My first encounter with a Picard hammer was 25 years ago, on a jobsite near Boston. There was a German carpenter on the crew and he carried a hammer the likes of which I had not seen before.
It had a square face, a magnetic nail starter, and an asymmetrical claw—one short and the other long and pointed. In fairness to Rolf, he probably thought our American hammers looked equally strange.
You may have seen the same type of hammer in a viral video from a few years back, of a German “carpenter” juggling hammers on a jobsite. He uses them to drive a nail as they fly towards the ceiling and finishes by sticking them into a beam. Who cares if the guy is not really a carpenter or that the nail hole may have been pre-drilled? It’s still entertaining.
Getting back to the hammers, the ones used in the video are Latthammers. Latthammers are sometimes referred to as roofing hammers. Not roofing as in installing shingles, but roofing as in framing the roof, which along with the floor framing might be the only part of the structure of a German house that isn’t masonry.
The square face is said to make it easier to drive nails near inside corners, and the asymmetrical claw will still pull fasteners. The long pointed claw can be used to chip masonry and dig into and hold or pull pieces of framing lumber—like a climber holding on with an ice axe.
Every tool company in Europe offers Latthammers. There’s even one on the Estwing website, though I doubt very many are sold. Picard, a well-known German manufacturer of pro-grade striking tools, makes a bunch of them.
And the Latthammer is only the beginning of the unusual hammers made by the company.
Picard tools have long been available on the web and they may soon be offered by U.S. retailers. As of last year the company has been trying to enter the U.S. market. I visited their booth at the 2016 STAFDA Show and again last month at the National Hardware Show.
I know the company for its Latthammers, but the range of products it makes is almost beyond belief. Picard offers specialized hammers for carpentry, blacksmithing, masonry, auto body work, shoe making, jewelry making, sheet metal work, and more.
Interestingly, the company only recently began pushing U.S. style hammers, which makes sense given their desire to enter the U.S. market.
They also offer English Pattern Hammers, which except for an untapered neck are identical to general purpose American hammers. I can’t explain why English hammers are shaped like that anymore than I can explain why Japanese carpenters favor hammers with long necks and very short claws. It’s probably some combination of style and building traditions in those parts of the world.
Good post, I like learning stuff like this.
I’ve got more hammers than I will ever wear out so might not buy one, but maybe, who knows.
Apparently these are designed for roofing with slate.
The pointed claw is used to punch nail holes in the tiles without cracking them.
(There is another style that looks like a Medieval torture weapon that I have only seen pictures of.)
Oddly enough the grocery store Aldi has a Taiwanese version of these for a couple of weeks every year.
They looked so cool I had to buy one and only then I did I do the research to find out what it was for.
(An obvious case of more money than common sense.)
Aldi is German-owned, so that angle makes some sense. Why a grocery store is selling specialty hammers is perplexing.
You mean why is a hammer store selling groceries? Must be some hard hitting prices!
Aldi also sells some chisels that are, by all reports out of the UK, the absolute best VALUE in new chisels out there. Harbor Freight price, Narex / Two Cherries / Pfiel quality.
Some decent tools coming out of the Czech Republic. How is the stuff from Narex? Their pricing is certainly appealing.
Most of my carving chisels and gouges are Two Cherries aka Kirschen Werkzeuge or Flexcut for the palm stuff.
I have a set of Narex chisels and have found them to be perfectly adequate, though not quite on the level of Two Cherries. For the money, they are a very good value.
In my travels around Europe, I’ve seen a number of slightly odd looking hand tools – some hammers. Sometimes these may be associated with different older building construction, different roofing (like slate or thatch) etc.
I posted about different hammers over on the ToolGuyd Community Forum site. I think I missed these from Picard
The Lathammer is a bit akin to a slater’s hammer. The point can be used to pierce a hole in the slate for a nail.
