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They say when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When all you have is a $250 hammer, does everything look like a gold-plated nail? Seriously, folks, you don’t have to look far to find some seriously spendy hammers out there. The Stilleto TiBones pictured above run a whopping $200+. Hell, just scoring the replaceable face for one’ll set you back a Hamilton (or two).

Estwing offers a number of $100+ models, too, though some check in under $30. Even that’s a pretty big swing from the $15 store-brand special.

So what will you spend on a hammer? $20? $50? $100? More? And why? What do you look for in a hammer, and why is it worth your hard-earned cash?

 

35 Responses to Reader Question: How Much Will You Pay For A Hammer?

  1. Pepster says:

    $20 is really my limit, but I’m always going to be on the lookout to spend $10.

  2. Chris says:

    $35 for a new hammer. But my MO is to find a good quality head with a busted up handle at a garage sale for $1-$3 and re-handle it for $8-$10. I have a great selection of Plumb finish hammers and ball peen hammers with a total investment of less than $80. Good quality framing hammers are a little harder to find, but do turn up. Plus, I consider re-handling a hammer a bit of a religious experience.

  3. Joe says:

    Do you buy everything from harbor freight or what? I met the owner of Stiletto at the builders show this year, and believe me these guys are great, and produce a very high quality product, with some real innovation. That takes money, and that means that you have to pay a premium for the product. That said, do I think every Handy Harry should buy one of these for the small repair that he is making on his deck this weekend? No, but when I was a full time framing carpenter these hammers did a lot to minimize the tennis elbow that most guys got after a year or so of driving hundreds of pounds of nails. They really do reduce vibration, weight less and they are made from titanium, and thats just cool.
    ***Climbs off the soap box
    That said, I swung a Vaughan that had the 999 head and a fiberglass handle, and ran about $40 or so.

  4. pete says:

    As a framer/concrete man for 10 years I have had bad luck with re-handling my hammers. Replacement handles just haven’t put up with the thrashing I give them. I have paid, and am willing to pay, around $50 for one of my three most frequently tools (Tape, Hammer, SkillSaw) For me, when those three tools are in good condition, I actually enjoy my work. I would say that that is worth a few bucks.

  5. Michael says:

    I use Estwings in the $30 range to get the nail flush if the nail gun is off.

  6. Adam says:

    And here I thought Estwings at $30 was a big jump. I am pretty sure I can buy a pnuematic hammer, aka nail gun, for $250.

    I guess I don’t feel too bad for owning 6 Estwings now. I like them for the balance, and durability. No handle to break, or head to fly off.

  7. gillsans says:

    I’ve picked up a Stiletto Hammer and swung it a few times and it was pretty F-ing cool. I could never justify spending more than, say $30 though. I’m still using my free hand-me-down.

  8. fred says:

    When I was a young whippersnapper on the job we all seemed to use Stanley hammers. The better Ball-Pein variety was their “Jobmaster” line and probably cost about $2 or $3 more per hammer than their “handyman” line. A difference was that the better hammer had a polished – and presumably tempered rim – and a better wooden handle.

    In Claw hammers – the Stanley “100-Plus” line was what we used and was set apart by a octagonal section of the head that was polished to a round rim. The 20oz one (#OH11 – or 51-353), probably cost $20 or more which was $4 or $5 more than Stanley’s lesser line.

    Some years ago I had a request that we buy Douglas 18oz. “Finnish Nailers”. I got a deal on a couple of dozen or so – and think I paid something north of $50 apiece. I now set this hammer (or its equivalent price) as a limit for us. If I have a request from a new crew member, for a more expensive (e.g. titanium wonder), I suggest that they buy one themselves.

  9. G says:

    I tell you what, I’d pay $250 or $300 if I could find a hammer that automatically drove fence staples without setting off my carpal tunnel. (Electric…pneumatic…gas powered, even.) Can’t seem to find anything like that, though; the closest I’ve found is something like the “Hired Hand Staple Driver.” Not quite what I’m hoping to find.

  10. Chris says:

    No, I don’t think I would ever buy a hammer from HF unless I had to crack walnut and there weren’t any rocks handy. $35 is what I would pay for a new hammer but I’m not swingin’ it day in and day out. I’m not saying there is no place in the world for expensive hammers. If it works for you, by all means, buy it. Just don’t expect to sell a lot of them to Harry Homeowner at Home Depot.

