Make The Right Choice First Time in 3 Easy Steps
When you are choosing a hammer, it's vital to consider a few things to make sure that you aren't going to waste your money, hurt yourself, or mess up the job. Use this simple guide to be certain that your hammer will serve you well for years to come!
1) Make Sure it's Suitable For The Job
If you are going to be doing heavy building or demolition work, then you're going to want something nice and heavy, like a 2.5 pound claw hammer. These have a large head and a pair of flat 'claws' which can be used to pull out nails and so forth. They are not a delicate tool, and won't serve for decorating or engineering work, but if you are just looking for something to deliver brute force and ignorance with, you won't find better.
If you want to be driving in some nails to hang pictures, or to hold together some rough furniture or crating, then you might consider a lighter claw hammer. These have the versatility of the heavier ones, also doubling as a catspaw or pry-bar, but they will be less likely to scuff or foul the area around where you are striking.
For even finer work, you might want a cross-pien, or pin hammer. These are very light, and will be suitable for finer furniture or model making, as well as lighter DIY work such as minor repairs to worktops and - once again - picture hanging.
If you are planning to use the hammer to drive a wood-chisel, then get what is known as a dead-blow hammer, or a wooden mallet. These have a softer striking surface and are designed not to split the handle of the chisel, or bounce when the blow lands - which is likely to make the chisel jump, ruining either your work or, worse, your hand.
2) Make Sure it's Suitable For You
If you are not a very strong person - lay aside your pride and do not go for the heaviest hammer you can find. Machismo is all well and good, but that won't fly when you take your sprained wrist or broken hand to the nurse in the emergency room. It is easier to hit harder with a light hammer than it is to hit gently with a heavy hammer. It is also much cheaper to buy a second hammer than to take a month off work with a smashed finger or two - be warned.
If you have stiff hands (like me), or sometimes have difficulty with gripping, then pay attention to the wrap of the handle. A nice all-wood handle is all very well, but they are prone to slipping. You have a choice of either wrapping the handle in leather or grip tape, which you can find at specialist suppliers, or of looking for one with a 'non-slip' or 'easy-grip' handle. Most modern hammers have these, but they are worth checking for. If you are going to be using your hammer in the cold and wet, or while using gloves, then I cannot recommend one of these enough.
3) Don't Waste Dollars by Saving Cents.
If you go for the absolute cheapest hammer in your category, then it is not likely to last you very long. A good, well-chosen tool should last you a lifetime, and anything which comes in at 75% or less of the price of its competitors is simply not going to make the grade. If the handle snaps, or a weld comes free, or the head flies off, then not only have you wasted your money, you have actually put yourself and those around you in danger. A little caution goes a long way.