I don’t know about you but I am sick and damn tired of my hammer breaking or even snapping in half. Maybe I’m too rough with my tools. Maybe I don’t know what I am doing but it seems that every time I get my hands on your everyday typical hammer I end up breaking the darned thing. With my last one I was trying to ding some dents out of my lawn mower’s blade. I had hit what was left of a tree I had cut down last year. (I forgot to remove the stump.) The hit caused the blade to bend in ways it never should have. I took the blade out and laid it flat on my work bench and attempted to hammer it straight again. After a few good hits I was starting to see progress. The blade was slowly beginning to return to it’s normal shape. It was after about the fifth or sixth hit that the head of the hammer separated from the wooden base and went flying into the garage wall. It all happened so fast that at first I didn’t even know what had happened. All I heard was the THUMP sound of the claw digging into my garage’s drywall.
I’m one of those guys who can’t stand spending money. In the past if I got a tool it was the cheapest one in the building. I’d walk into Orschelins and stare at the display of hammers looking for the cheapest priced one. The prospect of it falling apart on me in a few months didn’t occur to me. There was just something about saving that money upfront that appealed to me. Since I’m starting this site I am going to make it a mission to only buy nicer tools. I want things that last. I just got into my thirties now. The time for cheap shit is over. I need things that are going to last and last a good long time.
That brings me to my post. Forget the cheap piece of shit hammer with the wooden base. Let’s get this job done and done right. No more half-assing it. That my friends is why we will be looking at the various types of solid steel framing hammers. Yes, I know that these are meant for driving nails in but hey it can be used as a blunt instrument too to straighten out lawnmower blades… right…right? Don’t judge me.
So, before we dig into the actual pros and cons of each framing hammer out there let’s do an overall view of the benefits a framing hammer has to offer:
- A solid steel framing hammer is by default much heavier than your average hammer. Your average hammer comes in at just over a pound. Your framing hammer comes in at over two pounds, sometimes even bigger than that. While an extra pound may not sound like that big of a difference it is important to note that you are doubling the weight of your hammer and the force of your strikes. More weight equals more force when you swing. Instead of hitting a nail five to six times you will only need to do a double tap to fasten it securely. You know that whole inertia thing that we learned in science class.
- The framing hammer is going to last you a long time. Unlike your typical hammer with the metal top and the wooden base the framing hammer will not fall apart on you. To be honest there really isn’t a way for it to break. It’s one piece of solid steel. The worst thing that can happen is the grip may start to wear down over the years.
- Along with the durability and extra weight the framing hammer also comes with a longer handle than your standard application. Framing hammers are typically around six inches longer than your standard. This longer handle makes it easier to use as well as providing more leverage against whatever you are driving in.
- Framing hammers were designed for heavy duty use by trade carpenters or craftsmen. That being said it is a very valuable tool for the at home do-it-yourself-er. It can aid in building a bookshelf, finishing your basement, or even working on putting together your kid’s new playground. (Not a fun time… trust me.)
- Lastly most framing hammers come with a serrated face that prevents the hammer from slipping off nails. Not having the frustration of slipping off the nail each and every time when working on a project is worth the extra money alone. An example of the serrated face can be seen in the below image. Some of these hammers even come with a magnetized head. So, not only do you have the serrated edged face but you also have magnets holding your nail in place. They couldn’t make this any easier for us folks.
Why use a Framing Hammer?
Well, just as the name says a framing hammer is used for just that, framing. What does that mean exactly? Well, the intention of this hammer is to be used when putting up the foundation of whatever you are building. Think of the guts of you house. The two-by-fours and four-by-sixes holding your house together. This is where a framing hammer is used.
You wouldn’t use a framing hammer to finish a product but you would use it to drive a bunch of nails on the frame of a new garage. In most cases you will see experienced carpenters carry at least a couple of hammers with them. They use their best judgement on what hammer to use on each situation.
For example, you wouldn’t use a framing hammer to nail in the new trim trim that you are installing in your living room. The force of the blow may cause the thin trim board to splinter and it also is worth mentioning that most framing hammers have a grooved head. If you hit the trim too hard with the grooved head you risk denting it and even imprinting the head’s markings onto the trim. It just wouldn’t look good.
Good, Better, Best
Alright, so we’ve got the introduction of the hammer out of the way and why you need one over your standard everyday hammer. What I like to do when looking at something to buy, especially a tool, is to take the Good, Better, Best approach. What is this you may ask? Well, in my opinion there are three types of consumers in this world. The first being the ones who only want to pay the bare minimum, the second is the middle of the road guy who can afford to spend a little bit more, and the third being the premium money is no object kind of guy. We all wish we could be that last guy but the truth is most of fall into the either the second or first category.
