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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright I probably only hammered in about 10 nails in my life but today reached a new level of embarassment when I had to do it in front of my future father in law. I suck badly and have no coordination with it. I pretty much just wreck nails, the wood around it, and my self esteem ha...

For the normal ones out there, is there any hope? Does it just take practice? Did you suck badly when you first started using a hammer?
 

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Practice, practice, and more practice. Don't choke up on the hammer, hold it near the end of the handle. Use your arm, not your wrist. Practice, practice, and more practice.

Use the right hammer for the job and your experience - examples, a 16 oz hammer is most commonly used - but for framing a heavier hammer. Get a good hammer, not something cheap - the tool does make a difference. A tap to set the nail and get your aim, then a couple three good whacks to drive it home. Finish nails - use a nail set so as not to mar the work's finish.

I used to be pretty good with a hammer and nail. But a few years ago I lost most of the vision in one eye. One of the most frustrating things for me now is driving a nail -I miss and bend, badly. Therefore I use pnumatic nail guns (framing, finish, brad, palm) for most everything and also have one of those Craftsman battery powered hammers for light nailing.

Get some wood - nails - and practice, practice, and more practice.
 

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whiteryno;648977]Alright I probably only hammered in about 10 nails in my life but today reached a new level of embarassment when I had to do it in front of my future father in law. I suck badly and have no coordination with it. I pretty much just wreck nails, the wood around it, and my self esteem ha...
well, there is some hope for you. I didn't read "fingers" in that list.

For the normal ones out there, is there any hope? Does it just take practice? Did you suck badly when you first started using a hammer?
it takes a lot of practice.

a couple of suggestions:

make sure you and anybody around you wear safety glasses. Whacking nails off kilter can cause them to go flying about and obviously they were be very hazardous to your eyes.


If you are rough framing or something where the dings aren't a big deal, I like a hammer with a cross hatch face. A crosshatch face leaves a cross hatch ding and it is kind of ugly. The cross hatch makes up for some of my errant aiming. While I sucked badly when I first started, since I am an electrician and not a carpenter and don't get a lot of practice, while I have progressed and no longer "suck badly", there are still times where I definitely still fit in the "I suck" category. Some days I make it all the way to the "not too bad" category. I doubt I will ever reach the "good job" or even the "pretty good" category as I don't practice enough.
 

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Household Handyman
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Darn good advice from both of these guys. Because they have been there, done this. Find you some scrap pieces of 2x4's, some 16d nails, and nail away. As stated, use your arm, not your wrist. When you feel you are better at driving nails, start nailing some boards set at right angles, such as wall studs would meet the bottom plate. Cut and try all sorts of different types of angles, putting more than one board together, just anything for practice. I got my start with a framing carpenter when I was 14 years old. He was one rough S.O.B and would call you out to the rest of the crew for bending any nail or hitting it more than three times. You learned real fast how to hit a 16d nail only three times with him, unless you wanted the crew on your case all day.
 

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Not everyone is born to pick up a hammer, the world needs salesmen too.
 

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Couple of pieces of advice I picked up from my old boss Bob Buza about nailing.

1. We were on a construction site, and the apprentice carpenter was nailing siding to the wall. Bob noticed that he was throwing away about every other nail. Bob asked him why, and the apprentice said that the nails were facing the wrong direction. Bob explained to him that there was no need to throw those nails away, we used them on the other side of the house.

2. I was nailing 16d framing one day and most of the nails were bending. Very irritating. We looked at the box, and observed that the nails were made in ******. No kidding. They were so wimpy you couldn't nail them. Advice is to get good nails as well as a good hammer.

3. Those who have done this enough know that the best way to avoid bending a nail is to hit it dead center and very hard. Light taps are sure to bend it.

4. If you are nailing to a piece that is not solid, most of the energy goes into moving the piece and not driving the nail. Very frustrating. Here's a little tip that will make you look like a pro. Back the piece up with something heavy like a short piece of 4x4. The extra mass on the back side will cause most of the energy to go into the nail rather than the piece of wood, and you can drive the nail in.

By the way, I still have my father's old 16 oz framing hammer, it is at least 50 years old, hickory handle, good as new. Treat your hammer well and it will repay you over many years.
 

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Learning by Doing
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I'd second using good tools. I often use a hammer that most of the guys here would consider too light, but I don't swing a hammer often enough to have built up some good strong hammering muscles. I am more accurate with the lighter model.

Also, don't use your good hammer to do anything other than hammer nails.

Lastly, depending on what kind of guy your F-I-L is, you could ask him for some advice. My Father-in-law loves to 'show me how to do it 'right'. Even if I don't use his suggestions, it garners me some brownie points.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks. It has to have something to do with hand/eye coordination I would assume. I'm sure some people can just pick it up and do a bang up job right away. Plus I'm kind of ambidextrious so I do things with different hands depending on the task. With hammering though I suck equally the same with either hand
 

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It's definetly about the technique, I was at a home and garden show once and they had a hammering competition up on a stage. After a couple of rounds of toughguys eliminating each other an old boy gets pushed towards the stage by his wife. By old I mean 75+, he took 5 mins just to get to center stage!

He was definetly from the pre-air nailer generation like my grandfather because he smoked the competition! He barely looked like he was working and he would finish his 6 nails and look at the young bucks smiling as they caught up.:laughing:

He was a rockstar that afternoon, went home undefeated too!
 

