I hate to put Estwing on the spot like this, but I came across a hopefully isolated issue that exemplifies why I don’t like buying hammers online.
And, Home Depot’s product selection exemplifies why I don’t like shopping for hammers in-store. I was shopping around, hit the hammer section, and thought to buy an Estwing 16 oz curved claw hammer (Estwing E3-16C). They didn’t have one at the store, they only had rip-claw versions. No biggie. If I still wanted a 16 oz curved claw hammer on the spot, I could have picked a different brand. Shopping online means I can get exactly what I want if I’m being picky.
(As an aside, I am exceptionally picky. Probably 9/10 people would have picked a different brand or been happy with the 16 oz rip claw hammer.)
Shown here is a recessed magnet on their 15oz Ultra hammer. There’s a nail-starting notch, and a magnet that helps keep the nail in place so that you can give it a quick tap (or pound) to get it fixed in place.
And here’s a magnet that’s improperly installed. Maybe the hole is too small, or there’s too much epoxy or glue. I’ve seen issues like this before, but with brands.
With the magnet sticking out like that, it completely blocks the nail starter channel, and so the feature is impaired.
This is how it’s meant to be used.
Looking at the two sizes of Ultra hammers, there were one or two others with similar defects but less severe. Most were perfect, or close enough.
For something like this, I’d probably be more comfortable buying one in-person, to avoid the risk of a defective magnet placement.
Only one Amazon review for Ultra Series hammers mentioned experiencing a similar popped-up magnet issue.
Recessing magnets seems to be a tricky manufacturing step. I have a photography accessory with a crooked magnet, and this is the second time I’ve seen this defect on a hammer. I have had recessed magnets pop bit holders and screwdrivers before.
The bottom-line is this – if you want to buy a hammer with a magnetic nail starter, or similar feature, you might be better off shopping for it locally. Or, if you buy it online, make sure it’s at a retailer with easy return policy, and check for this type of issue first.
Yet another thing to look at when buying a hammer? Sounds like Estwing needs to hire a new Six Sigma black belt and step up their TQM or other QA/QC processes. We can’t blame this on bad QA/QC in an offshore factory – unless someone thinks that Illinois is a foreign country.
Maybe if lots of folks started buying the defective ones up at HD – and then returning them – Estwing might get a message.
BTW – when buying wooden handled hammers – I was taught to look at the end to see how the grain was oriented. You should see straight closely spaced grain – oriented parallel to the cheeks of the head. A quality hammer also will have a tempered rim (bell/poll) and naturally the head should be secure (with no play) to the handle.
The Home Depot here has changed up their hammer section and added a bunch of Vaughn and Milwaukee and cut back on its number of Estwings.
Stuff like this is why I stopped buying tools at Home Depot and go to my local Acme Tools. It’s a 45 minute drive rather than a 5 minute drive but from what I’ve found Estwing and all the other tool mfg have a stricker quality control standard for what they’re sending to Acme over your big box Home Depot/Lowes/Menards.
Koko the Talking Ape
You are saying that the ones going to Acme go through a more thorough quality check before they are shipped? Is that possible?
Could it be that the local Acme employees are screening the hammers they are getting, and sending the bad ones back?
My employer builds lawn mowers as an example of this. What the big box stores get and what the outdoor power dealers get have the same model designation, but they are two different levels of quality. From what I’ve seen you get better quality product at a specialty store.
I have heard this before, and yet I have never seen an example of it. I’m not saying it doesn’t occur, but I’ve never seen two of the same model with different build qualities. Can you provide an example?
Oddly enough, I only hear this from smaller or independent retailers. I have also heard similar from car dealers talking about tires. “Ours our grade A tires, but if you get online they won’t be.” Sure thing buddy
How is in the interest of you employer (or any manufacturer) to make the same model (same model #, UPC etc.) at different standards of quality, Would not the bad items sold at the big box store ruin the reputation of the product in general? Also isn’t it difficult to adjust manufacturing and warehousing to make and ship different quality level products to different retailers?
I’ve heard this before – saying as an example that the brand x tool sold at Home Depot has plastic components – whereas the same tool sold at the hardware store uses metal components. I’ve always thought these stories were apocryphal – or just fabrications.
