The hammer is one of the oldest hand tools designed by humankind, with over three million years’ worth of innovation.
Its widespread use began when prehistoric people utilized durable stones to pound and shape more brittle rocks such as flint.
Today, the hammer has evolved into many different types, offering varying features for specific applications.
To better understand the general parts of a hammer, you would want to learn about the various types existing today.
Parts of a Hammer
The four main parts of a hammer are the face, the head, the peen (sometimes pein), and the handle.
A face is the hammer’s primary driving part, and it is attached to the head.
The peen is the hammerhead’s back. It can come in more forms than the face.
Some hammer types have two-faced heads, which means there is no peen. They may have an eye socket, which serves as the attachment point for wooden handles.
Other hammers are rigidly constructed so that all the parts are made of a single solid homogenous material.
Common Hammers – Popular Hammers
With all the hammer designs available, there are the more common types that can be seen in households and general applications.
Keep in mind that any hammer’s primary function is driving or pounding on objects, and they vary mainly in how they are used.
When speaking of hammers, one of two types comes to mind; the first is the claw hammer.
The claw hammer is so common that almost every household has at least one for emergency DIY applications.
It is typically used for driving nails into objects, and its claw-shaped peen is used for prying out nails, synthetic boards, and timber.
Ball Peen Hammer
Next is the ball peen hammer. Like the claw hammer, it is also a mainstream tool in households and workshops.
The ball peen hammer has a flat face and a ball-shaped peen. Both the face and the peen are used for driving or pounding objects.
The ball-shaped peen is especially important for driving rivets and shaping metal sheets.
The framing hammer is usually mistaken as a claw hammer because of its very similar features.
It also has a claw, which is straight and almost perpendicular to the handle.
This hammer typically has a milled face, which is sometimes called a waffled surface. It gives the hammer a better grip on nail heads.
As its name suggests, the framing hammer is used for structural framing work.
Before installing floorboards or roof trusses, the framing hammer is very useful in assembling floor or roof frames.
The rubber mallet is a two-faced hammer with a large, full rubber head and a wood or metal handle.
Rubber mallets can be used in woodworking, upholstery, tile setting, and other general purposes where a positive drive is required to deliver a softened strike.
In wood carving, for example, rubber mallets are widely used in driving chisels.
A sledgehammer is another two-faced, flat-headed hammer with a long handle and a large metalhead.
The long handle allows increased swing momentum so that the heavy head can apply a large amount of force over a wide area.
Because of its weight, the sledgehammer requires two handles to deliver accurate control.
Sledgehammers are most commonly used for demolition work, including tearing down drywall and breaking down masonry walls.
If you want a smaller version of the sledgehammer, the club hammer is what you need.
It allows single-handed use, and its lightweight property makes it an excellent choice for light demolition work.
A club hammer is sometimes called a baby sledgehammer, an engineering hammer, or a drilling hammer.
Dead Blow Hammer
The dead blow hammer is a specialized mallet with so many uses. It can deliver a smaller peak force conveyed over a longer duration.
Its head is usually hollow and filled with loose steel shot or sand.
The shot or sand collects at the hammer’s rear end as it is swung towards the target area.
As the hammer face comes in contact with the surface being pounded, the loose mass inside the hammer bounces forward, weakening the impact force and spreading it over time.
Dead blow hammers are useful in applications where surfaces need to be protected from dents and scratches caused by a strong and instant impact force.
These applications include auto repair, hydraulic machinery, aerospace work, woodworking, metalworking, and orthopedic surgery.
A tack hammer is also called an upholstery hammer. It is a lightweight, two-faced hammer used for tacking or nailing fabric onto furniture frames.
Although it is two-faced, one face is usually magnetized for aiding in tack placement.
The magnetized face has a split on its surface for holding tacks or small nails in place.
Once the magnetized face drives the point of the tack onto the fabric, the opposite plain face is used to deliver the primary driving strike.
Although tack hammers have been commonly used for decades, staple guns have largely replaced them in the upholstery industry.
Specialty Hammers – Less Common Hammers
Many more hammer types emerged from the common hammers, but they have more specialized functions.
Variants of the Ball Peen Hammer
Instead of having a ball-shaped peen, the following hammers have a wedged peen.
Straight Peen Hammer
The edge of the wedged peen on a straight pein hammer is parallel to its handle.
Cross Peen Pin Hammer
On the other hand, cross peen hammers have a straight-edged wedge perpendicular to the handle.
Diagonal Peen Hammer
As the name suggests, a diagonal peen hammer has its straight-edged wedge slanted at a 45-degree angle to the handle.
Variants of the Claw Hammer
The framing hammer is basically an improved version of the claw hammer.
Although the curved claw of a claw hammer excels at pulling nails, the framing hammer can do everything the claw hammer does and more.
Its straight claw can be used as a wedge for splitting lumber or as a pick for breaking bricks and hollow concrete blocks.
While the milled face of a framing hammer is essential, it can be damaging at times.
The trim hammer is a version of the framing hammer with a smooth, flat face.
It also has beveled edges that make it the ideal hammer for trimmed and finished surfaces.
Sometimes, you will hear about tools called rip hammers.
The name pertains to the same framing hammers since it describes the straight, “rip” claw peen of the tool.
