10 Best Hammers (Review) In 2021
Ever since he was a child, Jason has loved repairing, building and creating things. Growing up, he spent all his free time carving intricate woodcraft pieces that soon caught the eye of neighbours and friends. Before he knew it, Jason turned his hobby into a job, earning an income from being his hometowns handyman. Many years have passed since then but Jason’s enthusiasm for woodwork remains the same. He can usually be found in his workshop, crafting furniture or restoring old treasures.
- The Best Hammer
- 1. IRWIN General Purpose Claw Hammer
- 2. Estwing Sure Strike Crack Hammer
- 3. EFFICERE Stubby Claw Hammer with Magnetic Nail Starter
- 4. Dewalt Rip Claw Hammer
- 5. Estwing Straight Rip ClawHammer
- 6. Spifflyer Small Claw Hammer
- 7. Stanley FatMax Xtreme AntiVibe Hammer
- 8. HEIKIO Claw Hammer
- 9. Real Steel Ultra Framing Hammer
- 10. CRAFTSMAN Fiberglass Hammer
A good hammer is an essential part of any toolkit, from basic beginner sets to more advanced professional options. That being said, a poor quality hammer can make even the easiest of home DIY tasks challenging and cause some pretty painful injuries.
There is no shortage of variation when it comes to hammers. Whether you want a mallet, a claw hammer, a sledgehammer, or something completely different, you will have to decide on the size, weight, and material as a starting point. Only then can you consider all the other useful features that you might like your tools to have.
Here we look at some of the best hammers available on the market so you can find one that will make completing your building or home décor projects a breeze. We’ve also put together a guide on the different types of hammers and the features you should consider when it comes to selecting a model, so you can go ahead and make an informed decision.
The Best Hammer
Forged steel head
Our best pick for a hammer is the Irwin General Purpose Claw Hammer. The head of this hammer is made from forged steel, giving you a high level of durability and reasonable weight (the standard 16oz). The hammerhead on this model has a smooth face and a relatively flat rip claw. The face will help to prevent any surface marks, and the slightly curved claw works well for both removing nails and for prying wood.
The Irwin General Purpose Claw Hammer has a well thought out handle, with a rounded grip for comfort and fiberglass construction to minimize vibrations. It also has a curved base to stop slipping. This is a reliable, versatile tool, and while there are a few reports of the head being too soft, these are in the minority.
A few reports of the head being too soft
Anti-slip cushion grip
The Estwing Sure Strike Crack Hammer is a 3lb (48oz) sledgehammer in a compact design. Its length is just 11inches, so about the same size as a regular claw hammer. This is a very heavy-duty tool and not one for any precision work but works well for striking cold chisels and brick chisels when there is very limited space for swinging.
The hammerhead is made from forged steel that has been hardened and tempered, so there aren’t many surfaces it can’t tackle, and it is highly durable. Both faces on this sledge are identical; they are both fully polished and bevelled. The handle is made from fibreglass and has a yellow jacket grip for comfort and to prevent slipping. The Estwing Sure Strike is a great tool for household jobs such as tile removal with a chisel, although some people may find the handle a little small for any larger tasks.
Good for work in compact areas
Some people may find the handle too short
Alloy steel head
Sharpened, curved claw
Magnetic nail holder
If you are looking for a compact tool, then our budget pick for the best hammer is worth considering. The Efficiere Stubby Claw Hammer weighs just 8oz and measures six inches long, so is very convenient for small tasks, such as tapping in picture hooks. For people that find other tools too heavy, or have wrist pain, then this is a good alternative that is comfortable to use.
Within this hammer, you get a magnetic nail holder that will help you position nails and commence hammering with just one hand – great for hard to reach areas. The head is made from forged alloy steel, secured to the handle with epoxy, that claims not to loosen over time. The hitting surface of this hammer is completely flat and measures one inch. The claw is very curved for pulling nails quickly, but not ideal for prying. The Efficiere handle is made from fibreglass with a non-slip grip. This tool works well for small tasks, but you will struggle if you have larger hands or tasks that are bigger than tapping nails.
