For their simple, almost primitive look, hammers are incredibly versatile and specifically designed tools. Depending on whatever you most need a hammer for, the manufacturer will design the specific parts of a hammer to suit it. Knowing what each part of a hammer is, and how it fits into each hammer’s specialized use, will go a long way toward selecting the best hammer for you.
The face is the front striking part of a hammer. It’s usually pretty easy to tell what a hammer is designed for based on the shape and size of the face relative to the rest of the tool. Tack hammers, for instance, have small faces because they do small, detailed work. A sledgehammer, designed for brute strength, has a large face.
A hammer’s neck is what attaches the head to the handle. Just like with the face, if you’ve got a hammer designed for brute strength, you’re probably not going to have much of a neck. But if you have to strike with a little bit of precision, you’re probably going to have a neck to give you better visibility.
The two basic elements of a hammer are a handle and the thing that sits atop it. That’s the head. It’s the entire top of the hammer, and all those other things are part of the head. The hammer’s intended use will determine the basic design of the head. Hammers for rock and metal look like big rocks on top of the handle. Hammers for wood tend to have an actual design.
Whatever the purpose of the hammer, the head is going to have two cheeks, which are the two horizontal sides of the hammer’s head. The shape of the cheek is determined by the hammer’s purpose. Normally, you don’t use a hammer’s cheek for anything, but in a pinch, it can serve as a makeshift face.
The eye is the hole at the bottom of the head that slips over the handle. The reason hammers used for wood tend to have necks, while hammers for rock and metal don’t, is that hammers for wood have eyes while hammers for metal and rock don’t.
Most people own a pretty basic wood hammer. On the side of the head opposite the face is a claw used to pull up nails. But for all hammers, that side is intended for use. For things like sledgehammers, both sides can serve as the face. For hammers for metal, rather than a claw, you have a peen. The peen is used for shaping metal.
If one basic element to every hammer is the head, the other is the handle. Most hammers have a very simple handle. It’s just a stick of wood. Some might have a handle made out of some kind of metal if used for specialty purposes. But all of them will have a handle of some kind.
If you have something made of rubber slipped around the handle, that’s the grip. You aren’t going to find a grip on every hammer, because it’s not needed. If you need a hammer where maintaining a solid hold on it is crucial, you’ll need a grip. If you’re driving in tent spikes, then you don’t.
We also recently published a post where we go over ALL the 22 types of hammers and their unique uses.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!