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Hammers Are The Most Essential Hand Tools

Feb 17, 2008
Hammers are one of the simplest hand tools that you need in your workshop. A basic lever, hammers can make any job easier. They seem very straightforward, and yet there are actually many different kinds of hammer, good for different purposes. Hammers come in a wide range of sizes, ready to be wielded for various objectives and projects. A great collection of hammers is essential for any workshop.

Hammers are made up of two parts - the handle and the head. Additionally, most basic hammers have peens on the end made for ripping out nails. This design makes up the claw hammer, which is the one usually seen in pictures. The peen has two metal prongs that function perfectly for taking out nails. Some hammers only have one prong on their peens, and this prong functions much like a chisel for separating pieces of wood.

When choosing a hammer, start with the handle. Handles should be sturdy and feel good in your hand. Does the handle have a good grip? Try striking it. Does you hand vibrate or feel uncomfortable? You want a handle that can absorb the shock and vibrations of a few good hits. Wooden handles have always been prolific, but they are not the best at absorbing shock. They can also break after many repeat uses. Eventually, they will probably have to be replaced. Today there are other kinds of handle to choose from besides the standard wooden one. Some hammer handles are made out of metal. These sturdy handles will last forever, but they can also vibrate in your hand. Rubber grips or coatings usually make up for this deficit. Another kind of synthetic handle is the fiberglass handle. This handle combines shock absorbency and hardiness, and is one of the most popular hammer handles on the market.

The hammer head is the next thing to consider when shopping for a hammer. Notice how wide the flat striking face of the head is. How big do you want it to be? If you are going to be working on smaller projects with small nails or tacks, then you risk destroying your project, not to mention your fingers, by purchasing a head that is too big and heavy. Feel the weight of the head. It is usually between 16 and 24 ounces. That weight does not include the handle's weight. Some hammers are much smaller, in the realm of 12 ounces. These are called tack hammers and they are quite literally used for driving in tacks or small nails. If you are a hobbyist or prefer to work on a small scale, then you might prefer one of these smaller models. They are also nicely suited for little jobs around the house. Big hammers will always make bigger jobs easier however.

Next, hold the hammer in your hand and try it out. Does the grip feel right? Can you gather enough force and velocity on the downward motion when you swing it? Is the hammer too heavy, too light, or just right?
About the Author
Vince Paxton repeatedly produces detailed articles on issues associated to antique tools. You can have a look at his work on hand tools over at http://www.insidewoodworking.com .
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