Now with the Good, Better, Best approach I do not like to recommend junk. Hence the name Good. I will recommend a good product that will last for some time but if you want a nicer product than we can move up to the better and if you want the premium then we move up to the best. In this article I am going to choose a framing hammer based off the model I discussed above. The question is what kind of consumer are you? (I’m ashamed to admit that I’m the bare minimum guy!)
Stanley 51-402 FatMax 22-Ounce
Alright folks. So you want yourself a framing hammer but are a little intimidated by the price? Well, I’ve got just the one for you. Let’s take a look at the Stanley 51-402 FatMax Framing Hammer. Now, like most tools that you buy nowadays this hammer is imported. I am not sure from what country but it seems that imports are the norm these days. Don’t let that scare you though. Even though this product was imported from overseas it doesn’t mean that it is not a quality hammer.
Remember how I had mentioned earlier that most framing hammers were of a one piece construction? Well, unfortunately, this one is not. The handle of this hammer is made out of Hickory. The manufacturer states that the head and the handle were ‘forged and heat treated’ for increased durability but there is still that risk of the head coming flying off after years of use. But, that is the price that you pay for getting the Good and not the Better or Best.
This hammer comes in at 2.5 pounds which is more than double the weight of your standard hammer. As we discussed above this extra weight will give you additional force when driving those nails in. Also like before the head of this hammer is checkered to allow better gripping when driving your nails in and to make things even easier the head is magnetized to ensure that your nails are not getting away.
The specifications on this hammer are as follows:
- Claw Style – Rip
- Face Style – Checkered
- Handle Type – Axe
- Head Length – 6-1/8
- Overall Length – 18-1/4
This product is made by the StanleyTools company and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. As with most warranties there is a slew of fine print which can be read from StanleyTools’ website by clicking here. Basically, their warranty states that as long as you are not using the hammer in ways that you shouldn’t than they will replace your product if it is defective. So, if you get it in the mail and the head is already jostling around then you can visit their website through the link I provided above and get yourself a new replacement product.
Overall, this hammer has great reviews across the web. Looking at Amazon.com on this product we can see that there are nearly two-hundred and fifty reviews on file. The average rating is 4.5/5.0. That’s a ninety percent approval rating, it is hard to get better than that. The only downsides of this product that I have seen are that, like I said before, the head was separating from the handle or that the head was not fitted tightly. But even if you do have problems with the hammer staying together you have their lifetime warranty to refer to. There have been a few grumblings of the magnetic head not working well or not working at all but these complaints have been very minimal and I do not believe that they are a legitimate problem.
If you are in the market for a framing hammer but looking to save some money than this is the product for you. However, if you are looking for a better product than by all means keep on reading my friend.
Estwing E3-22S 22 Ounce
Now we’re getting there folks. We’re not quite a Tough-Ass quality yet but we are getting closer. If you are one of those middle of the road guys than the Estwing E3-22S Framing Hammer is the one for you. Remember how I was talking about most framing hammers being of one piece construction? Well this guy is it. The Estwing E3 is a one piece solid steel construction. This thing is not going to break no matter what you do to it. If there is one purpose to my site than this it. I want to suggest tools that are going sit on your shelf for decades. Durability is key here.
Another important note to mention on this hammer is that it is manufactured by the Estwing company. What does that mean? Well my friends the Estwing company is an American company that has been around since 1923. They are located in Rockford, Illinois and still manufacture hammers their today. No imports here. This the real deal, American made. Their official website can be found by clicking here.
While this is a one piece hammer of solid steel it wouldn’t make sense to have the handle without a cover. I can’t imagine trying to swing a steel handled hammer. It just wouldn’t be comfortable. So, what Estwing did was create a Nylon based handle and molded it right onto the steel base. This Nylon handle is unique to the Estwing company. Along with being durable the cover has a shock absorption system that minimizes the pressure of impacts with each swing. So, even though you are swinging a heavier hammer you will actually feel less impact. Lastly, the Nylon grips with your hand and makes it easier to hold on during swings even when your hands are sweating like crazy during a shingle job. A picture of the Nylon grip is below:
Like most framing hammers this one comes in at just over two pounds. One thing to mention is that unlike the first hammer we looked at there is NOT a magnetic head on this Estwing hammer. The head on this hammer is not checkered or serrated either. So, while you may have the one piece construction you are lacking the benefits of the edged head and the magnets. So, it’s really up to you what you think is more important.
