The 10 Best Dead Blow Hammers
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Dead blow hammers use physics to limit peak force and minimize rebounds when striking various objects. They're commonly used when working with visible surfaces that are sensitive to marring, such as auto body panels, or when too heavy of an impact would impair a device's operation, like when fixing hydraulic components. Here are some of the most reliable and easiest to use. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
September 03, 2020:
Deadblow hammers are versatile but should not be used for things like driving nails or for chisel work. Nails will tear up polyurethane and, like with chisel work, there really is no point to spreading out the force of impact over time. You want all of the impact hitting at once to drive a nail successfully. When carving or chiseling a joint, you're not necessarily moving the hammer in a way that makes any use of the inertia of the internal sand or shot. Most of the time, blows are very short and shallow, which means that the shot isn't actually completing the move from stationary, to the back of the casing, and then forward to the face. Not to mention it blunts your impact. So your cut may end up coming up short, and you'll need to swing harder to get the results you would get from a solid mallet.
In auto maintenance and many other jobs, a dead blow like the Stanley Proto J57-533 is indispensable. A common situation is one where you're removing a brake rotor and it's rust welded to the wheel hub. if you pull out a normal peening hammer, you'll definitely destroy the rotor. With the Stanley Proto, you can knock it loose with no damage, even when striking the friction surface. Since it comes with a slim face as well, you have recourse when the standard head is spreading out the force of impact too much to be effective.
March 26, 2019:
Dead blow hammers are typically filled either with sand or with tiny metal balls called "shot" because they resemble the metal pieces that make up buckshot. If you're working with sensitive materials like auto body panels or laminate flooring, you may need to do some whacking without leaving a mark, so one of these is what you'll need. If they'll only see occasional use, Tekton makes a number of fine options that are both simple and functional. The same can be said for Capri and ABC. For one that's simple and also of professional quality, check out the Stanley. Like many of their products, it's very well engineered and should last a long time. Precision tasks like gunsmithing and work with other small tools may call for one like the Shop Iron, which weighs only a half-pound. Nupla offers a couple mid-range options that are perfectly functional, and in fact, may serve very well for anyone working in extreme conditions. If you're looking for a more refined model for full-time use, Lixie, Halder, and Wiha all make exceptional hammers that are hard to beat, and can accomplish a wide range of tasks, while holding up well for an extended time.
Defining Organized Impact
The advantage of a dead blow hammer is that it minimizes damage to any surface it strikes.
When it comes to manipulating the surrounding physical environment, humans rely on different tools to get the job done. Throughout the course of our evolution, our ancestors thrived on both innovation and invention. That is supported by evidence of early toolmaking, which dates back millions of years, so it would stand to reason that the development of specialized tools would be inevitable. Take the hammer, for example. You might assume that a hammer is only used to apply blunt force to an object, drive nails into wood, or just to smack things during a demolition project. In reality, all of these applications are true, but it's also important to realize that several variations of this tool exist, making it significantly more versatile than you might think. One such variation is the dead blow hammer.
Typically made of a solid polymer (like polyurethane), the dead blow hammer is a specialized mallet designed to impart strong blows to an object without rebounding or damaging the object's surface upon impact. In so doing, the tool absorbs energy from each impact, redirecting it back into the blow instead of a person's arm.
So, what exactly makes the dead blow hammer different from its solid-head counterparts? When using a conventional hammer, each swing of the tool delivers the full force (and entire mass) of its solid steel head to an object's surface. By contrast, the head of a dead blow hammer is typically hollow with an internal cylinder filled with a combination of lead shot, steel shot, or sand. When the face of a dead blow hammer makes contact with an object's surface, inertia causes the material inside to collect at the opposite end of the tool's head. Rather than imparting the impact force of the loose material directly to the struck surface, the dead blow hammer, instead, allows that force to disperse over an extended period of time, conveying less peak force upon impact than a traditional hammer.
The advantage of a dead blow hammer is that it minimizes damage to any surface it strikes. This is accomplished using steel shot or sand to absorb some of the tool's force of impact, resulting in the distribution of less force overall than would otherwise be delivered by a traditional claw hammer. This makes the dead blow hammer well-suited for precision work on various automobile repair projects, including dislodging stuck parts, driving stiff joints together, or even popping small dents out of sheet metal. Additionally, the tool's lack of rebound reduces both user fatigue and the possibility of injury while on the job.
Strike Smart, Not Hard
There are a number of qualities to keep in mind when choosing a dead blow hammer. While many of these tools are fashioned from polyurethane, you can also find them with all-steel heads and bodies for completing extremely heavy-duty jobs. Some dead blow hammers are equipped with steel handles for stability, and many also feature high-impact poly jackets that prevent surface marring, making them perfect for automotive applications like dent repair.
Because of this, the dead blow hammer should be used for primarily short and small jobs.
Consider a tool with an ergonomic, cushioned grip capable of absorbing vibrations. This comes in particularly handy when performing precision work in very tight spaces. If you find yourself using a dead blow hammer all the time in your line of work, make sure the striking face is relatively easy to replace.
It's important to maintain safety at all times. While that's a given with most heavy tools, remember that the dead blow hammer contains a lot of loose particles inside it, while the surfaces you intend to strike could be made of materials that easily break upon impact, causing debris to fly everywhere. Therefore, investing in a pair of reliable safety goggles is a wise decision. Secondly, don't use excessive force when striking an object with a dead blow hammer. Doing so will only shorten the tool's lifespan if it's engineered from lightweight materials like polyurethane or aluminum, which can break when hitting a solid surface with a lot of force. Because of this, the dead blow hammer should be used for primarily short and small jobs.
A Brief History Of The Dead Blow Hammer
The hammer dates back at least 3.3 million years, with the earliest example being discovered in 2012 at an excavated site near Kenya's Lake Turkana. This site consisted of a large deposit of stone tools thought to have been used for striking wood, bone, and other stones. Further archaeological evidence suggests that later hammers were constructed from stones attached to sticks with animal hides by the Paleolithic Stone Age in 30,000 BCE. The addition of a handle made it much easier for early humans to strike a target with a great deal more precision than ever before.
The modern claw hammer with which we are most familiar has been mass produced since 1920.
By 3000 BCE, hammer heads were forged from bronze, significantly increasing the tool's durability. By 1200 BCE, iron became the hammer material of choice. The hammer's overall shape began to evolve into more complex forms, taking on round and square faces, cutting edges, and reliefs.
Steel became the most common material for hammers by the 16th century CE. This innovation also helped to inspire the development of specialized hammers that could perform specific jobs for any number of professions, including brick laying, blacksmith work, masonry, and mining among others.
By the Industrial Revolution, mass production of the hammer was common with different materials being used for assembly, including wood, rubber, copper, lead, brass, hide, and bronze. The modern claw hammer with which we are most familiar has been mass produced since 1920. One of the first dead blow hammers was patented in the 1960s. Today's dead blow hammers offer replaceable striking faces and inserts so they don't have to be discarded in their entirety when they wear out.