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Everyone’s seen the Stiletto. The shoe from which the Stiletto draws its name is designed to perfectly support and accentuate a woman’s legs to render them sleek and sexy, and the hammer tries to do the same(ish) for grunting, farting framers: no one looks quite as cool as the guy who owns the $240 titanium hammer, right? Snickery aside, the science makes some sense.

A hammer’s striking force is determined by multiplying its mass by its acceleration — the change in speed from the hammer at rest to the speed it’s traveling when it whacks the nail. So we can increase that force one of two ways: We can make the hammer heavier or swing it faster.

The latter is the idea behind titanium hammers. Titanium is incredibly strong, but it’s also light. Theoretically, you’ll naturally swing a 15-ounce titanium hammer significantly faster than its 28- or 32-ounce low-tech siblings, so you’ll drive with the same force. Even though you get the same driving power, you’ll expend less energy hauling the dumb thing around with you all day — a great tradeoff.

But, some DeWalt Engineers thought, why does it have to be titanium? Besides the fact that they cost a fortune in materials and manufacturing costs, titanium hammers can also crack if dropped or otherwise stressed improperly. Could they make a light hammer from simpler materials?

The answer, it seems, is yes. The 15-ounce framing hammer you see above is constructed of steel. DeWalt’s techies tell us that they accomplished the trick by carefully determining which forces the hammer needed to withstand, then choosing the right shape of material for the job and positioning it just right. They also temper the steel differently at different points to cause it to be stronger at key points and yet more flexible at others. And then they MIG-weld the head on. Result: 15 ounces of all-steel hammer.

We look forward to spending more time with one of these in our own shop environment, but we tried one out briefly at the DeWalt launch event recently. It definitely doesn’t feel as weird in your hand as it looks like it would. When you just ignore the looks and swing it like any other light framing hammer, it feels remarkably similar. From a practical perspective, the magnetic nail slot works surprisingly well, and the grip is quite comfortable.

Yes, you can flex it. If you grab the head and the handle and wail on it with all your might, you can see a bit of deflection. (I say this because it’s the first thing almost everyone does when they pick it up.) It doesn’t stay deformed, and I don’t think a normal person could bend it permanently. (I couldn’t.) We look forward to trying some creative overstrike tests to see what happens when you do really dumb things with it, but for now, suffice it to say that it seems to work.

The best part, of course, is the price. It’s available now for around $60. Compare that to $180 and up for Stiletto, Milwaukee, or other name-brand titanium hammers, and it starts to look a lot less weird.

So I guess there is one guy cooler than the dude with the $240 hammer: the one with a hammer that does the same job AND $180 extra in his wallet.

DWHT51138 15 oz MIG Weld Framing Hammer [DeWalt]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

42 Responses to DeWalt’s Titanium Hammer Killer?

  1. Fong says:

    One more benefit to a lighter hammer is it’s a bit easier to get a nail started when you just want to tap it. Sure, dropping a hammer down on a nail is easy but when it’s upside down or overhead, a heavier hammer is unwieldy. Though, the only downside for a neophitic hammer jocky like me is…swinging a hammer faster is harder to do with accuracy, which is why I love my palm nailer. =)

  2. fred says:

    Doesn’t the Stilletto “heel” get its name from the Italian knife with the skinny ice-pick-like blade?

    With the hammer – I guess that the physics is that if you can accelerate (a= dv/dt )the head faster you can apply more force to the nail head – and that the mass of the hammer head matters less in the f=ma equation – so the difference in mass of a titanium head versus a slimmed-down mig-welded steel head comes to little difference – but overcoming the inertia of a heavier traditional hammer head/handle combination will result in reduced force due to lower accelleration.

    Probably makes sense – and speaks to why tungsten bucking bars – where inertia is in your favor – beat out steel ones.

  3. Bajajoaquin says:

    Fred, you’re forgetting that the key element is energy, not force. Energy is 1/2 mass times velocity squared, so if you double the speed, and halve the mass, you’re still ahead.

  4. jeremiah says:

    It’s mass * velocity, not mass * acceleration.

    The kinetic energy of mass m moving at speed v = .5(m*(v*v))

    that’s mass * velocity squared, then divide the result of that by 2.

    That velocity squared bit; that’s why there’s more energy in having a 1kg weight moving 10 meters per second (50 joules) than a 10kg weight moving 1 meter per second (5 joules).

    a smaller hammer that you can swing faster will drive the nails in quicker, yes, but it’s velocity, not acceleration that makes that happen.

    i’ll go back to my nerd cave now and cry because society shuns me.