If you buy this hammer it will come in looking brand new. The lacquer on the outside of the steel will shine and shimmer in the sunlight. No seriously, it will actually shimmer in the sunlight. The hammer has a polished silver look to it. I mention this because the only negative thing I can find on this hammer is that after seeing repeated use the silver lacquer on the outside of the hammer begins to chip and peel away. While this may look like the hammer is falling apart on you it is really not. This is jut the lacquer coming off. The actual steel construction is still there and as solid as ever. An example picture of the lacquer chipping away can be seen below.
For about the double the price of the first hammer that I recommended you get this one of a kind Estwing solid steel framing hammer. When comparing the two hammers the Estwing definitely comes out on top even without the edged head or magnets. The question you have to ask yourself is it worth paying more money. In my opinion I would say it is as this hammer will NOT break you. If you are interested in purchasing then please click here to go to Amazon.com. However, if you are one of those best of the best guys than I would recommend you check out the next hammer in this article.
Stiletto TB15MC TiBone
No article on this website is complete without the mention of a Tough-Ass Tool and this hammer is a prime example. The Stiletto TB15MC TiBone hammer is the best of the best. You cannot find a better hammer in my opinion. This baby is made of titanium. Yes, you heard right freaking titanium. While this is only a fifteen ounce hammer the manufacturer, and many other customers, state that it drives like a twenty-eight ounce one.
This thing comes in at two pounds which is right around the other two hammers that we looked at. The difference here is titanium is much lighter than steel. What does that mean? It means that this hammer is much denser than the steel hammer that we looked at earlier. In other words that means it is more durable and resistant to breaking.
Remember that nylon grip that I was talking about? You know, the one that reduced shock when driving nails in? Well, the Stiletto doesn’t have a nylon grip… it doesn’t need one. The titanium make of this hammer automatically reduces recoil and impact by over ten times when comparing it to steel. A reviewer from Amazon even stated that, “A little expensive but worth it, especially if your dealing with carpal tunnel like I am.” There is a still a cover on this handle but it is made of standard rubber that grips to your hand.
The handle has an axe style grip to it that slightly curves which makes driving that much easier. Just like the first hammer that we reviewed the Stiletto has a magnetized head along with a milled or edged face. To top it off this edged face is replaceable. So, after years of use you find that the edging has chipped or smoothed away all you have to do is buy a replacement from Stiletto’s website. (The link is here to their company website.)
Other hammers come with a lifetime warranty. Now, I’m not sure how big of a deal this really is. I mean who is going to keep their paperwork for decades down the road until your tool eventually breaks? I’m not that organized. The Stiletto comes with a one year warranty that ensures the hammer is free of any defects or manufacturing errors. If you receive your hammer and find that it is damaged then all you have to do is visit Stiletto’s website and view their return policy. The link to their return section can be found by clicking here.
Another thing worth mentioning on this hammer is the nail side puller. Stiletto claims that they have a new patented puller that will ease out 16P nails out with one one-hundred and eighty degree motion. I was a little skeptical so I checked some of the reviews looking for any mention of the nail puller. One buyer stated that, “I can’t say enough good things about the side nail puller!”
There are only two downsides to this hammer that I can find. The first is obvious, and that is the price. This is not a cheap hammer. But, as I stated above we are in the Best category right now. I am going to recommend the best framing hammer out there that I can find and this ladies and gentlemen is it. I mean just look at how they ship their product. (Picture below.) I’m sure if you bought some cheapo hammer on Amazon it would not come to you like that.
The second downside to this hammer is the length of the handle. Now, some people may see this as a benefit but others complain about it. Honestly, from what I can see and from what I have read it has the typical standard length of any framing hammer. The handle comes in at a length of 17 1/2 inches. So, yes it is long but as I have said earlier the longer the handle the more force you are going to have. It may very well be that the reason it can drive like a twenty-eight ounce hammer is due to the length of the handle.
When looking on online there are nothing but positive reviews. I struggled to find anything negative about this thing. If we look on Amazon.com we can see that this hammer over one-hundred reviews and almost all of them at four or five stars. (Overall rating of 4.5/5.0) If you are looking for a Tough-Ass Tool than this my friends is it. I highly HIGHLY recommend getting this and adding it to your tool belt.
In conclusion we looked at the Good, Better, and Best of the framing hammer world. The question you ask yourself is what are you going to purchase?
- Good – Stanley 51-402 FatMax 22-Ounce
- Better – Estwing E3-22S 22 Ounce
- Best – Stiletto TB15MC TiBone
Thanks for reading folks and I hope that I was able to impact your buying decision!
Alec John Johnson