The Best Framing Hammer Reviews in 2020 – Pull Out the Big Guns

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For a carpenter or a construction worker, a heavy-duty framing hammer is an indispensable tool. These hammers are designed with a specific task in mind – something that not a lot of other hammers can handle. And if you’re planning on doing framing work any time soon, having one in your toolbox could be a smart move. It might not get as much use as your standard hammer, but it’s virtually irreplaceable when you need to deliver a mighty blow. 

Today must be your lucky day because we’re going to cover all the bases of buying the best framing hammer in this article. 

Why Buying a Framing Hammer?

Before you go any further, it’s essential to understand what a framing hammer is. You probably already own a standard hammer, the so-called homeowner’s hammer, and you’re probably wondering what’s the big difference. A hammer is a hammer, right? Well, not exactly.

The distinctions can be summed up in three points – the handle length, the extra head weight, and the serrated face.

Best Framing Hammer

Pull out the big guns with the best framing hammer

And if you’re in the middle of a project that will involve putting up the foundations of whatever it is you’re building, you will most certainly need a framing hammer. Your first step towards getting the job done is having the right tools for it, after all.

A framing hammer is not your average hammer, and as the name suggests, its intended use is framing work – working with two-by-fours or four-by-sixes and setting up a foundation for your home or garage. 

So, for instance, you wouldn’t use a framing hammer for finishing products. You would, however, use one if you need to drive a bunch of size 12D, 3.25-inch nails into the frame of your new home or garage. 

These are heavy-duty tools, and as such, don’t have a spot reserved in your average toolbox. Any experienced carpenter will own a wide range of different hammers, though, and at the very least, one of them will be a framing hammer. If you’re getting one, you should use your best judgment to decide when it’s time to pull out the big guns and have a swing with your framing hammer. 

Hammers might be relatively simple tools by design, but they do come in a variety of forms and different functions – framing being one of them. And as you’re about to find out, not all of them are equally as good at what they do. 

Don’t sweat it, though. We’ve done the hard work – rigorous testing, thorough market research, and more – and we’re here to help you make that choice. This article will present you with essential tips and tricks regarding finding the perfect framing hammer for the job, as well as our honest thoughts and opinions about the market’s leading products. Take a look!

Meet the Best Framing Hammers

Estwing Hammer - 20 oz Straight Rip Claw with Smooth Face & Shock Reduction Grip - E3-20S

The Good: It’s a professional-grade framing hammer – and it has the solid steel one-piece design to prove it.

The Bad: The head features a flat, rather than a milled face, which could pose an issue for some. It doesn’t include a magnet, either.

The Bottom Line: Professional carpenters, construction workers, and contractors – may we have your attention, please? That is the framing hammer you want for the job. That is it. It thrives in extreme conditions and handles tough projects like it’s nobody’s business.

Fiskars - 750241-1001 IsoCore 22 oz Milled-face Framing Hammer, 16 Inch

The Good: It’s designed to do one thing – reduce shock and vibrations – and it does it exceptionally well. It packs a mighty punch, but you’ll barely even feel it!

The Bad: They aimed to create a sleek, lightweight hammer but somehow ended up creating this 22-ounce monster, instead.

The Bottom Line: We don’t have any particular reasons to slam this product. It might not be the best one overall, but it’s virtually unbeatable when it comes to shock absorption. We recommend it to professionals who are not afraid of swinging a more massive hammer.

Real Steel 0517 Ultra Framing Hammer with Milled Face, 21 oz

The Good: The thing that this hammer does best is ensuring flawless precision with its magnetic head and milled face. Plus, it doesn’t cost a small fortune.

The Bad: There’s room for improvement handle-wise. It’s far from uncomfortable, but there’s something off about how it sits in hand.

The Bottom Line: We’ve seen better, and we’ve used worse – and that pretty much sums it up. It’s a decent choice for occasional framing jobs, but don’t expect it to perform on a professional level. It’s not cut out for that line of work.

That would only be the short version, though – if you want to get our detailed opinions, you should check out the rest of our article. 

