H is for 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.
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