10 Best Framing Hammers of 2021 – Reviews & Buying Guide
Framing hammers are the kings of the hammer world, used for framing houses when first constructed. These nails are large, so you need a bigger hammer to drive them, but choosing a durable brand that will help you complete your task is not always easy. There are many brands available made from different materials and are of different sizes and shapes.
We’ve chosen ten different brands of framing hammers to review for you so you can see the difference between models and what features they may offer. We’ll tell you about our experience using them and point out any issues you should know about before purchasing. We’ve also included a short buyer’s guide where we take a look at these specialized hammers to see what’s unique about them and what you should look for while you shop.
Join us while we discuss weight, length, durability, shock absorption, and more to help you make an informed purchase
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Stanley 51-167 Claw Framing Hammer||
|Best Value||Real Steel 0517 Ultra Framing Hammer||
|Premium Choice||Estwing E3-22SM Framing Hammer||
|TEKTON 30325 Magnetic Head Framing Hammer||
|Vaughan & Bushnell CF2HC California Framer||
The 10 Best Framing Hammers – Reviews 2021
1. Stanley 51-167 Claw Framing Hammer – Best Overall
The Stanley 51-167 Claw Framing Hammer is a 22-ounce hammer perfect for large framing nails. The waffle face helps to grip the nail as it drives it into the wood. The head is also magnetic, so it’s much easier to get nails started, especially when they are at a strange angle. It features torsion-controlled grip technology that reduces the effect of torque on elbows and wrists and includes anti-vibration measures to help reduce fatigue during long work sessions.
The only downside to the Stanley 51-167 that we experienced while we were testing and reviewing it was that it has a flare at the handle’s end. The flare makes it hard to use with a tool belt and causes it to catch on the ladder rungs when moving up and down.
2. Real Steel 0517 Ultra Framing Hammer – Best Value
The Real Steel 0517 Ultra Framing Hammer is our pick for the best framing hammer for the money. It uses a single piece of tempered steel for the handle and head, so you never need to worry about the head coming loose during operation. It has a graphite core that helps balance the tool and provide weight relief. The waffle face helps the tool grip the nail, and it also incorporates a nail starter into the head. The handle features an ultra-sleek design, so it’s easy to store and carry with you. The handle also features a thick, shock-absorbing rubber sleeve.
We enjoyed using the Real Steel 0517 while reviewing it and found it comfortable to hold and easy to carry. The only thing we feel we should mention is that at 21-ounces, it’s a bit light for a framing hammer that usually ranges from 22 to 29 ounces.
3. Estwing E3-22SM Framing Hammer – Premium Choice
The Estwing E3-22SM Framing Hammer is our premium choice framing hammer. It uses professional-grade steel in a single-piece design, so the head will never work loose or fall off. It’s lightweight but effective at 22 ounces. It has a shock, reducing rubber grip that eliminates up to 70% of vibrations as you work, significantly reducing fatigue and letting you accomplish more per day. It’s also available with a smooth or waffle face to suit any preference.
The only problem we had while using the Estwing E3-22SM was that the handle is a little long at almost 16-inches, and it can throw the hammer off balance on occasion.
4. TEKTON 30325 Magnetic Head Framing Hammer
The TEKTON 30325 Magnetic Head Framing Hammer is a 22-ounce framing hammer with a two-piece design. The head is durable hardened steel, while the body uses lightweight corrosion-resistant fiberglass. The head has a waffle face with a sharpened straight claw for removing nails and staples. It’s also equipped with a special magnetic chamber for placing and starting nails easily without risk to the fingers. The handle features a shock-absorbing rubber grip that is comfortable and reduces fatigue.
We had three TEKTON 30325 hammers in our shop, but one split right where the head meets the shaft, so these aren’t quite as durable as the one-piece units.
5. Vaughan & Bushnell CF2HC California Framer
The Vaughan & Bushnell CF2HC California Framer is a USA made framing hammer that features a polished head with a comfortable, curved wooden handle that many veteran professionals prefer over the more modern all-steel hammers. The curved handle provides a comfortable grip and better leverage to drive nails faster, and the waffle face on the head allows it to grip the nail instead of sliding so more force is transferred and used. A magnetic nail holder makes it easy to get nails started, even high above the head.
The downside we experienced with the Vaughan & Bushnell CF2HC is that it’s a little light for a framing hammer at only 19 ounces, and the steelhead is a bit brittle, which caused the claw to snap off the one we were using.
