In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva explains the differences among choices for the carpenter's favorite with Kevin O'Connor.
Choosing and using a hammer
- Framing hammers have long handles and heavy heads weighing up to 28 ounces. These ruggedly built tools are intended for framing contractors and homebuilders.
- Checkered or waffle-faced models help prevent the hammer from slipping off nail heads.
- A good general-purpose 16-ounce hammer comes in choice of handles made of wood, graphite or steel. Each is engineered to absorb vibration.
- Specialty hammers include models for working with slate shingles and wood shingles.
- A wood-shingle hammer has a measuring gauge and hatchet end for splitting shingles.
- A ball-peen hammer is used for metalworking. Its head has a flat surface and rounded end.
- Brick hammers are used to set and cut brick and stone.
- Always wear safety glasses when using any type of hammer.
- Grasp the hammer near end of the handle where there's typically a comfortable curve or depression.
- When swinging the hammer, keep your eye on the nail head, raise the hammer high in the air and allow the weight of the hammer to drive the nail.
- Pull nails using a straight (a.k.a. ripping) claw or side nail puller.
- Curved-claw hammers provide more leverage for pulling nails.
- Place a scrap board beneath the hammerhead when pulling nails to increase leverage and protect the workpiece.