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Best Framing Hammer [2020 Review]

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A heavier duty tool than the standard household hammer, the best framing hammer is aptly named after its primary use which is to assemble house frames. It has a straight rip claw and weighs quite a bit more than its counterparts, and more so if it’s head is made from steel.

Since an exceptional framing hammer can serve you for a long time, it’s always important that you pick wisely. Our buying guide features choices that will meet a variety of applications, user levels, and budgets.

Top Framing Hammer Reviews

Brand
Best Overall
Stanley 51-167 FatMax Xtreme
Best for the Money
TEKTON 30325 Rip Hammer
Best Heavy
Estwing E3-22S
Product
Stanley 51-165 20-Ounce FatMax Xtreme AntiVibe Rip...
TEKTON 22 oz. Jacketed Fiberglass Magnetic Head...
Estwing Framing Hammer - 22 oz Long Handle...
Grip
Torsion Control Stabilizers, & Anti-Vibe Technology
Shock Resistant
Shock Resistant
Weight
22 oz
22 oz
22 oz
Rating
-
-
-
Best Overall
Brand
Stanley 51-167 FatMax Xtreme
Product
Stanley 51-165 20-Ounce FatMax Xtreme AntiVibe Rip...
Grip
Torsion Control Stabilizers, & Anti-Vibe Technology
Weight
22 oz
Rating
-
Best for the Money
Brand
TEKTON 30325 Rip Hammer
Product
TEKTON 22 oz. Jacketed Fiberglass Magnetic Head...
Grip
Shock Resistant
Weight
22 oz
Rating
-
Best Heavy
Brand
Estwing E3-22S
Product
Estwing Framing Hammer - 22 oz Long Handle...
Grip
Shock Resistant
Weight
22 oz
Rating
-

Best Overall: Stanley 51-167 FatMax Xtreme

Stanley 51-165 20-Ounce FatMax Xtreme AntiVibe Rip...

Stanley is a prominent brand in the tool industry, so it’s not surprising that their 51-167 FatMax Extreme has taken the top spot for reliable framing hammers.

One aspect that makes this hammer superior is its grip. It comes with control stabilizers, which are designed to minimize shock at the point of impact. This, in turn, decreases fatigue that you feel every time you swing your arm.

If you’re usually scared of the vibration that’s caused by striking harder materials, the 51-167 has a special element to solve this. It has Anti-Vibe technology, which helps to absorb most of the vibration so that you don’t feel it in your hands.

The head of this tool weighs 22 ounces, which is the standard weight for framing hammers. It also has a magnetic nail start feature, which enables you to nail using one hand.

Pros

  • Anti-Vibe technology for shock absorption
  • ​Magnetic nail start feature allows for one-handed operation
  • ​Textured face to enhance control and accuracy when nailing
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty
  • Control stabilizers minimize torque effects in your arms and wrists

Cons

  • ​It comes in an all-black color as opposed to the advertised design that has the manufacturer’s logo
Stanley 51-165 20-Ounce FatMax Xtreme AntiVibe Rip...
  • Stanley Fatmax Xtreme Antivibe Smooth Nailing Hammer Rc, 20 Oz
  • Staples!!!!
  • High Quality New!!!!!!!
  • An ideal professional grade anti-vibration nailing hammer

Best Budget: TEKTON 30325

TEKTON 22 oz. Jacketed Fiberglass Magnetic Head...

A heavy-duty hammer isn’t always the most preferred for certain projects. When you need to something simple like build a dollhouse for your little princess, a basic and reasonably-priced framing hammer like the Tekton Jacketed Rip Hammer will do the trick.

Though we’ve described this hammer as basic, it has quite a solid build. It’s put together using a strong epoxy bond that eliminates its chances of loosening. So no matter how many times you strike face with it, the hammer won’t fall apart.

Even better, the Tekton head and handle is made from fiberglass. This construction reduces the shock transmitted during operation; hence increasing the precision of your hit. It also features a magnetic nail holder for added efficiency. The magnetic nail holder works great for setting nails.

