Updated on November 14, 2022
One of the oldest tools, the hammer has evolved to fill a wide variety of roles beyond simple construction. Some types of hammers are highly specialized, and may perform tasks traditionally held by axes. Other types are versatile and have a home in any workshop.
The parts of a hammer can be broken down into three main components. The head is not only the part you whack things with, but also includes the portion that fits over the handle and serves as the fulcrum on a claw hammer when pulling nails.
Least varied in design is the handle, that can be held to provide either more swing or more precision. Finally, the back part may consist of a claw, hook, or pein (also spelled peen).
Listed below are 40 different types of hammers, their uses, and pictures of each.
Read Also: 30 Nail Types and Their Uses
Chances are, you’ve heard of these hammers, and may even own a few. They are an excellent addition to any home workshop, and owning a full set of these will allow you to complete almost any task.
Ball Peen Hammer
Used primarily by engineers, the pein of this hammer is rounded. It’s commonly used for rounding the edges of metal pins and fasteners, closing rivets, and shaping metal. In past, it was a key tool used for a fabrication method called “peening”.
As a result, it is commonly referred to as a machinist’s hammer. Check out the ball peen hammers we recommend.
Perhaps the most recognizable of all hammers, the back of a claw hammer features a curved, forked claw that can grip nail heads, allowing the user to lever out nails. This hammer is so versatile that it can be found in any home or workshop. See our favorite claw hammers.
Often referred to as a drilling hammer or lump hammer, this tool has a short, double-faced head similar to that of a sledge hammer. While not well-suited for commercial work, the club hammer is useful for driving steel chisels and masonry heads, as well as light demolition work.
Dead Blow Hammer
The head of this hammer is specially designed for minimal recoil and soft blows. It usually has either a solid rubber or plastic head, or a semi-hollow head filled with sand or lead shot.
They can be used in everything from woodworking to automotive applications where they aid in dislodging parts, fixing small dents, and knocking wood together or apart without marring the surface.
Closely resembling a claw hammer, the framing hammer has a straight claw and waffled head. It is named after its primary function, which is assembling house frames.
The waffled head helps prevent slippage while driving nails, although it mars the surrounding wood, which isn’t seen once a house is finished. Check out our framing hammer top picks.
The most common type of mallet, its rubber head allows for softer blows. It can be used on sheet metal, in woodworking and upholstery, and is gentle enough to force plasterboard into place without damaging it.
This long-handled hammer has a metal double-head similar to a mallet, but designed for heavy, large blows. It can be used for driving stakes, or breaking up concrete and masonry, making it a popular demolition tool.
This unusual hammer features two long, claw-like heads, one of which is magnetised. It is often referred to as an upholstery hammer, and is designed to hold a tack for placement using the magnetic end, then driving the placed tack using the non-magnetised end.
See Also: 27 Different Types of Ladders
You will likely never see some of these hammers. Many are used for very specific tasks and not commonly found in general-purpose hardware stores. A few of these hammers closely resemble more common hammers, except for weight and slight size or shape differences.
Unlike what is depicted in popular fantasy games, the blacksmith’s hammer is a type of sledge hammer where the second head is slightly tapered and rounded. It is designed specifically for shaping red-hot steel against an anvil.
Featuring a flat, square head on one side and cylindrical head on the other, this is another hammer commonly used by blacksmiths. It can be used for shaping metal on a block or anvil.
Brass hammers have a thin, cylindrical double-head which is used for pounding steel pins without damaging the surrounding surface. It can be found in both automotive and woodworking shops.
The claw of a bricklayer’s hammer doubles as a chisel for scoring, while the narrow head is capable of splitting bricks. This makes the hammer very useful in bricklaying and masonry projects. Also referred to as a masonry hammer.
This unusual hammer resembles a meat tenderizer with an extended metal head. It’s used to add a rough texture to stone, which may have an aesthetic purpose or make stone walkways less slippery.
Cross Peen Hammer
The wedge-like pein of this hammer is horizontally-aligned. It can be used for starting panel pins or tacks without the risk of hitting your fingers. It is also used for shaping metal.
Cross Peen Pin Hammer
A lighter variation of the cross peen hammer, this tool isn’t well-suited for metalwork. Instead, it’s most useful in cabinet work, light joinery, and other woodworking tasks,
A very unusually-shaped hammer, the chasing hammer has a bulbous-ended handle, rounded head, and small, round pein. It is used primarily for shaping metal jewelry..
