Curved Claw VS Straight Rip Claw Hammer

So you’re at the hardware store or looking on for a new hammer but as you’re looking you begin to notice the different types of claws. Some of them are curved. Some of them are straight. But, what is the difference? What do you need? Should you go for the curved or the straight? Well, rest easy ladies and gents as we’re going to dive in and take a look at the pros and cons of each type of claw.


The curved claw is the standard bearer across the industry. If you have a hammer out in your garage chances are that it is a curved claw as shown in the picture below.

The curved claw allows for better leverage when pulling out nails. It is also found on lighter finishing hammers. With it’s lighter weight and extra leverage it will allow you to extract the nail with minimal damage to the wood. (Hopefully.)

I won’t lie though the curved claw hammer is seen as the novice’s hammer. Most professionals opt for the rip claw. If a carpenter needs a nail puller chances are he already has another tool on hand that will get the job done just fine. Why sacrifice the rip claw for a nail puller?

As one carpenter put it, “When I see a curved claw hammer I think ‘Homeowner.'”

Curved Hammer Claw
Curved Hammer Claw

Straight (Rip Claw)

The straight claw, or rip claw, is found on more heavy duty hammers like framing hammers. As Tim Allen said all of those years ago, ‘More Power!’  It is called the ‘rip claw’ due to its ability to wedge itself in between pieces of wood and rip it apart in a pry-bar like action.

While the rip claw hammers are usually more expensive they are also more versatile. Your straight claw hammer can be used for not only splitting apart two by fours but also as an overall tool of destruction. Yes, it sounds nefarious, but it has it’s uses in drywall applications, plywood, siding, or whatever else you need to tear apart. Chances are if it is in your house the rip claw can tear it apart.

Straight Hammer Claw

I feel like I would be amiss if I didn’t mention this but something that I read over and over again on rip hammers was that they are a great safety stop when you are working on a roofing project. Think of it like an Everest climber going up a snowy hill when suddenly he loses his balance and begins rolling down the hill towards a steep cliff. Frantically he grabs his pickax and slams it into the ground. The pickax wedges itself into the snow and the climber is saved. Funny enough I have read of multiple instances of roofers using their rip hammer as an anchor just like that pickax when they begin sliding down the roof. They slam their rip claw into the shingles and bam they are safe and sound.


To sum it up folks if you are a homeowner and just doing a few side projects here and there on the weekend then I am going to recommend you get the standard curved claw hammer. But, if you are a professional or you are going to start an apprenticeship then I would highly recommend you get yourself a high quality rip hammer.

As always I prefer to buy and browse on rather than the home improvement stores. You get better prices, real time reviews, and only a few day lead time. Buy it on a Monday and have there that Friday for your weekend project.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

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