All of the Factors Considered

We get that framing hammers might seem like deceptively simple tools at first glance. It’s just a hammer, right? Well, not quite. Framing work typically requires a ton of time and effort – and a whole lot of hammer-swinging, too. And if you don’t give this enough thought, you might end up with something unsuitable for whole-day use. So, we made an effort to put together a list of the most important factors that should be considered when purchasing a framing hammer.

Face Texture

The face is one of the most critical parts of any hammer, including a framing one. It’s the part that comes in direct contact with the nail, and while you may not realize it, not all are designed the same way.

You’ll come across several different face textures in your search for the best framing hammer, but the two most commonly seen are “waffle” and flat face.

Waffle face, also known as the milled face, is the more popular choice among carpenters, as the textured surface ensures a much better grip. The cross-cut pattern prevents the hammer’s head from slipping while you’re driving the nail into the wood.

While you’re bound to come across flat-faced hammers, too, the truth is, you should give them a pass. They’re relatively difficult to handle and are more likely to slip off the nail’s head if you fail to hit it dead-on.

Handle Type

Do we seriously need to point out why the handle is such a vital part of a reliable framing hammer?

You’re going to use your framing hammer to drive long nails into lumber – and you want to get as much force as possible out of each swing, without worrying about the handle crumbling under pressure. That’s where the handle’s material and length come in as two crucial factors.

As far as materials go, you have three standard options – wood, steel, and fiberglass. Our vote goes to steel due to obvious reasons. We appreciate the durability and sturdiness that steel brings to the table – but to each their own.

And while you’re at it, pay attention to the handle’s length, too. A longer handle can deliver more force and power with each drive. Don’t go overboard, though – you still want it to be comfortable and well-balanced.

Head Weight

Most framing hammers these days are somewhat similar in weight to the classic hammer, starting as low as eight ounces, and going all the way up to 32 ounces. And since the mass is a factor that can determine its striking force, it’s an important consideration.

We recommend aiming for a weight of approximately 20 ounces – or somewhere in the 16 to 22-ounce range. Staying within that weight range will ensure that the hammer is both efficient and comfortable to use for prolonged periods.

That said, it all comes down to finding the right balance between the head’s weight and the length of the handle. That balance is the key to having an efficient hammer.

Shock Absorption

You’ve probably heard about shock absorption in power tools such as drills and nail guns. And as surprising as it might seem to you, that same feature is now often present in framing hammers, too.

Swinging a hefty hammer for several hours at a time can take a severe toll on your body, especially shoulders and elbows. For this exact reason, more and more manufacturers are working on introducing new designs that would hopefully improve shock absorption and reduce lingering vibrations after each strike.

You’d be a fool to miss out on an opportunity to get a hammer with shock-absorbing properties. Not only will this make the hammer more comfortable to use but reduce your risk of stress-related injuries in the long run, too.


Your final consideration should be the price. We understand that this might come as a surprise, but the price tags on framing hammers can vary drastically. You’ll come across options that cost as little as $15, as well as those that could set you back two hundred dollars – or more!

The difference in pricing is directly related to one thing – quality. If you’re okay with getting a hammer that will only last a year or two, a budget option will do. A high-quality framing hammer, however, can be quite an investment.

It comes down to how much you’re comfortable spending – and what’s available within your set budget range. It’s up to you.

Here’s how we ranked our top three products based on the criteria discussed previously.

In-Depth Reviews of 3 Best Framing Hammers

Estwing E3-20S Hammer

Estwing is easily one of the biggest names in the industry, and as such, doesn’t require any introductions. It doesn’t get much better than their America-made hand tools. And with a robust, one-piece design paired with a 20-ounce head, this framing hammer only continues that tradition. It’s outstanding by all accounts – but it might not be the best fit for everyone. You’ll find out why soon enough.
Face Texture90
Handle Type95
Head Weight100
Shock Absorption95
What We Like
Forged one-piece design and moderate well-balanced weight
Molded Shock Reduction grip ensures comfortable use
Unsurpassed sturdiness and durability
What We Don't Like
Not a suitable choice for beginners
It has a flat-edged face
The coating scratches easily

Key Features

Build for professional use

The forged one-piece design is combined with a 20-ounce head, resulting in a hammer of unquestionable strength. Durability is the key here. It’s designed to last for decades to come, and it’s one of the very few hammers out there that won’t fail you – ever.

