larger and resembles a mallet.
The Brick Hammer
The brick hammer is another really specific hammer. These are used to cut or chip away small pieces of brick, which is pretty useful in construction and sculpting applications. This hammer is best characterized by its short handle, its long thin head, and the blade and chisel on either end of the head.
This is one of the most commonly used tools by contractors and landscapers.
The Chasing Hammer
If you’re looking for a hammer that’s truly strange in appearance you’ve found one. The chasing hammer is another trade-specific tool that you wouldn’t really find at your local hardware. This hammer has a somewhat tapered handle and a small head. One end of its head consists of a rounded face, and the other an ordinary peen.
This hammer is used exclusively to shape various types of jewelry.
The Hatchet Hammer
If you’re looking for a tool that you can both cut and hit with, this might be just what you’re looking for. Featuring a head that has a hammer face on one and an axe on the other, this is every woodwork enthusiast’s favorite type of tool. Besides being one of the coolest-looking tools around it is also one of the most versatile.
The culinary version is called a kitchen axe.
There isn’t really an intended application for this one, as it can be used for chopping firewood, or it can be used for quick cuts in wood crafting. This being said, it’s one of those tools that pay for themselves, making it one of the best investments for any toolbox.
The Power Hammer
People are capable of incredible things if given the right tools and motivation to get the job done. Unfortunately, sometimes a regular old hammer simply isn’t enough and you need something bigger, something that won’t get tired of swinging, and is capable of producing a lot more force than you can for the job at hand.
Enter the mechanical hammer. These aren’t the kinds of things you’d keep in your toolbox, considering that they’re huge machines. These days they’re fully automated, allowing you to do labor-intensive work quickly. They are generally used for bending, forging, and pressing materials that otherwise would be too difficult or time-consuming to do by hand.
The Rock Chisel/ Hammer
Not every hammer is used to tear things apart, flatten things beyond recognition, or hammer in nails. Some hammers have been designed for delicate applications like jewelry making and even installing drywall as we mentioned previously. The rock hammer, despite its name, definitely fits into this category.
The rock hammer is used in archaeological excavations to ensure that items and places of interest aren’t damaged during the process. It consists of a shirt handle, and a pick at one end, which allows the user to remove debris with considerable precision considering some of the other hammers we’ve looked at so far.
The Soft-Faced Hammer
Like the rock hammer, we mentioned previously, this type of hammer has been designed for precision work instead of brute force. The face of this hammer is often made out of wood to ensure that whichever surface you’re working with isn’t damaged during the prices. This hammer resembles a mallet in appearance.
It has a long handle with a grip that reaches halfway up the hammer. These hammers can consist of materials besides wood though, as modern ones can have two rounded polyurethane faces or even rubber faces attached to the head. These faces are often replaceable with high-end brands, which is a feature unique to this hammer type.
The Joinery Mallet/Hammer
This one might have eluded you if you’ve never done woodwork before. The joinery mallet is used exclusively for wood joinery. It is a type of “soft” mallet designed to prevent the wood and joints from being damaged while being driven in.
These mallets can be used for a number of wood-crafting applications in addition to joinery, but this is where they are most commonly used.
The Scaling Hammer
The scaling hammer is not designed to scale mountains as the name suggests (unfortunately) Rather The scaling hammer is not designed to scale mountains as the name suggests (unfortunately). Rather, this hammer is used to remove things from surfaces. This hammer is medium-sized and usually has a pretty thin handle with a rubber grip stretching halfway up.
Its head consists of two-bladed peens on each end, one parallel and the other perpendicular to the handle.
As you can probably tell by its appearance, this hammer is not used to drive things into surfaces. Instead, this hammer is used to scrape and chip away at corrosive coatings like rust and scales that have formed on surfaces. It’s a great alternative to using the age-old combination of a conventional hammer and a chisel.
Now that you know about the anatomy of a hammer, the different types of conventional-use mallets you might come across, and some special-use hammers you might not have known about, it’s time for you to get out there and put your newfound knowledge to the test. Remember to always work cautiously with hammers as they’re capable of causing considerable damage to you and your surroundings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are There Different Hammer Sizes?
Are there different hammer sizes? Yes! There are loads of hammers out there that differ in both size and weight. Larger hammers are typically heavier and therefore produce more force when used to strike the surface of an object, whereas smaller hammers allow for more precision.
Are There Different Hammer Forms?
Are there different hammer forms? Yes! There are hammers for pretty much every occupation and application you can think of. Some hammers are bladed, soft, and some are even made of synthetic materials to reduce shock.
What Are Five Safety Rules When Using a Hammer?
A hammer might seem like a simple tool that doesn’t require any safety considerations, but it can be dangerous under the right circumstances. The five main rules when using a hammer are to always wear personal protective gear, inspect the head of the hammer, always strike at a parallel angle, ensure you have the right type of hammer for the application, and always wear gloves graded for the application.