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What Are the Parts of a Hammer?

Do you have a specialty project or job? It's good to know the types of hammers so you can have the most precise and efficient tools. Read here to learn all about hammers.

3 wooden handled, metal head hammers

The humble hammer. What would we do without it? What started as just a stick attached to a stone has turned into a multi-functional tool. In fact, almost every home in the United States has at least one hammer used for home improvement tasks.

Despite its basic appearance, the hammer is a highly versatile tool. From the all-purpose hammer to the specialty hammer used by brass craftsmen and the important electrician’s hammer, some type of hammer can be found as a necessary tool in manual work.

The parts of a hammer are not complicated. But knowing what each part of a hammer does and how it works can go a long way toward assisting you in picking the ideal hammer for your needs.

Most hammers used for home improvement projects can easily be picked up at the hardware store. However, these are subpar hammers when it comes to specialty work. Each type of hammer was designed to do different work.

If you have a specialty project or job, it is good to be aware of the types of hammers so you can have the most precise and efficient tools. Knowing the parts of a hammer will help you pick out the best hammer for the job.

What Are the Parts of a Hammer Called?

Blue background with all kinds of different size and style hammers

The hammer comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The hammer is made of many different types and combinations of metal and wood. But what all of the different types of hammers have in common is that they are basically the same shape.

There are 7 main parts of a hammer:

  1. head
  2. face
  3. cheek
  4. eye
  5. claw
  6. neck
  7. handle

The parts of a hammer are similar for every hammer. However, the shape and material change depending on how it will be used. Keep reading as we break everything you need to know about the parts of a hammer.


The parts of a hammer that will help you pick the right one start at the top. The head of the hammer determines what kind of work the hammer can do. The hammer head is also known as the anvil. The anvil or head is the component of the hammer that does the majority of the work. The anvil is the weighted element of the hammer that lies on top of the hammer’s handle.

The weight, size, and form of the hammer’s head vary depending on the type of hammer being used. The weight is the most important aspect to consider when it comes to hammer heads.

Close up of a red head sledge hammer with a wooden handle, dirt on the ground

The design of the hammer’s head will be determined by its use. Some hammers have a simple head shape. For example, a metal hammer, sledge hammer, or rock hammer might have large thick rounded pieces for the head.

Other hammers have more aspects to the head, like the hammers intended for materials that require more precision, like a wood hammer for nails.


There are many styles of hammers, and every hammer has a “face.” When it comes to parts of a hammer, the face functions the same for every hammer.

The hammer face is the small flat surface on the head of the hammer that strikes the target first. The face is what makes contact with nails and other materials. The face of the hammer is the flat part of the head.

Silver metal hammer with an ornage and black rubber handle, small pile of silver nails

There are two styles of hammer faces. A hammer face can be flat or milled. A flat face hammer has a smooth surface and is often used for finishing work. The milled face hammer is textured, allowing the hammer to grip nails and keep them from falling over while being pounded into place.

Close up of an old hammer with an old wooden handle laying on a peice of wood

The milled face hammer is found on the framing hammer. A framing hammer is used for nailing framework to buildings and is a hammer all contractors will have in their toolboxes. Another tool with a milled face is the drywall hammer used for nailing up and down the walls.

Close up of 3 hammer heads on a wooden deck

Selecting a hammer with the right face is important, from pounding in nails to shaping metal. The form and size of the face of a hammer determine what the tool is intended to do. Not all hammers will have the same face. 

Mans hand holding a thick metal staple inlace, using a small meatal hammer to hammer staple into wood

The tiny faces of tack hammers, for example, indicate that tools are used for small, delicate, or precise tasks. A sledge hammer will have a big face because it is intended to be used when large amounts of force are required.

A mans hand holding a wooden handles rubber mallet

The face of the hammer is often made of steel, but it can be made out of other materials too. The hammer face can be metal or steel. There are even soft-faced hammers made of rubber as on the rubber mallet. A craftsmen’s hammer can also be a soft face hammer. An aluminum hammer is a soft-faced hammer used for blocking and shaping metal on a block or anvil.

When you don’t want marks to be made, like when doing a car’s bodywork, a blocking hammer is used. Hide hammers are a type of blocking hammer made from Copper on one end and rawhide on the other.


Silver hammer with a blue rubber handle, single nal laying next to hammer

The cheek is the two horizontal sides of the hammer head. The cheek of the hammer is not often used directly. Still, it is responsible for giving stability to the head and face.

The cheek of the hammer is subjected to the highest stress and is frequently the source of failure in subpar hammers. A wooden hammer is not as strong as a metal hammer or steel hammer. The cheek is the most important of a wooden hammer to ensure the hammer can take blunt force without falling apart.


The eye is the hole on the underside of the hammer head. It allows the head of the hammer to go over the head for easy and secure attachment.

Steel hammers do not have eyes; they are more commonly found on wooden hammers. Metal hammers don’t use eyes in their construction because the head and handle are fabricated in one solid piece.


Something worth considering when purchasing a standard hammer is the claw. A claw hammer is one of the most common hammers because it is so versatile. The claw is a fork-like part of the standard claw hammer opposite the face. Claws may be used to tear wood, extract nails, and function as a pry bar to disassemble objects.