  5. InsideOutsider says:

    I am absolutely postitive I have never formed these words together as a sentence in my life, but: Jeremiah, You da Man!

  6. John says:

    Here’s a little gas to the fire: a person can only swing a hammer but so fast. How close to “terminal velocity” is a standard hammer typically swung? By terminal velocity I mean the speed that someone can actually repeatably swing a hammer all day. How much faster is a lightweight hammer over a standard hammer?

    More food for thought: the weight of the arm swinging the hammer; this is not accounted for in the equation and would certainly attenuate the difference between the tools.

    Time for some free-body diagrams.

    I was just thinking about this the other night: be skeptical of any tool “improvement” if that tool has been around for thousands of years. There are exceptions, but evolution works really well.

  7. KG2V says:

    I was gonna say, “it’s proportional to velocity SQUARED”, so a light hammer moving FASTER actually imparts a LOT more force
    (I’m gonna use weight/light/heavy here instead of talking about Mass/Less mass/More Mass – sue me, you know what I mean – most of us work in a 1 G field)

    It’s one of those ‘interesting’ biometrics things however. SOME people have ‘slower’ muscles and making the hammer lighter (beyond a certain point) won’t make their swing any faster, so for those people, going lighter than that point (whatever it is) won’t help – OTHER people actually have enough strength to swing the heavier hammer at the same velocity of the lighter hammer, and again, lighter doesn’t help. The trick, as usual is finding the right point on the curve to fit the most people, or offer various weights – what would be ‘interesting’ in adding bolt on weight options to tweek the hammer to the optimum mass

  8. Brau says:

    I bust up my thumb really good once when I missed using an Estwing hammer. The narrow edge came down across my knuckle, skinned along the bone and peeled the skin back to my nail. Needless to say I have never used an Estwing since and I would never use this Dewalt either. I now use only hammers with broad wooden or fiberglass handles and shafts.

    One thing this test omits to say is that the thinner the shaft, the more prone it is to vibration and flexing during slight mishits.

    • Estwing Framer says:

      I’ve built 6 roofs truss to shingle with my Estwing framer. You can blame the hammer all you want but I never once had an (serious) injury using a tool the correct way. Maybe me and this hammer just sync up really well because glancing blows and bending nails just isn’t something that happens a whole lot with the Estwing.

      I’d be interested in trying one of these things or a stiletto, but is it really worth buying an expensive hammer these days? Thought everything you need says bosch and runs on air now…

  9. ecrusch says:

    jeremiah,
    huh?

    Only kidding.
    Your scientific observations are absolutely correct.
    You are shunned not sir.
    Enlightened individuals are always helpful.

    By the way, that hammer looks pretty badass.

  10. extremeframer says:

    My 16oz Stiletto cost me about $9 plus 3 minutes of labor. Neighbor had just the head (broke the handle) and gave it to me. Ordered a replacement handle from Amazon for $9 delivered and took all of 3 minutes to install it. I must say, it’s a NICE framer!

  11. Mac says:

    Cool tangents the responses are taking this post on!

    The basic physics are true, but the dynamics of motion that John/KG2V started on make this ‘problem’ not as simple as it may seem. Add to this that one can improve on his hammering (get faster, hit harder…).

    Extremeframer then adds in a most important variable, cost! FWIW, I’m probably with him. The savings going to toward ice for the cooler, so the beer is cold longer! :-)

  12. Charlie says:

    I’ll keep on using my old wooden handled “Bluegrass” hammers, thank you very much.

  13. dave says:

    It seems some are ignoring a factor, that the heavier weight of a traditional hammer also means it bounces back in the opposite direction less, delivering a higher percentage of the energy it had upon impact to drive the nail further, also further decreasing the amount of bounce. I think this hammer design will still come out ahead in actual use, but not so much as the overly simplified math that was used would suggest.

  14. skaerwer says:

    Unless I’m mistaken, I believe that another factor is being left out as well. The makers of titanium hammers claim that titanium transfers 97% of the strike force and steel only around 70%. Whether or not that’s true, I can’t say for sure, but it would still put Titanium out ahead in shock reduction and blow force if it is.

  15. Steve says:

    Ah, but titanium hammers are cast and the casting process can generate bubbles in the material, similar to bubbles formed when turning over a bottle of liquid soap. These bubbles can be stress spots for fractures. Not worth the risk especially when titatium sells for $230. Steel is the way to go.

  16. dougyes says:

    The Stelletto with a wooden handle is easier on your wrist and elbow joints. Save chiropractor visits.

