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.