Even the most highly skilled fine furniture-maker uses a hammer. These simple tools are not just for driving in nails and pins when making jigs or mock-ups, but for assembling joints and carcases, and general maintenance work around the workshop. Hammers used by carpenters and roofers can be sophisticated, using materials such as titanium and fibreglass.
Most woodworkers have several hammers for different tasks. They are classed by weight rather than size. Handles on more traditional tools are usually ash or hickory, wedged into a socket on the steel head. Claw-hammer handles can be hardwood, steel or fibreglass with soft grips.
The claw hammer is probably the heaviest tool you will need. Used for driving large nails, the claw extracts bent nails easily with little damage. A weight of 450 or 550 gm (16 or 20 oz) is recommended. The cross pein hammer is suitable for smaller nails and general woodwork. One end of the head has a narrow wedge, which you use to start tapping a nail or pin while you hold it in place. Once established in the wood, use the other striking face to drive the nail home. A good weight for workshop use is about 280 gm (10 oz). The smallest of the hammer family is the pin hammer, typically weighing 100 gm (3 ½ oz).
Nylon or rubber-faced hammers are frequently used in pre-assembly work, as they do not mark the surface. These soft-faced hammers are often replaced in the final glue-up with a steel-faced hammer because the ringing sound will change as the joint is knocked home, so giving a skilled craftsman greater control.
Keep the striking face of a hammer clean by rubbing it on abrasive paper. This will prevent it slipping off the nail and damaging a surface when in use.
Always use a mallet when striking a chisel — there is less chance of damaging the handle and the larger face means it is safer to use than a hammer. Usually made from a close-grained hardwood such as beech, making your own mallet is a useful workshop exercise.
When using panel pins or small nails on decorative woodwork, you usually punch the heads below the timber surface to conceal the fixing, and add a suitable filler to the holes. Steel nail punches come in several sizes to match the nail heads. Always use a punch slightly smaller than the nail head.
Word Discription :
Pein A wedge-shaped end of the head on some hammers, used to start off nails.
Ringing sound The sound produced as timber components, particularly joints, are hammered together. The sound becomes solid, rather than hollow, as the surfaces mate together.