Let me tell you the parable of Graybeard and the hammer.
Graybeard worked at The Company as the in-charge of The Machine. Graybeard one day retired. After a couple of days, The Machine broke down. The Boss frantically recalled Graybeard and asked him to fix it. Graybeard turned up, asked for a hammer and went around the Machine tentatively giving it a tap here and a tap there. At one point, he stood still, gave the machine a good tap with the hammer. The Machine hummed back to life.
The next day he sent an invoice for $5000. It read; $5- the cost of the hammer; $4995- knowing where exactly to land the healing blow. There is a moral to this. Buying a hammer is one thing, using it judiciously, another.
Framing hammers are for putting up the frames of a building. They should be of sturdy design, well balanced and the user experienced enough. Here in this guide, we will review and pick the best framing hammer out there which one is suitable for you.
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Top Heavy/ Steel Head Models
Framing Hammer: Buying Guide
What’s there to a hammer, they are all the same. You couldn’t be more wrong. There are dozens of different types on the market, each for a specific purpose.
A framing hammer fulfills a very vital purpose, that of putting up a building foundation where penetration is required.
We intend to guide you through the features of this hammer before proceeding to the best framing hammer, among all we have reviewed for you to consider before you buy.
1. Head Material and Weight
The head weight is what a framing hammer depends on. The weight of the head and the handle should be distributed so as to be balanced. A framing hammer begins at 20 oz. and can go up to 32 oz. This heavier weight is required to drive heavy duty 3 ½ “long 16D nails into thick lumber. The heavier the weight, the power required will be less but it gets difficult to handle. The optimal weight is 16 oz. to 22 oz. This is an ideal weight to keep you going by cutting back on the effort required.
The material is steel, heat-treated for hardness.
A claw is provided which is straight unlike as in a claw hammer where it is curved.
a) Waffle Face
This is the choice of professionals and the most common face-type on framing hammers. The waffled surface provides a secure grip on the nail head with little chance of slippage.
b) Flat Face
These too are used often in framing hammer but having a propensity to slip, it is more used by professionals as the strike should be true.
Tang is the extension of a knife or a hammer around which a handle is wrapped. In a full-tang knife, the shaft extends all the way down the handle. In a partial-tang knife, the shaft extends only partially. That is the reason why full-tang knives are very strong, are unlikely to bend or fail. In a hammer, the manufacturing process is different.
Hammers come with a slot on the head through which the handle is driven. This is the weak spot and failure occurs here. Forged hammers where the handle is integral with the head are very strong. The most common are heads with a socket into which the head of the handle is fitted. They may have retaining screws to ensure the handle does not slip out. Framing hammers follow this design. A handle grip is extruded on to the surface.
4. Handle Material
The handle of a framing hammer plays a crucial role. Were it to snap in the process of hammering, an ugly accident could result.
A handle’s strength is a measure of the material used in its construction. The following materials are commonly used.
Steel remains unmatched as far as strength goes. It is also the heaviest. They score tops in durability and safety is not an issue. However, vibrations of hammering the nails are transmitted to the arm. Steel handle hammers are suitable for hobbyists but professionals do not use them.
A substitute for steel available is titanium; its more expensive, lighter and stronger.
Fiberglass handles are an alternative to steel. They are durable, easier on the hand and tempers the strike thereby inuring the arm from trauma.
Wood causes the least distress to the arm by diminishing any kind of a shock to the arm.
They are however less durable than their counterparts and cracks will eventually show up wit constant use. Also, they are pressed into service outdoors where framing hammers usually are used and wear of the elements does occur.
5. Handle Size and Length
This is a consideration that you need to weigh carefully. Handles are of either 13” and 17” in length. A long handle transmits more weight. A long handle teamed with a 20 oz. head is an ideal combination for a framing hammer.
6. User Fatigue and Shocks
Since this aspect involves occupational safety, take it seriously. While hammering, the shock is transmitted to the arm. This is a repetitive occurrence and can be dangerous. You need to minimize it. A wooden handle is the most suitable option.
So choose your framing hammer carefully so the fatigue doesn’t set in after using the hammer for a long time.
You can get a framing hammer for $20 and also $200. Price is directly proportional to quality. You can opt for a hammer for a short term project or one that will last a lifetime and can be passed down to the next generation. If you are on a budget, consider some quality so that an accident does result.
Care & Maintenance
- A workplace perforce needs to be uncluttered, well lit and ventilated. Loose objects and debris only set you back
- This is a golden rule; inspect the hammer carefully before use. Do not take it for granted that the last time was fine, so why now
- Eye protection is strongly emphasized. High speed, fine metal particles from impact can penetrate the eyes with disastrous consequences
- Instruct onlookers to keep their distance so your swing is not cramped
- Pulling out nails is tricky. Make sure that the claw is positioned accurately
- If you are using a ladder to hammer nails, maintain balance by not sticking your lower body out of the ladder rails
- The organization is key. Keep your hammers in the proper place when not in use
- Keep hammers out of reach of children
- Store hammers in a cool and dry location out of contact with foul weather
Upkeep and maintenance of your hammers are the solutions to extend their lifespan. Wooden handles will warp and split. Steel handles will rust.
- Choose your hammer carefully to go with the job at hand. It should be comfortable, of the right size and weight
- The hammer should have a striking face of at least 12mm greater than the face being struck (chisel, wedge or punches)
- Your hammer handle should be sufficiently cushioned to absorb harmful shocks and impacts
- Always use hammers with electrically insulated handles when working around live zones
- The connection between handle and head should be faultless
- The handle should be without cracks, splintering or loose. Replace if needed
- Hammers with chipped or mushroomed faces or cracks in the claw or eye sections should be discarded
- A blow should land fair and square, dead on with the face parallel to the surface being struck
We have strived hard to bring balanced, informative reviews of some of the prime framing hammers in the market. In hindsight, there are automatic, pneumatic and electrically driven nail drivers available. So why opt for a manual hammer? One, there is the cost factor and secondly building something with your own hand is a high of its own.
So if you want the best framing hammer, it is not a challenge. We have made things easier. Follow our guide carefully and you can come to an informed decision about what you need. The choice is always up to you. But in all the models that we have reviewed, we have come across one similarity; that is to place the best possible product at affordable prices.
1. What differentiates a framing and a regular hammer?
A standard household claw hammer is 10-16 oz. and is meant for light tasks. A framing hammer is upwards of 16 oz up to 30 oz. It has a waffle face and a longer handle. It is used professionally for building framing and barn construction.
2. Can you tell me what a California framing hammer is?
These are no different from other framing hammers. The name California came about because of the building boom in California way back when the first designs for a framing hammer came about.
3. The choice of a hammer is dictated by what main factor?
I don’t think we can boil it down to a single factor. You have to consider the material, head weight, handle length and the face type to arrive at a good choice.
4. What are the components used to make a hammer?
The handle is fabricated of steel, wood or fiberglass. The head is forged and steels that are hardened are used. Titanium is another material also used.
5. How are a Framing hammer and a Rip hammer different?
Both are with straight claws. A Rip hammer is to dismantle or tear apart a structure for rebuilding. A Framing hammer is for putting up a structure.
6. Ideally, a quality hammer should weigh how much?
This is totally determined by the use to which it will be put. Overall 16-24 oz. is the norm.
7. How is a hammer best held?
To properly hold a hammer, your grip should be at the end of the handle. Swing it loosely and get a feel of it. A well-constructed hammer has a nice balance and a recess at the end of the handle for your palm to wrap around comfortably.