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Types of Hammers & Their Uses

Revised: 9/3/19
Grainger Editorial Staff

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.

Choosing the Right Hammer

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. This type of hammer head has a rough or waffled face; it 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 types of hammers 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 types of 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 types of hammers 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 types of 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 types of 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 type of hammer is also frequently referred to as a chipping hammer.

Welder’s hammers are best for:

  • Welding
  • Removing slag
  • Chipping

Choosing the Best Type of 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.


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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