The hammer consists of two distinct parts, the head and the handle. The head is made of steel, so hard that it will not be indented by hitting against nails or the butt of nailsets, punches, etc., which are comparatively soft. It can easily be injured tho, by being driven against steel harder than itself. The handle is of hickory and of an oval shape to prevent its twisting in the hand.
Hammers may be classified as follows: (1) hammers for striking blows
Fig. 158. Claw-Hammer.
Fig. 159. Riveting-Hammer.
Fig. 160. Upholster's Hammer.
Fig. 161. Magnetized Hammer.
Fig. 162. Veneering-Hammer.
In the "bell-faced" hammer, the face is slightly convex, in order that the last blow in driving nails may set the nail-head below the surface. It is more difficult to strike a square blow with it than with a plain-faced hammer. For ordinary woodwork the plain-faced, that is, flat-faced claw-hammer, Fig. 158, is best. It is commonly used in carpenter work.
It is essential that the face of the hammer be kept free from glue in order to avoid its sticking on the nail-head and so bending the nail. Hammers should be used to hit iron only; for hitting wood, mallets are used. In striking with the hammer, the wrist, the elbow and the shoulder are one or all brought into play, according to the hardness of the blow. The essential precautions are that the handle be grasped at the end, that the blow be square and quick, and that the wood be not injured. At the last blow the hammer should not follow the nail, but should be brought back with a quick rebound. To send the nail below the surface, a nailset is used. (See below.)
The claw is used for extracting nails. To protect the wood in withdrawing a nail a block may be put under the hammer-head. When a nail is partly drawn, the leverage can be greatly increased by continuing to block up in this way, Fig. 163.
The mallet, Fig. 164, differs from the hammer in having a wooden instead of a steel head. A maul or beetle is a heavy wooden mallet. The effect of the blow of a mallet is quite different from that of a hammer, in that the force is exerted more gradually; whereas the effect of the hammer blow is direct, immediate, and local, and is taken up at once. But a mallet continues to act after the first impulse, pushing, as it were. This is because of the elasticity of the head. A chisel, therefore, should always be driven with a mallet, for the chisel handle would soon go to pieces under the blows of a hammer, because of their suddenness; whereas the mallet blow which is slower will not only drive the blade deeper with the same force, but will not injure the handle so rapidly. Mallet-heads are made square, cylindrical, and barrel-shaped. Carver's mallets are often turned from one piece, hammer and head on one axis.
Nailsets, Fig. 165, are made with hardened points, but softer butts, so that the hammer will not be injured. They were formerly made square when nail heads were square, but now round ones are common. To obviate slipping, some have "cup points," that is, with a concave tip, and some spur points.
To keep the nailset in its place on the nail-head it may be held closely against the third finger of the left hand, which rests on the wood close to the nail. When a nailset is lacking, the head of a brad, held nearly flat, may be used. But care is necessary to avoid bruising the wood.