Estwing Hammer

Fewer vibrations and more comfort

The blue nylon-vinyl grip is molded onto the handle, offering nothing but comfort and durability. The benefits go beyond ensuring a soft, yet firm grip, too. It also does an excellent job at facilitating shock absorption and minimizing vibrations caused by impact. To say that it is comfortable would be an understatement.

Estwing Hammer Head

Flat and rather than milled

One might argue that a flat-edged face reduces the risk of damaging the wood’s surface or leaving a mark as a result of a stray hit. But at the same time, you won’t have that extra grip that only a milled face can provide.

Estwing Hammer Claw

It’s going to outlast you

And no, we’re not joking. Estwing is known for producing some of the most durable hammers in the industry – and this one’s no exception. This thing will survive everything you throw its way, and will probably have a spot in your toolbox for decades to come.

Estwing Hammer Durability

Customer Reviews

I’m not a professional construction worker; I just wanted a framing hammer for some of my round-the-house projects. Anyway, it’s a significant upgrade from the hammer’s I’ve used in the past. And it’s made to last. The balance of the hammer is spot-on, and the rubber handle does an excellent job at keeping the fatigue at bay. It feels very durable, too. We’ll see how it will hold up, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to outlast me.

All in all, I don’t regret this purchase!

I’m a carpenter, and my job involves tons of different things besides framing. Plus, I do a lot of side jobs, as well. My point is, I need a well-made, solid hammer that’s always ready for a day’s work – and Estwing is my go-to. It always had its spot on my hammer loop, and it always will.

The handle feels super comfortable in hand; the ergonomics are excellent. More importantly, it’s sturdy and well-balanced. In my opinion, it’s the best framing hammer currently available on the market, and I’m confident that it’s going to serve for a very long time.

I love the one-piece design of this hammer. It feels robust in my hand, and it’s very swift, too. It manages to stay relatively lightweight and compact without compromising ruggedness and durability along the way. I love how balanced and comfortable it feels, as well. You won’t get it until you have on in your hand.

I’ve used dozens of hammers in the past, but nothing beats Estwing, especially when it comes to framing work. I don’t necessarily consider it a beginner-friendly hammer – it’s better suited for professional work – but you’re going to love it, nonetheless. I know I do!

Who Should Buy this Product

This one’s easy to recommend – professional carpenters, framers, roofers, and contractors have been using it successfully for years now. It was made to withstand even the harshest conditions on job sites, after all. Just make sure someone doesn’t steal it from you while you’re not looking. You wouldn’t be the first one to report a case of a missing Estwing hammer!

What to Watch Out For

There’s a noticeable lack of a textured, milled face on the hammer’s head. That can be both a pro and a con, depending on how you choose to look at it, though. It won’t leave marks or damage the wood, but it won’t help you get a better grip, either. Factor in the lack of a magnetic head, and you’ll see why this is, by no means, a beginner’s hammer.

The Conclusion

It’s an Estwing hammer – need we say more? Sturdy design, perfect balance, and unmatched strength all come together to form this long-lasting, professional-grade framing hammer. Every single aspect of this tool does what it’s supposed to, making it not only durable and robust but comfortable and efficient, as well. It’s easily the best framing hammer we’ve tested so far – and one we highly recommend, too.

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Fiskars IsoCore Framing Hammer

Fiskars is no longer about crafting supplies and gardening tools only. The brand’s expanded its list of products, offering an assortment of hammers, too. The one we have here is a 22-ounce framing hammer equipped with shock-absorbing IsoCore technology. If you want a heavy-duty hammer that delivers a mighty blow with minimal impact on your body, this might be it.
Face Texture90
Handle Type95
Head Weight100
Shock Absorption95
What We Like
Combines a 22-ounce head and a 16-inch extended handle
Exceptional shock absorption and vibration reduction
Features a milled face with a magnetic nail starter
What We Don't Like
The finish wears off relatively quickly
Prone to rust
It might be too heavy for some

Key Features 

Packs quite a punch

With a 22-ounce head and an extended, 16-inch handle, this hammer is designed to deliver a mighty blow swing after swing. It was forged to be a heavy-duty, perfectly balanced hammer that will keep your swings powerful, yet controlled. Lasting durability makes it a go-to choice for daily performance.

