Updated on November 14, 2022
There are certain tools that are a staple among contractors, and framing hammers are at the top of the list. Many in the construction industry have a favorite model they’ve settled on and say it’s the best framing hammer in existence. Others are still looking to find “the one”.
At one time, the heaviest framing hammer was often associated with being the most powerful, but that’s no longer true due to different materials and improved technology. The following framing hammers all have a lighter design with stronger materials than their predecessors.
Likewise, framing hammers (also called rip hammers), are all designed to create less shock, making them ideal for those who may have prior injuries or are simply no longer 20 year-olds. For general all-purpose work, see our favorite claw hammers.
Our 8 Favorite Framing Hammers
|Stiletto TB15MC||15 oz||Milled||17.5"||USA|
|Martinez Tools M1||15 oz||Smooth||16.4"||USA|
|Douglas Tool TC20||20 oz||Traction||17.0"||USA|
|Dalluge DDT16||16 oz||Smooth||17.3"||USA/China|
|Stiletto TI14SC||14 oz||Smooth||18.0"||USA/China|
|Vaughan CF2HC||19 oz||Milled||16.7"||USA|
|Estwing E3-22S||22 oz||Smooth||15.9"||USA|
|Milwaukee 48-22-9022||22 oz||Milled||15.0"||Taiwan|
Framing Hammer Reviews
#1 – Stiletto TB15MC Ti-Bone 15oz Framing Hammer
Note: In case the TB15MC is not available, the Stiletto TI14MC-F is another good option.
Don’t let the price fool you, this titanium framing hammer really earns its keep. Titanium is both stronger and lighter than steel, and the recoil is only one-tenth of a steel hammer, making this far less stressful to work with compared to the alternatives.
Made in the USA, the Stiletto TB15MC features a magnetic nail start, milled face, and the curved handle is ergonomically designed with a new patented rubber compound designed to reduce shock while absorbing moisture. A straight handle variation is also available.
One of the biggest concerns of professional contractors is the effect age has on their ability to work. Those who have bought this model are quick to comment on how much easier it is to use compared to other hammers, as well as how much longer they can work before feeling the effects.
Users also note that the hammer hits much harder than one would expect from its light weight, allowing you do drive nails into even concrete with little effort. While it has a 15 ounce head, Stiletto claims it drives like a 28 ounce hammer, and most users wouldn’t argue with that.
The obvious negative this hammer receives is the hefty price. Titanium is highly durable but comes with a cost that many users simply can’t afford, especially if just starting out.
A few have also complained that the handle isn’t fully compatible with some tool belts due to its unusual design. Finally, while the titanium portion will last a lifetime, the rubber handle may wear down faster than a traditional wooden handle.
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#2 – Martinez Tools M1 15oz Framing Hammer
Not so easy to find anymore, the Martinez M1 is a favorite of many contractors. Made in the USA, the M1 sports a titanium handle and a 15 ounce smooth steel head, and stands apart for its interchangeable components.
You can switch between a milled and smooth head, and a curved or straight grip. This feature locks the parts in place, so there’s no give or wobble during use.
The head has most of its weight in the front for a more powerful swing, while the frame reduces shock for minimal recoil. An improved side nail puller and angled face round off the list of innovations on this wonderful tool.
The M1 may be a little on the pricey side, but you’re definitely getting quality. The hammer is well-balanced and surprisingly light. In addition, the ability to swap parts makes this framing hammer seem like you’ve actually bought four.
If it seems that the M1 design is similar to Stiletto all-titanium hammers, it’s because both were designed by the same person, Mark Martinez. So if you’re seeing the M1 as out of stock, the Stiletto above is almost identical. You really can’t go wrong with either.
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#3 – Douglas Tool TC20 20oz Framing Hammer
The USA-made TC20 from Douglas Tool has become the go-to for a growing number of contractors. It features a side nail-pull and 16-inch CrossOver hickory handle.
The unique inverted traction face is patented by Douglas and many prefer it over a standard milled face as it won’t mark up any tools that get hit with it (such as a chisel handle). It’s a really neat design idea you won’t find elsewhere.
The patented H2IT handle-to-head design provides additional durability, leverage, and strength. The hammer also includes overstrike protection, improving the handle’s lifespan, and a powerful rip claw.
