How to Use a Hammer Safely

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Don't damage the workpiece - or yourself - when using a hammer. Play it safe and follow these simple instructions.

Things You'll Need

  • Ball-peen Hammers
  • Curved Claw Hammers
  • Drywall Hammers
  • Straight Claw Hammers
  • Tack Hammers
  • Use the right hammer for the job.

  • Grip the hammer by the handle firmly.

  • Keep your wrist straight and use your whole forearm to lift and drop the tool.

  • Let the hammer do most of the work, using its weight to drive the nail, rather than pounding on it with your full force.

  • Angle nails against the grain for better holding power and stagger them to avoid splitting the wood.

  • Protect finished wood surfaces by placing a piece of pegboard over the nail before hammering. Then use a nail set to drive the nail even with the work surface.

Tips & Warnings

  • When nailing hardwoods, lubricate a nail with beeswax for easier driving. To avoid splitting, use a finishing nail in a drill to form a pilot hole.
  • Get better leverage and protect the wood when pulling nails with a claw by placing a scrap block of wood under the claw.
  • Always wear eye protection when using a hammer. Consider earplugs, as well, if you are doing a lot of hammering.


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