What is the Best Framing Hammer Right Now?

You Need a Framing Hammer

Last year I was helping my neighbor build a new barn. On the day we started framing I pulled out my Irwin claw hammer, and he started laughing at me! This hammer has been my go-to for years, so I was a little confused. He said he had the best framing hammer, and asked where mine was. I told him that mine would be just fine.

Best framing hammer

Boy, was I wrong! After only a little while, my hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder were getting pretty tired. By the end of the day, I could hardly move. Luckily we still had more to do the following morning (it was a big barn), so I swung by my local hardware store to pick up a cheap framing hammer. I couldn’t believe the difference it made!

The first thing I noticed was how much easier the nails went into the wood. Rather than bashing the nail 4 or 5 times each, it only took one or two swings for each one. This is because the hammer was both longer and heavier than my general-purpose hammer. It also had a magnetic nail starter, which saved my fingers from the customary bashing they receive when I’m building things. And as the morning wore on, I realized that my hands and arm were feeling much better than the previous day.

I was so happy with my framing hammer until the head flew off towards the end of the job. Unbelievably, I had to finish the job with my old faithful. Hello, wrist pain my old friend! So, I decided to buy a new one! And rather than keep the research and findings to myself, I thought I’d share them here with you all.

What is a Framing Hammer?

Framing hammers are hammers specifically designed for heavy-hitting, repetitive activities such as framing houses, concrete form construction, and simple demolition projects. Framing hammers do the job faster, with much less strain on your body. And anything that saves you time and bodily pain is at least worth investigating, right?

What makes a framing hammer different?

Framing hammers are heavier and longer than regular hammers, and usually have a waffle head for better nail grip.

The best framing hammers have longer handles and heavier heads than regular hammers. This combination means you get significantly more force through the hammerhead, with less effort. This is reason number one the best framing hammers save your body.

The best framing hammers also have a criss-cross pattern on the face of the hammerhead. This milled-face or waffle-face pattern allows the hammer to grip onto the nail head better. It sounds a little gimmicky, but this extra grip means less slippage and less wasted effort.

What’s a good weight for a framing hammer?

20-32 ounces.

Framing hammers are heavier and are longer than regular hammers so that the user is able to deliver more force for each stroke.

What are the Best Framing Hammers made from?

Steel, wood, and fiberglass are the main types of hammer handles.

Steel is the most common, as it is generally the strongest and allows the hammer to pack in extra mass easily. Unfortunately, steel also allows the most vibration out of the three handle types, so it is important to choose one with a vibration-dampening grip. Otherwise, you’ll be icing your wrist and elbow every night!

Wood is another fantastic option for framing hammers, as it feels great in the hand and offers natural protection against vibrations. Wood handles are generally lighter, which means that the hammer can hold more weight in the head, where it counts! Unfortunately, wood is not as durable as steel and has the tendency to splinter after a while.

Wood doesn’t allow as much vibration as other types of handles, which makes it a fantastic choice when choosing a framing hammer. You can even replace the handle if it breaks! So, when it comes to choosing a framing hammer, many professionals prefer to work with wood handles. The best type of wood for hammers is hickory.

Fiberglass is another great material for making hammers. Fiberglass is lighter than steel and offers some vibration resistance, but not quite as much as wood. Fiberglass is also the cheapest of the three materials to purchase, but it is also less durable. Fiberglass framing hammers are not as common as steel or wood, but some people still swear by them!

When is a framing hammer used?

Framing hammers are used for heavy-duty jobs that require fast, repetitive work.

Using a framing hammer essentially means that you’ll need fewer swings per nail. But not all jobs require this approach. Often when using a framing hammer, the hammer marks the wood, leaving behind an obvious waffle-printed dent in the wood. If you require the wood to look perfect after nailing, then you should look for something a little more subtle.

But if heavy duty is what you’re after, then you’re in luck! I’ve found some of the best framing hammers ready to purchase right now. Read on to find the best hammer for framing, the best framing hammer for DIY, the best wood framing hammer, the best fiberglass framing hammer, and the best budget framing hammer.

Framing HammerOur Recommendation
Best Framing HammerEstwing GG417 Framing Hammer
Best Framing Hammer for DIYSpec Ops – SPEC-M22CF Tools Framing Hammer
Best Wood Framing HammerEstwing MRW25LM Sure Strike Wood Handle Framing Hammer
Best Fiberglass Framing HammerEstwing MRF22S Sure Strike 22 Oz Fiberglass Framing Hammer
Best Budget Framing HammerREAL STEEL 0503 Jacketed Graphite Magnetic Head Framing Hammer

Which hammer is best for framing?