  11. fritz gorbach says:

    30 to 40 bucks seems to be about right, but I do have a couple of snap on dead blow ball pein hammers which were around ninety, and ill probably get a couple of their straight urethane(i think) dead blow hammers eventually, and I guess they’re 50 to 60 bucks. I guess If you’re gonna swing it a lot though, you should spend what you want. Those titanium hammers are pretty slick.

  12. fred says:

    @G Says:

    I guess that we’ll have to move to New Zealand (where a lot of the good fencing tools are made). ITW – New Zealand sells a number of Paslode brand fence staple’s and galvanized staples down there – that seem like they’d be worth a try. They don’t seem to be available here.

    I see that the Dutton-Lainson goldenrod (hired hand) stapler gets lots of very mixed reviews – and is said, by some, to be prone to jamming.

  13. jeff says:

    From my experience, I don’t use my hammers as much as I used to. Pneumatics have taken over most of my nailing applications. The most I use my hammer for now is setting and stripping steel concrete forms. The $30-$50 range covers that use well.

  14. jeff says:

    I should have clarified that I was talking about a normal builders type hammer. Strike face on one side with a claw on the other. I’m willing to spend a little more on specialty hammers like a good “BFH”.

    This one from amazon seems a little high though. 😉
    http://www.amazon.com/ACME-TEST123-Acme-Sledgehammer/dp/B000VXQ61I/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1264623908&sr=1-3

  15. browndog77 says:

    Good find, Jeff! I hope you took the time to check out the customer review by “V NYC” It’s a hoot!

    As for the claw hammers pictured, that is a lot of money for something that probably takes more abuse than any other tool in the box. Hopefully, they will stand up to it and if they are less damaging to the operator’s body parts than the cheaper alternatives, spend that money! Just don’t expect it to do anything more than lower priced tools. I have used both Plumb & Estwing hammers for framing, and the Estwing gets my vote there as well as in the drywall category. Trim work seems to go well with a fiberglass handled Stanley. Plumb makes the best shingle hammer, IMHO.

  16. jack says:

    The cool factor just isnt worth a few hundred bucks. I have been a residential framer going on 30 years now. What us real framers mostly use are either Craftsman or now Husky brand framing hammers because of the no hassle lifetime replacement warranty. Treat them like crap, want a new one, bust the handle then take it back and get a new one.

  17. Mickey Rat says:

    I bought a Estwing 22oz framing hammer over 30 years ago for around $30 and I still use it today,from demolition to finish nails and I feel lost if I dont have it have it around,even if I dont need it.

  18. mr. man says:

    Couple of months ago, I had one of these in my hands at the local farm supply. I think I’ll pass.

  19. Larry Little says:

    I don’t drive nails. I bang duct. To do this I use an 18 ounce, leather handled Malco tinner’s hammer (about $40). The rubber handled model is cheaper but this is my trade. I you can’t have a little pride what’s the point really?

  20. Keith says:

    I don’t swing a hammer all day, so $35 would be my limit. But I’ve got two Hart Framers, an Estwing 16 oz claw, an old Craftsman fiberglass, and a few 10 oz hammers. Plus I have a drawer full of old hammers, including the one I grew up using and my dad used to build the house I grew up in. I don’t need no steenkin $250 hammer.

    What I never understand is, if F=MA (force = mass * acceleration), just how does one of those lightweight titanium hammers do the job of a heavier steel one? The nail doesn’t care what the metal driving it is.

  21. buckshot says:

    I only ever bought one hammer that cost more than ten bucks, a ball peen a few years ago, . Some others were gifts, found on the road or “borrowed” from my dad. He doesn’t mind too much, seeing how I gave him a floor mounted drill press and a Delta chop saw to make up for all the “borrowing” over the years.

  22. PutnamEco says:

    I pay about $250-ish on air nailers so I don’t have to swing a hammer all day. I do own a fair selection of hammers covering the whole range of prices. I tend not to take my more expensive hammers out on most jobs due to their propensity to grow legs, and the fact that I tend to leave them lying about and then find that some idiot has picked it up and is using it to crack bricks or some other such foolishness. That said, I have a 20 oz. Stanley Anti-Vibe (680-51-944) in my tool box right now, I bought it to replace a misplaced Estwing and have been happy with its performance. It does seem to have some vibration reducing properties. I would recommend it over the Estwing.

