What can brands do to make a better hammer? That’s not an easy question to answer. Hammers have been around for a long time, and major brands have long figured out how to make a good hammer. Many have learned how to make a great hammer. But how to make one that’s even better?
In recent years, a number of brands, starting with Dewalt, have designed faster-swinging hammers that they claimed hit much harder than other hammers in their class, and without costing as much as titanium models. Estwing’s Ultra hammer is one such model.
Estwing has come out with a new hammer, the 14 ounce Al-Pro, and it’s unlike any hammer I’ve ever seen before. It’s definitely a first, and not just for them. From what I can tell, it’s a first in the professional industry as well.
The Estwing Al-Pro hammer is a professional hammer that is forged from lighter-than-titanium aircraft-grade aluminum. Estwing describes it as the latest in hammer design technology.
It has a Permacap steel head, and an interlocking steel claw, giving the Al-Pro hammer added strength and durability where it’s needed. The claw length is also reduced, for greater leverage. The hammer’s head also features a built-in magnetic nail starter.
But here’s the hidden feature: Inside the aluminum head is vibration-dampening shot, which Estwing also says gives every blow the maximum force.
I do know that Nupla makes a 28 oz dead blow framing hammer, with a fiberglass handle.
From what I can tell, the Estwing Al-Pro hammer is the industry’s first professional aluminum-handled dead blow framing hammer.
The hammer provides power in a light-weight package for the best performance with extended use.
Who the heck cares, am I right? Sorry, that bit was an attempt to get your attention. But if I asked what’s the benefit of titanium, maybe you would have thought I was side-tracking,
As I discussed a few years ago, the main purpose of titanium-handled hammers is to reduce recoil shock and vibrations.
Do you know what else significantly decreases recoil shock? Dead blow hammers.
Normally, dead blow hammers are a way to get greater striking power with less recoil and vibrations. Aside from dead blow mallet-shaped hammers, there are also dead blow ball pein hammers, typically with plastic handles.
With all other things being equal, an aluminum-handled hammer should swing faster and strike harder, compared to titanium-handled hammers, as well as other modern-handled hammers. That’s what I’m thinking about the Estwing Al-Pro, while I wait for further official details.
There are 4 hammer options. You have your choice between a smooth hammer face, and a milled one, and Estwing’s shock-reducing grip in either blue or black.
- ALBK Black / Smooth
- ALBKM Black / Milled
- ALBL Blue / Smooth
- ALBLM Blue / Milled
Certain Estwing dealers will be carrying the new hammer, and they said customers can always special-order any Estwing product from their local Ace Hardware, True Value Hardware, Fastenal, Home Depot, or Do It Best store.
That’s something I did not know before, that you can special order any Estwing product from certain dealers.
Final pricing is still being worked out, but I was told to expect a price of at least $200.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one a little shocked by the pricing. I was thinking that the price might be around $75 or thereabouts, and definitely less expensive than a titanium-handled hammer.
Okay, so here’s a summary of what the new hammer offers:
- Vibration-reducing hammer head
- Greater power transference
- Lighter handle alloy
At face value, these are all compelling features. All together, they contribute to what might be the most advanced hammer currently on the market.
But… at high cost.
This hammer offers several new technologies, but they seem to be rooted in solid and established theory.
Should you buy a $100+ hammer? Do you use a hammer every day? Does it contribute to a big part of your workload or fatigue? Will a lower-vibration and very high power-to-weight ratio improve the quality of your work? And I don’t mean your work as in your results, but the work you do. Will a better hammer give you enough of a better working experience?
I would think that the Estwing Al-Pro was designed to compete with Stiletto and other titanium hammer makers. That makes sense, as Ti-handled hammers typically cost over $200 as well. The new Al-Pro hammer is priced at a premium compared to steel hammers, but at $120 it’s considerably less expensive than leading titanium models.
Estwing offers hammers of all kinds. This one isn’t designed to compete with their lovely one-piece steel hammers; it seems to be a more premium option for those who have already decided to up their budget and venture in titanium territory.
It’s above my needs, and higher priced than I could ever personally justify. But wow, just wow.
I like to think I have very strong BS-detecting radar when it comes to tools like this. And right now it’s giving me the all-clear.
mike aka Fazzman
Wow $200 smackers aye,things are getting so ridiculous,for something so simple as a hammer. somehow i doubt its gonna be better than any other hammer. I dont recall our grandparents or fathers needing this nonsense,they just got it done.
For 200 bucks give me a nailgun,it’ll be more useful.
Ye, thinking like that will make the world move forward.
aircraft grade AL – statement makes my skin crawl on any product including aircraft.
SO 2 things that worry the engineer voices in my head.
1) AL has a finite fatigue life now while this isn’t a pry bar it will see quite alot of repetition – usually if you keep the stress low, very very low – then AL alloys won’t care. and Yes I’m talking about those aircraft grade ones too. So I hope they took care with that as I’d hate to see the thing develop an internal crack and then come apart.