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Lastly, depending on what kind of guy your F-I-L is, you could ask him for some advice. My Father-in-law loves to 'show me how to do it 'right'. Even if I don't use his suggestions, it garners me some brownie points.
.............
Ditto what Leah said. Born nail bangers are few and far between. Don't expect paying top dollar for the newest hammer will improve things while in noobie nail banger stage, either. A good quality, well balanced(that's the key) one will suffice.
Never will forget this one helper guy we had on a framing crew we nicknamed Gabby, as he never would shutup.:no: Came in one day bragging about this loddy-da hammer he just bought.
All day long we could hear "fling" "fling" "fling" where he was glancing nails and they'd ricochete all through the house.
 

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I prefer "MAZE" nails, made in Peru, Illinois. I only bent one in hundreds, and that was my fault.

The "those nails go on the other side of the house" bit is a Three Stooges gag, btw.

DM
 

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I think you are confused. You don't "suck with a hammer", you suck with a vacuum. You hammer with a hammer. Hope this helps. :whistling2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
rusty baker said:
I think you are confused. You don't "suck with a hammer", you suck with a vacuum. You hammer with a hammer. Hope this helps. :whistling2:
Ok how's this rusty...working with a hammer sucks the life right out of me figuratively speaking.
 

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You're getting a lot of good advice, but little in the way of truly practical instruction.

One point to keep in mind (until you learn a bit more) is that the weight of the hammer head is designed to sink the nail, not the force of your blow. I, personally, can repeatedly sink a true, fat 16 penny common with only a tiny tap to set the nail, and ONE hard, serious blow. But you will become quickly frustrated if you attempt this before driving nails all day long, every day for at least six months.

So... what to do?

Start with this exercise: You have been told to drive with your arm, and not your wrist. This is true. But what does it mean?

It means that when you grip the handle of a hammer you should concentrate on "locking" your wrist so that it neither bends forward or back, nor rotates to the left or to the right. It, in effect, becomes a frozen extension of your forearm.

Here's the exercise: Leave all your nails in their box. You will not be using them for a long time yet. Position a small pillow on a workbench so that you can place your elbow comfortably upon it. Put your elbow on the pillow. (The pillow is simply to keep you from rubbing your elbow raw right now... USE IT.) Grip your hammer near the end with your wrist tilted forward like you were holding a fishing pole. Now bend your elbow till your forearm is vertical. Good.

Now, keeping your forearm and wrist stiff and firmly aligned with the 'fishing pole grip' of the hammer (one continuous piece of bone held that way by your muscles) let your forearm, wrist, and hammer simply fall to the workbench surface.... "thump!"

Observe how 'flat' the face of the hammer head contacted the workbench surface. If it was not flat, adjust your grip some to rectify that misalignment. Bend your forearm back up and do it all over again. (Your elbow has never left the pillow.)

A point to watch here is that your wrist does not get weak or sloppy at the moment the hammer head impacts the workbench. This is the biggest cause of missed or bent nails. After the blow, with your hammer head resting on the workbench surface, your whole unit of forearm, wrist and hammer handle should remain rigid and in the same orientation (relative to each other) that they were in when you began your hammer 'drop'.

Remember, during none of this are you adding any effort to the simple force of gravity. You are merely letting the hammer drop. Nothing else. And your elbow is staying right there on that pillow. Don't you dare let it lift up any.

Do about a hundred of these.

What you will learn from this is that the main motion of hammering comes from just your elbow. Notice I said 'motion", NOT... 'force'.

This was lesson one. After you become fully comfortable that each and every blow of your hammer will hit a spot on the bench that your are looking at (a target) firmly and solidly, you can tack in a small 6 penny nail about 1/4" deep, and try using what you've learned to drive that nail down into some wood.

Do NOT try to drive the nail with one blow. Let the weight of the hammer head eventually sink the nail home. It will probably take about four 'drops' of the hammer head.

As you progress, you will naturally and instinctively begin to incorporate some extra muscle into this exercise. This is cool (but only after a few days) as long as you keep in mind that it is the hammer that does the nailing, not your arm or shoulder.

Get good at this, and you can do away with the pillow. This will be a little hard to do at first. Just remember that even without the pillow, your elbow is still supposed to stay positioned in one solid location.... even if it is up in the air.

Stick with this, and you will be surprised at what a fantastic nailer you can eventually become.

Keep practicing this until you are confident that you can maintain total control of that one long, solid unit of forearm, wrist and hammer handle.
 
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Learning by Doing
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Keep your eyes on the nail (with "unbending intent") - don't allow
yourself to be distracted.

RF
:yes: :yes: :yes: :yes:

Don't watch the swing of the hammer. Keep your eyes on the HEAD of the nail.
 

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A Little Of Everything
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Alright I probably only hammered in about 10 nails in my life but today reached a new level of embarassment when I had to do it in front of my future father in law. I suck badly and have no coordination with it. I pretty much just wreck nails, the wood around it, and my self esteem ha...

For the normal ones out there, is there any hope? Does it just take practice? Did you suck badly when you first started using a hammer?
Don't worry. If he's a good father-in-law, he won't call you a Panty Waist.


...at least not to your face. :)
 
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