Besides the nail holder, the hammer also has a straight sharpened claw to help you access any nooks and crannies that would be difficult to get to with curved tools.

Pros

  • ​The strong fiberglass composition makes it durable
  • ​Affordable
  • Magnetic Nail Holder
  • Perfectly-balanced
  • ​Comes with a sharpened claw
  • Long 16” handle for extended reach

Cons

  • ​Seems to be suited for light to medium tasks
TEKTON 22 oz. Jacketed Fiberglass Magnetic Head...
  • 16 inch Framer length lets you take big, powerful swings while the anti-slip, axe-inspired handle...
  • High-strength Fiberglass handle is protected by an impact-resistant poly jacket
  • Cross milled face grips nail heads to reduce glancing blows and features a magnetic nail-starting...
  • Sharpened straight claw Pries apart boards, demolishes drywall, and pulls nails

Best Heavy: Estwing E3-22S

Estwing Framing Hammer - 22 oz Long Handle...

If you need to drive nails through thick wood, the heavyweight Estwing ES-22S is the tool of choice.

Forged in one-piece, this could easily be mistaken for a traditional hammer because of its simple design. However, this single-piece construction plays a crucial role preventing the hammer from ever falling off and breaking your toes in the process.

The hammer also has shock reduction grip technology, which the manufacturer claims reduces the impact of vibrations by up to 70%. To provide an even better grip, this handle is made of a blend of nylon and vinyl. Both of these materials are good at preventing slippage.

Fitted with a 22 ounce head, the Estwing is meant to be an all-round framing hammer that can be used for prying boards, as a side nail puller, finishing and demolition work.

Pros

  • ​Ergonomic handle that is resistant to shock
  • ​Affordable
  • Suitable as side nail puller
  • ​Forged single-piece construction for strength and durability
  • ​Equipped with a cushion grip for easier handling

Cons

  • ​Coating chips off easily
Estwing Framing Hammer - 22 oz Long Handle...
  • FORGED IN ONE PIECE – The most durable, longest lasting striking tools available
  • RIP CLAW VERSITILITY – Use for pulling nails, prying boards, demolition work, splitting wood and...
  • BUILT FOR THE PRO –Framers, roofers, carpenters, contractors, tradesman & serious DIYers
  • PATENTED SHOCK REDUCTION GRIP – Comfortable, durable & reduces impact vibration by 70%

Best Build: Stiletto Tools Inc TI14SC

Stiletto Tools Inc TI14SC Titan 14 Oz Titanium...

Though it’s the priciest of the bunch, the Stiletto Tools Inc TI14SC has definitely earned its keep.

This framing hammer is made of titanium, which is why it has such a high price tag. But then again, the benefits you get from this titanium construction are endless.

For one, this material weighs less than steel. In fact, titanium is said to transfer up to 97% of your energy from the swinging action to the nail. By comparison, a steel hammer only transfers about 70% of that energy. This means you get more work done with the titanium tool using minimal effort.

Another selling point for the Stiletto Titanium hammer is that it has less shock. So apart from the convenience of using a lighter hammer, you’ll also be experiencing less reverberations with each strike.

Pros

  • ​Lightweight design with the same amount of power as a steel hammer
  • ​Excellent shock absorption capability
  • ​Magnetic nail starter
  • Forged steel head
  • Curved hickory handle improves swinging leverage

​Cons

  • ​Expensive
Sale
Stiletto Tools Inc TI14SC Titan 14 Oz Titanium...
  • The original Titanium framing hammer
  • Less recoil shock than steel hammers
  • Lightweight titanium head eases fatigue, yet the driving force equals a 24 oz steel
  • Magnetic nail start feature on nose of the hammer for easy one-handed nail sets

Best Waffle Face: Fiskars IsoCore Framing Hammer

Fiskars - 750241-1001 IsoCore 22 oz Milled-face...

