The best weight for a hammer varies depending on the task the builder is attempting and his own strength. A well-equipped builder may have a couple of hammers of different weights in their tool chest. The best weight is one the builder can swing accurately and repeatedly without discomfort.
Framing hammers are the big boys of the nailing tools. These hammers have longer handles and a heavier head for driving nails quickly in rough carpentry projects. Hammer weights range from 1 to 2 pounds. The face of the hammer is often ribbed or corrugated to drive the nails straighter. The heavy hammer and the ribbed face leaves noticeable marks on the wood. For this reason the framing hammer is most commonly used in the construction of wall frames, ceilings and roofs that will be covered with finish materials such as drywall.
The common hammer used for general construction and finish carpentry usually weighs between 13 and 16 ounces. The face of the hammer is smooth. When used carefully the hammer will make only small marks on the wood. The 16-ounce hammer is the most common of this variety. Lighter weights are often used in trim work or other carpentry where marks on the wood will be noticed.
Straight or Curved Claws
Claw hammers come with either a straight or a curved claw. The straight claw works best when prying apart pieces of wood while the curved claw works best for pulling nails. Framing hammers usually feature a straight claw while finish hammers have the curved claw configuration.
Swinging the heaviest hammer may seem like the obvious way to hit the nail the hardest. However, that is only part of the equation. The builder needs to be able to accurately swing the hammer for the duration of the work day or project. A lighter hammer, especially for someone older or with less muscle, may get the job done quicker and with less damage to the wood.
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