7 Best Framing Hammers
The best framing hammers, with their long handles, let you create the force needed to sink large nails. Here are some of the best you can buy.
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Buying a Framing Hammer
These tools are longer than general-purpose claw hammers, and provide the leverage to drive larger nails into lumber with minimal effort. They also typically feature a straight claw instead of a curved one, useful for prying apart boards and other demolition tasks.
Framing hammers can be expensive, but the added productivity and ease of use are worth the price. When choosing the best framing hammer, consider these features:
- Weight: The lighter the hammer, the easier it is to swing, and the less work for your elbow and wrist. In my experience, a few extra ounces really add up and lead to nagging joint issues. While steel hammers are the most common, titanium are the lightest choice, although they will likely cost hundreds of dollars more. A 15-oz. titanium hammer can provide roughly the same driving force as a 22-oz. steel hammer. If you only pick up your framing hammer occasionally, weight is less of an issue.
- Handle: They’re either metal or wood. While steel and titanium handles are durable enough for heavy use, wood (usually hickory) provides a natural feel some users prefer. Metal hammers with rubber coverings provide a strong grip. Wood is comfortable to grip as well. But in my experience, if wood gets wet or you get sweaty, the chances of slippage increase, affecting accuracy.
- Face: This is the surface that strikes the nail. Framing hammers come with milled or smooth faces. Milled-face hammers have a waffle-style pattern with small ridges that provide extra texture for your nails. Smooth-face hammers have no texture. They require more practice to hit nails square, but you won’t leave unsightly waffle marks on the wood if you miss. If your wood will be visible, like when building a deck, go with a smooth face hammer.
- Extra features: Some framing hammers have a small notch to grab and pull nail heads, ideal for demolition projects and rogue nails. Magnetic nail starters are another convenient feature. The hammerhead keeps the nail in place for the first strike without endangering your fingers.
Best Framing Hammer: Value
The low price and sturdy steel construction of the Estwing GG417 Framing Hammer make it a great choice for a basic, no-frills hammer. A rubber covering provides a reliable grip while you swing it, and the milled face reduces the chances of slipping or sliding off a nailhead. A slightly curved rip claw head works for demolition tasks like prying up floorboards.
Best Framing Hammer: Value II
If you prefer the feel of a wooden hammer handle, try the low-cost Estwing MRW25LM Sure StrikeFraming Hammer. The vibration-dampening hickory wood handle feels comfortable in your hand, and the magnetic nail setter benefits beginners eagar to protect their fingers.
At 25 ounces, this is the heaviest option on our list. So it’s not the best for everyday use, or for those with joint issues.
Best Framing Hammer: Splurge
Although it’s expensive ($265!), the titanium body and ergonomic handle of the Martinez M1 Framing Hammer could be worth it for someone who uses it nearly every day.
The thick rubber shaft cover provides a secure grip, and the curved handle is comfortable to use all day. While the replaceable steel head weighs 15 ounces, the titanium handle is just one ounce. That lets you to generate a ton of force with minimal effort. This tool also features a side-mounted nail puller.
Best Framing Hammer: All-Titanium
If you want the benefits of a lightweight but powerful hammer, consider the titanium body and head of the Stiletto 15-oz. TiBone 3 Framing Hammer. This tool can be used comfortably for longer periods of time, and the magnetic nail set will keep your fingers safe.
I’ve personally worked with several carpenters who swear by Stiletto hammers. They always cite the balanced feel and benefits to their elbows and wrists.
Best Framing Hammer: Lightweight Steel
The Vaughan California Framer Framing Hammer probably isn’t durable enough for heavy-duty projects, but it’s fine for those who need a basic hammer for occasional use. The 19-oz. steel head is lighter than most non-titanium hammers, and features a powder-coated finish to resist rust and corrosion. It’s got a convenient magnetic nail starter and comfortable-to-swing, hatchet-style hickory handle.
Best Framing Hammer: Wood-Handled Titanium
The Stiletto Titanium Smooth Face Framing Hammer combines the lightweight benefits of a titanium hammer with the natural feel of a hickory wood handle. Because only the head is titanium, this is one of the most affordable titanium models out there.
Its smooth face makes it ideal for non-marring woodwork, and the handle transfers little vibration to the arm. The 18-in. handle is also longer than most, letting you create a ton of leverage for driving long nails.
Best Framing Hammer: Lightweight Steel
Those looking for a lightweight model at a low price should consider the Milwaukee 17 oz. Framing Hammer. It swings easily with maximum accuracy.
A thick rubber grip reduces vibration and the bright color should be easy to find in a cluttered garage or tool shed. It also features a magnetic nail setter. The steel handle and head are durable enough to withstand frequent wear and tear.