  17. Zach says:

    Dave, not true. When an object impacts something and then bounces back it means that the collision was more elastic. Thus more of the energy went into the collision itself which is equated to driving and less energy was dissipated. Thats the same reasoning why a boxer is trained to take punches relaxed as opposed to staying rigid.

  18. brian says:

    Back in the old day’s we did have to nail everything, deck’s/ roof’s by hand, (8cc’s in 2 blows). Of coarse now we use nail gun’s. I think this is a signifigant point since nailing by hand is usually out of convenience and not usually an all day event.

    • Gerogia says:

      @brian

      Driving 8p CC nails all day – cripes, that’s impressive. It’ll be interesting to see how they hold up in the field. The first batch was reported to have fast wear on milled face versions, but that could just be an early production run bug ’til the process was sorted.

  19. mighty mike says:

    I started with a 32oz.Vaughn some 33 years ago because I thought if I had a cannon they would know I ment to work. I got all the upside down,backhand,and left hand work they could find for the rook.Moved to a 21oz.Hart and told the next rook,hey,you gotta hve one of these,here take this one. Built lotsa things with that hammer and was just fine.Tried this hammer and thought, where you been amigo.The DeWalt 15oz. is the bomb. I’ve tried my buddy’s Stilletto and felt like a woodpecker. I’ve read about not pulling nails sideways,so I dont. My flatbar does fine for that. My wife loves to work with me and she was able to use the smoothie on trim and fascia all day without any woodpecker tracks. I can’t find anything I dont like about these hammers and after 35 yrs. in the trades,and having seen alot of dumb ideas, I can honestly say Attaboy DeWalt, keep up the good work. I love what I do and the feel of a superb tool in my hands to do it with. I’m spending to much time on the net and have to go bang some nails, Hasta la taco

    • b says:

      ive used 28 oz and 22 oz estwings for 17 years framing pulling nails side ways is no problem ,chipping concrete,or anything else i need it to do and they do the job , basically i abuse the hell out of them ,also a can drive a 16 d nail with the same amount of swings to drive that nail ,wether a 28 oz or 22oz

  20. Ray says:

    Titanium hammers drive better because of material properties, not a faster swing. A 16oz steel hammer is still going to drive like… a 16 oz steel hammer. It’s simple physics. If hammer speed was the only thing that mattered, why on earth would the standard framing hammer weigh 20-28 oz? What would be the point of a 10lb sledge? Besides, If I wanted a 16 oz steel handled hammer, I could buy an estwing for a lot less than $80.

    A friend of mine bought the Dewalt hammer, and I’ve driven a few nails with it. I hate it. You note the flex of the handle, I could feel it flexing while driving a nail. That is a very weird and uncomfortable feeling IMO. The Estwings I’ve used don’t do that. Also, it doesn’t drive a nail like a heavier hammer. It drives a nail similar to my 16oz finish hammer. Not really surprising, since it’s a 16oz hammer.

    Finally, I should note that I own a 15 OZ tibone, the $250 hammer that dewalt likes to compare to this hammer. There really isn’t any comparison. First of all, the titanium handle doesn’t ring like a steel hammer. My hand stops working if I use a steel handled hammer for too long, but the titanium handle feels more like a wood handle. Second, the Ti-bone actually does live up to it’s claims- when striking metal (nails, concrete spikes, pry bars, punches, ect), it drives like a much heavier hammer. (Steel doesn’t ring when striking wood, so titanium doesn’t offer an advantage). I switch to a heavier wood handled framer or rig ax when I’m doing things that require a large amount of driving wood beams, demo, ect.

  21. justin says:

    Idk how many of you are framers but for those who are I’m sure you would agree that rubber handles suck when you have to pull them in and out of your bags all day. I’m sure it’s a great swinging hammer just not practical for the job site…

  22. james says:

    The stiletto hammer is intended for framers. Oh by the way spending 120 to drive nails is cheap (price for a stiletto at local lumber yard, sleggs) considering a propane powered framing fun is six hundred dollars give or take. The advantage is that you can work longer with a lightweight hammer and therefore make more money. Also steel handles are friggin idiotic.

  23. Phil says:

    I”ve tried a Stiletto wood handle and a Dalluge wood handle after developing carpal tunnel doing bridge construction. I won’t ever give up my Tbone. It sings when it drives nails, all day long. Best Hammer i’ve ever used.