Estwing GG417 Framing Hammer – 22 oz Long Handle Straight Rip Claw with Milled Face & Shock Reduction Grip

Almost indestructible
Versatile rip claw
Trade-quality tool
Shock reduction grip
Made in USA
Trusted by professional tradesmen
No nail starter

For the building professional, and those who will be framing houses all day, every day, the best framing hammer for you is the Estwing GG417 Framing Hammer.

Estwing has been making the highest quality striking tools (think hammers and axes) since 1923. Despite becoming one of the world’s leading manufacturers of hammers and other striking tools, Estwing has mostly stayed in its little niche. The fact that they haven’t strayed into making other tools has allowed the company to stay focussed on what they do best. That is, making the highest quality bashing tools. Seriously, check out their website! It’s literally just stacks and stacks of awesome hammers and hammer-looking tools.

Estwing knows its niche, and they do it better than anyone else out there. So, if you’re swinging hammers all day every day, you want the very best hammer on the market.

The Estwing GG417 comes in at a nice 22oz, delivering plenty of force without putting too much strain on your wrists. It has a long handle for more power and of course, a milled face. The rip claw can be used for pulling up nails, boards, splitting wood, and demolition. One purchaser on Amazon spent their whole summer breaking up concrete blocks with this hammer, and it didn’t miss a beat.

Estwing GG417 Reviews

Estwing is the creator of the shock reduction grip, which reduces vibrations and impact, making for a more comfortable, durable tool. Being an American company, Estwing tools are made in the USA. This hammer was forged in one piece using the finest American steel. As a nice little touch, the hammer comes with a beautiful, fully polished head.

Reviews of the Estwing GG417 are strikingly positive (pun intended). Helpfully, many of the reviews are written by construction and demolition professionals, who rely on the Estwing GG417 to pay their bills. These professionals find the GG417 saves them energy and is useful for framing, concrete formwork, demolition, masonry, and even home use. To be honest, I was very surprised with the flexibility of this beast of a tool!

The only, very small downside I can see in this tool is the lack of a nail starter. Personally, I really like nail starters in my hammers. I tend to lose focus quickly and always end up crushing my thumb a few times in each job. But, other than that, this hammer is almost indestructible and pounds in nails extremely well!

What is the Best Framing Hammer for DIY?

Spec Ops – SPEC-M22CF Tools Framing Hammer, 22 oz, Rip Claw, Milled Face, Shock-Absorbing Grip

Alloy steel handle
Milled face
Shock absorbing grip
Magnetic nail starter
Rip claw
Looks awesome
Supports veterans and first responders
Value for money
Paint quality
Claw durability

The best framing hammer for DIY is the Spec Ops 22oz Framing hammer.

In terms of quality, the Spec Ops Framing Hammer is a trade-quality hammer with a comfortable grip. It has a lighter head, despite weighing in at a hefty 22oz; which allows for a more accurate swing. It is well balanced and has a shock-absorbing grip, which is a fantastic feature for those repetitive, heavy-duty jobs. Another feature, which I love in my hammers, is a magnetic nail starter. There’s nothing more tedious that having to give little tippy taps to get every nail started. With the nail starter, you can just pound every nail straight in.

Like all good framing hammers, the Spec Ops Hammer has a milled face for greater nail grip; while the rip claw is useful for demolitions, removing nails, and even splitting wood when required! Finally, the hammer has a lanyard hole that can be used with SRS lanyards, which I think is an awesome safety feature. All-in-all, this alloy steel is a serious, trade-quality hammer!

At the time of writing, the Spec Ops framing hammer was the cheapest option among the trade-quality hammers I reviewed. While this is always subject to change, the Spec Ops line of tools is premium quality tools at a reduced price. So, you can be sure that you are getting fantastic value for money.

Spec Ops Framing Hammer Review

With over 3,000 Amazon reviews, the Spec Ops Framing Hammer has consistently outstanding results. These reviews were written by people with a wide range of experience, from DIY rookies through to construction professionals. And the results are almost unanimous; this is a seriously good hammer! The most consistent negative response relates to the finish of the paint and upper-handle surface.

Some have been frustrated by the durability of the paint, while others claim that their new hammer has arrived with some scratches and dents. There have also been some negative comments about the durability of the claw. While these negative reviews are in the vast minority, if you are framing houses every day then your best option will be the previous hammer on our list.

Finally, this hammer has some real x-factor about it! Spec Ops tools are designed by the United States military veterans, and a portion of the profits is returned to veterans and first responders. To be honest, I’m not really into the needless militarisation of things, and some of the army jargon around these tools is a little bit cringy. But I am a fan of supporting our veterans and first responders. So, the Spec Ops Framing Hammer gets a massive tick from me!