If you prefer a milled-face framing hammer to a smooth one, the Fiskars IsoCore makes a strong contender. The fact that it has a textured working end means that it will grip the nail even if the hammer fails to land squarely on it.

The orange-colored handle of this hammer is 16 inches, giving you a superb reach for various applications. But what’s really exciting about this handle is that it has a dual layer that dampens the impact of vibrations.

Furthermore, the IsoCore is equipped with an insulation sleeve that captures the initial shock of the strike. This way, less of the vibration travels up the handle and into your arms and wrists.

Another distinct characteristic of this hammer is the sculpted profile of the handle. This is so designed to conform to the natural shape of your hand. Also, the tool has a magnetic nail starter, the magnetic nail starter makes nailing with one hand incredibly easy.

Pros

  • ​Patented shock control mechanism reduces vibrations
  • ​Comes with lifetime warranty
  • Magnetic nail starter
  • ​Milled face prevents nail from slipping away
  • ​Dual layer handle and insulation sleeve increase efficiency
  • ​Easy-to-hold grip

​Cons

  • ​Handle might be too short for some framing tasks
Fiskars - 750241-1001 IsoCore 22 oz Milled-face...
  • Ideal for big framing jobs and pounding large nails into tough lumber with power and speed
  • Milled face grips nail head to help prevent hammer from sliding off the nail head when striking
  • Patented IsoCore Shock Control System absorbs strike shock and vibration to reduce the punishment...
  • Insulation sleeve captures initial strike shock before it can reach your hand

Best Wooden Handle: Vaughan & Bushnell CF2HC California Framer

Vaughan & Bushnell CF2HC California Framer,...

Often, getting a good hammer boils down to one’s personal tastes and preferences. And for some, nothing beats the comfortable feel and weight of a wooden framing hammer. If you prefer such tools, the Vaughan CF2HC Framer is a fantastic option.

This hammer’s handle is made of hickory wood. The hickory handle has a nice retro look and feel. Though a hickory handle won’t offer the same durability as a steel handle, it’s sufficient for light framing tasks around the home. This curved hickory handle is also longer than other handles, and this boosts your accuracy when nailing.

The CF2HC has a forged steel milled face, so you’ll have a good grip. This striking surface is also comparatively bigger, reducing your chances of missed heads.

Pros

  • ​Has excellent balance
  • ​Wooden handle for a lightweight design
  • ​Milled and extra-large face

Cons

  • ​Not suited for heavy-duty framing tasks
  • Lack of lifetime warranty
Vaughan & Bushnell CF2HC California Framer,...
  • Fully polished head, California Framer
  • Milled face grips nail heads to minimize slipping and flying nails
  • Smooth swept claws is borrowed from 999 Style rip hammer and extra large striking face is from their...

What Makes a Quality Framing Hammer?

Despite looking fairly the same, the best framing hammers differ significantly both in terms of build and functionality. To find a tool that meets your needs, you’ll need to consider a couple of factors such as:

Handle

The framing hammer handles vary in the type of material and their length. Material-wise, the main options you’ll come across in a framing hammer are: steel, wood, and fiberglass. Let’s look at how each one performs.

Steel

This is the strongest of the three. In fact, it’s hard to find a material that can rival steel when we’re examining strength. Due to their sturdiness, steel handles are perfect for framing and other major construction projects. 

That said, it’s important to note that steel is not suitable for all applications. Though the additional weight provides the much-needed power, it’s undesirable in some instances.

For instance, in steel-handled framing hammers that are not reinforced with any anti-vibration technology, the amount of shock felt by the user can be overwhelmhing. Prolonged exposure to such high amounts of vibration can eventually lead to hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

Some pliers and a bule hammer on a wood top

Wood

This is the complete opposite of steel handles in that they are extremely lightweight; hence easier to handle. Another plus of wooden handles is that they absorb vibration more efficiently than their steel counterparts. Most of them are also cheaper than the best framing hammers with steel handles.

