Types of Hammers and Their Uses

The hammer may be one of the most used tools. What may be surprising is the sheer number of different types of hammers available. Depending on the work that you are performing, you may need a specific type of hammer to complete the job.

What follows are twenty types of hammers that are commonly used across several different fields.

20 Types of Hammers

Types of Hammers

The hammers are separated into four basic fields and each having its unique features described. Keep in mind that there are more than 20 types of hammers, but many of them are variations of the 20 that you will see in this list.

For those who are searching for the right hammer for the job, this list will help you make the best-informed decision.

Carpentry and Construction

  1. Claw Hammer: Perhaps the most recognizable of all hammers, the claw hammer serves two basic functions. The face is used to drive nails into materials while the claw pulls nails out of the materials, most commonly wood. The claw is also used to pry apart boards.
    Man holding a Claw Hammer
    The handle is most often made of hickory wood or fiberglass, while the head is crafted from tool steel. The handle may also have a rubber outer layer for greater comfort and grip when in use. Claw hammers come in different sizes, but all have the same familiar flat face and claw.
  2. Mallet: These are hammers with soft striking faces. They come in several variations, but the one that is often used is called a rubber mallet because of the rubber coating on the head. This hand tool is designed to strike finished surfaces or materials that are too delicate for standard hammers.
    The mallet has equal facing on both sides, wooden handles, and are often used to drive stakes, strike chisels, and even drive flooring nailer when needed.
    Rubber mallet on white background
    The primary advantage of a mallet compared to hammer is that the soft striking face will not damage the workpiece or mar the surface.
    The rubber coating does not last forever, but this type of hammer is inexpensive and easy to replace.
    Rubber Mallet Uses: Rubber mallets are great for tasks that require a softer blow, such as assembling furniture, fitting parts together in automotive work, or for use with chisels and stone carving tools.
    A variation of this tool is the dead blow hammer which is a specialized mallet design to minimize rebound. You can learn more about the dead blow hammer and its uses here.
  3. Framing Hammer: The framing hammer tends to have a longer handle and is primarily used to drive framing nails into framing lumber. They tend to weigh 22 ounces, give or take a couple of ounces, and the head is often made from titanium.
    A framing hammer with wood handle
    The framing hammer has a straight claw which is perfect for pulling framing nails out of the material. The long handle, which is sometimes curved, allows for greater striking force to be applied.
    In construction terminology, ‘framing’ refers to the process of fitting together pieces to give a structure its shape and support, often using large, heavy nails. Hence, a framing hammer, with its weight and longer handle, is ideal for this task, although these days, framing nailers are used for a lot of the heavy task.
  4. Tack Hammer: Tack hammers tend to be used for specialty work, most often shoe repair or upholstery. They are thin, lightweight hammers with relatively small heads for delicate jobs. A wooden handle holds the head which has a flat striking face on one side and a straight claw on the other to remove tacks.
    Tack hammer (upholstery hammer)
    Tack Hammer Uses: Tack hammers are mainly used in upholstery and to work with fabrics. The split head allows it to gently tap in tacks or small nails to secure the fabric to furniture or frames.
    The tack hammer is not big or heavy enough to drive nails, but you can drive tacks without bending the material.
  5. Drywall Hammer: Drywall, also known as sheetrock, is a type of flat board made from gypsum plaster and paper is used to form the interior walls and ceilings of houses. The drywall hammer is specifically designed to hang these boards using nails.
    A drywall hammer
    This type of hammer is noted for its round striking face that features a cross-hatched pattern. This can be used to dimple the drywall without breaking it, allowing for spackle to be placed with greater ease.
    The opposite side is a hatchet which is designed to score sheets to size and punch holes for outlets and other uses. Drywall hammers are lightweight, easy to use, and often last a lifetime because not much force is applied in their applications.
  6. Sledgehammer: Another highly recognizable hammer, the sledgehammer, has a long handle and large, heavy heads. They are two-handed hammers designed to break apart materials such as wood, stone, and even concrete. They are most often used in demolition work in breaking up drywalls, studs, and even the wood holding them.
    Sledge Hammer
    While most sledgehammers only weigh six pounds or less, the long handle allows for considerable force to be applied.

