Essential hammers for your toolbox

Simple tools to save you time and money.

tools on a table
Nailed it!Louis Hansel via Unsplash

Sometimes, our DIY instinct is to use whatever is on hand to solve a problem. But not everyone can use paper clips, chewing gum, or paperweights to pick locks—or hang pictures. Save yourself a trip to the hardware store when you’re putting up shelves, assembling a new bed frame, or extracting random nails from the wall left by a previous homeowner. These four hammers help you get the job done right the first time.

Stalwart Natural Hardwood Claw Hammer
Just a hammer.Amazon

If you dabble in small home improvement projects, this inexpensive standard hammer will not let you down. It weighs just a pound and has a 13-inch handle that’s natural to grip. The steel head has a claw on the back to rip out nails or tacks if you need to undo a misfire or are repurposing the wood from an old piece of furniture.

Estwing 16 oz Straight Rip Claw Hammer
Do more than build a birdhouse.Amazon

You might just be using this hammer to replace the steps on your porch, but you could use it on a construction site. The steel head and 13-inch handle are drop-forged in one piece and the leather grip is easy to hold over repeated use. The grip also greatly reduces vibration impact, to keep your hands from bearing the brunt of all that force you’re exerting. The powerful rip claw is also a useful companion in demolition work.

Vaughan 12-Ounce Commercial Ball Pein Hammer
Metal on metal.Amazon

When you’re hammering metal to take out dents, setting rivets, or driving a chisel, a ball peen hammer is the way to go. The two heads of this hammer (a flat head and a round head, known as the pein or peen) are stronger than a claw hammer to withstand and shape metal surfaces. This one is made in the United States and features a hickory handle.

Efficere Stubby Claw Hammer with Magnetic Nail Starter
Handy in small spaces.Amazon

This 8-ounce hammer is light and short, with a grippy handle designed to keep you comfortable over the course of a tedious job. It’s the perfect solution when you’re working in tight corners where a longer hammer won’t fit. Perhaps the best feature of this hammer is the magnetic nail holder built into the head. Avoid dropping your nail a dozen times while standing on a ladder—the magnet helps keep your nail straight and steady while you get started.