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How It’s Made? – Claw Hammer

How It’s Made? – Claw Hammer
By Bill Dickson January 22, 2016 21843 Views

This is a tool that’s been around since biblical times. Whether a tradesman or home builder, almost everyone on the planet has used this tool at some point. Today, it’s the most common tool in anyone’s toolbox. This week on How Its Made, Tool Parts Direct takes a look the beginnings and the manufacturing of claw hammers.

What is a claw hammer and how did it evolve?

Very simply, a hammer is a handheld tool used strike another object into place. The hammer consists of heavy head…usually made of metal or steel...and is attached to wooden or fiberglass handle. Claw hammers are the most common form of hammer used by people today.

Brief History

Drawing Courtesy of Shakespeare’s England

Hammers have been used since before modern civilizations. During the Bronze Age, many blacksmiths began using copper to make hardened, metal hammer heads. At about 200 BCE, Roman craftsman began to create iron-headed hammers for a variety of tasks. The modern concept of a claw hammer was cited in 75 ACE. The Roman Claw hammer had a striking surface on one side and a curved structure to pull nails on the other side.

Through the decades and centuries, the claw hammer continued to be used. A variety of different specialists created and used their own hammers for their own specific jobs. This included blacksmiths, masons, shipwrights, cobblers and many others.

In 1840, American Blacksmith David Maydole created a different type of claw hammer. This hammer had a head that faced downwards around the opening for the handle. The created another bearing surface for the handle and prevented the hammer head from being wrenched loose when pulling nails. That hammer became very popular and Maydole’s shop expanded into a factory to keep up with growing demand. Most claw hammers use that same design today.

Materials and Design

Hammers can be created from many different type of materials. It can be metal, plastic, rubber, wood, fiberglass or other likewise materials. Hammerheads are forged out of high carbon material and reinforced with treated steel. The handles can either be made of wood, steel, carbide or other materials.

Wood handles are usually made of ash or hickory. Both have good cross-sectional strength, great durability and can absorb repeated blows without splitting. Steel handles are stronger than wood, but also have a lot less give. They’re also more likely to rust of the owner isn’t careful.

Composite handles are made of fiberglass or reinforced graphite. These handles are the most common. Steel and composite handles also usually have a rubber grip. This helps with absorbing shock and protects against overstrikes. Wood handle hammers use a thin wood wedge and is driven diagonally in to the upper part of the handle. Two steel wedges are then driven in to hold the hammer head into place.

Manufacturing the Parts

Photo Courtesy of Made How

The creation of the hammer head hasn’t changed all that much in 2000 years. The hammer head starts as a steel barn and it is first forged at over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. The steel bar is then cut into shorter lengths called blanks. It is then fed continuously into the hot forge. The bars are then positioned into two formed cavities called dies. Once these go into the forge, one die is held in position while the other is attached a movable ram.

The ram forces the two dies together…squeezing the hot steel into shape. The process is repeated until the head begins to take shape. The forging process aligns the internal grain structure inside the steel and makes it much stronger and durable. Steel shards are then removed and both dies undergo trimming. The head is cooled and any rough spots are smoothed out.

The head’s face, poll and claws are treated with heat and hardened. This helps prevent chipping and cracking on the hammer head itself. The heads are cleaned with a stream of air containing small steel particles. After this, the face, poll, claws and checks are polished and the head can be painted if so desired.

Photo Courtesy of Made How

If the hammer is made of wood, it’s formed on a lathe. A piece of wood is cut to the exact length and secured to end in the lathe. As the wood spins arounds its axis, a cutting tool moves in and out to rapidly cut the handle’s profile. The cutting tool is driven by a cam that allows the handle to take shape. The finished handle is the inserted into a holding device and cut across diagonally, sanded and then smoothed.

If the handle has a steel-core, the core is formed by heating a bar of steel until its turns into plastic. This creates an opening that has the desired cross-sectional shape. If the hammer has a graphite fiber core, the core is created by gathering together a bundle of graphite fibers and pulling the material into the opening. This gives the handle the cross-sectional shape desired while the epoxy resin is forced through.

It All Comes Together

Once the handle and head are finished, it’s time to assemble. If the hammer has a wood handle, the handle is inserted up the through the eye of the head. A wood wedge is driven down diagonally on the top of the handle to force the two halves to press against the head. This allows friction to hold the head on the handle. The wood wedge is secured in place with two steel wedges driven through the crossways.

If the hammer has a steel or graphite core, the handle is inserted through the eye of the head like other hammers. Liquid epoxy resin is poured into the hole to secure the handle in place. The handle is then placed in a hollow die and a rubber grip is molded around the lower portion. After that, the handle can be stenciled with ink or can be labeled with a sticker to show the manufacturer, brand name or other information.


Hammers have been around for thousands of years and it’s safe to say that it will be around long after us as well. While some use nail guns, the hammer will continue to be the easiest way to drive a nail into a surface. Make sure you check out our latest updates at ToolPartsDirect.com!

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