Metalworking and Engineering

  1. Ball Peen Hammer: This may be called an engineer’s hammer. The ball peen hammer refers to the rounded end of the hammer’s head, opposite the flat striking face. This ball peen is used for metalworking operations such as shaping metal and closing rivets. The flat face is used for driving nails or fasteners into the material, striking cold chisels, punches, etc.
    Metalworking Ball Peen Hammer
    The ball peen part is also used to shape metal while protecting the smooth surface. Learn more about the uses of ball peen hammers.
    The handle is most often made from hickory wood. You can find ball peen hammers in different sizes ranging from 4 to 32 ounces. The size should conform to the task at hand, whether it is driving nails or shaping metal.
  2. Cross Peen Hammer: Mostly used for forging and metalworking, the cross peen hammer is similar to the club hammer in size and weight.
    Man holding cross-peen hammer
    The large flat striking head is used to shape or flatten hot metal from the forge, while the opposite side, which is tapered perpendicular to the handle, can be used to cut heated metal, although it isn’t all that accurate.
  3. Straight Peen Hammer: Not as popular compared to the cross peen, but they are similar in design. A strong metal head with a flat striking surface on one side and a tapered edge on the opposite side that runs parallel to the handle. The straight peen weighs up to four pounds and is most often used in metalworking and blacksmithing.
    Straight Peen Hammers
    You can also use straight peen hammers for stone shaping and cutting. Because of the parallel tapered edge, the hammer is better balanced and offers greater accuracy when striking flat surfaces. You can also apply the peen part with greater accuracy as well.
  4. Mechanic’s Hammer: This type of hammer is used primarily to shape metal parts. Often used to assist auto mechanics in working on vehicles, you’ll see this hammer used to pound back into shape the body parts that cover the vehicle.
    Autobody mechanic's hammer
    Whether in repairing such parts or fitting new ones into place, the mechanic’s hammer can shape without creating dents or dings into the metal itself.
  5. Chipping Hammer: Sometimes called a welding hammer, this is used to clean slag from welds along with applications in boiler scaling.
    In welding, ‘slag’ is a by-product that forms on the surface of the weld. It is a layer of impurities and flux residue that can interfere with the strength of the weld if not removed. This is where a welding/chipping hammer comes in handy.
    Chipping hammer
    The hammer is made entirely from steel and features a thin head with a sharp point on one side and a flat chisel on the other that features a beveled end.
    The steel construction makes this hammer quite strong, as considerable force needs to be applied for proper use. But the most unique feature is the barrel spring at the end of the handle. It is designed to reduce resonance and prevent kickbacks. The result is less wear on the user while protecting the hands. Many such hammers also have a hook at the bottom for easy storage.

Masonry and Stone Working

  1. Stonemason’s Hammer: Sometimes called a brick hammer, this tool is generally a small, one-handed hammer with a flat striking surface on one side of the head and a chisel-shaped face on the other. The chisel can be used to chip or break away materials from stone or concrete, while the flat surface can help to shape the material.
    It is often called the stonemason’s hammer because it has become the symbol of the stonemasons. Although it can be used for a wide variety of tasks, it is commonly used by geologists in collecting samples of rocks and minerals. The handle normally has a rubber coating to limit vibrations when the hammer strikes hard surfaces.
  2. Scaling Hammer: Scaling hammers have no flat striking surface. Instead, the head is tapered parallel to the handle on one side and perpendicular on the other. The result is that the scaling hammer is designed to remove build-up or scale from metal surfaces. Because the tapered heads are chiseled, this allows for precision in removing unwanted build-up from the surface.
    By having both tapered sides at different angles, the user can simply flip the hammer around to achieve the results that they desire.
  3. Scutch Hammer: You may also hear it called a brick hammer as well. This hammer is used to modify or shape bricks and masonry blocks. There are two types of this hammer. The single scutch has a striking surface on one side and a slot on the other. While the double scutch has two slots on both sides and no flat striking surface.
    Scutch hammers use the slot that holds a scutch comb to strike the bricks or blocks and remove unwanted material.
    A ‘scutch comb’ is a type of chisel used for cutting and shaping bricks or masonry blocks. It fits into the slot in a scutch hammer, which is then used to strike the material. The flat head will help shape the blocks or bricks when the scutch comb is not in use.
  4. Stone Sledgehammer: A variation of the traditional sledgehammer, the stone sledgehammer has a similar appearance in terms of size, weight, and length of the handle. The difference is in the head, which features a single flat striking surface on one side and a tapered surface that runs parallel to the handle on the other.
    This allows the stone sledgehammer to break up harder materials such as stone or concrete with greater ease compared to the standard sledgehammer. The tapered end offers greater penetrating power, while the flat surface can also break apart and even shape materials when needed. The longer handle allows for greater force to be applied when striking hard objects.  

