Hit the mark with the right hammer

If there's one tool everyone is familiar with, it's the hammer. It has what might be the simplest design of any tool ever invented: a long, (ideally) comfortable handle that swings a durable, heavy and sometimes flat or rounded head. Hammers are designed for pounding nails into wood, plastic, metal and stone, but they can also be used for entirely different purposes. For instance, the jackhammer is used as a demolition hammer rather than for building things.

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A sledgehammer has a similar purpose—it might be designated as road construction equipment, but it, too, is often used for breaking things down through brute force. For work- or home-project building purposes, here are some types of hammers that are available.

Traditional Hammer and Nails

Even though they all look pretty similar, there are actually a number of different styles of traditional hammer. First, there's the common nail hammer with a curved claw. It's meant for general carpentry work and pulling out average-sized nails. Then there's the framing hammer, which has a straight claw that can be used in more intense carpentry projects, including for framing, of course, but also for ripping away material. A finishing hammer is generally used to make cabinets, drawers and other similar types of carpentry items.

The ball-peen hammer—which looks a little like a medieval weapon—is a bit different from the others because it can be used for riveting, punching and bending soft metals like aluminum. If, on the other hand, you're working with gentle materials that require only moderate force, there's the soft-face hammer, which is used for assembling furniture and setting in wooden dowels.

Air Hammer

Hammering, although a simple action, is often a physically draining and even dangerous one. For handymen who need help with this repetitive movement, there are air hammers, which use compressed air to mimic the pounding motion. The cost of an air hammer ranges from less than $100 to over $20,000, depending on the size and project, but regardless of their price, they can reduce time and stress. Likewise, a rotary hammer uses batteries or electric power to produce a similar result.