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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fiskars IsoCore Framing Hammer
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Real Steel Framing Hammer
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!