No tool buyer would ever knowingly support such hooey.
Koko the Talking Ape
And I also wonder about how this would be done logistically at the factory. There are two streams of quality control? How do you tell the tools from the two different streams apart? Do the more strictly checked ones get a different package? I’m sure the factories pour these hammers out by the hundreds each hour.
Pretty easy to do because the are all serialized and sold before they’re built. I don’t work in the turf care division but I know a lot of guys who did. From what I understand the engine internals are the main difference between a big box mower and one headed to an outdoor power dealer.
I’ve also heard about this in regards to tools.
I am familiar with electronics. Walmart will get the exact same TV as say amazon but they will have a suffix at the end of the UPC (I cant remember what it is…wc or something). At first I thought this was so they didn’t have to price match as the UPC is different – BUT keep reading.
Best Buy does the same thing. I’ve personally experienced this with Video Cards. While I don’t have a huge sample the 3 cards I’ve managed to test vs MSI or the equivalent EVGA components have all had less overclocking capabilities.
It may be coincidence (see “Silicon lottery”) but wouldn’t surprise me too much if this carried over to other industries.
If you use a hammer a lot, especially with 10d or larger nails, just bite the bullet and get a Stiletto titanium hammer. It’ll last a lifetime and, if you think it’s expensive, price out carpal tunnel surgery.
I switched from a 28oz steel framer to a 16oz Stiletto wooden handled framer fifteen years ago and never looked back. No difference in power and world of difference in comfort and weight in the tool bags.
Should have done it sooner but it was not an option in the Dark Ages.
Stiletto’s magnetic nail holder works too.
Estwing makes great hammers. American made. Out of the hundreds of thousands of Estwing hammers sold every year ,you found a couple extremely minor flaws… Estwing employees take great pride in their tools.
Check out Milwaukee Chinese hammers, talk about junk. You can find fault with almost every hammer on that rack if you look for it.
If your swinging a small ,curve claw you definitely don’t need an estwing anyway…buy a Vaughn
Estwing Ultra Hammer… I’ll put it on my list of tools to upgrade to, should mine fail.
But, I’m not sure how my Stanley 16Oz Anti-Vibe will fail me. I think it’s a 16… Might be a 20… I haven’t looked at the number since I bought it, it’s just a hammer to me.
I had this exact QC issue on a Estwing 16 oz. Solid Steel Ball-Peen Hammer I had ordered online. I’m glad I’m not alone to have come to this conclusion that they really need to step up their QC. After all the positive comments about Estwing, I was very disappointed to find that the one I received was so badly done. The hemispherical head was finished all lopsided and not circular at all, and it looked like they just slathered the enamel clear coat right on top to “make it” spherical. After a few hits, that chunk of enamel cracked and fell off and let with this unusable end unless i take it to the grinder and shape it correctly. I expected better from Estwing especially for the price difference and Made in USA branding. 🙁
Here is a picture before the clear enamel coating chipped and fell off and how badly snapped this hemispherical head was done: https://imgur.com/a/bFYjPh3
“shaped” not “snapped” heh
I have been having the same problem with other brands. QC has gone down the crapper on a lot of bashing tools lately.
That is inexcusable!
If you use a hammer anything more than occasionally then try and test drive those you are interested in before purchase, issues which arise from a selection which is not optimal for you as a user can produce injury, excess fatigue, etc. A hammer is a superficially simple tool with a wealth of nuance. I had (for a short time) a Stiletto hammer however I generally find Stanley claw hammers work for me though I have at various times has Estwing, Vaughan, Viking, etc. Perhaps it is because they are what I grew up with.
My old Stanley 100-Plus 13 oz. curved-claw (we use to call them pulling-claw vs. ripping-claw) hickory-handled hammer is what I usually reach for when I need that style of hammer. But I’m not usually driving anything but the odd finishing nail.
Ten or more years ago in our remodeling business (we did no big framing jobs – subbing that work out) – we tried a few more expensive hammers – Dalluge, Dead-On, Douglas, Stiletto and maybe others. We decided that it was a matter of taste and individual preference. If someone needed a new hammer – we’d spring for something in the $50 to $60 range. If someone wanted more – we’d wish them well – and if they presented a receipt for a $200 hammer – we’d reimburse $60
I’ve yet to wear out (but I’m no old school framer either) my half dozen Stanley claw hammers. Steel or fiberglass. No face flaws or chipping ever. Maybe they’ll look great as pre-owned collectibles at my estate sale?
