Parts of a Hammer

Hammers are commonly used hand tools across various applications. It can be used for carpentry, demolition, metalworking, home improvement, and other DIY projects. Have you ever stopped to think of the components that constitute this humble tool and how it affects your work?

Let’s dive in.

What are the Main Parts of a Hammer?

Hammers come in many shapes and sizes, and their parts vary according to their purpose. The two main parts of a hammer are,

  1. Head and
  2. Handle.

These are subdivided into various parts: the head is made of the face, neck (unless it’s a sledgehammer), cheek, and claw or peen, depending on the hammer type.

The handle is where you hold the hammer and it has a grip section at its end.
hammer parts explained with diagram

Hammers are one of the oldest hand tools that mankind had started using. Today, we have different types of power nailers for every nailing job you can imagine. Although the primary purpose of a hammer as a hand tool is to drive nails, hammers are not just for pounding nails, either. Hammers are used for shaping, forging, driving & pulling out nails, and even scraping surfaces.

The shape and size of a hammer vary depending on the purpose it is designed for. Let’s take a look at the different parts of a hammer and their functions in detail.

List of Hammer Parts

There are many different kinds of hammers available to suit your needs. But, there are some basic parts that almost every hammer will have.

#1. Handle

The type of hammer handle you choose depends on the application at hand and how often you use it. Are you looking for a general, all-purpose hammer for the odd DIY project around your home, or do you need a hammer that you will use every day, all day long, for a large project?

Wood Handle

Wooden handles are the most common. These offer excellent shock absorption and generally a good grip, even for sweaty hands. They’re not as durable as steel and fiberglass handles, though. This means that they tend to break with frequent use and will have to be replaced.

Steel Handle

Steel handle hammers are the most durable and are recommended for heavy-wear jobs. These hammers are often manufactured as one piece instead of several pieces joined together.

Unfortunately, steel handles do not offer any shock absorption. Thus the vibrations traveling from the hammer through your hand and up your arm tend to be extreme. Mitigating these intense vibrations and the potential injuries they could cause is essential. For this reason, most steel handle hammers have a rubber grip fashioned around the handle. This offers a more secure hold on the hammer and dampens the vibrations.

Fiberglass Handle

Fiberglass handles form the middle ground between wooden and steel handles. It is more durable than wood and conducts less vibration than steel. Note that fiberglass hammer handles still require a grip that mitigates the vibrations caused during use. This is usually a rubber grip, which dampens the vibrations while offering an excellent grip.

A good grip on your hammer’s handle allows it to remain securely in your hand until you put it down. It’s unlikely to fly out of your sweaty hand mid-swing, posing a significant risk of injury to yourself and anyone nearby.

#2. Grip

The grip is the portion that covers the handle and is responsible mainly for better grip and shock absorption. Wooden handle hammers generally don’t have a grip or cover. However, when opting for a steel or fiberglass handle, the grip is an essential component of your hammer. Without the added grip it offers, your hammer could easily slip from your hand mid-swing.

Its shock absorption properties could also alleviate strain on your muscles due to the intense vibrations caused when using the hammer.

#3. Head

The head of a hammer is the portion from face to claw or peen excluding the handle. The hammer head covers various parts: the face, neck, check, and claw or peen.

There are various combinations and configurations of these parts, depending on the application. This part is generally made of steel, although some manufacturers use titanium. You can also find special-purpose hammers made of copper, brass, plastic heads.

#4. Face

The hammer’s face is the part that takes the beating. Literally. This is the portion of the hammer that contacts the nail or other material being hammered. Typically, hammers are meant to drive in nails. Still, they can also be used to demolish concrete or other construction material. You would generally use a sledgehammer for this type of hard-core work, though.


Hammer’s faces are divided into two types:

  1. Smooth or flat-faced
  2. Milled or waffle-faced

The flat-faced hammer is the one we would generally encounter in most applications. It has a smooth surface and is excellent in most applications, especially where neat finishing is required.

The milled face or waffle-faced hammer has a crisscrossed waffle pattern on its surface. This is meant to improve the hammer’s grip on the nail, preventing the nail from falling over while you’re driving it in. Waffle-faced hammers are best used for rough jobs since they will likely create a waffle pattern around any nails that you drive in. This is not ideal when you require neat finishing on a project.

Smooth Face vs Milled Face hammer

Some premium brands offer interchangeable faces with their hammers. Here, you could switch between waffle- and smooth-faced finishes as required. It also affords you the option of replacing the face altogether when it gets worn out from use.


The hammer’s face is usually slightly convex to afford a better grip on the nail. It’s not so convex that it would cause the nail to slip, though, and thus most people don’t even notice this slight curvature.

The face’s diameter changes depending on the hammer’s intended use. Tack hammers tend to have the smallest face, while sledgehammers tend to have the largest. The standard claw hammer firmly occupies the middle ground between these extremes.

#5. Neck

The hammer’s neck attaches the head to the handle, and it varies between different types of hammers. This portion is generally narrower than the face to facilitate proper balance across the tool. A good hammer is well-balanced between the face and claw, with these two sections weighing the same.

A narrow neck facilitates this weight balance while also maximizing the face’s surface area. A larger face makes it easier to strike a nail.

#6. Cheek

As you’d expect from the name, the cheek is the side of the hammer’s head. This part holds the tool together and also receives the most stress. Most hammers break at the cheek or in the portion of the handle inserted into the cheek.

#7. Eye

The eye and wedge sections are only present in hammers that have separate handles and heads. Hammers forged in one piece don’t have these parts. The eye refers to the hole (sometimes more than one) where the handle is inserted.

#8. Wedge (for Wooden or Fiberglass Handle Hammers)

Wedge of a Hammer

The wedge is another part not present in one-piece hammers. As the name suggests, this part wedges into the hammer’s eye of the head. It prevents the handle from slipping out of the head.

#9. Claw

Claws are either curved or straight, depending on the application. Straight claws are also called rip claws and are the more aggressive option. Straight claws can remove larger nails from tougher substrates and are suited to heavy-duty work, such as ripping timber. Generally, straight claws aren’t well-suited for finishing work unless the craftsman possesses the skills needed to handle it carefully.

Most hammers have a curved claw. These can remove smaller nails and is better suited to neat finishing work or smaller projects.

#10. Peen (Cross-Peen & Ball Peen Hammer)

Some hammers have a peen instead of a claw. The peen has a narrower face than the hammer’s actual face and is generally meant for more precise work. Sledgehammers have neither. Instead, they have two faces that can be used interchangeably.

Ball Peen vs Cross Peen Hammer

Traditionally, the peen was used to shape metal during the fabrication process. This isn’t as common anymore since metal shaping has advanced in great strides and is mainly automated. The peen could also be used to drive a chisel or punch or for riveting.