Hello ladies and gentlemen! Today on ToughAssTools.com we are going to be doing a product review on Vaughan’s VW20 Douglas Pattern twenty ounce framing hammer. There wasn’t a lot of information on this hammer that could be found through my research but I will do my best to provide you with the most accurate assessment that I can on Vaughan’s product.
Vaughan manufacturing has been around since just after the American Civil War ended. Yes, they’ve been around that long. As of 1869 the Vaughan and Bushnell company has been making custom and quality tools. With nearly one-hundred and fifty years of experience I would say that they know what they are doing. For more information on their company click here.
The VW20 Douglas Framing Hammer comes in at twenty ounces. In my opinion this twenty ounce weight is the ‘sweet spot’ when it comes to framing hammers. You get just enough power to drive those larger nails but your hammer is not so heavy that it is difficult to use. The handle on this hammer extends to sixteen inches and is a straight Hickory make. To strengthen the handle there are two bolts to ensure that the head and handle do not separate. This is a unique feature that is not found on most Hickory handled hammers.
The bolts I mentioned above connect the head to the hammer using Vaughan’s patented ‘Deep V’ head design. This design not only allows for a more secure connection but it also provides greater power at the point of impact and less stress on your arm. The face of the head comes with a milled or waffle face as shown in the picture to the right. At the top of the head there is a magnetic nail starter which I’m sure most of you are used to. This combined with the waffle face makes it much easier to drive larger nails.
The claw on this hammer is a rip, or straight claw, as it is with most framing hammers. Although this rip claw is shorter than most giving you the ability to get into tighter places and to gain more leverage. This shorter claw is also reinforced to provide extra strength when prying two by fours or whatever else you are tearing apart. The last feature on this hammer is the sidewinder side nail puller that can be seen in the picture to the right. This feature allows you to easily pull out those hard to reach nails and will also give you another option for demolition or for extracting a nail.
As I said at the beginning of this article there really wasn’t a lot of information to be found on this product. Most of the Pros on this hammer are the many features it comes with such as the side puller, the magnetic starter, the reinforced bolted head to handle, and the reinforced rip claw. All of these features add up to a great hammer and also add up in price. There are a few more things I’d like to mention before moving onto the cons section.
The finished hammer comes with a powder coat finish. This may not mean much to you, heck… doesn’t mean much to me, but I figured I would mention it as I know there are some guys out there who just love the powder coating. (Don’t get me started on powder coated wheels.) This hammer also comes with over strike protection to ensure your hammer is secure.
The last thing I’m going to mention on this hammer is a big one. This product is made in the United States of America. Vaughan seems to be one of the few companies nowadays who still believe in American craftsmanship. If you are looking for an American made hammer than this may be the one for you.
When I go over the Cons on a product that I am reviewing I like to lay them out in the most easy to read and organized fashion I can. I want to make it an easy decision for you, the consumer. Do you want to buy the product or do you want to move on to something else? Let’s take a look at some of the Cons on the Vaughan VW20:
- Hickory Handle – As most of you know by now I am not a fan of Hickory handles. Hickory handles are prone to breaking. It doesn’t matter how strong the wood it is. It will eventually break on you. If I buy a hammer, especially an expensive one, I do not want to be bothered having to unwedge the broken handle, order a new one, and then have to wedge in a new one. I’m sorry but I don’t have the time nor the want to do that. I want something durable like steel. This is just my preference though, if you’re fine with replacing handles every once and a while then by all means go ahead and purchase.
- Poor Casting – Alright, so this one could seriously be a problem. I wasn’t able to find too much information on this hammer but the stuff that I did find wasn’t the best. There are at least four recorded instances of the claw on the hammer snapping off after only a few days or weeks of use. Obviously, this is a big problem and will cause your hammer to be useless. I had to take off quite a bit of points due to these complaints. There is always the possibility to file a warranty but I am not sure if you will get a new product or your money back from Vaughan. (I go into more on the warranty side below.)
- Price – I know this is an American made product but I have to take points off on price. As I write this this product is going for nearly eight dollars on various E-Commerce websites. This price seems extremely high considering that I can get a Hickory handled Titanium hammer for right about the same price. If you’re going to spend this amount of money why not get yourself a Ti Stiletto?
- Warranty – Vaughan’s warranty is vague. I understand that they have to analyze each and every case when a hammer comes back for abuse but usually there is a more detailed warranty policy written such as one year policy, or lifetime warranty. I struggled to find an official warranty term but instead found this, “Replacement will be solely at the discretion of Vaughan & Bushnell Mfg Co. Nothing in this policy shall be interpreted or construed as an express or implied warranty, all of which are excluded by Vaughan & Bushnell Mfg Co.” From this I can see that there is a high chance that a warranty claim may be denied. For more information click here to be taken directly to their warranty page.
Overall, I am going to give Vaughan’s VW20 framing hammer a 3.1 out of 5.0. While this may not sound like an extremely low review I can assure you that this is the lowest score that I’ve given a product so far on this site. When I review products on ToughAssTools.com I only want to review the best and frankly I feel that this hammer falls short. The pricing levels on this product worry me but if it was only the pricing then I could let some of it slide. Where a lot of the points came off was on durability. Those instances of bad casting worry me. I do not want to recommend a product only to have the claw fail on you after only a few weeks of use. At this point I am going to say it’s a no buy.
After saying that, if you are interested in purchasing then by all means visit our Amazon partner by clicking here. However, if you’re looking for an equivalent product for a bit cheaper price then I would recommend getting yourself an Estwing steel framer. You’ll get a great and durable hammer for half the cost.
Thanks for reading and I hope that I was able to help you in your buying decision.