July 2009: Toolbox

July 2009: Toolbox

A hammer for every task

When it’s hammer time, choose wisely.

If you think the concept of using a hammer is pretty easy, well, you’re pretty right. Depending on the task, though, there are specialized hammers on the market that can make your job-at-hand an error-proof breeze.

When you just need a household hammer for hanging portraits or general carpentry, go with a 16-ounce claw hammer. For prying purposes, use a straight claw hammer; for nail pulling tasks, a curved claw hammer will work best to get those nails out smoothly.

If cabinet building is your calling, we recommend a finishing hammer with a smooth face so you don’t find yourself chipping the wood. In the case of delicate wood projects like putting furniture together, use a soft-face hammer. On some, the heads are interchangeable; you can find hard or soft rubber, plastic or copper faces.

For the wall-demolishing, stake-driving folks out there, sledgehammers are clearly your best bet. May we recommend using a fiberglass or graphite handle for its shock absorbency so that you won’t feel like the sledgehammer is sledging you.

Whatever your project is, make sure your eyes and body are protected. The checkerboard or mill-faced hammer is designed to help prevent nails and wood chips from flying around, but it can hurt the finish on your wood, so only use it if really necessary. A good hammer is worth the money, because the cheaper ones generally fall apart with extensive use. Priced between $20 and $30, they’ll guarantee a solid hammering experience.—Caroline Edgeton