Fiskars IsoCore Hammer

Focused on reducing shock and vibrations

The focus of Fiskars patented IsoCore technology is shock absorption and vibration reduction. They delivered on that promise perfectly, making one of the most comfortable hammers we came across. The insulation sleeve captures the shock of the initial strike, and the dual-layer design of the handle captures any remaining vibrations.

Fiskars IsoCore Hammer Claw

Watch the weight

Although its 22-ounce head can deliver plenty of force, it’s pushing the limits of comfort weight-wise. It’s surprisingly heavy, even for a framing hammer. We don’t necessarily consider this a downside, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’ll be swinging it for hours on end.

Fiskars IsoCore Hammer Head

The finish won’t last

This hammer is beautiful – while it’s brand new, that is. The coating doesn’t hold up well in tougher working conditions, such as construction sites. It chips off rather quickly, leaving the hammer prone to rust. It doesn’t affect its performance, but it’s still worth noting.

Fiskars IsoCore

Customer Reviews

I was skeptical at first, and I wasn’t sure if it’s cut out for the amount of work that I do as a carpenter. However, I’ve put it to the test in some pretty nasty conditions, and I’m impressed with its performance. Also, there’s virtually no vibration at all! You’d be insane to miss out on a deal like this.

If the word gets out that you can get a framing hammer as good as this one for less than 50 bucks, Stiletto and Estwing are going to get a good run for their money.

I never leave Amazon reviews, so the fact that I’m writing one now has to mean something. I’m a professional framer, and I’ve worked with pretty much all brands of expensive hammers in the past. And honestly, this one’s better than 90 percent of them, yet comes at a fraction of a price! To say that it ensures low vibration would be an understatement – it vibrates less than any hammer I’ve ever swung, and I’ve swung plenty. It drives nails with reasonable force, too.

My only gripe is ergonomics-related. I wish that it had a flat thumb rest of sorts on the back of the handle. Other than that, though, this is an excellent hammer for the money!

It’s easily one of the best hammers I’ve ever owned. It has excellent balance, it’s comfortable to use, and the handle has a great length to it, ensuring power in every swing – enough to drive a size 12 nail with ease. Plus, there’s virtually no vibration! It’s a solid hammer, and I would happily buy it again.

The 22-ounce milled face will destroy your thumb if you happen to miss the nail, though. Don’t ask how I know this.

Who Should Buy this Product

The Fiskars IsoCore hammer is ideal for heavy-duty framing work. Pounding large nails into lumber is what it does best. And since it boasts exceptional shock and vibration reduction, it’s perfect for minimizing the impact on your body. When it comes to damage-control, it doesn’t get much better than this.

What to Watch Out For

The main issue here is that the paint finish doesn’t hold up well – or at all. And once it chips off – and it will – rust is bound to follow. Also, we feel like the total weight of the hammer somewhat pushes the limits of comfort. It carries 22 ounces in the head alone! It’s not a deal-breaker, of course, but make sure that you’re ready to move all that weight with each swing.

The Conclusion

Swinging a hammer such as this one is an experience on its own. It falls on the heavier side, so it delivers a mighty blow. But at the same time, you can hardly even feel the impact! IsoCore technology indeed does a marvelous job here. We’re sure professionals clocking long hours would find it useful. Novices might be a bit over their heads with this one, though.

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Real Steel Framing Hammer

The Real Steel Framing Hammer is certainly an option worth considering if you’re looking for something a bit more budget-friendly. It boasts a lot of the same attractive features that other models have but steals the show by offering them at only a fraction of the price. That cut in cost doesn’t come without its issues, though – and you’ll find out what we mean soon.
Face Texture90
Handle Type95
Head Weight100
Shock Absorption95
What We Like
Reasonably lightweight
yet sturdy one-piece design
The face has a milled texture with a magnetic nail starter
The textured rubber grip has shock-reducing properties
What We Don't Like
The paint finish isn’t very durable
There’s room for improvement with the handle
Might not last very long

Key Features

All about increased strike accuracy

The hammer boasts optimized efficiency by combining two essential features, one of them being the milled face that ensures flawless precision. The second is the addition of a magnetic nail starter, which provides extra “guidance” and makes it possible to use with one hand.

