What is a Rip Claw Hammer?
A rip claw hammer is a type of claw hammer which has been specifically designed for use in framing and ripping. This type of hammer is often carried by professional construction workers, along with other styles of claw hammer, and some people like to keep a rip claw hammer around the house for serious construction tasks. Many hardware stores stock this style of claw hammer, and it can also be ordered directly from a manufacturer or hardware supplier.
Claw hammers are double-ended hammers with a T-shape in profile. One side of the T has a flattened head for hammering, while the other side has a curved claw which can be used for tasks like pulling out nails and tearing boards apart. In a classic claw hammer, the claw is deeply curved, to make it easier to pull out nails. In a rip claw hammer, also known as a straight claw hammer, the claw is much flatter, to facilitate wedging the hammer between boards and other materials for the purpose of ripping things apart.
A variety of materials can be used to make rip claw hammers. The head is usually made from metal, for weight and strength, but the handle may be made from wood, fiberglass, or metals such as titanium. Many include shock absorbers which are designed to distribute the shock of hammer blows so that people are not injured while using the hammer, along with soft grips to make the hammer more comfortable to use.
Straight claw hammers are available in a variety of sizes, from small versions designed for woodworking to oversized hammers used primarily in demolition. Some examples of a way in which a rip claw hammer might be used include: stripping linoleum from a floor, pulling boards apart, and removing sheetrock and other walling materials. The hammer head can be used for an assortment of hammering tasks, ranging from getting nails in to dislodging a board so that the claw can be fitted inside to pull the board fully away.
When selecting a rip claw hammer, it pays to go to the hardware store and actually heft one, to see how the weight and balance feel. The hammer should be feel comfortable, with an easy swing, and it should not be so heavy that it causes strain. If a friend has a rip claw hammer, it may also help to ask him or her if it is possible to “test drive” the hammer on a project to see how it feels during actual work.
@TreeMan - The most important thing to look for when you are buying any type of hammer or a tool that is going to make a lot of contact is that the head is drop forged steel instead of cast iron. Of course, you will have to pay a little more, but the drop forged will be much stronger and will last longer.
As far as a handle goes, you are right about personal preference. Like the article mentions, go to the hardware store and swing a couple of them and see what you think. Some of the higher end hammers now come with very ergonomically designed grips that are comfortable and help you get a little extra power on your swings. I like these the best. Fiberglass is okay if you won't be trying to bust up anything too hard.
@kentuckycat - I always wondered the same thing about the waffle type hammer surfaces. Finally I had a friend explain it to me, and it made sense. What you were probably looking at was a framing hammer, which is usually heavier and longer than a normal hammer. Since it is used in framing, the larger size makes it easier to drive in and pull out nails.
The special surface is so that there is less of a chance of the hammer glancing off of the nail, and it helps you get a solid hit more often. Since you will never see the inside of the wall, any of the marks left on the wood don't really matter.
For people here who know a lot about hammers, what should you look for if you are wanting to buy a rip claw hammer? I already have a regular claw hammer, but I think it would be nice to have a rip claw hammer, since I find myself needing to pry things apart every now and then. Is there anything special to look for in the head or handle? I know a lot of it is personal preference, but what types of handles do everyone like?
I was just playing around with hammers the other day when I was in Lowe's, and I noticed that a lot of the rip claw hammers had a sort of bumpy surface instead of the normal flat surface. What is the purpose of this? It seems like it would be impossible to nail something in with a head like that.
I saw all of the different handle types, too. I have always like the fell of wood handles when I hold them, but once you start nailing, they can tire your hand out pretty fast. I prefer the metal handles with some type of rubber grip. I think these are the easiest to hold on to, and reduce the most shock. I have seen fiberglass handles getting more popular recently, so maybe I'll have to try one of those out sometime.
Rip claw hammers are great to have around the house whether you are using it for framing or not. I use it much more than my regular claw hammer, since I find the flat claw on the back much easier to get under nails and pull them out.
I have seen some claw hammers that have a special magnetic groove on the top that lets you put a nail in so that you don't have to hold it to get it started. I always thought that would be nice to have, but I don't know how well it would work. Has anyone ever used a hammer with a nail holder?
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