Someone messaged me on Instagram, asking about the differences between 12 oz and a 14 oz hammers.
While they were specifically referring to drywall hammers, we’re able to apply a generalization that loosely applies to other types of hammers as well, including claw hammers and framing hammers.
There are a multitude of physical aspects that all come together when swinging a hammer, and many of these are variables that change from hammer to hammer.
Often, heavier hammers are also longer. Generally, a heavier hammer delivers a harder strike, and a lighter hammer is less fatiguing.
Swing velocity comes into play. The weight of a hammer head and weight of the handle distributed along its length both resist angular motion, dictating how much physical effort is required to get things swinging.
Things get really messy if you start comparing across brands. One brand’s 14 oz hammer might be longer than another’s 16 oz hammer.
More premium hammers might be made of titanium, or feature a longer length and lighter handle material.
Comparing two hammers from the same brand and product family, a heavier hammer will often be longer than a lighter hammer, and our generalization holds. Direct comparisons across brands and products lines tend to create many exceptions, breaking any generalizations or assumptions that would have been true ten or more years ago.
You can sometimes get a feel for things at a home center or hardware store, although the brand selection might be limited, and open-air swinging will have a different feel than when you’re actually striking and driving in nails.
You could perhaps look at popular styles and sizes, and go from there. Framers tend to gravitate towards 22 oz hammers. If you find yourself tiring easily, perhaps try a 20 oz hammer.
The Estwing shown above is still my favorite claw hammer, but it’s not at all the right choice for larger nails. If at all possible, you have to experiment as your needs change.
Have your experiences been the same, or is your answer to the title question more straightforward than mine?