Real Steel Framing Hammer

The paint is the first to go

Unfortunately, the paint job seems to be one of the early tell-tale signs of its low price tag. There’s no nice way to put it – the finish on the hammer is of inferior quality.

Real Steel Hammer Claw

Combines quality with an affordable price

Framing hammers can be quite expensive. So, finding one that won’t set you back a couple of hundred bucks without compromising quality along the way is always a welcome surprise. It might not be the best hammer out there, but it’s the cheapest one – and that counts for something.

Real Steel Hammer Head

Not the most comfortable handle

The hammer’s rubber grip promises a firmer grip and reduced shock and vibrations. We found that to be only partially true, though. While it does feel relatively comfortable, even during prolonged use, it leaves a lot to be desired. There’s something not-quite-right with its shape.

Real Steel

Customer Reviews

First and foremost, I love the weight of this hammer. Also, I feel like the handle is even more comfortable than the one on Estwing. Overall, it’s nice, and although I saw people complain about the paint finish, I like it. It makes it easy to figure out which hammer is mine when I’m in the workplace. Why should you even care about the hammer’s paint? It’s meant to get the job done, not look good. I highly recommend this one to anyone working with concrete and framing – and anyone else in the construction business, for that matter.
I find this to be a good framing hammer, and a well-balanced one, at that. And while I was most definitely impressed by how good it feels in hand, I was a bit disappointed with other aspects of its performance.

My main issue was that the magnet fell out after only a week of moderate use. I did not see that coming. It was bummed out because I found the magnet truly helpful for nailing that first blow. Also, I noticed that it doesn’t perform very well with size 16 double-headed nails. Other than that, though, you could say that I’m relatively happy with my purchase.

My profession involves a lot of framing jobs, and so far, this hammer was a perfect fit for me. I appreciate how comfortable the handle is, as I often use the hammer for up to 12 hours a day. The fact that it has such a nice weight and balance to it is a definite plus, too. I was seriously worried that someone might steal it when I brought it to work with me. That’s how good this hammer is!

Who Should Buy this Product

We pointed out numerous times that framing hammers often don’t come cheap. But if you’re only going to use yours occasionally, spending a small fortune doesn’t make much sense. Enter Real Steel, an affordable option with just as much striking force – and a perfect choice for taking your DIY projects to a more serious level. 

What to Watch Out For

Our biggest gripe with this one is that it doesn’t hold up well in the long run. Then again, a framing hammer isn’t supposed to look good – it’s supposed to get the job done. Also, we weren’t thrilled about the handle. It’s relatively comfortable, but there’s still plenty of room for improvements. There’s something off about its shape and how it sits in hand.

The Conclusion

There are some praiseworthy features to this hammer, and then there are some less than stellar ones. But considering that it comes with such an affordable price tag, we feel like we’re nitpicky here. So, yes, we’re giving it a pass based on the price tag alone. If you primarily use it for DIY projects, it should be more than enough. Experienced carpenters will find it lacking on more than one level, though. 

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The Best Framing Hammer – Estwing E3-20S Hammer

When there are several different factors at play, it can be tricky to highlight one product as the best out of the bunch. However, sometimes that choice comes naturally – and this time, it was love at first swing. Our testing only confirmed what we already knew – the Estwing E3-20S Hammer is the best framing hammer on the market. 

This mighty hand tool takes the cake as the most reliable, long-lasting, efficient hammer you’ll come across in your career – and it doesn’t skimp on comfort, either. What’s more, there aren’t any deal-breaking downsides to it. Your chances of finding something that beats our top pick for today are relatively slim. 

The Conclusion

Now you know what our best pick is – but you shouldn’t take our word for it. Although we’re confident in its quality enough to highlight it as the absolute best, there’s always a chance that some of the other models could fit your needs better. Consider everything you’ve learned about framing hammers today and make that choice on your own. That’s what we’ve hoped to achieve with this detailed guide, anyway. On that note, if you found this info helpful, and you know someone who might appreciate it, too, you’re welcome to share it around! Until next time, have a great day!

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