Should I have mentioned the obvious? They’re all marked “Made in the U. S.” in their day.
Looking for the “Made in the USA” label is generally a good starting point in looking for selecting tools that are going to see serious use. Made in Germany works too if you have the money and don’t mind shipping it overseas.
My old Stanley “Warrington Pattern” crosspeen tack hammers were made in England. But I have a hammer that was sold as London Pattern – and was made by Stubai in Germany.
Amazon USA is now selling Picard hammers – made in Germany
I literally ordered the same 15oz Estwing Ultra hammer from an online store 2 days ago….lets hope it’s ok. They’re not available in an stores where I live.
I have a 15 oz ultra. Love it.
Do you have the short handle version? I ordered that one but wasn’t sure if I should have gotten the long handle.
I am not sure. Id say it is a long handle . Nearly as long as a California Framer
At a Home Depot around here their Estwing hammers had some magnets missing and many were offset or sticking out a lot. The grind work was inconsistent, and poorly done on some. One hammer was even an old model, rusty, and covered in scratches. When I looked at the Vaughan rack, they were all well done and very consistent. I ordered a Vaughan V5S online and the grind was proper. This was the case at another Home Depot as well, minus the rusty hammer.
I don’t have any influence with Estwing, other than as a long-time user of their tools, but seeing issues like this makes me sad. I sent them an email with a link to this thread, so hopefully they’ll investigate and fix whatever caused this to happen.
Good stuff, I’m happy to hear you’ve contacted them. I’ll be sure to post a comment when mine arrives (I recently ordered the Estwing Ultra).
Hopefully they will read it. I’ll be very unhappy if it’s anything but high quality. It’s a very expensive hammer.
Have you seen the Estwing Al-Pro hammers – range up to about $113 at Home Depot. They make the claim that their forged aluminum is lighter than titanium – and the hammer includes shot in the head to dampen vibration.
Here’s a link
One of the tools I own is a Hultafors electricians hammer purchased originally mainly out of curiosity, it is like a lot of their products very specific in purpose and also very well made however I have never felt the need to try out one of their general purpose hammers.
One of my uncles according to family legend had four hammers in his toolbox unfortunately they were the only four tools in the toolbox. Must have been like trying to play a round of golf with only a driver in the bag.
What makes it an “Electrician’s” hammer?
Is it like the ones Ideal and Klein make with extended necks to allow hammering in deeper boxes?
Or is it more like a “Lineman’s” claw hammer:
It is compact and light weight and very fit for purpose, I tried but have been unable to post a picture.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Wiha now produce what looks to be an exact copy except the handle is red and it is £10 cheaper than the Hultafors version which given that Wiha are not known for selling cheap tools would imply the Hultafors is overpriced. The Vaughan and other hammers I have seen described as electricians hammers look much closer to a normal claw hammer.
If you type Hultafors Hammer EL in Google you can see what it looks like.
Got it – thanks
I have the 15oz Estwing Ultra hammer. My favorite hammer, love the balance. However, I didn’t realize how much I side-hammer, and you just cannot do that with this hammer – it has no real ‘cheek’, know what I mean? Other than that, when I get a new hammer that has all that clear coat, I immediately put it in a cake pan and wrap a rag around it saturated with lacquer thinner. Let it sit a day, and then brush off all that stupid paint. Then I eventually put liquid gun blue on it. Keeps the rust away and you don’t get all that rust from the chipped paint. I know, I’m weird. I do that with all my Estwings.
My 15oz Estwing Ultra online order arrived. For $90 AUD it is quite poorly made. I’m disappointed. The magnet in the nail starter is fine, it’s just the groove is not centred (it’s about 3mm from the centre line). The grip is also rotated slightly and not inline with the shaft. There are also some grinding inconsistencies.
I have a $15 AUD hammer from Super Cheap Auto that is better made.
I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone for this price.
If you only buy from independents the items you would like to easily return you will soon find the independent out of business. And so it goes….