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newcabinguy 08-22-2012 11:10 PM

What's the best hammer for building a house?
Hi Guys,

Just inherited some property and I want to put a cabin on it. I'm kind of new to building and I'm just getting ready to buy my first set of tools. Could someone please tell me, what is the best hammer for building a house. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!



Ian Rogers 08-22-2012 11:59 PM

I have a vaughan 999 20 oz framing hammer and a 999 16 oz finishing hammer.

GBrackins 08-23-2012 12:22 AM

I myself prefer Estwing, have used them for almost 40 years ....

newcabinguy 08-23-2012 12:39 AM

Thanks, I checked out vaughn's site and found a cool looking split head hammer that has a magnet in it to hold the nails on the head. Do you think this would be good for a starting out?

I plan on practicing a little before I start building but, I'm just scared I will be smashing my fingers a lot. I looked at the 999 series but, I didn't see any with the magnet feature. I still have

to buy some other tools and wood before I get started so I have a little time to decide. Does the 999 series have good balance and comfort?

newcabinguy 08-23-2012 12:49 AM

ok, just checked out estwings site but I couldn't find any with the magnet. maybe that's not really an important feature once you get used to it and practice a little. Thanks though, I really appreciate the help on this. I can't wait to get going on this project, I have wanted a cabin for years!

md2lgyk 08-23-2012 06:37 AM

Maybe professional framers are pickier than me, but I don't see a lot of difference in framing hammers other than weight and what the handles are made of. My wife and I built our log home by ourselves, and I just bought a couple of 24-ounce Stanleys from Home Depot. They worked fine for us.

user1007 08-23-2012 07:08 AM

I have a long handled Estwing framing hammer that has been with me for 40 years and that I use most often even for lighter work than it is intended. Picking it up is always like meeting an old friend.

You should give serious consideration to buying tools at a good tool store. Not a box store and not online to start until you have actually held one. And buy nicely forged and made tools not Chinese crap ones. Nothing wrong with nicely made Chinese tools but most have too much plastic (I speak mainly of power tools but even hand screwdrivers often have lousy metal and cheap plastic handles). There is no such thing as cheap tools.

Especially with something like a hammer that you will use hours on end you want something that fits your hand, is a suitable weight for the job but also for you too handle. And just because something like a screwdriver is ergonomically designed does not mean your hands were in the primary percentile the industrial designer used to make decisions about shape and balance.

Try your tools on for fit and you will be much happier with them. US manufacturers make some of the finest tools in the world so buy them when you can.

And please don't forget safety things like a nice pair of goggles and/or nice plastic lenses for your glasses. An aspirator should be on your safety list. First aid kit of course. Nice gloves that will let you hold things but not puncture or tear easily. Good tool belt, buckets, etc. will help keep you from tripping on things and organize your workspace. Make sure tools with cutting edges are kept sharp. Nothing is more dangerous than a dull tool.

user1007 08-23-2012 07:16 AM

Something else to think about. Most of us learned by working next to others willing to bring is up in their footsteps. For me it started with my grandfather, a carpenter, and my Dad a cabinet maker. And then their were crusty old painters and glazers that had great patience with me. I was introduced to tools very early on and while I did not work in the trades all of my work life I came back to them for the end session. There is nothing you cannot learn but it is helpful to have someone show you things.

Why not donate some time to a project like Habitat for Humanity so you gain some hands on experience with building and tools? Will some community college courses fit your schedule. Textbook knowledge is never the same as hands on but is valuable for getting to know processes and procedures.

daveb1 08-23-2012 07:20 AM

As sd said get quality tools that are comfortable in your hand. 22 oz is considered a good weight for a framing hammer, but don't be afraid to go a little lighter, 16 oz probably being too light. Don't get hung up on the magnet, that's a feature more for when you can't get your off hand across your body to hold the nail. +1 on the safety equipment, you WILL get some type of injury, even if just a sliver!

tony.g 08-23-2012 07:58 AM


Originally Posted by sdsester (Post 994565)

US manufacturers make some of the finest tools in the world so buy them when you can.

(As do some UK manufacturers(!)):wink:

newcabinguy 08-23-2012 09:23 AM

Hi everyone, thanks for all the info. I plan on practicing driving some nails and cutting different angles before I get started for real but, just wanted to know what the best piece of equipment was to get the job done. Figured the best place to start was asking the guys who are in the know about this stuff. Appreciate all your help!

DexterII 08-23-2012 09:50 AM

The first framing hammer I had was an Estwing, which I liked a lot, but someone else must have liked it more, because it walked away from from a jobsite one day. I replaced that one with a Vaughan, and have used them since. In my opinion, they are both high quality hammers. I have a Dalluge that has a magnet, but I don't use that hammer nearly as much as my Vaughan's, and have only used the magnet a few times. The only advantage that I know of for the magnet is to be able to stick a spike that you can't otherwise hold with your other hand while you get it started; not that big of a deal as far as I am concerned. You will also want to start looking at standard, i.e. smaller, claw hammers. My personal preference has long been fiberglass handles on framing hammers, and wood handles on smaller claw hammers. Best wishes as you start accumulating your tools.

md2lgyk 08-23-2012 09:56 AM

What is your level of construction experience? I may be wrong, but I sense it's not much. I suggest you pick up some books, starting with one on framing. I certainly understand your desire to build a cabin, since my wife and I designed and built our log home almost entirely by ourselves. But if you plan to do most or all the work, there's a lot to learn first.

Actually, if what you intend is a "getaway" place, you might look into log cabin kits.

newcabinguy 08-23-2012 10:22 AM

Hi md2lgyk, actually I have no experience to speak of other than hanging a few pictures and I used a paperweight to drive the nails for that. I bought a few books on the subject but, they are pretty vague in terms of specific equipment. I figured that a hammer would be a good place to start and I just want to make sure that I have the "best" hammer for the job. I'm trying to stay away from the kits because I really want to get my hands dirty and feel like I did this all myself.

ratherbefishing 08-23-2012 10:29 AM

First, I second what Sdsester says. Buy good tools!
You'll probably want at least two hammers; a framer and a trim hammer.
My framer is a 22oz waffle faced Estwing with a straight claw. My trim hammer is a 16oz smooth faced Estwing with a curved claw. Both have the blue plastic handles. I'd like to have a smooth faced framer for building decks, but it isn't that high on my list. Both my hammers have metal shafts. If I was banging nails all day with them, I might get something different; wood or fiberglass handles, maybe Titanium head. But these two have worked fine for 20+ years and I still enjoy using them.

Fact is, if you're really building a house, you'll probably drive more nails with an air powered nail gun than a hammer. And you'll end up with 2 or 3 of them. But that's a new thread, isn't it?

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