6. Fiskars 750241-1001 Milled-face Framing Hammer
The Fiskars 750241-1001 Milled-face Framing Hammer is a 22-ounce hammer with an attractive and unique design that utilizes its patented IsoCore shock control system that transfers four times less shock to your hand. It has a 22-ounce head with a waffle face and a magnetic nail starter, and a 16-inch-long handle with an insulation sleeve to help you get a better grip and reduce vibrations.
The Fiskars 750241-1001 worked perfectly for driving nails during our review, but we felt that the claw was a little too small for practical use, and it chipped after a few uses, so the metal is fairly brittle. The black paint or dye they use to coat the metal also wears off quickly and allows rust to set in. We found this to be the fastest rusting hammer on the list.
7. Stiletto Tools TI14SC Titanium Framing Hammer
The Stiletto Tools TI14SC Titanium Framing Hammer is a very durable handle with a titanium head and an ergonomically shaped hickory handle. The head features a magnetic nail starter that will help save your fingers and make it easier to start in difficult to reach areas. The 16-inch handle balances the tool and allows you to create the force you need to drive the nails.
The downside we experienced while using the Stiletto Tools TI14SC is that the hickory handle, while comfortable and attractive, is not very durable, and we broke two of them. The head is also very lightweight for a framing handle at only 14 ounces. Though the package states it drives as well as a 24-ounce steel hammer, that wasn’t the case for us.
8. DeWalt DWHT51064 Framing Hammer
The DeWalt DWHT51064 Framing Hammer is a 22-ounce framing hammer made by a company known for creating powerful and durable tools. It includes the magnetic nail starter and waffle face to drive nails faster, reducing the time spent on the job. The 15.8-inch handle balances the tool nicely and allows you to get adequate force per swing, and it has a rubber sleeve to reduce vibrations.
While we like DeWalt tools and have many of them in our shop, we were surprised to see the DeWalt DWHT51064 didn’t do as well as many other brands on this list. It has very little vibration control, and we found our elbows hurting after a while. The rubber sleeve also tends to fall off the tool and could be easily lost, and the claw is soft and easily bent.
9. OX Tools P083322 California Framing Hammer
The OX Tools P083322 California Framing Hammer is a 22-ounce hammer with a unique design for keeping the head attached to the body and controlling vibration. The forged steel has a waffle face for gripping nails and an ergonomically shaped handle for comfort and faster strikes. It’s very well balanced and includes a magnetic nail starter.
The downside to the OX Tools P083322 is that it’s a bit long at 18 inches, and some people may find it difficult to use. Another problem was that the tool’s design causes it to ring with a high-pitched tone while you are using it, which can be annoying on a long job. The wooden handle is not very durable, and it has a taper toward the head where two of our hammers broke.
10. Spec Ops Tools M22CF Framing Hammer
The Spec Ops Tools M22CF Framing Hammer is the last framing hammer on our list, but it still has plenty of interesting features worth considering. It has an attractive design with a 22-ounce head with a waffle face to help transmit power to the nail. It comes with a certification that it was accurately machined and is ballistically balanced to provide more striking power per swing. It uses heat-treated high-carbon steel and features a magnetic nail starter and shock-absorbing grip.
We really wanted to like the Spec Ops Tools M22CF and its tactical design. It works well at first and is well balanced, but we broke two of them in a single day, so durability is a serious concern with this tool.
In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the framing hammer to learn more about what makes them different from other hammers and what you should look for while you shop.
One of the first things to look for when choosing a framing hammer is the weight. Framing nails are larger than most standard nails and would take a lot of effort with a regular household 16-ounce hammer most of us use for jobs around the house. A framing hammerhead will weigh between 20 and 32 ounces, with most weighing at least 22 ounces. The lighter weight will take more effort, and you will need to hit the nail harder, while the heavier 30+ ounce tools can become heavy to swing after driving a few nails.
The best weight will depend on your physical abilities, but we found 22 ounces to be perfect for most situations, and that is what most of the hammers on our list are.
The waffle face is not an insult. It describes the part of the hammer that hits the nail. The waffle face is often called a milled face or a rough face, and while you can find it on other types of hammers, it’s most prevalent on framing hammers. We use this type of face because it grips the head if you don’t hit it perfectly flat, so the energy to transfer through the nail instead of the head slipping off like a flat-faced hammer.
The gripping action allows you to drive nails much faster than a flat-faced hammer, which is important when framing because there are many big nails to drive, so you want every advantage.
