Hello ladies and gentlemen! Hope everyone had a great fourth. Titanium versus Steel hammers is a debate that has been going on for nearly two decades now. Ever since the first Titanium hammer was introduced into the market all the way back in 1998 by the Stiletto Tool company a debate has been raging between both sides as to what hammer is better.
There are hardcore Steel guys who scoff at the idea of a fancy Titanium hammer. They want their tried and tested Estwing Steel and nothing else. But there are others out there who have tried the new Ti hammers, such as the Stiletto TB15MC, and have fallen in love with their quality and their benefits. The question I have for you today is which is better? Who wins, Steel or Titanium? Well folks, let’s find out.
The one piece construction Steel hammer that we know and love today can be traced all the way back to Ernest Estwing and his Estwing hammer company in the year 1926. Steel hammers are the usual go to for any tradesmen, carpenter, or even any laymen who wants to put together a new garage. They are so widely used today and available for such a low price it is no wonder that there is resistance to the Titanium hammers entering the market as a new competitor.
The first and easiest points for Steel hammers are the price. You can get a standard Estwing Steel framing hammer for between twenty-fifty dollars depending on the size and type of hammer you purchase. (Prices are subject to change.) This price is a step above from the standard wooden handled framing hammers on the market today that can sometimes be as cheap as fifteen dollars. These Steel hammers are also significantly cheaper than a typical Titanium. Ti hammers can range between eighty dollars all the way up to and past two-hundred dollars.
Now one of the downsides of Steel hammers which I’m sure most of you know are the shock and reverberations you feel after repeated usage. Each time you drive a nail there is a shock from the impact that echoes and reverberates its way back into your wrist, to your elbow, and sometimes even to your shoulder. After years of continual use framers can develop Carpel Tunnel, Tennis Elbow, or a variety of other injuries. There have been attempts by Estwing and other Steel hammer manufacturers to reduce the shock by using rubber or poly handles. While these handles help they do not eliminate the problem.
To complicate the problem more with Steel hammers is that to get a decent drive on a 16D nail you need a moderately heavy hammer. Most guys go with a twenty or twenty-two ouncer but some of the big guys feel that they have to get a twenty-six, twenty-eight, or even a thirty ouncer. This extra weight swing after swing only adds to the potential of injury. The only upside to this extra weight that I can see is that it aids in demolition when using the rip claw. After all the more weight you have the more power you have to destroy!
There are two big selling points on Titanium hammers. The first is that Titanium is forty-five percent less in weight than Steel. Don’t be alarmed though. This reduction in weight will not hinder your driving power at all, in fact it may even help you. Titanium has the same power as Steel but comes in the lighter weight package allowing you to retire your twenty-eight ouncer for a sixteen ounce Ti hammer.
The thing to keep in mind is that Titanium allows users to transfer ninety-seven percent of your swing energy onto the nail while a steel hammer only allows for seventy percent of that energy. What does that mean? Well that thirty percent energy leftover on the steel hammer has to go somewhere and I bet you can guess where it ends up. Right in your wrist, elbow, and shoulder. The Titanium only has three percent of displaced energy not going onto the nail. You get a more efficient hammer at nearly half the weight of your typical steel framer. This is how you can get a sixteen ounce Ti hammer hitting like a twenty-eight ouncer. What’s that old saying we’ve all heard from our fathers? Work smarter, not harder.
The second point I want to make on Titanium hammers is that along with the reduced weight Titanium also has ten times less the recoil or shock than Steel. So, not only are you getting the weight savings with each swing you are also getting less reverberations and shock with each swing. For you younger bucks out there that might not mean much but come back in another fifteen years of swinging and you’ll be signing a different tune. The goal of these Ti hammers is to reduce injury and to make you more efficient. I mean, who wouldn’t want that? I was reading an article the other day where the writer mentioned that he had some of his skeptical carpenters do a ‘concrete test,’ with both a Steel and a Titanium hammer. They would swing each hammer into the concrete floor and see which felt better on their arms. The Ti won without question and just by doing a few swings it won over some of the skeptics.
If you ask me and my opinion then I say Titanium wins hands down. You may no want to hear it but Steel hammers are antiquated and will eventually be a thing of the past either being replaced by Titanium or Aluminum alternatives. There are so many options today on Titanium hammers ranging from a light weight ten ouncer with a hickory handle all the way up to a fifteen ounce solid Titanium one piece construction hammer. And as I write this today there are even more Titanium, and other types of hammers, being invented, innovated, and improved on today. The days of the Estwing Steel hammers may very well be numbered.
If you are on the fence about purchasing a Titanium hammer then I would suggest you look at the following questions and answer them to yourself. Does it make sense for you or should you stick with your steel?
- Are you looking for a hammer to have around the house and use occasionally on projects?
- If so, then I would recommend a Steel Estwing. It wouldn’t make sense to invest the kind of money it takes to buy a Titanium hammer if you will just be using it off and on.
- Are you a weekend warrior working on a new project every other week spending hours on end framing?
- This situation can be up for debate. If you’re not swinging every day in and out then you may not need a Titanium but if you want a nice quality product that isn’t going to break on you then you could make the jump up to Stiletto’s Titanium.
- Are you a tradesmen or full time carpenter looking to replace your Steel?
- Instead of going back to Steel I would recommend you hop on the Titanium train now and purchase at least a basic model Titanium to give it a try. I wrote an article the other day going into what the best Titanium hammers on the market today are. You can read it by clicking here.
- Are you in your forties, fifties, or even sixties? Do you have former injuries to your wrist or elbow?
- The great thing about Titanium hammers is that they are so easy on the body. You will notice a huge difference and your body will thank you for it. It is a smart move to purchase. They even offer some products as light as ten ounces with the driving power of a sixteen ounce steel.
I hope that I was able to answer your questions today and I was able to help in your buying decision.
Thanks for reading,