Of all the tools in a man’s workshop, his hammer is perhaps the most personal. Socket sets, wrenches, even power tools are fair game for neighbors to borrow and lose in the depths of their garages, but you never touch another man’s hammer. Partnered with his tape measure, it forms the foundation of go-to grabs when anything needs fixed or persuaded back into position. Chances are you still have your first forged striker, but we’ll forgive you an upgrade; it really is time. You’d be surprised how far hammer tech has come, but in the end, it’s still all about hitting the nail on the head. Here are five of our favorites for beginners to the most hardened steel swingers out there — whether you loop it, or let it hang from a belt is entirely up to you.
Stanley Fatmax Antivibe Framing Hammer
Best hammer for the first-time swinger: When you’re just starting out, you need an all-in-one striker that can drive nails home just as easily as it can tear down walls. The Stanley Fatmax Antivibe Framing Hammer packs a professional punch at a reasonable price point. A larger strike face (75% bigger than their normal model) and an integrated magnetic nail holder save soft office hands the indignity of bludgeoned fingers and blackened nails, while its one-piece forged construction ensures it’ll last should you decide to shirk your cubicle containment for on-site work. A non-slip rubberized handle and integrated torsion control means even the 28-ounce version won’t wear you out halfway through the honey-do list.
DeWalt MIG Weld Framing Hammer
Best for the household handyman: The DeWalt MIG Weld Framing Hammer combines some of the key features of the Stanley on our list — a magnetic nail holder and an anti-vibe-handle — but delivers them in a mere 15-ounce package. While a heavy-weight hammer is handy for newbies, seasoned swingers who’ve perfected their stroke don’t need to lug all that lead to get results. Available with a milled face for framers or a smooth one for those tackling trim, its balanced all-steel construction and sixteen-inch-long handle makes it ergonomically ideal for delivering some serious blunt force.
Estwing Hammertooth Hammer
Best for the multi-tasker: Located in Rockford, Illinois, Estwing Hammers have been producing some of the finest hand-held striking tools in the business since 1923. Their latest creation to find a home on the hips of contractors is the Estwing Hammertooth Hammer. Designed with a unique and patented “sharkfin” protrusion on the handle, the Hammertooth can be used to open up a can of
tomato juice for bloody marys whoop ass on twisted 2x4s to make sure walls aren’t wavy when you’re too lazy to look for the crown. A signature perforated and permanently bonded shock-reducing grip keeps fatigue at bay while you swing away with the one-piece forged design. Just make sure you don’t tear your loop when holstering this baby.
CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF: HOW TO USE A HAMMER
It’s the easiest tool to use right? You’d be surprised. Most people figure you pick up a hammer and start swinging, but the right technique can go a long way to making a job go quick and easy, not to mention painless. Here are a few tips and tricks.
1: Use the handle to your advantage. Choke up on your grip when starting a nail and slide down to the end when you’re ready to rock. Master this and impress your friends by driving things home with a single swing.
2: Start out safely. Hold your nail near the head when getting it set. This will give you a buffer zone between the hammer and the wood in case of a missed hit. For finishing nails too small for fingers, push the nail through a piece of cardboard to act as a guide.
3: Power vs precision. When you’re hitting hard, lock your wrist and swing from the elbow. There’s no need to involve your shoulders unless you’re working on the railroad or trying to prove your manhood at the carnival. When starting a nail or in tight spaces, loosen up; it’s all in the wrist.
4: Let the hammer do the work. The length of the handle and the weight of the head are designed make your life easy. Let them. A smooth swing will keep the nail’s path on the straight and narrow and your arm rested and ready to hoist bottled rewards for a job well done.
5: Keep your eyes on the prize. Just like golf, you want to focus on your target. Take your eyes off of the nail mid-strike and chances are you’ll be pulling that one out and starting over again.
6: Pack a pouch. Keep nails at the ready in a pouch, not in your mouth. Galvanized nails are especially dangerous as you’ll inevitably ingest some
delicious poisonous zinc.
Hardcore Hammers The Original
Best for the craftsman: As veterans of the carpentry game for over 16 years, the minds behind Hardcore Hammers know a thing or two about what it takes to build a quality product. Combining the traction of a milled surface framing hammer and smooth face of a finisher, Hardcore’s unique recessed hardened steel strikeface delivers your power where it belongs and saves surfaces (and fingers) from looking like schnitzel. The innovation doesn’t end there either. The American-made 19-ounce head has twin magnetized nail slots, so one-handed hitters have options, as well as a straightened claw to get into tighter places and provide more leverage. Speaking of leverage, an eighteen-inch American Hickory handle wrapped in “Kung-Fu” grip makes sure strikes pack all of the power you have without transmitting tingles to your fingers — they even sell replacements to keep you hitting hard.
Stiletto TiBone Mini
Best for the DIY deity: Don’t let the 14-ounce and “Mini” branding fool you — this hammer hits hard. Designed with the home owner (who has a lot of projects lined up) in mind, the Mini 14 slots in slightly lighter and a little shorter than the top-shelf TBII. Thanks to its titanium construction, the Stiletto TiBone Mini-14 delivers the punch of a 24-ounce heavyweight while making light work of every swing. You’ll feel like Thor on steroids. That same lightweight alloy also keeps the recoil from each impact to a minimum so you won’t need to raid the cupboard for stocks of Lakota at the end of a long day — but element 22 isn’t cheap. Thankfully the minds at Stiletto have designed a replaceable strikeface for these bad boys that can be easily and inexpensively swapped out. This means you won’t need to surrender a car payment after you finish framing your new garage. A magnetic nail starter is standard issue — which will fall ever so slightly out of alignment when it’s time to order a new face — as well as Stiletto’s patented side puller which can dig out that other guy’s attempts at man-cave construction with a simple flick of your wrist.