On the flip side, these handles are the most susceptible to breakage. Even though they’re easy to replace, the expense of purchasing a new handle every few weeks can be costly.

Due to this, wooden-handled hammers are suitable for one-time or small DIY projects around your home.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is a happy medium between steel and wood. It’s not as tough and durable as steel but it’s not as easily breakable as wood either. Though it will break eventually, it will certainly last longer than a wooden handle.

The shock absorption capability of fiberglass is right in the middle as well. So, if you’re looking for a handle that strikes a good balance between vibration dampening and durability, fiberglass is one of the best bets.

With a longer handle comes increased power. This is because it will help you build greater momentum; thus, delivering a stronger strike.

Similarly, a longer handle can help you access areas that you would, otherwise, be unable to reach. However, it’s important to consider your own strength. Using such a handle requires upper body strength and it might take a while to get used to it.

Grip

Grip is another aspect to account for when choosing a framing hammer. Ideally, a good comfortable grip ensures that you have maximum control of your tool. This mitigates the risk of hitting your fingers or injuring yourself in any other manner.

With the majority of the best framing hammers, a rubber grip is added to provide cushioning. Rubber also absorbs part of the vibrations from the blows.

Leather is another material you might come across. Now, though it looks stylish and works just as great as rubber, leather costs more and it’s probably going to darken over time.

Weight

One thing that sets framing hammers apart is the fact they weigh significantly more. While standard hammers tip the scales at 12 to 14 ounces, the framing models weigh between 20 and 32 ounces. Finding the right-weighted hammer can be a bit tricky. Overall, you should keep these factors in mind.

How you use it

If your work involves hammering right above your head, then lighter framing hammers are a safer option. However, if it involves swinging low, a heavier hammer is not a bad choice.

You should also base your decision on how you plan to use it. If you want to use it for odd jobs within your property, a 16 to 18 ounce hammer will do. But if you’ll be using it for large-scale projects, then a 20 to 22 ounce hammer is a better deal.

For carpenters, framers and roofers who have to haul these tools all day long, lighter hammers are better. But if you’ll only use it once every few months, then there’s nothing wrong with buying a heavier model.

Your strength

Do you remember that formula you learned in high school explaining how to calculate force? Here’s a quick reminder: force = mass x acceleration. What this means is that a heavier hammer packs more power. But that’s only if you’re able to swing it and to do so correctly.

Ultimately, one of the best ways to determine if a particular hammer works for you is to test it. Even if you’re purchasing online, you can visit local hardware stores and experiment with the available models. This way, you’ll know what a 22-ounce hammer will feel like when it’s finally in your hands.

Man in blue using a hammer to drive a nail

Framing hammers can have either smooth face or milled faces. The good news is: choosing between these two is not as difficult as finding the ideal weight.

Both types can drive a nail through a piece of wood without any glitches. However, the milled or waffle-headed hammer are for framing tasks because it enables you to drive nails quickly.

On the other hand, a smooth face hammer is designed for more delicate tasks because it does not dent the surface of the wood.

Apart from the design, you should also check the surface area of the face. A bigger surface area is more forgiving as it reduces the likelihood of missing nails.

How to Use Framing Hammers

Here are a few tips to ensure you’re utilizing this tool in a safe way:

It’s not advisable to use a hammer that has splintering wood, loosehead or one that’s rusty. If the working end were to come loose, it could fly off during use and cause significant harm. So, if the nails holding this hammer are loose, tighten them using a screwdriver.

If there is no way to tighten them, consider replacing your hammer entirely. Similarly, you shouldn’t use a hammer with splintering wood as it’s likely going to break upon impact. There are models that feature an overstrike guard for added handle protection.

If you notice that your hammer has dirt or debris during an inspection, wipe it down with a clean cloth before proceeding. In particular, remove any oil residue that may be present. If you don’t, this might cause the hammer to slip from your hands during use.

Since it’s not considered a power tool, a lot of people neglect the importance of wearing eye protection when working with hammers.

