For more information on hammer, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.
There are hammers to live with and hammers you can live without. My work tells me which one to pick up. Outside of these three I keep a couple of claw hammers for heavier work, construction projects and such. The first claw hammer, the Stanley 20 ounce, I bought when I was 16. It is a bench joiner’s hammer but not really a furniture joiner’s hammer.
I’m no longer sure if hammer designers change hammer shapes and colours for good erg’ reasons or whether they are more fashion statements in an age of, well, fashion. Whereas my Estwing ripping claw changed from it’s previous claw shape, the ripping claw is my favourite construction hammer. I also like the leather handle over the wood, too.
But these three hammers above are mine. They were my choice from the beginning and no bench hammer has replaced them though i do have to chuckle at some of the silly little hammers some ‘tool designers‘ have presented through the years – ‘chic‘. Why then do you need three hammers, Paul? Surely one will do? you ask. Well, as it is with planes and saws, chisels and such, not all hammers are equal in the different tasks we do at the bench. Subtle differences in punch, hold and delivery make me pick one up over the others. Steel hammers like my cross-pein version means I can drive nails and hit nail punches to set nails. There are other metalworking tasks I can use them for too but nothing starts and drives small brads like the cross-pein of a cross-pein hammer. This is a 10 ounce hammer but I also have 12 and 16 ounce versions for other work.
My Thorex 712 38mm hammer is unchallenged for mallet work with my chisels and also assembly pretty well. It has pretty well replaced my wooden mallet versions though I will always love my hand made wooden mallets and for some work they are irreplaceable. The advantage of the two different hard and soft faces is density. The grey is soft enough for good and general assembly but not so good for chisel work. The white face is ultra kind to chisel handles yet still capably gives good delivery. The white face is also very good for assembly on hard and dense-grained wood too. Very positive in both delivery and feedback. Better than eBay!
I designed my brass headed hammer for two main functions; hammer tap adjustment to wedged planes – on both wedge and blade – and assembly and chisel work. The wider bell end is domed for chisel work and works especially well whereas the opposite side is good for closer and narrower work needed in plane adjustment.