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The best hammers you can buy in 2023

How to choose the hammers to nail every DIY job

Regardless of the kind of DIY jobs you do, a good hammer is an essential tool. But with so many different kinds of hammer out there, for now we’ve focused on the most versatile and commonly used type: the trusty claw hammer.

There’s more to a claw hammer than simply driving in nails, even if that’s what it’s most likely to be used for – you can use the other end of the hammerhead to remove nails by sliding them into the claw and pivoting the hammer to pull the nail out. You can also use a claw hammer for splitting wood, or for lightweight demolition jobs, such as tearing out plasterboard.

But even when exclusively considering a claw hammer, there can be a lot of options: different materials, a range of weights, and even some that have been developed to reduce vibrations down the handle.

We’ve selected the best of each of the main types of claw hammer you’re likely to come across, and have taken specs, price and customer ratings into account to deliver our verdict.

Best hammer: At a glance

How to choose the best hammer for you

Is a light or heavy hammer best?

Claw hammers can weigh as little as 8 ounces (230g) or as much as 32 ounces (900g), and those suited to general household DIY tasks will usually weigh between 14 and 20 ounces (400-600 grams), but the weight you choose will largely be determined by the job you need it for. If you’re mainly driving in small nails or tacks, a lighter hammer will be better as it allows you greater control, which means you’re less likely to bend the nails. A heavier hammer is better suited to driving in larger nails or for demolition jobs, because you can use its weight to apply additional force.

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What type of hammer handle is best?

Once again, the best choice depends on you. Traditionally, cheaper hammers featured wooden handles, but more recently they’re become the preserve of high-end hammers that look great in the workshop, feel suitably organic in the hand and help to reduce vibrations. Of course, wooden handles are relatively easy to break if you ask too much of them, but they are easy and cheap to replace; indeed, a reasonably skilled woodworker could make their own.

Fibreglass or composite handles can be more comfortable to hold over prolonged periods due to improved ergonomics. But steel-handled claw hammers are the most durable, especially if you’re a trade professional or are undertaking demolition work.

What other hammer features should I look for?

An increasing number of hammers feature anti-vibration handles, which improve comfort and reduce strain on your arm. They’re a good choice if you’re planning on using your hammer for prolonged periods. Hammers with steel or fibreglass handles may have overstrike protection, reducing damage to the handle if you miss the nail.

Nail starters are another useful feature. These allow you to place a nail in a slot in a magnetic hammerhead, eliminating the need for you to hold the nail and reducing the likelihood of striking your fingers or thumping your thumbs.

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The best hammers you can buy in 2023

1. OX P082920 Straight Rip Claw Hammer: Best one-piece hammer

Price: £29 | Buy now from Amazon

The most durable hammers are often those with a steel head and handle because one-piece hammers don’t have a weak spot where two parts join. This OX is a perfect example.

It’s well suited to driving in nails, but that durable construction means it’s also ideal for ripping out old wooden panels or floorboards. The rubberised handle has been designed with ergonomics in mind, and is as comfortable as it is grippy, which reduces the risk of fatigue or the hammer slipping from your hand. It also helps to limit vibrations when striking a nail. As a bonus, the striking face is smooth, reducing damage to anything you hit accidentally and making it well suited to more detailed jobs.

Key specs – Weight: 20oz; Handle material: Steel; Size: 355 x 35 x 142mm

2. Stanley STHT0-51310 20oz: Best 20oz hammer

Price: £9 | Buy now from Amazon

High quality, comfortable, excellent grip, well balanced – just some of the plaudits this Stanley hammer has received on Amazon. It’s one of the website’s most popular and well-reviewed hammers and it’s not hard to see why: it has overstrike protection, which helps to shrug off blows to the handle if you miss your target, and the bright yellow Stanley logo and handle flashes make it easier to spot at the bottom of a tool bag.

The weight of the hammer is clearly displayed on the side of the head, making it simple to select the most appropriate one if you have multiple hammers. Stanley recommends this 20oz hammer for driving larger nails – 75mm and above – and for heavy-duty mending. The handle has a bi-material grip to aid grip and comfort in an effort to reduce aching arms from sustained use.

Key specs – Weight: 20oz; Handle material: Fibreglass; Size: 350 x 65 x 100mm

3. Stanley Fatmax Next Generation Curve Claw Hammer: Best shock-absorbing hammer

Price: £26 | Buy now from Amazon

Branding something as simple as a hammer as “Next Generation” sounds like a bold claim, but this Stanley Fatmax hammer employs some clever thinking to make it more comfortable, easier to use and safer than ever. The one-piece steel hammer has been designed to prevent twisting and uses a patented “tuning fork” design to reduce vibrations, helping to combat fatigue and RSI, and offering better balance. The soft grip handle has been designed to improve ergonomics further.

The hammerhead’s striking face is 25% larger than Stanley’s regular claw hammers, meaning you’re more likely to land an accurate blow. And it also features a magnetic nail starter so you can keep your hands away from the nail, helping to avoid painful injuries.

Key specs – Weight: 16oz; Handle material: Steel; Size: 325 x 30 x 125mm

4. Mr. Pen 8oz Hammer: Best stubby hammer

Price: £28 | Buy now from Amazon

If most of your jobs around the house are small or are in tight spaces, a stubby hammer such as this one from Mr Pen could prove ideal. Stubbies have drawbacks, though: because they’re light and have a short handle, it can be harder to deliver heavy impacts. Their compact construction can mean there’s a lot of vibration, but the design of the Mr Pen’s handle reduces the worst.

Its magnetic nail starter could prove particularly useful in tight spaces as it facilitates one-handed hammering. And a hole to hang the hammer from ensures it’s always to hand, as those small dimensions mean it will easily get lost at the bottom of a toolbag otherwise.

Key specs – Weight: 8oz; Handle material: Steel; Size: ‎156 x 61 x 106mm

5. Estwing MRW25LM Framing Hammer: Best framing hammer

Price: £34 | Buy now from Amazon

For all the talk of fibreglass and one-piece hammer designs, wood remains a popular choice. The inherent flex in wood dampens vibration and, depending on the wood, they can be light, so the weight remains in the head to deliver the most striking force in a controlled way. While they’re not best suited to demolition work, the light handle makes them a good choice if you’re hanging one from your tool belt.

This Estwing is a perfect example. The hickory handle resists damage well and is shaped to be comfortable in the hand, while a triple wedge design should mean it remains securely connected to the head. The milled face – a little like a meat tenderiser in appearance – ensures the hammer will grip the nail better when striking, which is particularly handy when driving nails in at an angle, such as when you’re assembling a frame for a stud wall or similar.

Key specs – Weight: 25oz; Handle material: Hickory; Size: 451 x 38 x 156mm

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