The hammer was possibly the first tool used by mankind and is used to hit something to persuade it to move, or to destroy it.
The most basic "club hammer" is a square metal head on a short handle and is used mostly to break up rock or hard material. When fitted with a longer handle and larger head it is called a sledge hammer. Whilst the metal heads of these hammers have remained pretty much the same , there have been improvements to handle designs to increase strength, grip and comfort. Wooden hammer handles are now being replaced by fibreglass handles for maximum strength and newer composite materials for flexibility and shock absorption. The Roughneck tool company make a wide range of extra strong hammers using fibreglass or composite handles. Bahco also make top quality hammers with a more traditional design.
The most popular metal-headed hammer is probably the claw hammer which is used when working with wood and also to pull out nails. Claw hammers are usually curved but there are straight versions and again the handles are available in many materials including all steel models like those from Stanley and Estwing. For the professional user Estwing make a range of hammers with leather grips that are the best suitable for workshop use. For site work and dirty conditions hammers with durable rubber handles are better.
If you need a replacement handle for your hammer the manufacturer Faithfull make a wide range as well as good quality low priced hammers.
Metalworking hammers come in a vast range of shapes and sizes with the most common being the ball pein hammer. This has a round front end to deliver maximum impact and for working on, or creating, curved metal.
Hammers have two faces with the rear one being the largest and usually flat. The front face is the one adapted for specialist purposes like that of the brick hammer, tiler or roofers hammer and the small and light tack hammer for the smallest nails.
Brick hammers have a wide flat front face for breaking bricks whilst the roofers hammers have a spike for making holes in tiles. The dry wall hammer is another specialist tool with a hatchet shaped front face suitable for working with plasterboard.
The mallet is another type of hammer that is designed more to move something than break it or to be used to hit another tool such as a chisel.
Mallets come in a vast range of sizes and materials. The wooden carpenters mallet is the most basic and well known. The carvers mallet is the large round one and also made from wood. Engineering mallets have interchangeable heads so that the face can be the changed to suit whatever material you are working with. These heads can be plastic, nylon, rubber, copper, or even leather. The manufacturer Thor are known for their specialist and engineering mallets which are used widely in industry.