Most framing hammers have a claw side like traditional hammers, but it is often straight and not curved. The curve is for gaining leverage to remove screws, and while you may need to remove screws with your framing hammer claw, you are just as likely to use it for demolition, where the straight claw will increase accuracy. It’s not uncommon to create holes in drywall for many different reasons, and the framing hammer is the perfect choice to get the job done.
When choosing the perfect handle for your framing hammer, the most important thing to consider is the material. The handle material will impact the vibrations you feel, and thus, the amount of fatigue your whole arm feels. Let’s take a look at the two common materials you’ll be choosing from.
Many veteran contractors prefer the feel of a wood handle. It looks nice, is inexpensive to build, and naturally absorbs some vibrations protecting your wrists and elbows from damage and fatigue. However, even though it may last a long time, it is not considered as durable as a steel handle. It can crack from too much force and rot from exposure to the wrong type of environment. Wood can absorb water and swell, then dry out and crack. Another problem common with wood handles is that the head tends to work loose and fall off.
Steel is a very common handle material on modern hammers. It’s a little more expensive to make but much more durable than wood. These hammers allow you to swing harder than you would with wood, and they are often a one-piece design, which means you don’t need to worry about the head falling off while you are working. The downside to metal is that it transfers more of the shock to your body, which will increase the rate of fatigue. Metal is also heavier than wood, and while it won’t absorb moisture or be food termites, it can rust and become weak.
Magnetic Nail Starter
One important feature that you want your framing hammer to have is a magnetic nail starter. The magnetic nail starter is a special grove at the top of the hammer, large enough to hold a framing nail. When you place the nail inside, the magnetic steel holds it in place until you strike it against the surface. This feature eliminates the risk of hammering your fingers and allows you to place nails high above your head or other places that might not be possible if two hands are required.
Shock absorption is another critical part of the framing hammer. The shape of the handle can reduce the effects of shock by keeping your wrist and elbow in alignment as you work. A rubber grip cover is also very popular, especially on metal hammers and some metal hammers use scientific design to direct some of the force away from the hand.
Before choosing any framing hammer, you want to check reviews to learn about the model’s durability. Some look durable but crack because the wood is too thin, or the metal is too hard. Others may look flimsy and last a lifetime. We tried to point out any models on our list that have questionable durability, but you will want to keep it in mind if you continue shopping.
One thing to worry about when using your framing hammer is your safety, and there are two areas you specifically want to protect, your eyes and your hands.
It’s easy to overlook the danger presented to the eyes when you are hammering a nail into the wood as it seems relatively safe. However, the nail could break and fly toward your eyes, and more likely, a tiny piece of metal can chip off the head or nail, creating a spark that flies toward the eye.
When you are using your framing hammer, we highly recommend wearing a high-quality pair of safety goggles with side protection at all times.
Most of us have smashed a finger or two while hammering, but a framing hammer with a waffle face can easily remove skin and cause a bad injury. For that reason, we recommend wearing a durable pair of work gloves at all times and taking advantage of the magnetic nail starter when possible.
When choosing a framing hammer for your building projects, it’s going to be tough to beat our pick for the best overall. The Stanley 51-167 Claw Framing Hammer is a 22-ounce hammer with vibration control, a comfortable grip, and a magnetic nail start. It’s a pleasure to use and will last many years. Another smart choice is our pick for the best value. The Real Steel 0517 Ultra Framing Hammer features a one-piece design that will never come apart. It has a magnetic nail starter and a waffle face to make any job a little bit easier. It’s a little on the light side but is higher quality than many more expensive brands, including some on our list.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over our reviews and buyers guide and have learned something new. If you have found the perfect tool for your next building project, please share these ten framing hammers on Facebook and Twitter.
News from the blog:
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Framing Hammers – Reviews 2021
- 1. Stanley 51-167 Claw Framing Hammer – Best Overall
- 2. Real Steel 0517 Ultra Framing Hammer – Best Value
- 3. Estwing E3-22SM Framing Hammer – Premium Choice
- 4. TEKTON 30325 Magnetic Head Framing Hammer
- 5. Vaughan & Bushnell CF2HC California Framer
- 6. Fiskars 750241-1001 Milled-face Framing Hammer
- 7. Stiletto Tools TI14SC Titanium Framing Hammer
- 8. DeWalt DWHT51064 Framing Hammer
- 9. OX Tools P083322 California Framing Hammer
- 10. Spec Ops Tools M22CF Framing Hammer
- Buyer’s Guide