The ball peen hammer, otherwise known as the “machinist’s hammer” or the “engineer’s hammer,” is seen less frequently than the more popular claw hammer. The ball peen hammer is better suited for certain tasks, but generally, the claw hammer is the better choice as a household hammer because of its versatility.
The Ball Peen Hammer
The head of the ball peen hammer has two faces that have different purposes. One face is rounded and semi-spherical, and the other is flat, much like the face of a claw hammer. One of the reasons that ball peen hammers rarely turn up is because originally, they were used to shape and soften metal. Such manual processes are being used less frequently in the metal manufacturing industry. The rounded face is effective for shaping metal without leaving hammer marks. The flat face is used to hammer chisels and other tools. Accordingly, the flat face is generally made of tempered steel or harder metals that you rarely find in claw hammers. The rounded face is often made of softer materials so that it is less likely to damage the metal surface that is being shaped or softened, such as brass or even plastic. Given that the rounded face of the ball peen hammer is often made of a softer material, they can become damaged from wear and tear. As a result, the ball peen face can often be replaced without having to replace the whole hammer.
The Claw Hammer
The claw hammer comes in two forms. The most common form is the two-piece hammer which consists of a head connected to a handle. Handles are most often made of hickory, but they can also be aluminum, fiberglass, and on the more expensive end, carbon fiber. The other type of claw hammer that is on the market is the single-piece hammer, in which the handle and the head of the hammer form one single continuous mass of metal. The head of the claw hammer has two sides. The one face is a flat surface meant for tapping in nails and manipulating chisels. The other side of the head is the claw that is mainly used for removing nails. Claw hammers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Framing hammers are generally larger, and the claw is flatter, making it easier to extract nails with the added leverage. The larger size of the framing hammer allows for fewer strokes when it is being used to hammer in nails. The face can also be checkered so that even when a nail is not hit straight on, the checkered grid will still catch the nail so that the face is less likely to slide off the head of the nail. Smaller hammers afford more agility and are more useful for fine carpentry. A good sized hammer for the average do-it-yourselfer is 16 oz finish hammer. The finish hammer is balanced so as to not bend lighter nails.