An electrician’s hammer is a variation of the claw hammer with an extended neck connecting the face to the head.
It is handy for electricians working on residential projects with many wood components in hard-to-reach places.
Leatherworkers and shoemakers redesigned the claw hammer to have a flat, round face with a thin neck and a claw that slightly curves upwards.
Hammers Based on Face Material
Some hammers have a face or coating material that gives them their specialized use.
A brass hammer is usually a two-faced hammer with a cylindrical head coated with a layer of or made with solid brass.
Brass hammers are specially made for metalworking tasks.
This is because their solid, soft, heavy heads yield to contact with other metals to prevent work damage.
An example of a soft-faced hammer is the rubber mallet. Other variations have replaceable faces made of plastic, rubber, or rawhide.
Some metal-faced hammers are also called soft-faced hammers because they are softer than other metals.
Examples include brass hammers, copper hammers, and aluminum hammers.
Some hammers are designed and tailored for specific industries.
Drywall hammers are used for putting up or taking down drywall.
Its rear end is likened to a small hatchet, which is useful for making holes on the drywall for things such as light switches and outlets.
Sometimes called a stonemason’s hammer, a brick hammer has a long, chisel-shaped blade at the opposite end of its flat, square-shaped face.
It can be used to cut brick or chip off edges from masonry work.
A rock hammer looks very much like a brick hammer. However, it comes in many sizes, and geologists and archaeologists typically use it.
A scutch hammer has a flat face opposite a scutch comb holder.
Its flat face can be used to drive chisels into old mortar or grout, while the scutch comb can be inserted into the holder to be used as a chisel.
Bushing hammers have a grid of pyramidal or conical points as the face.
It is used for texturizing masonry units such as stone and concrete.
Lineman’s hammers feature two identical faces resembling cones that extend from the head.
It is an excellent choice for working on telephone poles, where lag screws and bolts need hammering.
Shingle hammers are also called roofing hammers.
They have a square-shaped face opposite a hatchet-like edge that can be used for removing shingles.
The head of a joiner’s mallet is a solid wood block tapered on both ends.
It is used for gently tapping wood joints and driving chisels.
Scaling hammers have a chisel head opposite a pick.
Both ends are used for removing rust, scale, and various types of hardened materials on surfaces.
A welding hammer has a round, pointed face opposite its vertical chisel peen.
The hammer is used for removing slag from welded beads.
Its handle looks like a spring that prevents welding heat from traveling to the hands of the user.
Body Mechanic’s Hammer
When repairing dents on car panels, the mechanic’s hammer can get the job done.
It has a flat, round head and a conical die on its long peen. It is usually partnered with a small, curved anvil called a dolly.
Highly specialized for delicate machine shop work, the toolmaker’s hammer is a ball peen hammer with a magnifying glass at the center of its head.
Imagine a long triangular prism with a handle at its center of gravity. One end is a flat square, while the other end is a wedge.
The shape of a blacksmith hammer makes it ideal for shaping red-hot steel on an anvil.
Another hammer for the blacksmith is the blocking hammer. It has a square face on one side opposite a cylindrical peen on the rear end.
When flattening, folding, or making seams on a metal sheet, the best hammer to use is a tinner’s hammer.
It has a flat, square head and a sharpened wedged peen.
Stone Sledge Hammer
The stone sledgehammer is a version of the sledgehammer with a flat steel face on one end and a vertical wedge on the other.
The wedged end can be used to break down large pieces of stone.
Spike Maul Hammer
Spike mauls have been specifically designed for driving railroad spikes to secure railroad tracks.
Jewelry making involves creating very intricate shapes with precious metals and gems.
Because of these, jewelers have several hammers for shaping, bending, and altering such metals.
Jeweler’s hammers with names explaining their functions include the texturing hammer, embossing hammer, and the rawhide hammer.
The planishing hammer is the most essential jeweler’s hammer. Its flat face smooths the metal, while its rounded peen shapes it.
A chasing hammer is used to drive a chasing tool to carve and etch designs onto metal.
It has a large, round, flat face that allows driving without looking at the handle of the chasing tool.
Raising hammers are miniature versions of the ball peen and cross peen hammers.
Some hammers are intended for recreational activities such as rock climbing, camping, and hiking.
The hatchet hammer has a round face and an ax blade for its peen.
It can be used for camping tasks, such as chopping firewood and driving tent pins into the ground.
Aside from its recreational applications, it can be used for various survival and emergency applications.
The piton hammer is also called the rock climber’s hammer.
Its head has a hole for removing pitons, and its face can be used to drive pitons into the rock face.
What Are the Best Hammers?
For remodeling and DIY applications, the best hammers are steel or fiberglass with handle grips.
Wood handles are slippery, and they tend to break over time or when subjected to substantial impact force.
Still, the choice of material for hammers is dependent on the application.
For example, solid steel or fiberglass hammers cannot substitute the particular function and composition of rubber mallets, dead blow hammers, and joiner’s mallets.
Innovations allow the creation of new variations in tools.
Some of the hammer types indicated here are little by little replaced by automatic power tools that perform the same function with much less effort.
Examples include the nail gun, power hammer, and pneumatic scaling hammer.
Nevertheless, some applications still require the precision of manually operated hammers.
There are long-standing traditions and skills that can only be acquired through practice with highly-specialized handheld hammers.