What’s the best hammer for me? Believe it or not, size matters!

What’s the best hammer for me? Believe it or not, size matters!

You would think an everyday tool like a hammer would be simple. Yes and no. There are all kinds of features you might need to know about. Choose a tool that’s too heavy for you and you’ll pay the price with a sore arm. But a tool that’s too light might not get the job done, so choose wisely

What is a hammer?

Claw hammerA hammer is a tool that has a weighted “head” at the end of a long handle that is swung to deliver a force to a small area of an object. This might be, for example, to drive nails into wood, to shape metal (with a forge), or to crush rock. They are used for a variety of tasks.

The modern hammer head is typically made of steel which has been heat-treated for hardness, and a handle (also called a haft or helve) is usually made of wood or plastic.

Choosing the right tool for the job.

For home use, you typically need a claw hammer to hang pictures, fix your fence or most any other common household task. A claw hammer has a “claw,” opposite the “head,” to pull nails out of wood and other materials. There are hammers with magnetized heads and nail starters to help hold the nail while driving a nail. This can be a real time-saver.

I needed to buy a new hammer and looked at several options. I’m a big guy, so I thought right off I should get a larger tool. Something in the range of 22-25 ounces. Not so fast, big boy! Those are great tools, no doubt, but if you need to swing a hammer all day or for several hours of work, a lighter 15-16 ounce tool might be best unless you’re a real pro and are used to the activity.

The handle is important, too. Some are made from tried-and-true harder woods like hickory, and will last the life of the tool. There are also shock-absorbing handles which can reduce fatigue and wear and tear on your shoulder and arm.

The short list.

Here’s a few I considered:

Sure Strile Tack Hammer (paid link)

In the end, which hammer you buy is up to you. Just remember to always use the right tool for the job: if you are driving a small finishing nail, a huge 25-ounce framing hammer will be like using a sledgehammer. In this case, it would be better to use a smaller finishing hammer.

Likewise, if you’re driving a 16 penny nail, you’ll want a heavier tool to get the job done. You need mass and force. Just know that there can be problems with choosing a tool that is too light or too heavy. It all depends on what the task at hand might be.

I hope this helps you choose the right hammer for you.


Floating vanity in a small bathroom. Good choice.

Floating vanity in a small bathroom. Good choice.

This isn’t my usual DIY tip—it’s more of a home renovation project involving a floating vanity that turned out pretty cool.

When remodeling a small bathroom, we looked at floating vanities, also called wall-hung or wall-mounted, for a couple of reasons. They’re more modern-looking, and they make small spaces look bigger. And this space was pretty tight. (more…)

Choosing ladders:  think twice, buy once

Choosing ladders: think twice, buy once

Like most homeowners, I found out a long time ago I can’t get by with just one ladder. Especially not that rickety old aluminum stepladder I found in my garage—though I tried for awhile. You’re likely going to need at least two ladders to get your basic DIY stuff done (unless you go with a multipurpose ladder: more on that later). (more…)

1-piece toilet beats 2-piece, hands down.

1-piece toilet beats 2-piece, hands down.

Trying to choose between 1-piece toilet or the traditional 2-piece? We were, too, but after having lived with both, it’s not even close:

We favor the 1-piece by a wide margin. It’s sleeker and more modern-looking, it’s easier to clean and it’s less likely to leak or break. (more…)