This straight peen hammer has a very specialized end that more closely resembles a hatchet with a notch in the bottom. The notch is used for holding nails in place without damaging the drywall paper, and the blade of the pein can be used to chop off excess bits of drywall safely.
This variation of a claw hammer has an extended neck on the head. This allows electricians to target nails embedded in hard to reach places.
The engineer’s hammer was traditionally used for locomotive repair and features a rounded head and cross peen. The term is also commonly associated with heavier ball peen hammers and hammers which have a rounded double head.
One of the more unusual types of hammer, the hatchet hammer (sometimes referred to as a half-hatchet) has an axe blade instead of a peen. It can be used for a variety of tasks and is thus well-suited for survival and emergency toolkits.
The head of this traditional mallet is made of a solid, slightly tapered wood block instead of metal. It can be used for driving chisels or gently tapping wood joints together without marring the surface.
This hammer features a conical pein and solid head. Used for work on telephone poles, it is perfectly designed for driving lag screws and hammering bolts.
Sometimes referred to as a body mechanic’s hammer, this hammer features a flat head and a long pein tipped with a conical die. It is used with a dolly (a curved type of anvil) to remove dents in car panels.
While not technically a hammer, a nail gun (or nailer) does the same main job as a claw or framing hammer. It drives nails into wood or other material usually by way of compressed air (pneumatic). While less common, cordless, battery powered versions are also available.
Nail guns are common in construction or DIY projects where a large number of nails need to be driven into a surface.
Also known as a rock climbing hammer, the straight pein of this hammer contains a hole for removing pitons. The head may be anvil style and heavy or lighter with a hollow handle, depending upon the type of rock climbing intended.
Heavier models will drive more pitons quickly with less fatigue, but lighter models are used when driving fewer pitons to reduce weight loads. Many piton hammers have interchangeable heads to allow for a wider range of climbing methods.
These hammers have a slightly convex head and a pein tipped with a cylindrical die. It is used for fine-shaping and smoothing metal over a planishing stake, allowing the metal to take the shape of the stake’s head.
A power hammer is a large stationary forging hammer that uses compressed air to move a large piston up and down to “hammer” and shape the material below.
It’s similar to how a hydraulic press works but can easily move the piston up and down a couple hundred times a minute. Used for forging steel materials into a variety of different shapes.
This is the professional’s answer to a claw hammer, featuring a straight claw instead of curved and heavier weight. It can be used to rip apart materials during construction and demolition (hence the name).
In addition, it works well for framing and has been used by contractors for everything from digging holes to measuring for outlet boxes and everything in between.
Also referred to as a pick hammer, this small tool has a flat head and either a chisel or pick on the back. They are most commonly used in geology and historical excavation to break small rocks. The chisel is used for a variety of tasks, including splitting soft rock, removing vegetation, and creating small holes.
The pick variant, often called a geologist’s pick, is able to split harder stones. Bricklayers sometimes use rock hammers to break up old brickwork joints.
Featuring a vertical chisel and pick instead of normal heads, these hammers are used for removing scale, rust, and various types of hard coating from boilers and other surfaces. Pneumatic versions range from single-headed to triple-headed models and function more like a jackhammer.
Scutching is the process of removing old mortar from bricks and paving. The hammers used for this have either one head and a chisel-like slotted scutch comb holder or two scutch comb holders.
The holders can hold scutch combs which function like toothed chisels, or droves. Which is used for a job depends upon whether the user prefers a hammer or multiple scutching attachments.
Commonly referred to as a roofing hammer, these feature a square head, spike, and usually include a small claw on the side of the head for pulling out nails.
The spike can be used for putting nail holes in slate and shingles, which are often too fragile to drive nails through without an existing hole.
This round, double-faced hammer has a rubber, plastic, or copper face that may sometimes be interchangeable. It’s designed to strike more delicate materials, such as chrome without causing damage.
Spike Maul Hammer
These long-handled hammers are used for driving railroad spikes from the opposite side of the tracks. The two heads are long and thin, being either symmetrical or (more commonly) with one end being longer and thinner than the other.
The standard version has a squared, tapered end opposite the main driving head, while the bell variant had cylindrical heads.
