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Once you learn how to cut things apart with a saw, the next step in woodworking is learning to bang them together with a hammer.
You can get some fancy hammers these days, but I like the classic wood-handed claw hammer. You can buy this kind of hammer at any hardware retailer for ten dollars or less.
The round blunt end of the head is for hitting things. The curvy, pointy, bifurcated end is for prying things. For instance, use the blunt end to pound a nail into wood; use the claw end for prying a nail out of wood. You can also use this type fo hammer to strike chisels, break things, and lever surfaces apart.
For best results, use the full length of the handle. I see a lot of people "choking up" on the handle and holding it right below the head. This might provide a little more control of the head, but it provides a lot less mechanical advantage. Holding the hammer down twoards the pommel part gives you more force when prying, and greater accelration when striking. More practice will give you the control you need.
Not much to say about hammers, but they should be on any list of basic tools. I've seen some lists of this type recently on tool blogs, and they offten forget to include the humble hammer.
2010.05.25 at 12:00am EDT
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