The most popular and the commonly used type of hand
tool is the hammer. The hammer is defined as a device used to deliver
blows to an object or strike another object , in the sense that it is
used for driving nails, fitting parts and breaking up objects. Available
in various shapes and structures, hammers are designed for specific
purpose. The hammer consists of a handle to which a heavy head, usually
made of metal is attached, with one or more striking surfaces. The basic
design of a hand tool is hand operated though there are also different
mechanically operated designs for heavier uses.
Hammers are considered to be man's first tool. The first hammer that
man used was a stone held in his hand. Later, the stone age men decided
to put a handle on the stone and lo, the first hammer was born. This
took place somewhere in the 4th century B.C. The handle was made of wood
and it was tied to the head with vines or strips of hide. Later a hole
or an "eye" was bored into the head and the handle was fitted
inside the hole. Through the centuries, the shape and size of the hammer
head together with the handle began to change, evolving through the
Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, to the modern Industrial Age
with different options of steel and metal alloys.
Parts of a hammer
The two major components of a hammer are the head and the handle. The
design of these two components, especially the head, depends on the
specific application, but all hammers have many common features.
Types of hammer
- Face: The most important component of the hammer is the
face, which is the striking face and it is the face which does the
actual job. A properly crowned face drives nails flush without
damaging the wood or wall surface. The face may be flat which is
called plain faced or slightly convex. Such a hammer is called bell
faced hammer. Another face design is called a checkered face, which
has criss-cross grooves cut into the surface to prevent the hammer
from glancing off the nail head.
- Neck and Throat: The neck is either in straight design or
in octagon-shaped design. A deep throat on a strong neck helps in
giving power strikes even in difficult areas. EYE: The eye of the
hammer should be deep and properly tapered so as to provide a secure
- Cheek: The cheek of the hammer head is the one which
frames the face.
- Claw: The claw in the hammer head can either be a single
or double. In case of double, the claw comprises double bevels that
can help in clearance for nail heads and allow a firm grip on nails
of any size.
- Handle: It is the handle which takes the entire weight
of the stone head. Made of wood or plastic or rubber, the handle
should have a comfortable grip and should be strong enough to take
the weight of the head.
Materials used in making hammers
|Curved Claw Hammer: It is used
for nail pulling and general carpentry work.
||Straight Claw Rip Hammer: This type of
hammer is mainly used for general and heavy carpentry work, ripping
|Finishing Hammer: Mainly used
for finishing, general carpentry and cabinet making . This is
recommended for small workshop projects and having a weight of 12 to
16 oz. They have smooth faces.
||Ball Peen Hammer: Used for bending or shaping soft
metal, for riveting and for center punching. This hammer has a round
face with beveled edges and the other end has a ball-shaped peen for
|Hand Drilling Hammer: This
type of hammer is deigned to do powerful job like striking masonry
nails, steel chisels and masonry drills.
||Soft-face Hammer: This is used for doing any job which
requires non-marring blows like as assembling furniture and wood
projects, setting dowels etc.
|Tack Hammer: This is meant to
drive small nails and used for furniture upholstering.
||Brick Hammer: This hammer is designed for cutting and
setting bricks of blocks.
|Drywall (Wallboard) Hammer:
This type of hammer is used for making cutouts, drywall work or
marking wallboard and also in corner nailing.
||Carpenter's Mallet: A smaller sized hammer, this is
used in furniture assembly, shaping soft sheet metals or any task
that requires non-marring blows.
Hammer heads are made of varied metals for strength and durability.
They are usually made of high carbon, heat-treated steel. The heat
treatment given to hammer heads prevents cracking or chipping caused by
repeated blows against other metal objects. Certain hammer heads are
made of copper, brass, and other materials.
The handle of the hammer is made from either one of the following:
Features of good quality Hammers
- Wood: Can be either straight-grained ash or hickory.
These two woods have excellent durability, good cross-sectional
strength, and a certain degree of resistance to absorb the shock of
- Steel: They are stronger and stiffer than wood, but they
are subject to rust and can transmit more shock to the user.
- A composite material: Composite hammer handles may be
made from fiberglass or graphite fiber-reinforced epoxy and they
offer a combination of stiffness, light weight, and durability.
Buying tips: How to select a quality hammer?
- Forged steel heads for strength and durability.
- Heat-treated heads for strength, toughness, wear resistance.
Should be heat treated differently on face (striking area), at eye
(where handle is inserted) and on claws.
- Finish-ground face with a crowned surface that is canted slightly
toward the handle to center hammer blows.
- The chamfer or bevel on the striking face is recommended to be
approximately 10 percent of the diameter of the poll to reduce
- Double-beveled nail slot to resist chip-out when pulling large
- Claw slot that narrows close to head to grip and pull small
- Well-formed claw points capable of getting under embedded nail
- Hickory, solid or tubular steel or fiberglass handle firmly
attached to head.
- Handle should be ergonomically shaped and cushioned for secure
grip and comfort.
- Fiberglass, graphite and steel I beam hammers should have a
jacket of materials such as polycarbonate to provide overstrike
- Warning and use message affixed to the hammer.
Since a hammer is widely used in various purposes starting from DIY
projects like home repairs to professional jobs , a quality hammer can
be a lifetime investment. The factors to take into consideration before
purchasing hammers are as follows:
- Balance: The first consideration is balance. The proper
head-to-handle weight distribution is very important. The common
curved claw hammer has a 0.2-0.6 kg head and a 30.5-33.0 cm handle.
A framing hammer has a 0.5-0.8 kg head and a 30.5-45.5 cm handle.
When a hammer has good balance, it seems to swing itself.
- Depth of Hardening: The depth of the hardening on the
striking face is another factor to consider. Many times, as hardness
cannot be seen, it is neglected, which in turn affects the
durability and makes the hammer a potentially dangerous tool. If it
is too hard it chips easily and becomes brittle.
- Eye of the hammer: The eye of the hammer should be softer
as it needs to be strong rather than hard.
- Claws: These are designed in such a way so as to easily
slip under nail heads. There are double bevel on hammer claws. This
provides clearance to allow claws to slip easily under nail heads
and it firmly grips nails of all sizes. The bevel on the striking
face of the hammer also make the hammer safer to use as it reduces
the chance of chipping the face.
- Handles/ Grip: The hammers with a hickory handle are best
to consider followed by fiberglass, and then comes solid steel
hammers. It is very essential to have a secure and good grip for
light and heavy blows.