Five of the best: High-tech hammers
By Loz Blain
April 28, 2014
People have been banging nails into things for nearly five and a half thousand years, if archaeologists are correct. And wood is such a versatile and abundant building material that we’re sure to be banging spiky bits of metal into it for thousands of years to come. But how similar is the hammer going to look at that stage? What is the state of the art in hammer technology? Are they still just flat-ended bits of metal on the end of sticks? Let’s take a look at five hammers that aim to push one of mankind’s (other) oldest professions forward.
1 – Picard’s Carpenter’s Roofing Hammer
The ultimate in thumb protection, this hammer holds the nail for you on the first stroke so you can use it one-handed. The nail sits neatly in a groove on top of the head and is held in by a small magnet. Probably not the greatest in terms of precision, but very nifty when you’re hanging onto a ladder, for example, if you're a carpenter, and you're doing some roofing.
Plus, any product that can be successfully demonstrated in a 20-second video is a winner in my books.
Product page: Picard’s Carpenter’s Roofing Hammer
2 – The Craftsman NEXTEC Rotating-Head Autohammer
Outstanding when your target surface is awkwardly positioned or hard to get to, the Autohammer bangs nails in without needing to be swung. You just position the nail against the magnetic head, stick it on the wood, pull the trigger, and press down as the battery-powered hammer action thumps the top of the nail at a rate of 2,000 impacts per minute.
It’s got a rotating head to open up more hammering options than previous models, and it’s got LEDs to light up the area you’re about to stick a nail into. Very nifty.
Product page: Craftsman NEXTEC Rotating-Head Autohammer
3 – Stiletto’s TiBone TBII-15 Titanium Hammer
If you whack in a lot of nails, US$263 might not seem like a bad deal for this blinged-out beauty. The TiBone series is a titanium body with a rubber grip and a replaceable steel striking head. Stiletto says this 15 oz (425 g) beauty "drives like a 28 oz steel hammer" and communicates 10 times less shock to your hand per strike. Its sideways mounted nail puller delivers extra leverage when pulling nails as well.
Product page: TiBone TBII-15
4 – ATOMdesign’s S2 Framing Hammer
The work of an Arizona design company, the S2 mounts a steel head on a wooden handle, but adds a shock absorption layer to make it easier on one’s delicate hands. The heads are replaceable with an allen wrench, there’s a 2-stage nail pulling system and, like the Picard, it holds the nail for you on the first strike. Very nifty, although at this stage it’s just a prototype, and I’m not sure I’d back the shock resistant insert to stand the test of time.
5 – The Cole-Bar Hammer
The Cole-Bar doesn’t seem satisfied just banging nails in. Instead, it acts like a Swiss Army hammer and opens out 180 degrees and uses the nail puller end as a pry bar. On the way to 180 degrees, it clicks in every 15 degrees to provide a set square and crude angle guide with a ruler up the side.
You can pull it apart, leaving you with a demolition tool – you bang the hammer end on the pry bar end to split wood – and the pivot point itself is a standard 0.25 in socket driver. That’s a whole lot of features for a single hammer, although as it still hasn’t hit the market, it remains to be seen exactly how well it’ll do any one of its many jobs.