2) what’s it coated with? AL likes to corrode, and needs some attention. Especially when put with other dissimilar metals. So other than surface finish – those bits screwed in, and the steel head would need some insulator coating or be a form of passivated SS so as not to gradually corrode away the AL frame. Also what’s the dead blow beads made of – same issues.
finally it needs to be more aerodynamic if swing speed is really their goal. I find that funny. It would appear to mean they could made a 14 oz hammer out of steel and avoid of the other issues and end up cheaper and easier to product. weight is weight
Yeah $200 for an aluminum hammer = FAIL
…as far as I’m concerned that is.
not necessarily, those are just concerns I would have with the product untill I knew more about how it was made.
I also probably would never buy a 200 dollar hammer, well until maybe the year 2030 when decades of inflation made that the new normal and I was a multi-millionaire on medicad still trying to keep my house.
The claw end looks to be steel. An aluminum claw would be junk. Notice that it’s not one solid piece, and is bolted on? I’ll bet that removing that piece would reveal the shot canister and that the piece removed is magnetic.
The striking face has the same finish. I’m certain the two parts of the hammer that “work” are made of steel.
Yes, as mentioned in the post, the claw is steel.
You make a good point about stress fracture and fatigue. I’m actually pretty surprised that thrh left the neck (all alumnium) completely exposed liked that. All it takes is one mistaken over strike and direct hit on the neck to put some realatively concerning structural compromise in the whole hammer. Later down the line that internal fracture could lead to the entire head coming right off as soon as you strike, which could be dangerous, if not entirely anger inducing to your $120 purchase. Surely they should have put some neck guard or plating there.
I can’t afford a contractor who can afford $200 hammers.
Yeah, grab the cheapest scumbag thats been swinging a rock on a stick?
Because contractors prefer new tech shouldnt discredit there abilities to be within market averages. New tech is faster and more efficent in reducing labour time and also in achieving quality workmanship.
You may also say
“I cant afford a contractor who makes a profit”
A hammer is new tech? News to me.
I will have to respectfully disagree with you. The contractor I’ve been using for years for various projects is not the cheapest scumbag, and his tools to appear to be a touch more advance than “rock on a stick”.
I have paid him well over the years for the projects he does. I do not feel that he is any kind of financial bind since he purchased a new home last year to have his children in a better school district. I’m very confident he has made a good profit from the jobs I’ve hired him to do.
New tech doesn’t always mean it is better. But when it comes to a hammer, I just don’t think there is going to be a $200 break through that changes the nail driving industry… well, a nail gun I guess.
But, how your contractor or any contractor spends his money, be it a side by side atv, snowmobile, RV….or lets say a hammer is really of no concern or business of anyone. Even if you “think” otherwise, any contractor will have that balance of “I have to have that” or “that just makes no sense at all” to decide for themselves.
I am seeing more and more guys swinging stilletos than any other brand. $250 hammer at that
Estwing probably sees a window in the market.
Not trying to stir feathers Mr Neck?
“Pencil neck” had a perfectly valid point, guys that spend top dollar on absolutely everything have to turn that profit, so they charge more. Sometimes they’re dang good and are worth the premium. But I’ve seen plenty of guys that just have family money and hop into the business with way more money and fancy equipment than they really have skill.
I’ve got to be a very competitive contractor in the mining industry and I regularly get asked about my abnormally large and specialized tool collection. A smart contractor puts his money where he needs it, often over time and in the interest of longevity of production life. Personally, my 20v setup, and fluke arsenal dwarfs my company’s, and includes a lot of stuff my company doesn’t even own. Consequently, I’ve earned a reputation of never needing something unforseen on a job, and my crews know in a pinch that I certainly have the loaner rotohammer/high torque/laser/cable mapper/whatever that will help them knock a job out of the park. I’ve got no use for a $200 hammer, but if my sub shows up with one, I’d assume that hammer has a damn good value to him and not that he’s flippant with his revenue. Just my thoughts.
I’m still on the fence with this one. I love the concepts in this, but i feel its missing a few key features, and after researching a few flaws that are making me either want to wait for a updated model, or spend the extra on a stiletto.
1. No side nail puller
2. Can’t swap the permacap between smooth and milled
3. The current claw might break, now if it’s a fluke defect, or a design flaw will tell in time.
4. It has a weak point at the handle. This obviously IS a design flaw. I’ve seen pictures, and multiple reviews where its quite obvious they need to beef it up before I’ll spend 1 cent on it. Ain’t worth shit if it breaks, and is a safety hazard.
We would buy the tools – hammers included – needed for the jobs we undertook. I think we decided that something like $50 to $70 was about the limit we would spend on a hammer. If we had a crew member who wanted a high end hammer – we’d wish him well – so a few of the guys bought into Stiletto et. al.