Too small for large hands
Not suitable for big tasks
Nail start system
Rip claw hammer
Our premium pick for the best hammer is the Dewalt Steel Rip Claw, which is promoted as an excellent framing hammer. This is an ergonomic hammer, made with heavy-duty metal and finished with a smooth flat head and a slightly curved handle. The hammerhead also has a flat rip claw which is perfect for prying wood and can be used extracting nails.
Dewalt products are known for their high-quality, and this tool is no exception. It is robust, looks good, and is well balanced. It is a one-piece steel construction, so the handle is also metal but covered in rubber for a comfort-grip. This type of design means you don’t have to worry about the head detaching from the handle at any point. For its strength, the hammer is relatively lightweight and well balanced and measures 33cm in length.
High-quality material and design
Straight rip claw
One-piece forged steel construction
Shock reduction grip
The Estwing Straight Rip ClawHammer is designed for those who take their DIY seriously or use the tools professionally. This particular tool is forged in one-piece steel, so it is exceptionally durable and won’t cause you any problems around the head/handle joint. The head of this hammer has a smooth face, and the rip claw is relatively flat for versatile use. As it is hand polished it has an attractive finish.
While made from steel, the handle is surprisingly comfortable. It has a shock reduction grip that reduces vibration by 70%, so protects your wrists over continued use. It is also covered with a nylon vinyl cushioning that gives you comfort and prevents any slipping. In total, this hammer weighs 16oz and is 13inches long.
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Shock reduction built-in
None to report
Mini hammer and nail tool
Soft non-slip grip
Forged and heat-treated steel alloy
Mirror polished head
The Spifflyer Small Claw Hammer is our choice for the best tiny hammer. If you are looking for a compact tool to take camping or keep in your car, then this will work extremely well. This mini hammer has been made with a heat-treated, forged steel alloy and is mirror polished for an attractive yet durable design. As it has a curved rip claw, the Spifflyer performs well for hitting and pulling nails, but at only 8oz and 6inches long, we wouldn’t recommend it for any tough DIY projects.
The handle is a bright orange color, so very easy to spot and it is TPR coated to create an anti-slip, comfort grip. If you were planning on using a hammer very regularly, then it would be better to invest in a model that has some anti-vibration feature and one that is larger in size for greater versatility. However, the Spifflyer is easy to store and gets the job done.
Suitable for small DIY projects
Lightweight and portable
Only works for small tasks
Patented torsion control
Large strike face
The Stanley FatMax Xtreme AntiVibe Hammer is one of the best options if you are looking for a tool that will minimize vibration and reduce the level of strain on your hand and wrist. This hammer has been constructed with torsion control to lower the amount of arm-twisting fatigue you can experience with some makes, and patented AntiVibe technology to minimize shock at impact, and therefore vibrations.
The Stanley FatMax is forged from one-piece steel and has an exclusive rim temper that should reduce the likelihood of any chipping or spalling. The strike area of the face is also 75% larger than traditional hammers to your striking accuracy should improve. The rip claw works well for removing nails and prying. The price point of this tool is higher than most other models, but it is of great quality, and you can use it for extended periods with no trouble. A limited lifetime guarantee is also included.
Limited lifetime warranty
High price point
One-piece steel forged tool
Non-slip TPR grip
The Heikio Claw Hammer is made from one-piece, forged steel, giving it great durability that can tackle most household and small professional hammering tasks. It has a standard weight of 16oz and a relatively standard length of 13inches.
The solid hammerhead is well balanced, and mirror polished for an attractive shine that stays with you even after multiple uses. The whole tool is easy to hold thanks to the ergonomic grip, which is covered in 7inches of TPR rubber. This makes it anti-slip and comfortable. The Heikio is a reliable choice, although it doesn’t have any frills like a nail holder or anti-vibration technology that many other steel hammers have. It is reasonably priced and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
No anti-vibration features
One-piece of steel construction
Magnetic nail start
Shock reducing rubber grip
Our value choice for the best hammer is the Real Steel Ultra Framing Hammer. Another of the steel hammers that is forged from one piece of steel, it is highly durable and weighs in at 21oz, a little heavier than many similar models.