  24. mcbride creek says:

    I have used many manufacturers of hammers in my time as a carpenter/framer. Vaughan, Hart, Plumb, and Dalluge. Dalluge 21oz is my favorite. I have a old 24oz plumb victory rigging ax that has great balance for roof work. I have yet to use a titanium head. I fear I will be disappointed. You see most of hammering even 16d GVS is finesse. It takes a good deliberate swing with a proper combination of arm, elbow AND wrist action to put a nail efficiently in the wood. As my old carpenter grandfather told me when I was 8 years old, “you don’t have to be strong but you do have to hit the nail squarely on the head”. I wonder if a new 16oz Dalluge Titanium hammer will give me the added speed and finesse to put nails in faster with less fatigue. $100 will leave me wondering. Most guys today haven’t had a chance to drive enough nails to be really proficient. We can all thank Hitachi for that. Back in the early 80s a large framer with a 28oz Plumb rigging ax told me “boy you don’t hit them in, hell you scare them in!”

  25. johnthebiker says:

    Good to see such intelligence among us “hammer jockeys” as one guy called me.

    Two people clued into the reason a titanium hammer works so well: its ability to TRANSFER energy into the nail.

    Remember the six clicking balls physics toy from high school? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_cradle

    More of the momentum of the hammer and shaft gets transferred into the nail, resulting in fewer strokes and less fatigue from your hammer rebounding.

  26. Daniel says:

    I think that most people are looking at this wrong.

    The best benefit of using Titanium is that it has less “bounce”/recoil. Steel on Steel has ~30% bounce, but Titanium on Steel has only ~3% bounce, so about 27% more of your swing actually goes into driving in the nail.

    The hammer feels more comfortable to use because your arm is not exposed to all that recoil. You can also swing it faster, and it is less heavy to lug around.

  27. seth says:

    I have had and used this hammer for a few years now.

    I am a rough in framer and work in many other areas in construction.

    I have used eswings husky hickory sticks vaughnns among many other hammers from stupid small u shaped clawed and so on.

    The handle grip is not a rubber sleeve but more of a hard composite. It dose not move at all.

    Its light in the bags. And the nail set is very functional when it comes to setting a nail leaned out over a hip holding a piece of facia and starting a nail .

    I have changed up my bags over the years trying to lighten up.

    From bulky cheap bags that are a mess all the time. To occidental oxylights the dewalt 15oz. These two items alone can change a framers preformance threw less wear and tear on the body to organized pockets that promote muscle memory for tool location and ease of access.

    I think my only complaint for the hammeris the finish wears off and can devlope surface rust. Other than that nothing.

    When trying to roll a nail sideways the shaft dose have some flex but I have stress tested it and always returns to original state.

    Ohh one more small down fall but the stilettos carry it to. When trying to drive a large beam over or bottom plate to move a wall the hammer dose lack some of the force a 21 or 28 has .

  28. Frankie says:

    My husband had been using this gamer for a year and today it broke in half. -_- going to see if dewalt will replace it.

  29. Carpenter hack says:

    I’ve probably seen over 20 broken Dewalt hammers now,the handle slides off.
    If you have to replace this hammer three times because you keep having the handle pull off I guess you should have bought a stiletto.
    Estwing don’t die for the price it’s decent. If this is your career though, but a hammer that will last 250 is cheap for how much life you get out of it. I call this a Dewalt fail, again. Just like thier brutally bulky levels

  30. Gabriel says:

    I do commercial tenant improvements, and have found myself having to jump from electrical to framing to concrete, demo, vand everything in between. I used to swear by my old Vaughn 19 oz. I switched to a 21 oz husky framer because I needed a “right now” framer. I haven’t looked back since. Practical mix of speed, maneuverability, power, portability, and at about 14dollars) price. PRO TIP: NEVER, EVER USE STEEL HANDLED HAMMERS, THEY MELT YOUR ELBOW, WRIST, AND SHOULDER JOINTS. I have outlasted guys that use dewalts, and estwings doing an honest eight framing wood. My advice, keep it simple, and things go smoother. My crew agrees on that point, although we each have our own faves.

  31. Gabriel says:

    “One shot to set, one shot to sink”

  32. Dan says:

    I say if you have to hit something as hard as this hammer states you can. It doesn’t fit cut it again

  33. gta v says:

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  34. Nodak Foreman says:

    TiBone II is what all our crews use(Morton Buildings) driving 20d and 60d rinshanks nails is a real test. Some of our old timers still use the tried and true Estwings claiming us younger guys are wimps. I wouldn’t allow a welded head hammer on my sites, especially if its made in China. Safety first.

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