Best Framing Hammer on the Market

Product Name:Rocket Rip / Framing Hammer
Brand:Barco
Rating:

When I started in the residential construction industry, air nailers were not as commonplace as they are today.

Pneumatic nail guns have become the go to tool for production nailing on construction sites and in industrial manufacturing.   The ability to drive a 16-penny common nail with a one-tap set and one strike to sink is a skill in short supply and it is diminishing.

Newer materials, technology and advanced manufacturing techniques have provided advancements in hammer production.  So selecting the best framing hammer on the market is not difficult.  On the other hand, the best framing hammer is the one that feels, has comfort and is best for you.

Framing hammers are heavy-duty hammers with a straight claw for ripping or prying nailed lumber apart.  They may weigh anywhere from 16 ounces up to a massive 32 ounces.

Features That Make a Good Framing Hammer

The best framing hammer on the market

A good framing hammer is going to have qualities that make the user feel comfortable when swinging it.  Its features should contribute to the durability and function of the tool. And the best framing hammer on the market is the one that is best for YOU.

The handle is an important part of the hammer.  The handle should be long but not so long that is does not provide balance and control.  The handle should allow you leverage to generate maximum power with the minimum effort when driving nails.  A solid grip that won’t wiggle off of the handle or become slippery is essential.  I have found that a quality rubber grip works well and they have served me for many years.

The grip construction should provide comfort and not slip out of its owner’s hands.  Nor should the grip be susceptible to unraveling like aged leather grips have done.  A comfortable and durable grip on the handle will reduce stress of use over time and ensure the hammer does not slip while being used. The long handle and solid grip should provide a comfortable yet a tight hold so you maintain complete control over your tool.  This solid feel provides the foundation for maximum nail driving power. The momentum of the swing achieves driving power and power is essential to driving the nail into its desired position with the minimal number of strokes. This will save you time as well as energy and minimize the repetition it would normally take you per nail to get the job done.

Next, you want your framing hammer to be heavy although not too heavy that you cannot maintain control.  You look for many tools with lighter weight but with a hammer, you want a heavy weight. This will increase the force and reduce the number of swings required to complete the task.

Having a milled or ridged face is an advantage to some. However, my preference is to work with a smooth faced hammer.  The milled face feature acts the same way as the grips on your shoes would. It is designed to prevent slippage when your hammer meets the head of the nail. One thing people worry about with the ridged or milled face is that there would become a milled or ridged print on the surface of the wood. However, this is often not a concern with framing lumber. In the case when it is a concern and a mark is left behind it can generally be sanded smooth with ease.

Testing the Best Framing Hammers

The first thing was to weight each hammer, then I measured the handle length. A lighter hammerhead with a longer handle will allow a faster swing.  So a lighter head with a longer handle does not mean the hammer is lighter in weight, just that the head is lighter.  I also assessed the face of the hammer, is it a waffle / serated face or smooth face and the size of the diameter of the face of the hammer contributes to the ability to hit the nail square.

Driving nails, pulling nails, and ripping open fastened wood are all tasks used to evaluate the hammer’s performance. I hammered 12-penny and 16-penny nails, common, duplex and galvanized.  When pulling the same nails I noted how easy or difficult it was to leverage the hammer’s head and claw to remove nails.  The material I used was pine 2 x 4, 2 x10 floor joists, 2 x 10/plywood headers and treated 4 x 4’s.

As a carpenter with years of experience, I did not have to drive a 50-pound box of nails to determine which hammer performs better than another does.  Much of the assessment is based on personal preferences and liking. The differences may be similar to preferring Ford to Chevy, Porter Cable to Makita, or Emglo to Stanley air compressors (the same company owns both).

Comparison Table

 

Barco Industries Rocket

Stanley 51-163 FatMax

Estwing E3-28SM

Martinez Tools M1

Stiletto TB15MC TiBone


Rating 

Claw type

Straight

Straight

Straight

Straight

Straight

Face Type

Smooth

Smooth

Milled

Milled, Smooth

Milled, Smooth

Head Weight

22 ounces

16 ounces

28 ounces

15 ounces

15 ounces

Grip

Rubber

Rubber

Nylon, vinyl

Silicon compound

Rubber

Length

16 inches

13 inches

16 inches

20 inches

18 inches

Warranty

Replace if fails normal use only

Limited Lifetime

Replace if fails normal use only

1 Year

 1 Year

 

Barco Rocket 00722

Features

Best Framing Hammer on the Market

Billed as the world’s finest tubular steel handled hammer. Rocket® hammers feature a head forged of high carbon steel with a heat-treated steel handle for strength and balance. Each hammer comes with a cushioned rubber grip for greater shock absorption and a reduction in fatigue. I have owned a smooth face Rocket hammer for 30 years. The company name was True Temper later sold to Barco.

 

Pros

  • Good balance
  • Durable
  • Long lasting
  • Good value

Cons

  • No longer manufactured by True Temper
  • Rubber grip deteriorated after 30 years
  • Smooth face

Conclusion.

I am biased in favor of this hammer. So I rated it 4.5 stars.  It has been on my tool belt for 25 years.  The grip began to slip, I removed it, put it back on with PL400 and have had no problems.  However, I do not frame any longer and any nailing I do in volume I usually use my nail gun. This hammer is not an expensive purchase, it is of good value and will provide years of service.  The head is smooth, although some prefer a milled head. The rubber handle, weight and balance of this tool allows for a controlled swing and with momentum for a solid and direct hit on nails, brick chisels or other materials.

