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Types of Hammers and Their Uses

Revised: 2/18/22
Grainger Editorial Staff

Hammers come in a wide array of weights and sizes, each designed for a specific task. There are hammers for blacksmithing, carpentry, automotive mechanics and many other applications. Using a hammer that isn't intended for the task can require more effort, possible injury or even damage to work surfaces and fasteners. So if you don't already, it's good practice to have a large collection of hammers in your shop rather than improvising with a limited set.

Here's a quick overview to acquaint you with some common types of hammers and how they are used.

Claw and Framing Hammers

While these hammers all feature a round head for driving nails, the claw end is every bit as useful for prying, splitting wood, tearing drywall and other small demolition tasks. The claw is curved on a claw hammer, and straight on framing hammers.

These hammers are best for: 

  • Woodworking 
  • Prying 
  • Finishing
  • Framing 
  • Splitting 
  • Small demolition 

Ball Peen Hammer

The ball peen hammer was originally designed for peening, or  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 peen hammers are best for: 

  • Metalworking
  • Rounding edges
  • Punching and riveting

Dead Blow Hammer

These hammers are designed to strike surfaces with great force, and dead blow means they won’t rebound after striking.

Dead blow hammers are best for: 

  • Automotive applications
  • Setting joints
  • Installing floor boards 

Engineering and Drilling Hammers 

The heavy head of a hand drilling hammer is used to drive chisels and punches. These hammers  typically feature a flat face with rounded edges and a wedged peen opposite the head.

Engineering and drilling hammers are best for: 

  • Driving
  • Punching and chiseling
  • Shaping and forging metal


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 types of hammers deliver softer impact than hammers with metal heads. They are essential if your work needs to be free of impact marks.

Mallets are best for: 

  • Shaping metal
  • Fitting wooden parts
  • Plasterboard

Chipping and Riveting Hammers

Chipping hammers are great for breaking concrete. Welding and riveting hammers can help remove slag from welds.

Chipping and riveting hammers are used in: 

  • Mining
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Welding

Sledge Hammer 

Sledge hammers are larger than most hammers and feature a metal, mallet-like head. Heavier sledge hammers with longer handles are intended to be swung with both hands.

Sledge hammers are best for: 

  • Breaking stone
  • Driving stakes
  • Demolition

Soft-Face, Split-Head Hammers

Soft-face, split-head hammers with interchangeable heads are for use in projects that require force without marking the surface. Soft- face,  split head hammers come with or without heads.

Soft-face, split-head hammers are best for: 

  • Machining
  • Metalforming
  • Crafting

Choosing the Best Hammer for the Job

Because many hammers have similar designs, it may seem that any one of these versatile tools will work for a variety of uses. However, once you know more about specific hammer design and the intended purpose of each, you'll be able to match the best hammer for the task. Getting this right can help reduce wear and tear on your tools, and may even help you work more efficiently.
Learn more about hammers and find a variety of hammers for your needs here.

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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