But here’s the deal: you never know when one of the nails will deflect and be sent flying in the direction of your face. And it’s not just nails that can injure your eyes. One piece of your framing hammer can chip off and the wooden handle you’re working on can splinter.

Always wear eye-protective gear when using this tool. Upon wearing your safety glasses, double-check to see if the strap is tightly secured and whether they’ve covered your entire eye region.

Wearing protective gear is not going to be of any benefit if you’re distracted when working with your framing hammer. You can still wind up hurting yourself by accident. To prevent this, be present and concentrate fully on the task ahead.

Before you start hammering away, check your surroundings. There shouldn’t be people passing behind or anywhere close to your work area while you get the job done.

Best Framing Hammer Brands

  • Stanley: For more than a century, Stanley has managed to build a name for itself by making some of the most reliable tools and storage solutions. This corporation makes a wide range of gadgets for home improvement and remodeling to routine maintenance and new construction projects.
  • Tekton: Tekton is a family-run company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This firm aims at making low-cost but high-quality and durable tools. They handle their customer-support in-house, which comes in handy as it enables them to address their customers’ needs efficiently. Apart from excellent customer service, Tekton is admired for being very upfront about their operations. Information relating to their tools can easily be found on their website.
  • Estwing: Estwing is also an American-based venture. However, the business was actually founded by a Swedish immigrant- Ernest O. Estwing- who settled in Rockford, in 1923. The company has been making a variety of striking tools ever since. Currently, they specialize in hammers, axes, pry bars, roofing equipment, and bricklaying tools. Most of these products feature a single-piece steel construction.
  • Stiletto: Created in 1901, Stiletto is among the companies that provided tools for building the first homes and businesses in California. In fact, this organization traces its roots to the early days of the California Gold Rush. Since then, they have focused on making tools for different kinds of consumers ranging from professionals to homeowners and do-it-yourselfers. Recently, Stiletto started manufacturing a line of titanium hammers, which boast better balance, sturdier head-to-handle connection, durability, and more accurate performance.
  • Fiskars Isocore: Founded in 1649, Fiskars Group has grown to become a global provider of functional and living products. The company now owns several brands, with its most prominent being Fiskars. This particular brand includes tools such as hammers, scissors and more. Their goal is to make innovative tools that make gardening, cooking and crafting easier and more enjoyable.
Carpenter with a harmer on his belt

What is the correct way to use a framing hammer?

  1. ​To start nailing, hold the hammer close to the edge of the handle.
  2. ​Wrap your fingers on the handle, allowing your thumb to rest directly on the shaft. A comfortable grip on the framing hammer this way provide a means to have the most control.
  3. Next, hold the framing tool as tightly as you can to make sure that it won’t go flying in a different direction when you swing it.
  4. Line your framing hammer with the nail. Before you start swinging, place the head of the hammer on the nail to check whether they align properly. Doing so enables you to be more accurate when striking.

Another crucial point to note is that you should start with light blows. This will make sure that the nail goes through in a straight pattern. To achieve this, try holding the nail as you hammer until it stays in place. You can then apply a slightly greater force to drive it in the remaining part.

Conclusion

Whether you’re building a kid’s treehouse, repairing furniture or planning any other DIY project, the best framing hammer is a handy tool to have. Our favorite tool is the Stanley 51-167 FatMax Extreme.

This hammer has tons of shock absorption features. The first is the AntiVibe technology that absorbs a majority of the impact on the strike face. The head and handle is also designed in a way that decreases the torque placed on your elbows as your wrists as your swing.

But in the unfortunate event that the FatMax Extreme is unavailable, you can go for Tekton Rip Hammer. It’s incredibly cheap, has a strong fiberglass construction and a long 16” handle.

Raised with a fix-it and improvement mindset, my wife and I completely restored our Craftsman-style home. Learning how to DIY a variety of home improvement projects, I started SawsHub with my father. He's the fine woodworker, I'm the DIYer!