Question and answer section
If I had a hammer…
Probably the oldest tool known to mankind, dating back over two million years, the venerable hammer has proven that it has staying power. It is arguably the most important and basic tool used on a daily basis. Although the materials used in the construction of a hammer have evolved over time, the basic design has not changed a whole heck of a lot. Function, durability and ease of use are the main qualities to consider when choosing a hammer.
Anatomy Of A Hammer
Head: Hammer heads are commonly made of forged, heat-treated, high-grade steel. Mallets (technically part of the hammer family) have wooden, rubber or plastic heads.
Striking face: These range from the smooth face most often found in multipurpose claw hammers, to the milled/checkered face of a framer hammer which grips the nail head and reduces glancing blows. The double-faced dead blow (one face steel, the other rubber) and the massive hit-the-side-of-a-barn face of an engineer hammer or sledgehammer are other face variations.
Claw: Claw hammers are named after the two narrowing “claws” of steel opposite the striking face. The slot between these two claws looks like a “v” and is used to grip and pull nails. The two common types of nail hammers both have claws, but in different configurations. Curved claw hammers allow you to pull nails using an easy rocking motion. Straight claw hammers, commonly called “rip hammers,” are designed to rip apart nailed structures.
Handle: The stiffer the handle material, the more the force of your blow will be delivered directly to its target. However, more flexible materials absorb shock and thus reduce stress on the user’s hand, wrist and arm.
Hammers come in many different shapes and forms. Cole Hardware offers a variety of all of these styles of hammers and if you require a specialty hammer that isn’t in stock, we can special order it for you.
Nail hammer: Used for general carpentry, household chores and nail pulling; should be used only with non-hardened, common or finishing nails.
Rip hammer: Used mainly by professionals for ripping apart wooden components and demolition work.
Finishing hammer: Used for general carpentry, finishing and cabinet making; smooth striking face so errant strikes don’t leave marks on wood.
Tack hammer: Used for furniture upholstery and to drive small nails and tacks. Round face is designed to pick up nails and tacks, while the narrow square head is used to drive them.
Ball Peen hammer: Used with cold chisels for riveting, center punching and forming unhardened metal work.
Sledgehammer: Used for jobs where great force is required such as breaking up concrete or driving heavy spikes.
Hand drilling hammer: Has short handles and is used for pounding hardened nails into concrete or for using with tools that drive nails and pins into concrete or brick.
Mallet: Has rubber, plastic, wooden or rawhide head and is used to drive chisels or hammer joints together. Used where a metal hammer might damage a surface.
Soft-face hammer: Used for assembling furniture, setting dowels and wood projects that require non-marring blows.
Bricklayer’s hammer: Used for setting or splitting bricks, and chipping mortar from bricks.
Shingler’s hammer: Drives roofing nails, assures proper shingle spacing, and trims composition and fiberglass shingles.
Drywall hammer: Used to score, sheet and set nails for drywall work. Features a scored head and a notched blade instead of a claw; the notch in the blade removes exposed nails.
When selecting a hammer, first decide what kind of hammer your job requires and the handle type, also consider if the hammer is the right weight for you. These factors are not just about the pleasure of using a well-designed hammer – a good design will reduce fatigue and minimize strain.
– Hardware Hotline October, 2008
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