Stone Sledge Hammer
This mason’s variant of a sledge hammer is specially designed for breaking up stone and concrete. Instead of a double-head, the striking face is oval, and the short straight peen functions as a napping face for making scoring lines.
Straight Peen Hammer
This is essentially the same as a cross peen hammer, except the pein is vertically-aligned. While it may also be used to start nails, it is better reserved for shaping metal.
These hammers have a square head and sharpened cross pein. They are used for completing seams and setting a rolled edge in metalwork.
Perhaps one of the most unusual looking hammers, the toolmaker’s hammer has a ball pein and rounded head. The central portion of the head contains a magnifying glass. It is used for performing delicate work in machine shop.
Trim hammers have a straight claw and are smaller than normal claw hammers. Sometimes referred to as a finish hammer, these have a smooth face for driving trim nails without damaging the surrounding surface.
This peculiar hammer (also called a chipping hammer) has a round chisel at one end and a vertical pein on the other.
Its handle has an unusual spiral design that looks more like a spring. This helps dissipate heat, while the hammer itself us used to remove slag from welding points once the weld bead has had a chance to cool.
53 thoughts on “40 Different Types of Hammers and Their Uses”
Interesting stuff but no answer to my question about a vintage hammer with a double head with a recess in each face about a half to three-quarter inch deep, forming a cupped shape. The side has a Rawhide brand on it with a wooden handle. Are you able to identify this unusual hammer?
This sounds like an old style mallet. The head is made of cast iron and rawhide faces are inserted. The one you saw (or have) is missing the faces. Does it look kind of like this? https://www.antiquesnavigator.com/archive/2018/06/26/153066745730.jpg
What you are describing sounds like it may be a Refractory Hammer. Usually these will have rawhide rounds or possibly other material in the recessed faces. The leather gets gradually worn down from the bashing and then it can be replaced. They are usually quite heavy. They are used in the installation of fire bricks in coke ovens which have much finer mortar joints than other types of brick. Made by companies such as Greene Tweed Co. and Garland Manufacturing. Popular in the 1930’s & 40’s.
I have what looks to be a blacksmith Hammer with an extra hole on the pointed end
The hole is used for bending metal.
You do not show a Plumbers hammer?
Plumbers hammers have a head weight of approx 2 lbs the head is as most hammers but the peen is vertical . Used for caulking lead into cast iron collars.
Very nice article an pics on hammers i have quite a few hammers that are vintaga or antique Thankyou very much
I have a 16 pound hammer with a long wooden handle, curiously the double ended head is flat, both sides. It looks like a lead hammer, but is clearly cast iron. The only marking on it is ’16’ indicating the hammer’s weight. It is cast, not forged, and has seen little use. The bottom of the head, where the handle is inserted, is destined with an extra 3/4 inch collar to hold the handle more firmly (at least that’s what I think is the case). There is one similar in looks that I found on the net identified as a railroad spike hammer from the 1830s, but that can’t be right.
I have a 5lb hammer with 1 foot wooden handle which is 7 1/2 inches long and tapered to 1 1/4 inch square at either end (the middle where the shaft fits is 1 1/2+ inches across). I can’t find any description and wonder what it is!.
It takes a BIG hammer, to drive a BIG nail.. ;o)
Left out the most important one. A gavel mallet. In the hands of judge, it can set you free or put you in.
What is a grappling hammer?
Hi, Nice job- and very helpful for many. Not sure where you collected some of the tool names-so I’ll respond to a few that I think are incorrect.
What you call a Club or Lump hammer (terms I have never heard in a lifetime of a construction career) is in fact a drilling hammer. It was designed for quarrying, primarily to drive star drills-long before pneumatics and for hammering wedges and other hardware to split stone.
What you call a Blacksmith Hammer is in fact a Cross Peen Hammer and one pof dozens that a blacksmith will have around the forge.
What you call a cross peen hammer is in fact a course representation of the blacksmiths tool.
A hatchet is a hatchet not a hatchet hammer no matter what the BUTT is shaped like.
