Intro: Forked Claw Hammer
I inherited this old, steel-handled hammer from my cousin with a lot of other great old tools. Despite its awkward features, it is one of my favorite tools because of one unique detail: the split claw on the peen of the hammer.
I have looked around on the internet, but I have never found any mention of other hammers made like this. It looks like something my cousin or someone else may have done themselves, because it doesn't look like this came from the factory this way. I have used this little forked claw for a lot of things, but it is best for tacks, brads, staples and any nails that get nailed flush with the surface of the wood. You can use the fork notch to grab low nails without marring the surface too much. I used this hammer when I was pulling thousands of staples out of hardwood floors that had been hidden by carpet for decades. The sharp little claw was just what I needed to get under the staples and gave me great leverage to pry the staples out.
The peen is the part of the head that is opposite the face. Some hammers are called ball-peen or cross-peen because they have those shapes on the backside of the hammer. Technically, a claw hammer could be called a claw-peen hammer. Since a tack hammer is the name of a smaller, less versatile hammer, I have been calling this a Forked Claw Hammer or a Tack-Peen Hammer.
Step 1: My Antique Hammer
When I found this hammer in my inherited toolbox, I had never seen one like it. This hammer's unique forked claw allows you to extract much nails, tacks and brads that are much smaller and buried than any normal claw hammer. The smaller claw doesn't inhibit the hammer's heavier-utility uses, but it definitely extends the versatility. I can use this hammer to pull nails, brads, tacks, and staples of any size and shape.
Step 2: Forking the Claw!
I wanted to replicate this feature on my other, more modern hammers, so I got out my Dremel and started grinding away at the metal hammer heads.
This is pretty straightforward and is basically just 3 steps.
- Notch - I took my Dremel with a larger cutoff wheel and cut a pretty deep V in one of the tines of the claw. Start small, and just stop when it looks right.
- Groove - I angled the cuts to make the groove wider on the inside toward the handle. This allows the head of the tacks to slip into the groove easier and helps hold nail shanks for prying.
- Sharpen - I used the side of the cutoff wheel to grind down the inner and outer surfaces of the tine to reduce the thickness of that part and sharpen the end.
As you do each of these steps, you may be undoing work you did on the other 2 steps. Keep at it and everything will come together into a nice angled groove with a sharp edge.
Step 3: Forked Claw Hammer
I'm really satisfied with the results. I now have this great feature on my other claw hammers, so the next time there are carpets to tear up, everyone can use this great tool.
Step 4: Update
I found this hammer at Sears tonight. It looks like Craftsman is still selling a hammer with this split peen. It's good to see a great idea hasn't been lost after all.