With this tool, you get a milled face instead of a smooth variety, and it is a great selection as a carpenter hammer. The milled face gives you better striking accuracy, and you will find a magnetic nail starter has been built-in to the top of the face. This makes it possible to tap in nails with just one hand. The Real Steel is a heavy-duty hammer, with a graphite core and extra weight that helps tackle tough jobs. The handle is ergonomically designed with a non-slip rubber grip and cushioning that reduces vibrations and keeps it secure in your hand.
High-quality milled face
Nail starter included
Shock reducing design
Heavy to use
Rip claw hammer
The Craftsman Fibreglass Hammer gives you a smooth face steel head attached to a strong fibreglass handle. The head has a face of 1.5inches in diameter and a total length of 2inches. It has a straight rip claw, making it suitable for a wide range of tasks and easy to drive nails. The overall size of the tool is 12.6inches.
The model prides itself on being more robust than many other fibreglass alternatives. It has added protection in the areas where most hammers are prone to breaking due to overstriking. The handle also has an over-mould grip for ease of use. Despite it being made with fibreglass, the Craftsman is actually heavier than other similar hammers so may not suit everyone.
Heavier than similar designs
Features To Consider With Hammers
Using hammers for lengthy periods can subject your hand and wrist to a lot of vibration. If you are planning to use the tool a lot, or if you already suffer from wrist pain, then it is best to source an anti-vibration model. These are usually those with wood or fiberglass handles. Avoid steel handles unless they have additional vibration damping material or cladding added. Some hammers that are made of metal will have cushioning in the grip and be ergonomically designed - this won't eliminate vibrations but will dampen them slightly. We must add that a bench vise is a useful tool that helps you keep the object you want to use your hammer on in one place.
Most of the best hammers will have steel or fiberglass handles. A wooden handle is still popular, but these can break more quickly, especially when exposed to the elements. They also tend to be more slippery to hold. Fiberglass handled hammers will be the lightest versions, whereas steel will be more durable. The downside with the metal models is that they may have a higher level of vibration.
A very popular design for a steel hammer, especially claw hammers, is now the one-piece forging construction. This means that the whole head and handle are made from just one piece of metal. The advantage of this is that there are no joints that can weaken over time and no risk of the head becoming detached from the handle. This makes them incredibly durable and often preferred to a fiberglass option, which can break.
It is essential that you have a steady grip when using a hammer or a mallet, so the best hammers will often be those that have a non-slip cover. Anti-slip material on the handle may also help to reduce vibration.
The best material for a hammer is going to depend mainly on the work you will be doing with it.
Rubber head tools are a great option if you need a softer strike and don’t want to leave a dent. They are commonly used on sheet metals as they don’t leave marks or cause dents. Rubber is more commonly used in dead blow hammers but some claw hammers have rubber attachments so you can switch between materials depending on the task you are completing.
Plastic tipped heads are perfect for gentle work, such as bending metal or plastic. They won’t leave scratches and are softer than many other options.
Steel heads are the most common and will allow you to complete most DIY tasks. This metal is not likely to chip, so is very durable and works well for striking metal in joints or hammering out dents.
Titanium hammer options are available although they come at a high price. If you work with tools a lot then you may appreciate the benefits of a titanium hammer - they are more lightweight than other materials, incredibly durable, and, unlike other materials, will not rust. For occasion use at home, then this is probably not worth the investment but if you use tools on a daily basis then a titanium hammer could be worth shelling out for.
When you are looking at the material for the tools you should also look at the striking face as you will have the option of a smooth or milled face.
A milled face, which is also known as a waffle face, means that there is a pattern on the striking face. It should give you extra grip to help drive nails in more easily. Patterns vary from hammer to hammer, and whatever design is on the face will be imprinted on your nail forever. This is why many professional carpenters' hammers do not have a milled face.