I included a Picard jewelers hammer in my post. The various styles of jewelers metalworking hammers are mostly nothing new – but some of the shapes pictured above seem new to me.
Using a hammer to lift a manhole cover is a new one on me. We used a pair of long steel hooks for that task and it was sometimes none too easy. Using something as short as a hammer on a manhole cover – typically gummed-up with all manner of debris – seems difficult to me.
Maybe it’s not so much for manholes as small underground utility boxes?
Its a favorite style among the stagehands that build the huge scaffolding stages used for large outdoor events.
Thanks John and Noah – that makes more sense.
I’d rather be a hammer than a nail.
Then to modify “Maslow’s Hammer” – if you were a hammer everything would look like a nail.
I kinda like the Latthammer. Though, to be perfectly honest, my Stanley FatMAX AntiVibe is pretty perfect for me. I think this might be a feature envy thing on my part. If my hammer had that nail starter, I think I’d be in heaven as Hammers go. I admit I have a small bit of a Klutz streak, and nails sometimes mess with me, so that may be where that feature seems appealing to me.
And, I DO make Jewellery. That hammer for jewellery making is starting to look pretty nice to me. Don’t know what I’d use it on, exactly, but I would imagine using a slug of some sort to soften the blow, it would help flatten out chain links that get damaged, or smooth out solder spots.
Picard hammers, you say? Methinks I’ll be googling Canadian retailers to see if I can nab myself the jewellery hammer.
I love this website! Always helps me out!
I have a few various metal work hammers some are german and a few american .
Oddly I picked on up to drive a nail once – finish nail – and you know I thought then – why aren’t more hammers square shaped on the end.
meh – anyway good article. I thought picard was from France.
Joh. Hermann PICARD GmbH & Co.KG,
The surname certainly sounds French but Johann and Hermann seem more German names.
my name is Daniel from Picard in Germany. And yes originally the name comes from France but already 160 years ago when the company was founded the family lives in Germany for generations.
Okay… My Mother was a jeweler for many, many years. I, myself, am still an amateur at best, having learned through repairing some of her pieces since I was a child. A hobby between larger projects, and a meaningless trinket source for when you have female friends and are as confused by greeting cards, or as allergic to flower shops, as I am.
I had no idea how the Jeweler’s Hammer was used, so I pulled up the listing for the Picard on Amazon. I thought the $85 CAD pricetag was a little steep, until I showed the listing to my Mother.
Turns out, my Grandfather dabbled in Jewellery and Watchmaking as well, having taught HER. HE once had a hammer of that design, and paid something like $250 back in 1955 for it. That one was imported from England. The Picard on Amazon is made in Germany.
These Picard hammers, even imported, appear to be selling for pennies on the dollar compared to their specialty counterparts from other places. For a company like Picard to go as far as leather-wrapping handles, and all these exotic variations on a hammer… For some reason I am shocked they’re not more expensive.
Oh… and… “Daniel from Picard”… Thank your bosses… I guess I know what I’m buying my Mother for her Birthday this year… a Hammer of all things…
I am a Schlosserhammer freak, personally. Many are copying the Habero/Gedore Rotband model, and Picard is included. Their Secutec hammers are super neato looking. Unfortunately, the dope paint job on those hickory handled German hammers turn to splotchy random stains by the time I’m done sanding the handles. :O
Estwing makes a lineup of schlosserhammers. Someday I’ll drive up to the factory and beg the owner to sell me one of the blue vinyl gripped one’s destined for Germany.
Generally, in Germany, when you say hammer, people think of the Lattehammer. While it might have started out specialized, it is pretty much used in all non mechanic and engineering fields.
It was the standard when I worked with concrete, then as a bricklayer and as a framer.
Hammer, nailpuller, chisle, pick and sappie in one…
the latthhammer is for slating. The point is for punching holes in the slates to nail them to the roof. They are also used for other roof and carpentry work though. I like mine a lot, but i like the looks of this leather handled beauty.