Although not all hammers have a claw, two types of claw hammers are commonly used. The two claw hammers are the curved claw hammer and the straight claw hammer.

Wooden deck, wrenches and nails laying around, wood hand saw, nail sticking out of wood, hammer claw being used to pull nail up

The claw hammer with a curved claw is used to pull nails. Pulling nails is tedious, but having the right hammer makes the job easier. Shingle hammers are a type of claw hammer used by roofers to remove nails from shingles, and they also have a guide to help with the placement of the nail holes.

The other type of claw hammer has a straight claw. This claw hammer is even more versatile because it can do more than pull nails. The straight claw hammer can rip wood apart from nailed surfaces. The straight claws are perfect for small demolition projects.


Blurred green in the background, mans hands using hammer and nails on wooden railing

The neck of a hammer is responsible for connecting the head to the handle. The hammer neck has two critical functions: it secures the head to the handle, and it helps to keep the hammer balanced when in use.

Black and white image of a short handled sledge hammer laying on concrete, Ace of clubs card laying in peices next to hammer

The hammer neck comes in different lengths depending on how the hammer will be used. Hammers that need to be powerful, like a sledge hammer, will have a very short neck if any at all. The neck on the club hammer or sledge hammer will often be called the throat.

Thin neck silver hammer with a reddish colored wood handle

A hammer used for more precise tasks will have a thinner neck, like the tack hammer or upholstery hammers. A tack hammer and upholstery hammers are often used by upholsters because the tacks are short and small. The thinner neck allows them to see over the handle more clearly.

White background image with yellow hard hat, safety glasses, measuring tape, blue handled pliers, wooden handled hammer, two blue screwdrivers, tape and black and yellow work gloves

Another example of a slender neck hammer is the electrician’s hammer. This little hammer also has a small face with a steelhead allowing a lot of force on a small area.

Hammer Handles

The handle of the hammer attaches to the head. It is the part of the hammer you hold on to while you swing it.

Curved wooden handled primitive hammer with a stone tied to the end with twine

Primitive hammers had wooden handles made of a thick stick tied to a stone hammer head. This basic form of a hammer has not changed, but the hammer head and the hammer handle are now made of better materials.

Standard hammer with a metal head and a wooden handle

Most hammers still use wood for the hammer handle. The sledge hammer and club hammer traditionally use wood handles. Wooden handles are lighter than metal options and are the most commonly used handle for the hammer.

Some types of hammers use fiberglass handles. They are stronger than wood and also lighter. The sturdiest handle for a hammer is steel.

Steel handles make the hammer much heavier and more challenging, so they are not as common. Steel hammers also don’t offer any shock absorption, so they have a rubber grip. This rubber grip provides a secure hold on the handle and makes it safer.

What is the Peen of a Hammer?

Close up of a ball peen hammer head with a wooden handle

On some hammers, instead of claws, there is a peen. Hammers feature peens when tasks are required that can’t be accomplished by a claw hammer. There are three types of peens: the ball-peen hammer, the straight peen hammer, and the cross peen hammer.

Ball-Peen Hammer

Close up of to ball peen hammer heads with wooden handles, one small and one big

A ball-peen hammer has a rounded ball opposite the face. Ball-peen hammers are usually made of carbon steel. A hammer with a ball-peen is used to shape metal and round the edges of metal pins. Mechanics hammers are an example of standard ball peen hammers.

Another hammer that uses a ball-peen is used by jewelers. These smaller wooden hammers are called chasing hammers which offer fast light blows to more delicate projects.

Straight Peen Hammer

Staright peen hammer, wooden handle, flat head on one side and straight edge on the other

Straight peen hammers have a blade-shaped peen that is parallel to the handle. A straight peen hammer can have a smooth or textured surface used for metal, woodworking, blacksmithing, or stonework.

Cross Peen Hammer

Cross peen hammer with a black and yellow handle

A cross peen hammer has a blade that is perpendicular to the handle. The cross peen hammer can be flat and smooth or even sharp or textured. Cross peen hammers are often used by blacksmiths for metalwork.

Other Parts of a Hammer

Some hammers have a different tool like attachment opposite the face. Hatchet hammers have an actual ax blade instead of a claw or peen. A hatchet hammer is a multipurpose tool lighter weight than an ax and is often used on farms and homesteads.

Man in blue shirt wearing work gloves using a morter hammer to lay red brick, green trees in the background

Mortar hammers, brick hammers, and welding hammers are types of hammers that have a chisel shape somewhere on the head. The brick hammer and welder’s hammer are used to chip or remove material.

Man in blue shirt holding a club hammer with a thick head

Club hammers and the sledgehammer are designed to be forceful and for demolition. They don’t have claws or peens on the head. The club hammer style features double heads, which provide a lot of surface area and are designed with power and force.

Power Hammer

Man in yellow hard hat, black and blue work gloves, clear safety glasses and a black zip up hoody using a black and orange power hammer or nail gun to nail a steel pole into a wall

The most common power hammers to replace a basic hammer are nail guns. These are power tools that drive in nails, just like hammers. Nail guns can be run with electricity or gas and are widely used in construction. A power hammer can easily replace the humble drywall hammer and complete the job faster.

Power hammers move the hammer from an old-fashioned tool that requires a lot of effort to a technologically advanced hammer that is easier and faster. All of the things modern technology should be.