By Glenn Haege
(All rights reserved)
Having the right hammer helps hit project target
One tool virtually everyone has in their home is a hammer. But like most tools, there are no "one size fits all" hammers. That's why it is important to have the right hammer for the job when you are doing any home improvement projects. Here's a breakdown of some of the most popular hammers available and their specific uses:
Ball Peen. Designed for metalwork it is often called the Engineer's hammer. The "peen" is rounded as opposed to flat to aid in shaping metal and closing rivets.
Brass. This one won't cause a spark when it hits a metal object because brass is soft. It also won't cause marring when used on delicate metals or other relatively soft materials.
Bricklayers. Designed for cutting and setting bricks and chipping mortar, this hammer features a large chisel end and a large flat face.
California. Weighing in as big as 22 ounces and almost 18 inches long, this hardwood handled hammer is primarily used for framing wooden houses and heavy carpentry. Think claw hammer on steroids.
Claw. This is probably the most common hammer people have in their toolbox, and the one we usually grab when we need to pound nails. It is often called the Carpenter's hammer because it is used for general carpentry work, with a flat head on one side for driving nails and a curved claw with a V cut on the other side to pull nails. Two other varieties of this popular hammer include one with a straight claw, used for heavy carpentry work, and the finishing hammer used for cabinet making.
Dead Blow. The head of this hammer is commonly hollow and filled with sand or lead shot, which both absorbs the impact of a strike and concentrates all of the energy of the blow in a single focused point.
Drywall. Used for drywall work and marking wallboard. It has a flat head on one side and a hatchet-like edge on the other.
Split Head. These hammers or mallets have faces that can be changed depending on the job at hand. As the name implies, leather hammers have a rawhide face and are used when assembling or positioning parts such as in electronic motors or even propellers. They can also feature soft or hard rubber, nylon, urethane and wood heads for assembling furniture and any other tasks which require non-marring blows.
Sledge. Now we're talking! With a large double-faced head, it is used for heavier projects such as driving stakes in the ground or breaking up concrete. It is available with either a short or long handle, and the smaller version is often called a Club hammer.
Tack. On the other end of the spectrum this small, two-headed hammer is used to drive tacks and small nails. It is often used in furniture upholstering and picture framing.
As you can see, having the right hammer for the job may mean you will need to have several types in your toolbox. But it is worth it to have the proper hammer because it will make the job much easier.
One other thing I always stress when using a hammer is safety. Using the wrong hammer for the job, or using it improperly can cause serious injury.
Before you hammer anything, put on your safety goggles to keep your eyes safe from flying debris. Also make sure that the head on the hammer isn't loose, which could cause it to fly off the handle when you hammer something. You should also check to make sure no one is standing too close when you are hammering, because you could accidentally hit them when you swing it.
When using any hammer, always strike the object or surface squarely and avoid glancing blows. And of course, make sure you are careful not to hit your other hand when hammering in a nail or holding anything that you are hammering.
The next time you need a hammer for a home project, make a trip to the hardware store if you don't have the proper one and follow these safety precautions so you will be able to brag about the results.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, email email@example.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The “Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.