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If I Had A Hammer: Buying and using a hammer

If I Had A Hammer: Buying and using a hammer

The singer of the old song “If I Had A Hammer” had a list of things he'd do with a hammer, like hammering out danger, warning, and love for his brothers and sisters.  What he failed to mention, though, was that different jobs need different types of hammers.


Hammers come in three basic types: claw hammers, ball peen hammers, and club hammers.  Within these three types are hammers for demolition, woodworking, metalwork, and other types of construction or carpentry.


Most of us, when we think of a hammer, picture a claw hammer. Claw hammers are designed for working with wood; specifically, for driving nails into wood and pulling nails out of wood. The steel “head” of the hammer has two parts: the “face”, the part used to drive nails, and the “peen”, which is the claw used to pull nails out of wood. 


Ball peen (or, ball pein) hammers are designed for working with metalwork.  Ball peen hammers, often referred to as “engineers' hammers”, are used to shape metal, close rivets, and drive cold chisels.  The ball peen hammer has a round striking surface on one side of the head and a flat surface on the other side. Ball peens, like claw hammers, come in many sizes. 


Club or lump hammers, as well as the larger sledgehammer, are used to drive stakes and cold chisels. They are also used in demolition work, such as breaking down drywall or destroying masonry. Most club or lump hammers have two identical faces on their head.


When going shopping for a hammer, look for one that is precision balanced, fits your hand, isn't too heavy or too light, and is appropriate for the type of work you will be doing. A good hammer has a head of forged steel and a handle of hardwood (usually hickory), fiberglass, or steel. 
When using a hammer, hold it like you're shaking hands with someone. Hold the hammer closer to the hammer head when you need more control over the hammer (such as, when you're first starting to drive a nail.)  When you need more power over the hammer, grip it near the handle's end. The weight of the hammer should do most of the work.


Whatever job you're doing, use the correct hammer for it. Don't try demolishing drywall with a claw hammer, and don't use a sledgehammer to drive nails into wood. Using the wrong hammer will lead to the job taking twice as long because you didn't do it right the first time. Don't use a hammer with a loose or broken handle, because the hammer head could fly off while in use, causing serious damage to property, people, or both. 
Always wear safety goggles when using a hammer. It only takes one speck of wood, metal, masonry, or drywall to get in your eye and cause serious damage.


Now that you know what the different kinds of hammers do, it's time to pick up your (properly selected) hammer and gets to work!

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