A Rip Hammer is an absurd term that I have never heard of. Claw hammers, of which there a wide variety of modified designs are still claw hammers. The more modification of the term would be framing hammer, trim hammer etc to identify the sub-groupings. A framing hammer is as you described a hammer with a much shallower claw curve. This allows the claw to more easily slide to depth for more leverage whether pulling a nail or getting behind a piece of wood or other item to shift it in some way. The longer handle allows more leverage on the claw but also much more power sinking a nail.
So if I said I had a new 22 oz Estwing framing hammer- everyone would know what I mean. And some have waffled heads and some don’t depending on use.
Trim Hammers are generally lighter 12 to 16 ounces and in fact have more curved claws to more easily pull small nails without damaging the wood.
A MAUL IS A MAUL IS A MAUL-it is NEVER a hammer.
Thanks for the comment Will. I agree with some of your points as to what I personally call certain hammers but quite a bit of research went into the names and alternate names. Many were surprising to me as well. Where a certain name is used in the construction industry, a different name is often used by the general public. I tried to use as many alternate names as I could to help users identify various hammers.
Another thing to bear in mind is that many of these terms vary depending on region. In the UK, “Lump hammer” is the commonly used term for anything that resembles a sledge hammer, large or small (usually one-handed). Bob Vila calls the same hammer a “club hammer” on his website, for what it’s worth.
In France, it’s fairly easy to find what they call a “joiner’s hammer” with a very different design that I’ve never seen in North America- more like a cross between a brick hammer and a cross peen hammer with 2 flat surfaces, one square and one wide and narrow.
Interesting to see how people do things differently… and how versatile a tool the hammer is. Not just for smashing!
Gympie, why don’t I hear the name these days?
When I was younger, my dad had a steel hammer with a square head on each end with the square profile to the whole head, and the handle ended in a claw. A person we know said she used one in the grocery business when vegetables came in crates. She called it a box hammer. Anyone ever seen one of these? Useful in lots of situations, not just in the grocery!
what about ,pausing mallet and tinsman’s mallets?
I have just acquired a very small double end very fine pick. The head has a very long narrow handle eye. The points are about 6 in. Wide. The wooden handle is 13 in. In length. It has very sharp tips. The tool only weighs about 6 oz. It is right and seems very well made. I would very much like some info. Thanks.
You guys forgot MC hammer
Like regional differences in other words, these names will vary. Some will call a thing what it is, some will call it what it does. Open boxes – box hammer. Frame a house – framing hammer. Use it to pull a load of stuff across the snow – sledge hammer. (HeeHee)
Very true. Haha, nice.
i need one hammer its not on your list
My grandmother born in 1891 had a very small dainty hammer which I now have.
She didn’t call it a hammer???!!? I can’t remember what she called it but you didn’t mention it.
What’s a cross peen hammer with both, vertical and horizontal (cross shape) on one side then a normal square hitting end
Interesting, but isn’t white-hot a bit too hot for blacksmithing? I don’t, nor have I ever seen another blacksmith work at that tempera ture. Sorry I couldn’t write that last as one word, the phone refuses to use that and keeps changing it to something else.
Thanks, you’re absolutely correct. Missed that in our editing process. Gotta love smartphones, right?
Just stumbled on this site trying to find what kind of a very special hammer I just found.
Head is I inch diameter round machined brass, and hollow. Both ends are threaded so that a brass cap screws onto both ends. Each cap is very flat, and unblemished; obviously never used to strike anything hard or rough. With caps on, head is 3″ long. Inside, about 3/4″ from each end is a fine-meshed screen and when I uncapped one side I dumped out what looks like tobacco ashes. The handle is solid steel, about 7.5″ long, with a knurled grip. No markings anywhere.
I’ve collected hammers for years and I always seem to find new ones that I have never see before. Gold beaters have a special kind of hammer they use, that is one you missed.
I’m trying to ID a True Temper hammer that appears to be a factory special for railroad application (marked NPRR). It looks like a normal ball peen hammer about 1-1/2 pounds except on what would normally be the ball side there is a projection about the size and shape of an index finder that curves down 90 degrees. If I didn’t know it was used on a railroad, I would think it was some type of demolition hammer. Thanks in advance for any information.
I have one similar to that I bought last weekend but It is a sledge hammer with a normal head on one side and the other side is a long curved projection about the diameter of a finger and about 20″ long. I was told it was used working on the wheels of trains. The long part looks like something to drive out pins with. I haven’t located any information about it yet. If anyone knows what it is I would appreciate knowing what it is!