A smooth face hammer works just as well but doesn't give you add grip or help you if you are not very accurate at hitting.
The back part of the hammer (the part that you don't hit things with) is called the rip claw. This feature helps you to remove nails from wood or similar surfaces. A rip claw can also be used for prying or splitting wooden joints.
The shape of a rip claw will vary from a completely straight claw design to a heavily curved shape. Many people prefer a curved claw for use as a nail puller as it makes this job easier thanks to the increased leverage, although the difference is negligible. A straight claw will be best for prying and separating planks.
You should always hold a hammer close to the end of the handle. If you hold it close to the head, you will be reducing the efficiency and the amount of control you have. This means that when you are selecting the best hammer, you need to choose one that you can comfortably hold and swing from the end of the handle. If your hammer is causing your wrist discomfort, then you should switch for a lighter version. The typical weight of a hammer will vary according to the design and material, but a standard claw hammer is around 16oz; some lighter versions are available. Always opt for the lightest tool you can - one that is still effective without you having to increase the speed at which you move it.
Should you be using a sledgehammer, the weight rules are slightly different, as you will be swinging it like an axe rather than using it for precision nail work. Such hammers will feel heavy, and you will need two hands plus strong arms to use them; just make sure you can still control them when swinging, so you don’t hit yourself or damage your back.
The best hammer doesn’t have a set size, but it is the one that fits the job you need to complete.
If you are nailing or pinning (hitting a nail into a surface) then you need to ensure that the hammerhead is the appropriate size. Too big relative to the nails will cause them to bend, whereas a head that is too small will not be very effective at creating a strong joint.
When considering the size, also look at the grip and handle. For safety reasons, you need to have a grip that is not too big for your hands, so you can hold it securely. Having a handle that very closely matches your grip size will also allow you to use a minimal amount of force for effective results.
Compact or tiny hammers are available and these work best for small home tasks, and when you need to drive and remove a nail in tight nooks and crannies. A hammer like this can be held in just one hand, and if it has a built-in nail holder, you can position and knock in a nail with just one hand. However, you may find such small tools challenging to work with if you have large hands.
Types Of Hammers
A nail hammer is also known as a claw hammer and is one of the most common hammers. One side of the hammerhead will be flat or slightly rounded, and this is used for hitting nails into wood or similar surfaces. The other side of the head is configured in a claw shape (rip claw), and this can be used to pull nails out of various surfaces. Nail hammers or claw hammers are very versatile and they are an essential tool for a home DIY toolkit. You will find some of the best hammers have a straight claw design, whereas others have a more curved feature. Curved is marginally better for nail extraction and straight is marginally better for prying wood. The handle can be made from wood or metal with a rubber or plastic grip for comfort. The head is made from metal.
Dead Blow Hammer
A dead blow hammer is designed to ensure there is minimal recoil and it can deliver soft blows. To achieve this, the head will be made from plastic or rubber, or occasionally it will be semi-hollow and filled with sand. This is useful when you want to knock pieces together or apart but without doing any damage to the surface. Dead blow hammers are popular in the automobile industry as they can help to dislodge parts or fix small dents in body work.
If you have heavy-duty tasks to complete then a sledgehammer will usually be the best tool of choice. They are often used to break up stone or concrete and are one of the heaviest options around. You can expect to find sledgehammers weighing between 7 and 14lbs and when in use they will need to be swung like an axe for maximum effect. It is not a precision tool. These hammers usually have a wooden handle, and the head will be either metal or tough rubber, although more modern versions of these tools may have different materials.
A mallet is preferred when using a metal faced hammer could damage the hitting surface. This tool is used to tap wooden joints together, and you will notice that the head is usually slightly tapered. This is to make sure there is correct contact with the work surface. Both the head and the handle of a traditional mallet will be made from wood, such as Beech, however, you can get mallets with a rubber or metal double-head.
Hammer Safety - NC State University