Choosing the right tool for the right job will mean less user fatigue and more professional work. When people talk about claw hammers vs frame hammers, they really just need to understand what each term means. While you might think this is a debate, the real question is how you intend to use the tool. In our opinion, a frame hammer can handle everyday applications. However, framing hammers serve a specific function for building walls and floors.
what makes a frame hammer
The best framing hammers come in a variety of configurations and sizes, but most models share some common elements. A good frame hammer usually has a nearly straight claw, while a claw hammer usually has a curved claw. This might seem odd since both hammers have a single claw. On framing hammers, the claws are often used as makeshift pry bars—the curved design makes it more difficult.
Also, a frame hammer is not the same weight as a claw hammer. The former generally have more head weight for driving larger framing nails.
Since frame hammers are generally heavier, we see serious contenders starting at around 20 oz. The heavier nail head helps drive large nails quickly with fewer strokes. Things change when you use a titanium hammer, as you compensate for the lower mass with speed. Frame hammers also typically have longer handles with smooth or waffle surfaces on the striking surface of the head.
The rough waffle top helps ensure the hammer tip doesn't slip off the nail when striking. Obviously, you don't need a waffle top if you need to avoid making dents in the material you're hammering.
Claw Hammers – Many Varieties
In the vernacular, a claw hammer simply refers to a lightweight household hammer with (usually) curved claws. While the framing nailer has a claw – it's never called that. They usually weigh less than 20 ounces and are less expensive.
Claw hammers come in many shapes and a variety of handle materials. In fact, both types of hammer handle materials can include steel, wood, fiberglass, or some other material.
Look for a comfortable hammer with a head weight that you can handle with ease (no pun intended). At the end of the day, I recommend a more traditional hammer for those who don't do actual framing work, but remember the golden rule: you can always buy two!