H is for Hammers

I'm not going to belabor this: I've got a few different hammers.

Like any tool, different hammers are designed to do different things. Yes, you COULD get by with just a regular carpenter's claw hammer, just like you COULD get by with just one kind of pen. It's a generalist tool and does most jobs well enough. Whatever extra power, control, finesse or leverage a given job requires must be supplied by the ingenuity of the wielder.

You COULD live that way, but I can tell you from experience that it gets old. A destruction job that a 48-oz sledge hammer would do in four strokes, a 16-oz carpenter's hammer will take fifteen or twenty strokes... or thirty. Similarly, a fine finish nailing that a 4-oz tack hammer would do beautifully will end up looking like it was done by Crog the Caveman if done with that 16-oz carpenter's hammer.

Here are the hammers in this picture, clockwise from top:
  • 48-oz short-handled sledge (not pictured is the 10-lb long handled sledge I use for big knockout jobs)
  • three 16-oz carpenter's hammers (I have three so that, on jobs that need several people, I can just hand out hammers and get everybody to work)
  • 22-oz ball-peen hammer (for metalwork)
  • 22-oz framing hammer, flat face (angled, blue handle) (used for framing... duh)
  • 22-oz framing hammer, check-face (angled, black handle) (notice that the framing hammers have a tapered steel shaft, integral with the head, while the other hammers have a steel head attached to a wooden shaft. Framing hammers are very end-heavy, very long-handled and hit almost as hard as a sledge. They'll drive a ten penny nail in two whacks.)
  • dead-blow rubber mallet (for "persuading" soft materials)
  • double-faced hard-blow rubber mallet (white=soft, black=hard)
  • wooden mallet (used with chisels)
  • head from my grandfather's 12-oz ball-peen (useless as a hammer, but I think of my grandfather every time I look at it)

Not pictured are various other hammers - a 4-oz tack hammer, a silly combo hammer/screwdriver thing I keep in my car, the 10-lb sledge, and probably a few other hammers I've forgotten about. The picture shows the ones I use most often.

Also, I didn't picture the prybars, crowbars, superbars, linesman's combo tools, wood chisels, concrete chisels, cold chisels, etc. that go hand-in-hand with these hammers. If I have more than three nails to pull, I rarely use the claws on the back of the hammer; a pair of prybars work much better.

Hammers present you with a refinement of the classic line: use the right tool for the right job.
For my other posts about woodworking tools, follow this link.


||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.


  1. All those hammers look so cozy cuddling together on your wall.

    You know, I've always thought this was one tool I'd grab if the world went belly-up. A good steel hammer with a claw-end could be so helpful in so many ways after the zombie apocalypse.

    1. It's hard to beat a framing hammer for general smack-down ability.

  2. And sometimes, you just need to vent some frustration. A hammer is perfect for that.

    I have an 8lb maul, a lovely long-handled tool. One face is an axe-ish blade, used for splitting firewood. The other is a flat sledge face for driving wedges or wailing on stuff you don't care to reuse.

    1. I've got an 8lb splitting wedge with a heavy plastic handle. When I'm splitting logs, I use the axe, the splitting wedge, some steel wedges and the 10lb sledge. They all work great together.

  3. I have a hammer and hardie for cutting chunks of glass smalti, helping encourage the glass to cleave the way I want it to.

    1. I'm impressed! I've always had a tricky time with glass. With an old-fashioned scribe cutter and some new press-pliers, I can usually get half-way decent results, but have to break a lot of glass to get there.

  4. Looks like a wall in our garage. My husband loves his framing hammer, but uses his slate hammer most often. He does historic restoration, mainly slate and standing seam tin roofing.

    1. Many years ago, I worked a summer job on a roofing & siding crew that took off a slate roof from an old place. Damn near killed myself on that slippery stuff. It was only sheer luck that I didn't fall thirty feet.

      Slate hammers are neat. I've seen guys make some amazing cuts with that blade, holding the slate in one hand, chopping freehand with the other.

      Thanks for reading!

  5. You forgot to mention one important fact about hammers: they are excellent zombie killers. Or so I've seen on the Walking Dead. :)


Thank you for leaving a comment. The staff at Landless will treat it with the same care that we would bestow on a newly hatched chick. By the way, no pressure or anything, but have you ever considered subscribing to Landless via RSS?