With its 20-ounce head, this is an extremely well-crafted tool. The balancing is almost perfect, and the magnetic nail-set means an easy start for even difficult spaces. Despite its relatively recent appearance on the market, this is one hammer you’ll never regret buying.
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#4 – Dalluge DDT16 16 oz Titanium Framing Hammer
Dalluge hammers, made by Vaughan, are some of the best in the biz. This lightweight (16 ounce) titanium hammer is designed to absorb shock and maximize each swing.
While no longer 100% made in the USA (handles made in the USA; heads in China), the overall high quality is still there.
The Dalluge features an overstrike guard to improve handle protection, side nail puller, reinforced claws, and a Nailoc magnetic nail holder. The handle itself is made of hickory for a classic feel.
Titanium has many advantages over steel, and users agree that the lighter weight and stronger hits that this hammer can provide are a huge plus. The longer handle may take some getting used to, but allows for a larger range of motion, while the wooden handle provides a comfortable grip.
There are a few concerns with this product that make it less-than-ideal for some. The biggest problem is the wooden handle, which is prone to drying out or breakage. While wood isn’t as durable as some alternatives, many prefer its more traditional feel saying that outweighs the negative.
Another issue is the convex curvature of the head and chamfer, which some users complain is too steep, making it difficult to hit nails at an angle.
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#5 – Stiletto TI14SC “Titan” 14oz Framing Hammer
This classic titanium framing hammer provides the same driving force of a steel hammer nearly twice its weight while providing less recoil.
The ergonomic, curved handle is made of solid American hickory to provide a long, solid swing arc. The 14-ounce head with its smooth face also includes a magnetic nail start to make jobs even easier.
There’s very little to dislike about the Stiletto Titan. Its ergonomic shape is well-designed, and the weight allows you to work for longer periods. This is an excellent choice for your first Stiletto hammer when you’re on a budget.
Be warned, some sellers have provided refurbished hammers, resulting in a shorter lifespan. Purchase from well-known online merchant and check to ensure your newly-purchased tool is actually new upon arrival to avoid problems.
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#6 – Vaughan CF2HC 19oz California Framing Hammer
Made in the USA, the Vaughan CF2HC has a lot to offer. It blends the smooth swept claws from their 999 rip hammer and adds in the extra large, milled striking face of their rig builder’s hatchet for a top-notch experience.
The hatchet-style handle is made from quality hickory and includes a large cross section at the connection point with the polished head for improved durability.
The long handle and good grip make this an excellent choice for those wanting to add power to their swing. It’s fairly well-balanced, although it might not be ideal depending upon where you prefer to grip.
Also, there have been a few complaints about craftsmanship, but these seem to be an exception rather than the rule. That can be said with most of today’s hammers if you’re comparing it to the hammer from decades ago that your grandfather handed down to you.
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#7 – Estwing E3-22S 22 oz Framing Hammer
This 22-ounce solid steel framing hammer is designed to be an all-around construction hammer that can handle framing, trimming, demo, and finishing with ease.
The fact that it’s USA-made, high quality, and at a low price point, it’s no wonder this Estwing is one of the most popular framing hammers in use today.
The head and handle are a single forge piece of steel for maximum durability, and it’s covered by a blue nylon-vinyl cushion grip that provides shock absorption and a cushioned grip.
With an overall length of just under 16 inches and its smooth face and straight claw, this is a hammer all but guaranteed to provide a lifetime of service.
Those who use this Estwing on a regular basis find the versatility of this hammer to be one of its biggest assets. All parts of the hammer are well designed. While small, it has enough power to handle heavier jobs while still being able to work with precision tasks.
Another advantage is the solid steel construction, which means the handle won’t break and there’s no risk of the head becoming detached. This is a great example of why you’ll find Estwing hammers on a good number of jobsites as well as in home garages.
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#8 – Milwaukee 48-22-9022 22oz Framing Hammer
While power tools are Milwaukee’s specialty, the brand is becoming a big player in hand tools. Designed to be one of the best drivers in your collection, this 22-ounce framing hammer has a lot of little details to improve your working experience.
The milled face provides better grip and includes a magnetic nail set. The handle has I-beam construction and a Shockshield grip to reduce vibration by as much as ten times that of the competition. Even the straight claw uses an asymmetrical design that reduces the ringing produced by strikes.