I have a heavy double ball head hammer. About 7lb weight long handle.
Never seen one before.
I have a hammer with only a striking face, no claw or pein. Fairly lightweight, good for tapping brads. I would like to know what it’s called..like “half-hammer,” “clawless hammer…”
I have a small hammer that the tip of the handle unscrews to reveal 4 different tips in it handle .. it’s about 8 inches long and has a metal claw and hammer head .. the attachment are also metal (1) is a straight tip screwdriver (1) is a smaller straight tip screwdriver (1) is a curved split tip claw and last (1) is a threaded point tip with a spiral curve after the threaded tip….does any one know what it’s call and used for?
The hatchet hammer is a riggers axe. used to build wood oil derricks then later used for framing in California when oil slowed and housing boomed. there is also a carpenters hatchet which is smaller and used in traditional and green woodworking. at least thats what I was always told by the old timers.
Pardon my lack of knowledge here please! My husband purchased a lot of antique tools for the planer but is now trying to identify one of the other items. It appears to be a hammer head (there is no handle currently attached) but we can’t identify it. It’s most defining feature is the C shape on the end you would expect to be the claw. It looks as if it could have been used in forging to create a smooth round shape. The other side – the apparent face? – has a slight indent.
This is by far the most thorough listing of hammers my unknowledgeable google searches have found me, so I’m hoping someone here knows what we’re looking at! Thanks in advance.
Have an Estwing hammer with 2 heads. One is rectangular, the other is removeable.
It is six-sided, metal, 2+” long. Imprinted “drivall Walnut Cree, Calif”. Threads are 3/8″/16.
Anyone heard of a “Centering Hammer” aka Japanese “Kariwaku”? Just found some on eBay but can’t find anymore info on their origin or use.
What about the ORIGINAL stone hammer made by native americans? A rock with a rounded end and the other end sort of sharp held onto a stick with sinew?
Hammer museum in Haines, Alaska is awesome. Probably could answer everyone’s questions too.
Logmarking sledge: letters/ numbers embossed onto the face for billet ID in forestry
Oblique -peened hammer( No idea what for)
Carvers Mallet( round head/ turned handle or fully turned in one piece)
Mauls were apparently made of applewood if available.
The old timers identified the straight-bladed half-hatchets variously to me as ‘box hammers'(more for crate repair or destruction than construction) or ‘lathing hammers’ for prep before plastering or ‘slate hammers’ for splitting and trimming tiles. The latter don’t have a nail-pull / hang slot. All have a hammer -style handle, like a bench axe, so you can choke up to the head and back easily, unlike a true hatchet with a curved profile and a palm swell. Many had a milled face. Not a lot of buyer interest, particularly if damaged, and the face often is: 10 or 15 dollars here in Australia. They commonly have a good hard steel bitt, so you can reprofile on the grinder with an 8″ camber and sharpen, maybe with an asymetrical profile for carving. Or leave the blade a little thicker( so you can split with it) for the lightest and most delightful bushcraft axe you have ever put in your pack!
I have a little hammer one face of which is like a panel pin hammer and the other is bullet shaped. I have no idea what it is for, probably weighs 2-3 ounces.
Any ideas ? mine was it might be for small rivets, but they make 2 oz ball peins !
It is very likely one of a wide variety of forms of jewelers hammers
I did not see a California framer in there. For an example that I prefer to use, look up the Estwing MRW25LM.
What is a Maydole hammer?
It’s a hammer that is used by Dole to smash pineapples for Cinco de mayo
I have a buggie upholstery hammer I didn’t see it in your collection.
What’s the hammer for brad nails
What sort of hammer is used to knap flint for flint walls?
I have a hammer which has a slot and magnet on the head to receive a nail. You can nail without holding the nail with your hand. You have to be accurate when delivering the blow. I have never really used it
From every one I’ve seen like you describe, that’s a Framing Hammer.
Odds are it’s about 20-24oz, has a “waffled” head and a rip claw somewhat straighter than a Claw Hammer. A friend of mine purchased a Framing Hammer instead of a Claw Hammer because the extra 4oz must mean quality, right? Instead he has a hammer that is an absolute pain in the ass to use for general purpose. I like a 20oz pool cue, but general purpose hammer? I go 16-18oz.