Specialty Hammers

  1. Soft-Faced Hammer: The soft-faced hammer is used on delicate materials that cannot stand up to standard hammers. A typical soft-faced hammer has a metal head that features replaceable pads on each side. The handle is fiberglass, and the overall design is lightweight, easy to use, and can strike materials without causing damage.
    You’ll mostly see this type of hammer used in automotive work, where delicate paint, plastic clips, and other fragile materials need to be fastened or shaped without damage. But they can also be used in woodworking, cabinetry, and similar jobs where the materials could be easily damaged by standard tools.
  2. Club Hammer: Sometimes called a lump hammer, the club hammer has two identical faces, with the head being perfectly balanced on the handle. The club hammer is primarily used for driving nails or fasteners into different materials, but it can also drive stakes and cold chisels when needed.
    You may also hear them called hand-drilling hammers because they are often used to drive masonry drills. To say that the club hammer is a smaller version of the sledgehammer would not be far off. Its function is essentially the same as it can break apart materials as well, but it is smaller and easier to use.
  3. Piton Hammer: Also known as a rock-climbing hammer, this hammer is primarily used to strike pitons (metal spikes) into the cracks of rock and stone to anchor a climber’s rope when climbing mountains.
    This type of hammer is all-metal and tends to have a short handle with a rubber coating. There is a flat striking surface on one side to drive the pitons, while the other side of the head has a claw that will remove pitons or bolts from the rock.
    The piton hammer can be used for other tasks, such as striking stakes into the ground and even driving nails into softer materials. It is designed to be flexible in use but lightweight and easy to carry.
  4. Magnetic Hammer: This type of hammer looks like a standard hammer and functions in the same basic manner. The difference is that it uses magnets to hold nails and fasteners to its striking surface. This allows the user to pound the nails into the material with only one hand. The user places the nail against the flat head, which holds it in place using magnetic attraction. Then the hammer can strike the surface which places the nail.
    It is most often used in roofing, which greatly speeds up the process of placing shingles. The downsides are the specific nails needed and the overall cost of the hammer itself.
  5. Power Hammer: As the name suggests, this type of hammer is operated by a mechanical device that uses electrical power, although steam was used for many years. The power hammer, sometimes called an open die power forging hammer, has been used by blacksmiths, metalworkers, bladesmiths, and other professions since the 1880s.
    The power hammer consists of a large striking head, a frame that holds the hammer itself, and the anvil where the object to be struck is placed. The striking head is lifted, then rammed downward into the material, which adds power to the weight of the hammer. You’ll find power hammers used for large-scale work.

Hammering Power Tools

These are not hammers in the traditional sense, but are power tools that have a hammering mechanism inside or tools that deliver hammering blows.

  • Air Hammers: This pneumatic tool looks like a mini cordless drill. The tool, which is powered by compressed air, delivers a series of hammer blows. Air hammers are often used for sculpting in stonework and metalwork or for removing old welds and rivets.
  • Jackhammers: These are heavy-duty tools used for construction and demolition. Jackhammers use a hammering action to break through hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt.
  • Impact Wrench: Another pneumatic tool with an internal hammering mechanism. You can see this tool in action when your auto mechanic removes the lug nuts to replace your car tires.
  • Impact Driver: Consider this tool the smaller sibling of the impact wrench. The key difference between an impact driver and a wrench is their primary use – the impact driver is mostly used for driving screws with high speed and efficiency, while the impact wrench is used for removing or tightening nuts and bolts.
  • Hammer Drill and Rotary Hammer: These are handheld drilling machines with hammering mode. The hammering motion helps to pulverize the material, making the drilling process much easier and more efficient.
    They are used for drilling concrete, masonry, stones, etc.

Safety Tips When Using Hammers

  • Eye Protection: Always wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from flying particles.
  • Gloves: Wear durable gloves to prevent blisters, absorb shock, and protect your hands from mis-strikes.
  • Correct Hammer Selection: Choose the right type and size of hammer for the task. Using a hammer that’s too heavy or too light could result in loss of control and potential injury.
  • Proper Handling: Always use the hammer’s handle, not the side or head. Ensure your grip is firm but not overly tight.
  • Hammer Condition: Regularly inspect your hammers. If a hammer’s handle is loose or if the head is chipped, it’s time to replace it.
  • Storage: When not in use, store hammers safely in a toolbox or pegboard. Never leave them lying around where they can cause trips and falls.

Remember, safety should always be your first priority when working with any tool. Be aware of your surroundings and take these precautions to protect yourself and others.

To wind things up, hammers represent a classic yet vital set of tools that are highly useful for various tasks, from constructing houses with framing hammers to crafting intricate jewelry with ball peen hammers. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a DIY enthusiast, understanding the distinct features and selecting the right hammer can significantly enhance your working experience and the quality of your work.