Overall, the Milwaukee framer is a sturdy, durable hammer that provides comfort without compromising function. The weight might be a little on the heavier side for some individuals, but perfect for others.
Unfortunately, the claw isn’t as useful as it should be when removing nails, which seems to be the only real flaw on an otherwise excellent product.
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Choosing that Perfect Framing Hammer
Framing hammers are a lot heavier and more specialized than the one sitting in your kitchen tool drawer. As such, there are some special considerations to take into account that go beyond what you would need for an everyday model.
While the handle certainly factors into the hammer’s overall weight, the head is generally where most of the weight will be, requiring a longer handle for balance. These hammers may weigh anywhere from 8 ounces to 32 ounces.
Generally speaking, you should aim for something between 15 and 20 ounces until you have a better idea of the weight that suits your needs best. Knowing someone with a framing hammer you can practice some swings on is also a great way to figure out the best weight for your personal tastes.
There are three types of face on a framing hammer. Smooth faces, such as those found on a standard hammer, aren’t very popular but may be found with a little digging. Edged faces are more common and provide a little more control than smooth faces.
However, the most popular type of face is known as a milled or waffle face. These faces are textured to grip onto the heads of nails, preventing slips while hammering. You get even more out of them if your hammer’s head also includes a magnetic nail starter.
An inverted traction face that’s only found on Douglas hammers (see review above) also has its advantages.
There are two basic factors that could affect the handle you go with: material and shape.
Fiberglass handles are more durable than wood and absorb shock better than steel, but are also the middle road for everything else. This is a good default material to go for when you’ll be using the hammer a lot but probably not the best choice if you work with a lot of aggressively resistant materials.
Steel is heavier and will last forever, but has the poorest shock absorption. Some newer tools use titanium instead of steel to provide better shock absorption and steel-like durability at a lower weight.
Wood, the classic material, is the least durable but has the best shock absorption, making it perfect for those who don’t rely too heavily on one type of hammer but do a lot of work in one go.
To get the most life out of a wood-handled hammer, regular applications of wax are recommended. Most manufacturers have their own application instructions on this.
Ranging from about 15 inches to as much as 18 inches, the handle length is an important consideration which will affect the power behind your swing as well as the balance of the tool.
Generally speaking, the longer the handle, the more powerful the blows. It might take a while to master them, however,
Framing Hammer vs Claw Hammer
On the surface, these two hammer types seem to have a lot in common. However, a closer look reveals the specialized nature of a framing hammer. It weighs more and has a longer handle, allowing it to sink nails of all sizes faster.
The head usually also has pronounced texturing to it won’t slip during blows. Its claw is also straight to allow it to pry up boards in addition to pulling nails.
Meanwhile, the claw hammer has a smoother, slightly rounded face to sink nails into the surface without damaging the material. It has a curved claw which pulls nails more efficiently and its smaller size means it’s better suited for general use or softer blows.
Both can be used to build a shed or home addition, but a claw hammer is better for general around the house use.
Framing Hammer vs Nail Gun
You’ll most likely run into a lot of people who have become hardcore fans of nail guns, from framing nailers to brad nailers and everything in between. These people often compare nail guns to regular hammers, however.
The truth is, both tools have their own advantages and disadvantages. Nail guns are fast and their power doesn’t depend on your strength. They can be used one-handed and store the nails internally so you have less to carry although you’ll need a good compressor and air hose.
Meanwhile, a good framing hammer can also be used one-handed, especially when it has a magnetic nail start. They tend to be lighter and easier to tote around since they don’t require a power source. They can take a little longer to set nails, but are more accurate and have the ability to perform additional tasks.
6 thoughts on “8 Best Framing Hammers to Last a Lifetime”
Martinez hammers work amazingly and come in a wide variety of handles
No mention of true quality. Martinez is legit the best.
14oz DeWalt migweld has worked awesome for me, it’s a hard hitter.
If I knew day 1 of framing the Martinez M1 hammer existed I would buy it day 1
You’re correct, Martinez Tool Co. makes excellent hammers. This originally didn’t make our list but we plan on adding it to a future update. Here’s the hammer that Jared is referring to: Martinez Tools M1 framing hammer
Check out Boss Hammer. 100% American made, hickory handles, poly- fiberglass handles, steel heads and titanium heads, winner of the 2019 made in America expo in Indianapolis, Indiana. The only hammer you can square with, measure with and lay out with.