Types of Hammers - Hammer Buying Guide UK
Most of us are used to the common hammer, and very few people actually know just how many different types of hammer, are actually available on the UK market.
By far the most popular is the humble claw hammer. You will find at least one of those in most homes in the UK.
Understanding Hammer Construction
The hammer has been around for a very long time, and over the years the basic shape and design has not changed. Back in the day the handles were made from wood.
The most popular woods used were either ash or hickory.
These days that has changed and most hammers today are made with a fibreglass handle. The reason for this is that they last longer. More importantly though fibreglass can absorb the shock from the hammer blow better.
This type of handle is also lighter, more durable and stronger.
Many hammers, the better ones, are forged from a single piece of metal. The handle is then covered with a rubber grip. These hammers are very strong and very well balanced.
The head of the hammer is almost always made of metal and most commonly a polished hardened steel.
Which Type of Hammer Should You Buy?
This is the big question for most people. There are a few different styles available. Below we have described each of them, and more importantly what they are used for.
Most buyers will probably never need anything more, than the good old claw hammer.
However, in this article, we are going to show you the full range of hammers, and explain the purpose for each of them. You might be surprised about just how many there are. Here is a very good video, on the many types of hammers available.
The claw hammer is by far the most popular of all the hammers. There is usually a polished steel head for striking nails. At the other end there is a curved claw which can do things like remove nails, and lift or prise up floorboards.
These come in different sizes, and are normally classed by weight. The most popular is the 16 ounce hammer, and then the slightly heavier 20 ounce hammer. However, they are available from around 8 ounce to 24 ounce.
Ball Pein Hammers
The ball pein hammer is a strange name for a hammer we agree. These hammers are also called ball peen, engineers or mechanics hammers. On the hammer head, at one end there is a normal hammer head.
At the other side of the head there is essentially a rounded or ball like head. This ″ball pein" is used for shaping metal, closing down rivets and rounding the edges off metal pins and fasteners.
Peening is an old fashioned metal fabrication process, and is not really used these days. The principle behind the process was to harden metal by repeated hits.
Ball pein hammers range from 4 oz - 2 lb. although the majority are in the region of 8 - 12oz.
Lump or Club Hammers (Baby Sledge)
The club hammer is used for light demolition work. It is also used along with a bolster chisel to help split blocks and bricks. It is also used for hammering in masonry nails.
The head has the same wide finish on each side. You can get either a wooden handle, but more and more people are changing to a fibreglass handle, as that deals with vibrations much better.
Club hammers range from 2-4 lbs. On average they cost around £10. If you go for a single forged piece, which is stronger, expect to pay around £20.
The sledge hammer is the beast of the hammer world. They have a heavy head and a long shaft, both of which are designed for doing heavy demolition work. If you want to knock a wall down, then this is the hammer for you.
The shafts on these range between 30-33" and are either made from wood, or made from fibreglass with a rubber grip. The fibreglass style are much better at absorbing shocks and vibrations, but will cost you slightly more.
Sledge hammers range from 7-14 lb head weights, depending on what you can comfortably lift, and what weight of impact you need. For breaking up concrete the heavier the better.
The head is made from heat treated forged steel. The better heads will also be machine ground and milled for a better and tougher finish.
As the brick hammer name would suggest, this is a hammer, mainly used for working with bricks. These are used to clean bricks, and also to help break them into different sizes. When I say cleaning bricks, I am of course referring to removing old mortar, from old bricks, so as they can be reused.
It is also worth noting that quite a few people use these who work in the Geology field. They use them for gathering shells and fossils that are embedded into rocks.
You can also use these for working with masonry tile and indeed for working with concrete blocks.
They are available in slightly different styles, from a range of popular brands. Cheaper ones cost around £5-6, but expect to pay around £20 for a higher quality more professional hammer.
The better hammers are of course a one piece forged hammer, with some type of anti-vibration included.
Panel Pin (Tack) Hammers
This type of pin or tack hammer is a very popular choice for many DIY enthusiasts, and also for people in certain trades. They are sometimes called "pin hammers," but are also known as "tack hammers.
They are used for tapping in small nails, tacks or pins into various materials. As you can see from the image above, they have a very small head.
The reason for that is to stop you hitting your fingers, when nailing in small types of nails and pins. Rather than end up with a sore thumb, the small head strikes the object with enough force, to get it started. Once started, you can then remove the fingers and nail it all the way in.
Like many hammer types, these also come in various styles, weights and sizes. They are a really useful hammer to have in your toolbox, for all those fiddly hammering tasks.
These are hammers used by professionals and trades people who work with gypsum, plasterboard and drywall. They are quite unique in that one one side of the hammer their is a slightly convex hammering head.
On the other side there is a blade, with a gap for carrying boards, and also a small notch for extracting nails.
Almost every drywall hammer weighs 14 ounces (400 grams) as this is an ideal weight for prolonged use.
The head is ideal for hammering into plasterboard and drywall as it buries the nail under the board, but does not tear the cardboard covering.
It also leaves a nice dimple that has been scored for easy filling.
Dead Blow Hammers
These hammers as the name would suggest deliver a dead blow, and that deadness refers to the fact, that there is no bounce back. They also do not do much damage to the surrounding surfaces.
The head of the mallet is filled with steel shot, and that cushions the blow of the hammer, which in turn prevent any bounce back.
These are used quite a lot in the car or auto trade for working on a chassis, hub caps or for taking out small dents in body work. They are also useful for tapping home certain woodworking joints.
They range in weight from 1 lb to 4.25 lbs, and the most popular is the 4 lb mallet.
They are mainly used in the world of joinery or carpentry. They do not have the same force as an ordinary hammer would have, and of course they have a softer and wider head.
That makes them ideal for knocking pieces of wood together, without causing any damage to the work surfaces.
More commonly these are used with wood chisels as they don't damage the head of the chisel, the way a metal hammer would Wood mallets also offer you more control when using a wood chisel.
The good news is that wooden mallets are pretty basic to make and as such are inexpensive. They vary anything between £3-10 depending on what quality you want to have.
For those made with more expensive wood, you can pay anything between £15-20.
So hopefully, you are now much better informed about the wide range of hammers available, and what they are used for. Most people will want to own a claw hammer, a small pin hammer and some type of mallet.
If you plan on doing some work in the garden, then a sledge hammer is also a handy tool to have.