Let’s start with perhaps the most basic tool in every household – the claw hammer. The claw on one side of the head should be well counterbalanced by the finished head, which should be somewhat rounded. The other kind of head is the waffle-head. Most commonly used in construction, it leaves a distinctive waffle mark on the wood when you drive the nail. This, of course, is not the proper nail for woodworking.
A poorly-balanced claw hammer will twist in your hand, making it difficult to drive nails properly. You normally grip a claw hammer with your hand at the back of the grip, letting the weight of the head do most of the work. All you have to do is direct the driving surface toward the right nail, sparing the ones on your hand.
The most commonly purchased claw hammer is the 20 oz. size. It’s heavy enough to easily drive nails but easily manipulated when pulling nails. While wooden handles are picturesque, they may not stand up to the strain if you have to pull a lot of nails. Hammers with a steel handle, or even fiberglass, will be stronger. However, these won’t absorb the vibrations from driving nails the way a hickory handle will. You’ll also need to make sure the fiberglass and metal handles have a rubberized grip for control and comfort. If you’re going to be driving a lot of nails, the wooden handled hammer will be better for reducing stress on your hand, and wrist, too.