 

Stanley 51-163 16-Ounce FatMax Xtreme

Features

This hammer is a tried and true built in America Stanley product. The FatMax Xtreme has anti-vibration technology to help reduce the shock of hammering as it relates to your upper body extremities. It has balance and control, a one piece steel construction and is perfect for light to medium duty work. This hammer comes with Stanley’s limited lifetime warranty.  The hammer will be replaced if it has incurred no improper use.

Pros

  • Torsion control grip to reduce torque on wrists and elbows
  • AntiVibe technology to minimize vibration
  • Excellent balance
  • Rubber handle for comfortable grip
  • Magnetic top that allows you to place nails
  • Light enough for women to work with yet still gives good performance

Cons

  • Rubber is less durable than other types of material

Conclusion

This Stanley hammer is a case in point of an innovated product that puts comfort, durability, and functionality all together.  This design aims to reduce hand and arm fatigue while still providing you with best possible driving force for the effort expended.

Estwing E3-28SM

Features

This hammer has all the quality that a good framing hammer requires; it is a framring carpenter’s hammer. This tool is not for someone who wants to pound a few nails around the home or hang pictures. The Estwing E3-28SM is constructed wholly of steel with an especially long 16” handle.  The steel construction will also resist rust increasing its lifetime use. The hammer is manufactured in one piece. One-piece forging ensures that the head will never separate from the handle. The longer handle design will significantly increase driving ability, momentum and reduce the number of swings to drive nails.  The nylon vinyl, cushion Shock Reduction grip surrounds the entire base of the hammer. The grip reduces vibrations.

The hammer comes with a milled face crafted specifically for non-slip performance. This is a crucial feature as it will ensure your nail will remain in place while hammering as well as grabbing hold of your nail and giving it the correct amount of resistance to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

 

Pros

  • One piece forged design
  • 16 inch handle
  • Nylon vinyl molded grip
  • Milled head

Cons

  • Not a DIY tool
  • Weight may be too heavy

Conclusion

This hammer is a true framer’s hammer.  Its long handle and weight make it clear that it is for the journeyman.  It will last and will give the performance for the person who makes a living with their tools.  Amazon reviewers gave the Estwing E3-28SM a 4.8 out of 5 from 11 reviews. One five-star reviewer said this, “I love this hammer if I could give it 10 stars I would. I install windows for a living and use a hammer a lot…the Estwing hits a lot harder and has better comfort…Estwing is the way to go.”

Another Amazon reviewer writes “Never thought I needed a 28-ounce hammer until I used this one. The additional weight seems unwieldy at first, but it does a number on even the biggest nails. And the waffled face allows you to drive the nail straight regardless of how poorly you strike. I know, I’ve tried!”

Martinez Tools M1

Features

This hammer is priced like a Cadillac. I rated it 4 stars based on price. The titanium handle, milled steel head, straight grip is an innovative design. The innovation extends to the replaceable grip and replaceable head. The M1 has a 15 ounce, either forward-weight head in a smooth or mill faced option that allows the user the ability to deliver a potent strike, and, with its titanium shock-reducing frame, the least possible recoil. The interchangeable heads change quickly. They lock secure for a strong hold. The design features a side nail puller as well as an angled face made for a direct strike.

The grip is made of a silicon compound and has a comfortable tack feel. The grip  it can be changed quickly and the cost is approximately $30.

Pros

  • Shock reducing titanium handle
  • Replaceable and interchangeable milled steel head
  • Replaceable and interchangeable curved grip

Cons

  • Sticker shock high priced
  • Desirable tool may be stolen on the job site
  • Short handle

Conclusion

This is an excellent hammer, it does cost more than others. The titanium head makes it lighter so you swing is faster, without trying to swing harder.  This hammer won’t be confused with a baby sledge. That is not its function.  Interchangeable heads and grips make this a good value even though the initial cost of ownership is high.  If a head breaks you don’t have to buy a new hammer. So, over the long term the cost is not so high.

 

Stiletto TB15MC TiBone

Features

This hammer is a one piece construction product and is manufactured from titanium rather than steel. Similar to the Martinez M1 it weighs 15 ounces. It is similar because the same person invented it.  It provides the same benefits of a light weight hammer that provides the power to drive nails with little force. You get the benefit of having a heavy hitting hammer but without the disadvantage of having to carry a heavy tool around  in work belt.

With an 18” long handle it is a long hammer. The titanium design lessens recoil as compared to the steel constructed hammers. A reoccurring problem with framing hammers, especially steel models, is recoil. As in the M1 the lighter hammer lets you swing with more force  and with less recoil.

The head of this hammer has a magnetic nail starter.  However, it is not a function I found had much usefulness.  During my years as a carpenter I may have needed to start a nail that is beyond my reach of my spare hand only a couple of times.   There are milled or smooth faces that are interchangeable, the one you use depends on your preference. This hammer is a simpler version of the M1.

Pros

  • 1 year warranty
  • Titanium construction
  • Interchangeable faces
  • Made in USA

Cons

  • Cost
  • Theft from the job site

Conclusion

The Stiletto Ti-Bone is one hard-hitting tool. This is a well designed hammer that is a cut about.  If you are a serious carpentry professional, give this hammer consideration.  If you are a DIY this tool is a nice addition to you tool box

 

Comments are closed here.