Best Wooden Framing Hammer

Estwing MRW25LM Sure Strike Wood Handle Framing Hammer – Triple Wedge, 25 oz

Premium hickory handle.
Solid steel head.
Magnetic nail starter
Some have experienced handle weakness

While there’s no doubt that steel framing hammers with shock protection are the most popular, there are many professionals out there who swear by their wood-handled framing hammers. And according to my research, the best wood framing hammer is the Estwing MRW25LM Sure Strike Wood Handle Framing Hammer – Triple Wedge, 25 oz

I’ve already discussed the merits of buying an Estwing hammer, so there’s no need to repeat myself. But the striking tool specialists have created the perfect hammer for those who prefer lighter handles and fewer vibrations in their hammering. Naturally, Estwing has chosen a hickory handle as the base for their hefty 25oz, solid steel-head hammer. This beautiful tool has a handy nail starter and is light to hold while delivering plenty of power to the nail.

Estwing Wood Handle Framing Hammer Review

Purchasers of the Estwing wood handle framing hammer have found that it almost feels like a small axe and has been useful for all types of heavy-duty work. One user finds that it can even drive nails into concrete in two swings! The steel claw is almost indestructible and gets through demolition work without any problems.

Any tool will have some poor reviews and the ones for this tool center around the durability of the handle. While the vast majority of users have found this hammer to last a very long time and cop an absolute beating, there have been a few who have had their handles crack and break. This is always a possibility of working with a wood-handled hammer, and one to consider when choosing your hammer.

Best Fiberglass Framing Hammer

Estwing MRF22S Sure Strike 22 Oz Fiberglass Framing Hammer – Smooth, Silver, 620g (22oz)

Strong fiberglass handle
Reduce vibration
Milled face
Strong rip claw
Some people receive a yellow hammer
Some hammers appear to be made in Taiwan

While steel and wood-handled hammers dominate the framing hammer space, there is still a place for the humble fiberglass hammer. The Estwing Sure Strike 22oz Framing Hammer has a lightweight handle for a comfortable swing, and natural vibration absorption so you can use it for longer. It has a milled face for greater nail grip, a strong rip claw for demolition and wood splitting, and has a durable handle that has proven effective on professional worksites. Finally, being a fiberglass hammer, the price is exceptional compared with other high-end framing hammers

The Estwing Sure Strike Fiberglass hammer has a black handle with a grey shaft, but some purchasers have received yellow hammers stamped with “Made in Taiwan”. We have not yet been able to get to the bottom of this, and we suspect that these people have been receiving the correct model, just in a different color. Whatever the case, if you’re buying online, just make sure you purchase through a reputable retailer like Amazon. They have fantastic return policies if you are unhappy with your purchase.

What is the Best Budget Framing Hammer?

REAL STEEL 0503 Jacketed Graphite Magnetic Head Framing Hammer with Milled Face, 20 Ounce

High quality steel hammer
Magnetic nail starter
Milled face
Sharpened rip claw
Fantastic price
Unusual shape
Rip claw may need sharpening
Occasional supply issues

While building things is heaps of fun, at the end of the day most of us pick up the tools to put bread on the table. Whether you’re a professional that’s getting paid for your time, or a DIYer who’s saving money, your bank balance is an important consideration. That’s why we always try to include a high-quality, budget-conscious option in all of our tool recommendations.

High-quality and low-price generally don’t go together, but in the case of the Real Steel Jacketed Graphite Framing Hammer, you get the best of both worlds.

This 22oz steel framing hammer is packed with features that it has no right to possess at this price point. It has a magnetic nail starter, sharpened rip claw, ergonomic rubber grip to reduce shock, and it even has a graphite core for increased strength and reliability. Naturally, the hammer comes with a milled face for the 22oz framing hammer, but there is also the option for a smooth-faced head if you choose the 20z, 0502 model.

Read Steel Framing Hammer Review

The Real Steel hammer is a fantastic option for DIYers, roofers, contractors, carpenters, and tradesmen; especially those who are hard on their tools! If you’re one of those people who are always leaving their tools behind or losing them inside walls, then something like this hammer is perfect.

As with any budget-friendly tool, there is always a reduction in quality compared with premium tools. For example, some people have found the sharpened claw to be rather dull and have had to sharpen it themselves. Some others aren’t a fan of the shape of the hammer, saying that it has taken quite a while to get used to. But the overwhelming majority of reviewers are extremely happy with their purchase and love the durability of this hammer, especially at this price point.

Just one thing to note, this hammer is extremely popular, and as such, you may run into some supply issues.

Best Framing Hammer Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about framing hammers as much as I have researching them. One of these hammers now lives in my tool bag, but I won’t say which one! That’s because the best framing hammer for me is not necessarily the best framing hammer for you. If you want any more help deciding, take up my free, personalized tool advice!