Choosing the Right Hammer: Types of Hammers & Uses

Choosing the Right Hammer

What are the best hammers you can have? That depends on what you are using them for. There are many different types of hammers. Each is designed with a certain function in mind. The best hammer is the hammer that is made for the task you are performing.


Claw Hammer

Claw hammers are the most common type of hammer. The head is smooth for clean finishing work. The claw is curved, allowing the hammer to rock when removing nails.

  • Claw hammers are best for:
  • Woodworking
  • Prying
  • Finishing

Framing Hammer

Also called a Rip Hammer, a framing hammer is a modified type of claw hammer. The claw is straight instead of curved. It also has a longer handle, is usually heavier. The head has a rough or waffled face; this keeps the head from slipping when driving nails.

  • Framing hammers are best for:
  • Framing
  • Splitting
  • Small Demolition

Ball Pein Hammer

The ball pein hammer was originally designed for peeing—that is, shaping metal materials by hammering. One end of the head is ball-shaped for this purpose. The other end is flat and is used for driving.

  • Ball Pein hammers are best for:
  • Metalworking
  • Rounding edges
  • Punching and riveting

Drywall Hammer

Hanging drywall? Removing drywall? Either way, you will need a drywall hammer. These are lightweight hammers with a rounded head on one end. This helps with preventing imperfections in the drywall. The other end is hatchet-shaped, for cutting boards.

  • Drywall hammers are best for:
  • Hanging drywall
  • Drywall demolition
  • Plaster

Roofing Hammer

Also called a shingle hammer or slate, these hammers are designed for working with slate shingles while roofing. The roofing hammer has a flat head on one end for driving nails. The other end has a long pick. This is to pierce holes in slate before driving into the rooftop. It may also come with a stub at the base of the pick that forms a claw for removing nails.

  • Roofing hammers are best for:
  • Shingling
  • Roofing
  • Slate work

Brick Hammer

Brick hammers are used in all kinds of masonry work. The chisel end is for scoring and the clean breaking of brick and stone. The blunt end is also for breaking stone or concrete, though less neatly. They may also be called a bricklaying hammer, a tile setter’s hammer, or a stonemason hammer.

  • Brick hammers are best for:
  • Bricklaying
  • Demolition of hard materials
  • General masonry

Tack Hammer

Tack hammers are very small, very lightweight hammers. These are designed for driving small, delicate nails. These hammers may also be called upholstery hammers and were made for attaching fabrics to furniture. It also has a magnetic end to help place small nails and tacks.

  • Tack hammers are best for:
  • Upholstery
  • Precision, lightweight hammering
  • Setting tacks

Rubber Mallet

A mallet is a block on a handle, which is usually used for driving chisels. The head on a rubber mallet is made of rubber. These hammers deliver softer impact than hammers with metal heads. They are essential if your work needs to be free of impact marks.

  • Rubber Mallets are best for:
  • Shaping metal
  • Fitting wooden parts
  • Plasterboard


Sledgehammers are a large hammer with a metal, mallet-like head. Their handles are long, designed to be held with both hands. They can range anywhere from 3-16 lbs. These hammers deliver a mighty blow, designed for breaking stone and demolition work.

  • Sledgehammers are best for:
  • Breaking stone
  • Driving stakes
  • Demolition

Drilling Hammer

Think of a drilling hammer as the sledgehammer’s baby brother. Also called engineer’s hammers or club hammers, these offer the same kind of pound as a sledgehammer, but on a smaller scale. They are small and light enough that they are held with one hand.

  • Drilling hammers are best for:
  • Driving stakes
  • Demolition
  • Chiseling

Dead Blow Hammer

A dead blow hammer drives a lot of force, inside a sleek, non-marring coating. These are a type of mallet designed to strike surfaces with great force. They deliver a no-bounce hit—that is, they don’t rebound after striking.

  • Dead Blow hammers are best for:
  • Automotive
  • Setting joints
  • Dent removal

Welder’s Hammer

The most recognizable feature of a welder’s hammer is the handle. It is made of a barrel spring, which is designed to interrupt the flow of heat through the handle, keeping the welder’s hand safe from the high temperatures. The head is designed for chipping, which is why this is also frequently referred to as a chipping hammer.

  • Welder’s hammers are best for:
  • Welding
  • Removing slag
  • Chipping

Choosing the Best Hammer

Of all the types of hammers, you will only need the ones that are useful in your trade. Because many hammers have similar designs, it may appear that one hammer should be good enough for a variety of uses. Choosing the best hammer for the job at hand is the only way to ensure you’re getting the most out of your tool.


Pub. 10/2016
The product statements contained herein are intended for informational purposes only. Such product statements do not constitute a product recommendation or representation as to the appropriateness for a specific application or use. W. W. Grainger, Inc. does not guarantee the result of product operation or assume any liability for personal injury or property damage resulting from the use of such products.