Sledgehammers have a million and one different purposes, but they’re mainly meant for causing destruction. That should be reason enough to go out and purchase your very own sledgehammer, especially if you plan on taking up a home-remodeling project in the near future.
What is a Sledgehammer?
Sledgehammers are a lot different from their tiny metal-claw hammers and mallets. First of all, sledgehammers have handles that are several times longer than their smaller counterparts. Their length provides better leverage and bashing power for driving stakes and tearing down drywall. Furthermore, most sledgehammers use a double-sided blunt hammerhead, though there are several varieties of hammerhead styles to choose from.
Why would I need a Sledgehammer?
Sledgehammers are a specialized type of tool that you probably won’t make use of in every moment. Because of their heavy build and heavy slamming power, they’re mainly used for demolition (tearing down drywall, destroying wooden beams, breaking stone), but they have other practical uses like splitting logs by driving a wedge and metalwork. If any of this sounds like something you plan on doing in the near future, then you should consider picking up a reliable sledge hammer.
The Ultimate Buying Sledgehammer Buying Guide: Everything You Need to Know
Sledgehammers may seem like straightforward tools where any old model will do the trick. For the most part, you’d be right, but there are still several factors you need to take into account. In this section, we’ll go over these points one by one.
Handle Length (12 to 36 inches)
The handle of a sledgehammer varies from model to model. Some can be as stubby as 10 inches while others exceed the 48-inch mark. In general, a longer handle is preferable since it will provide you with much-needed leverage and improved bashing power for demolition jobs. We would recommend considering any model with a handle of between 12 to 36 inches. A shorter handle offers better accuracy when swinging and works best in small spaces, whereas a long handle boosts the destructive power of each swing.
Handle Material (Hardwood or Fiberglass with Steel Reinforcement)
A sledgehammer’s handle is its weakest point. With every bash of the steel head, the impact will gnaw away slowly at the integrity of the handle before it ultimately snaps in your hands. Most manufacturers deal with this by using hardwood handles made of fiberglass or another composite material with improved shock absorption. Some brands stick to hardwoods like hickory, which may not be the longest-lasting but should provide you with many years of bash-ability. The best handles are reinforced with steel for better shock control.
Anti-Shock Grip or Neck
The material used to make the sledgehammer’s handle isn’t the only measure to control arm-breaking tremors after impact. An anti-shock grip or neck made of rubber cushioning will help absorb most of the blow, allowing you to work for longer with less arm, shoulder, and back pain. Not every model is fitted with rubber cushioning, which sounds like a no-brainer in our opinion, so you’ll want to make sure it either comes with one or the brand has compatible grips sold separately.
Sledgehammer Weight (8 to around 20 pounds)
The weight of a sledgehammer head also varies between models. Some are as light as 8 pounds while others are a hefty 20 pounds or more. If you’re having difficulty lifting the sledgehammer above your head, then you either need to hit the gym or opt for a lighter model. The obvious benefit of heavier sledgehammers is impact power per swing. That, of course, if assuming that you have perfected the swinging technique in the first place. In general, it’s better to have a lighter sledgehammer that you can swing accurately than a heavier model that delivers only light taps.
Sledgehammers typically use double-faced heads where both sides deliver the same amount of force upon impact. But you may come across models that have specially made heads with a flat face on one side and a wedge on the other. The wedged end of the hammer is great for splitting seasoned logs, but we will tell you this: driving a separate wedge tool into dried lumber has less of a chance of producing splintered or chipped logs. However, a tapered end can be beneficial for demolishing concrete, tiles, and stone.
Some of the best sledgehammer models come with an inseparable hammerhead that will not go flying across the room. These hammerheads are typically built into the handle as an extra safety measure. The only downside is when the handle eventually breaks, you won’t be able to fit the hammerhead over a makeshift handle. As long as the sledgehammer’s handle is made of durable materials and reinforced with steel, this shouldn’t be a problem for many, many years.
Made in the US?
This is perhaps the most frequently asked question when purchasing tools. A very small portion of manufacturers use materials and employ manpower from the US, while most outsource production to countries like Mexico, China, or Vietnam. In our opinion, where the sledgehammer was made has very little impact on its overall quality and longevity.
Which is the better handle material: hickory or fiberglass?
When comparing different material handles, there are two factors you need to take into account: longevity and price. Fiberglass handles typically last longer than their wooden counterparts but can cost several more dollars. Choose a sledgehammer based on how frequently you’ll use it.
Can I use a sledgehammer to [insert type of demolition]?
A sledgehammer can be used in most situations, but if you’re planning on moving large stones that weigh several tons and measure several feet by several feet, then what you’re looking for is a little thing called “dynamite.”
Sledgehammers are a simple yet destructive piece of equipment that has many purposes. You may not need them, but you may darn well want a sledgehammer in your shed for those just-in-case moments like home remodeling and zombie invasions.
Searching for a high-quality sledgehammer isn’t all that difficult, as long as you are aware of what sort of materials goes into making the tool and what roles they play in shock-absorption and longevity. The general “best” sledgehammer is constructed with a reinforced fiberglass handle, has a cushiony rubber grip, and weighs more than 10 pounds. The length of the tool matters most when working in tight spaces (bathroom, closets, etc.) where you won’t have much swinging room.
Selecting a sledgehammer from our list of the greatest models available, you really can’t go wrong. Each of these models is made with durability and hard-hitting abilities in mind, which are the essence of any good sledgehammer. Whichever model you decide to go with, the important thing is to be safe. Happy hammering!