Not doing any framing – the hammer I reach for the most is a Douglas 18 oz. Finish Nailer – DFI18S14CX that hangs in the garage – and I paid $60 for it 10 years ago and thought the price was outrageous.
In the shop – I more often reach for a Stanley OH-12 13 oz. 100-Plus hammer that I think I paid (30 years ago) about what it (the 51-350 was the more recent replacement) sells for now – if you can still find one.
I’ll stick with my Douglas hammers and I thought they were expensive….
One thing to remember with these lightweight hammers is they are not a do-all hammer. They are great for rough framing where you can get a full swing, but in tight spaces where you can’t get the swing speed they are about useless. I have a titanium for framing days but it never comes out for anything else
As a fabricator, with joints that are going bad, this looks tempting. I currently use several Estwing framers. I wouldn’t use it for wood framing too often. My main use is the need for a hammer and pry bar in one tool. Not sure how the aluminum would hold up for fairly heavy prying on a regular schedule. But the lightweight build and dead blow have me interested.
I thought the point of a light weight (solid titanium) hammer was to enable you to increase the velocity of the head to deliver more energy to the nail. Wouldn’t adding shot to the inside the head be contrary to that goal?
You definitely have to question the value of something like this for how much you might use it. I know in hvac you have all the install tools to do the job right. Like I have the biggest tool set Milwaukee makes and I use every piece every day. But you also have to be ready for startup and service which is very expensive with all the new computerized gauges and meters. I think a big part of investing in yourself is taking care of what you have and not letting it get stolen.
After a particularly brutal week – where we were subs on a big jobsite – I called the guys together to see what we should do. I started the brainstorming off on a light note – by saying that we needed to find out what steel mills in China were making the steel that had gone into the hammers, pry bars etc. that were missing – and then write to them complaining about how their steel was evaporating into thin air.
As a more practical matter we ended up keeping our trucks and Knaack boxes locked at all times and being more circumspect about laying tools down.
IF, this is a solid line of hammers, I’d buy one in a skinny minute. Those who argue against it have probably never had a 22 oz. Estwing hanging from their tool bag 12 hours a day seven days a week under a blazing hot sun climbing ladders, walking top plate setting trusses, or nailing off plywood.
UPDATE: The price will be set at $120, not $200 or $200+ as originally reported.
If you have an elbow problem and an expensive hammer lets you keep on keeping on, then it’s well worth it. I bet the guys complaining how they can’t afford a contractor whose employess have nice hammers would spend $200 on something THEY wanted that had NOTHING to do with earning a living, but they can spout off like tough guys here….
I’ll take a professional who does what it takes to keep productive any day….-
I agree. I really dislike all this hater and judgement talk about how people spend their money. The brands, tool choices they use, and amount spent always turns into some kinda character argument about how talented or smart someone is. Its their money, if they can afford it good for them, let them buy what they want. Theres no reason to make people feel bad about their buying decisions.
That’s exactly what he said…
First off I want to say excellent blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I have had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Thanks!
It looks to me like it has a removable claw, that might come in handy when you try to nail in tight places. Seems like the vlw is always getting in the way and keeping u from getting a good swing in
I think everyone has a right to their opinion, but I have manufactured Stiletto, Dalluge and Douglas hammers and really think that branding sells just as much as Function. The Stilettos are the best all round hammer and just ask a “Monday morning jobsite showoff if he prefers a VW over a Mercedes despite the fact that they both take you from point A to B. Stiletto is sold by Milwaukee Tool and they are the best in the entire world. Would you give your wife a CZ wedding ring ? I think not..and we guys deserve our “diamond” tools.
Does anyone know when this hammer will be for sale?
Just bought mine, I’m a concrete contractor, and I love estwings. I was swinging my 22 oz left handed because my right hand was tired, and developed a ganglion cyst, so I’ve decided to try a lighter hammer. My 22oz takes a lot of abuse chipping concrete and hitting clips up, I use the neck as a hatchet to split wood for scabbing concrete holes. The claw gets worn to a nub and the rubber is coming off the handle after 2 years. My uncle runs a titanium hammer with fiberglass handle, but he can’t do half what the estwing can do. Anyways I’ll try to remember to give it a review here.
As a carpenter of 43 plus years I know that a hammer does not make the carpenter .I’m a contractor in residential construction, my customers don’t care what kind of hammer is used , they get quality workmanship at a competitive price. I need to see this unit up close, I might buy one just to put it with all the other hammers in my collection , Lol . If your a home handyman then a cheep pos hammer is all you’ll ever need, if your a full time carpenter you might consider spending the extra bucks, you earned it! Haven’t seen these hammers in stores yet, does anyone know if the head is interchangeable?My stiletto has that feature .
Karl J Davis
I purchased this hammer and was in love with it! Until I snapped a claw off! I’ve contacted estwing to see if replacements are available but have not got a response. Just went back to my old-school estwing.