    So, to answer the question, I’ll pay form $8 – $250 for a hammer. Do I NEED a $50+ hammer, no, not in this age of pneumatics, but they do have their benefits.

  23. PutnamEco says:

    Re:
    Keith says:
    What I never understand is, if F=MA (force = mass * acceleration), just how does one of those lightweight titanium hammers do the job of a heavier steel one? The nail doesn’t care what the metal driving it is.
    —–
    Two points, it is easier to accelerate 14 ounces then 20 ounces. Point 2, titanium is harder than steel, picture trying to drive a nail with a golf ball verses a rubber ball.

  24. PutnamEco says:

    Hmm. wish I could edit comments, Titanium is not harder than steel. I should quit trying to post comments near midnight.

  25. Jim says:

    @PutnamEco Say:

    In the case of the hardness of titanium vs. steel, it doesn’t matter since neither one deforms on impact to absorbs any of the force applied.

  26. Seattle Sean says:

    I’ve been very happy with my 5 year old Hart titanium hammer. If it needed to be replaced I’d go with this Dalluge hammer, with the same design as the Douglas, but titanium. It’s half the price of the Stilleto TiBone and, in my opinion, better designed, It has an integrated head that protects the handle from overstrike. It also has a side nail puller. Tool lust….

    http://www.hardwaresales.com/Hand-Tools/Hammers/Framing/Dalluge-7180-Mill-Face-p5295275.html

  27. fred says:

    @PutnamEco

    Grow legs ??

    My observation is that the more costly tools must be made of materials that have a propensity for sublimation – as they evaporate into thin air when exposed to sunlight – or better yet darkness.

  28. shopmonger says:

    I think it really comes down to how often you use it and what you use it for. framers i think want more anti-vibe and some waffleing on the face and they cna get that form the AVX for about 25 and carpenters who use it more for making stairs, and maybe some corrective blow may want more control, but still only a 30 hammer. Furniture guys (like me) want good control and maybe an interchangeable face so maybe 50 . I still use the plain old stanley wood handle jobs or i even use 2-3 i found lying around garage sales or relatives houses that don’t use them any more. I use more than one type and weight but don’t use them as often because of Pneumatics. i remember hearing stories of the union guys being limited to the weight and length of handle. and when the union leaders were around they would use the regulation ones, but as soon as they left they would pull out the biggest bad boys they could find so they could one hit, drive 3 inch framers.

    But 250 is crazy…..i could buy my whole collection for that…..and still buy lunch..

    ShopMonger

  29. fredb says:

    I think I paid $65 for a Martin auto body hammer once, $250 to hammer Nails?

  30. Ian says:

    @Keith, @PutnamEco,

    A lot of the energy from that force is lost in the recoil on a steel hammer, whereas the titanium, which vibrates significantly less, ends up a bit more efficient. Having used both before, I’d say that even if they’re not exactly equal, they are definitely in the same ballpark in terms of ability to drive a nail. On the flip side of that, I’ve known plenty of people with repetitive strain injuries or carpal tunnel syndrome that appreciate the relief of a hammer that vibrates much less.

    If you shop around, you can frequently find titanium hammers closer to the $100 range, which seems like a worthwhile expense if you’re using it all day every day (consider the difference between a $30 fatmax tape measure and a 1.99 hardware store bargain tape measure).

  31. Gary says:

    I’ll stick with Craftsman or Eastwing. Especially the ones I inherited from my Dad.

  32. Coach James says:

    I can’t see me parting with $250 for a hammer. I have several Craftsman and Vaughn nail hammers and never paid more than $30 for any of them. They all work fine and are comfortable to use with wood, fiberglas or steel handles. Plus they are all USA made which is a plus in my book.

  33. kyle says:

    I have to agree that I would pay about 70 for a quality body hammer but 40 is my limit to drive nails

  34. Chris says:

    For 130$ you can get a hand-made machinist hammer that is made in the USA:

    http://www.garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=48306

    This is obviously for machining or something like engine building where you precision and excellent handling and not framing or just banging stuff. If and when I DO need a 16lb head sledge, I’d get the cheapest one possible, but that machinist hammer is so sexy.

  35. Jonathan Johnstone says:

    I need a wood handle to feel right so I bought a Douglas.. I paid around $80 for it and love it.. if they went out of production and were only available second hand, I’d pay $250-$300 to replace it no problem.. I’ve tried the Stiletto and a few other titanium hammers and they’re not for me so I wouldn’t give you $10 for one..

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