The more fixes you tackle, the more crowded your toolbox becomes. That said, a good hammer has no competitors or substitutes, and it's still - and always will be - a must-have for the handyman. Next to a screwdriver, a hammer is probably the most commonly used tool, whether it's for nailing or pulling nails.
It pays to know what to look for in a quality tool. The right hammer feels good in your hand and makes the job easier. The wrong hammer may harden the wrist and palm, making it easier to smash fingers or even break them during heavy use. Below, read our tips on choosing the best hammer for your needs, and check out the roundup of our favorite choices.
Just in case all the background information about the best hammers doesn't establish a definitive answer as to which is the best hammer, we conducted hands-on tests to narrow it down. The following products passed all of our tests, but some did not (such as the Mr. Pen 8 oz. hammer, which performs more like a gimmick than a hammer). When comparing these hammers, be sure to keep in mind the most important considerations.
For the record, all of the hammers below have smooth surfaces and 16-inch handles (except one) and are suitable for general all-around use.
Whether the job includes hanging pictures, nailing fence panels into place, building a doghouse for Rover, or building an addition, the Estwing Rip Claw 16 oz. hammer is up to the task. Made of sturdy forged steel, it features a shock-absorbing handle and a smooth finish that won't tear trim during errant strikes.
The Estwing's head and straight handle are one piece, making it very strong and durable with no visible weaknesses, just like a hammer with a wood or fiberglass handle. Although the handle is metal, Estwing covers it with a soft rubber grip to absorb impact and minimize fatigue.
The Estwing was the favorite hammer in our group and was a real pleasure to use. It is well balanced, dampens shock well, and is very durable. It nails without a problem and can be removed with equal ease. The only downside is that the split claw extends farther than the curved claw, making them awkward in tight places like cabinets and stud brackets.
Those looking for a reliable hammer that can nail a nail or two without the added expense should check out Craftsman's 16-ounce hammer. This hammer features a forged steel head, fiberglass handle and rubber over molded grip for comfort and durability.
In testing, we found the Craftsman to perform every task well, including driving and removing nails. It also absorbs impact well, and the red design makes it less likely to get lost on the job site. The only issue we found during our testing was that the axe-style handle has an exaggerated curve before it opens up at the knob. It makes the grip feel smaller, which may not be necessary for a 16-ounce hammer, although some people may prefer it.
Heavier hammers like this model from Stanley are almost a necessity when it comes to projects like construction and framing. The Stht0-5130 hammer is a 20-ounce model that packs a big punch. It has an all-steel head, fiberglass handle and rubber overmolded grip.
We found that the Stanley hammer nails nails significantly better than most other hammers, primarily because it is heavier. The fiberglass handle and rubber grip also absorbed impact well while still being able to hammer heavy framing nails. In addition, the straight handle (with a flared knob on the end) is slightly longer than a standard 16-ounce hammer (nearly 17 inches), giving it greater leverage. The only concern anyone should have is that it may be too heavy for some users.
Anyone assembling a kit for the first time should consider this hammer from Stalwart. This hammer has a hardwood handle and uses traditional shock absorption methods (which work well). It also has curved claws for working in tighter spaces.
The wooden handle is epoxied to the head, which means it can be removed and the handle replaced if needed, but this is not the easiest reprocessing option. While epoxy isn't as durable as wedging the handle into place, it does a good job of keeping the two parts together.
The firmer surprised us. We thought it would be a substandard tool, but it's a very good quality hammer. The straight handle absorbs all the vibration when nailing, and the claw does a great job of removing those nails. Our main concern is the epoxy handle, which can make handle replacement difficult.
Fiberglass handles offer unique shock absorption while still being strong enough to remove stubborn nails, and this model from Amazon Basics is no exception. It has a forged steel head, a fiberglass handle and a rubber grip.
We were very surprised by this hammer from Amazon Basics. We expected it to be of poor quality, but it's a fairly heavy-duty tool (especially at 20 ounces). While this may be too heavy for some users, it's a good all-around weight for a general purpose hammer. In addition, the simple design of the straight handle comes with a simple flared knob and a rubber grip for a comfortable feel.
Those looking for a hammer from a trusted name should seriously consider this fiberglass hammer from Irwin. This model features a fully forged steel height, weighing 16 ounces, and a fiberglass handle with rubber secondary molding for shock absorption.
Irwin is known for its smaller, DIY-centric tools, and this hammer did not disappoint during testing. The model's rubber grip was one of the most comfortable grips during testing. In addition, the axe-style grip curves, but not to the point of being noticeably uncomfortable. Also keep in mind that this hammer has split claws that make it difficult to use in tight places.
Anyone looking for a durable all-around hammer should check out the forged steel design of the Estwing Rip Claw 16 oz. hammer. However, if it's about saving money, the CRAFTSMAN Hammer offers quite a bit of value for its meager price tag.
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