How to properly and safely use striking tools

How to properly and safely use striking tools

How to properly and safely use striking tools

Striking tools are among the most common hand tools in an industrial setting, so it is important to make sure that you know how to safely and properly use them.

When one thinks of a hand tool, the hammer is usually what comes to mind, but there are a variety of different striking tools, each with their own specific purpose. Because their applications can vary so greatly, so too does the way they are used. For this reason, you should know how to properly use these tools, and do so in a safe manner.

General use and safety
​Because they are so common, striking tools are often among the most abused hand tools on the market. Due to the nature of their applicaton, which requires striking at a particularly high force, they are often subject to wear and tear, no matter how strongly they are built. One of the most important rules to keep in mind is that a striking tool should only be used for its intended function. Failure to do so could lead to chipping and premature deterioration of the product. Chipped debris could also hurt yourself or those around you.

The blow is the most critical function of a striking tool. The striking face of the tool needs to hit squarely and parallel with the surface that is being struck. Do your best to avoid glancing blows and over/ under strikes.

Proper use also depends on what it is you are hitting. If you are striking another tool, such as a chisel, punch or wedge, the striking face of the hammer should have a diameter of 3/8" larger than the tool that is being struck. The size of the hammer should reflect the size of the job. You should not be using a smaller tool on a spike, just as you should not use a sledge on a tack. Never use a striking tool to hit another striking tool.

Know the signs of wear and tear
Make sure to discard any striking tool that is showing severe signs of prolonged use such as dents, cracks, chips or mushrooming. Never try to regrind, weld or reheat-treat a hammer. Further, always wear safety goggles when using these tools.

If your striking tool has a loose or damaged handle, discard it immediately, as the head of the tool could fly off injuring yourself or others.

Specific applications
As previously stated, there are numerous applications for striking tools in industrial settings. By understanding each of these applications, you can gain a better idea of which tool is suited for the right job.

  • Nail Hammers: These are probably the most widely recognized striking tools. They are designed to drive exclusively unhardened nails using the hammer face. The back claw is used for pulling nails and ripping woodwork.
  • Ball Peen Hammers: This tool is distinguished by its rounded and slightly crowned striking face and round ball shaped peen. They are used to strike chisels and punches, along with riveting, shaping and straightening unhardened metal. Riveting and setting hammers are also used for exclusively for forming metal.
  • Scaling and Chipping Hammers: These tools can be identified by their pick and chisel formations, though these can vary from tool to tool. They are most commonly used in iron foundries and welding shops to chip welds, scale result and paint from unhardened metal.
  • Tack Hammers: These tools are much more lightweight and are designed to drive in small tacks. One end of the head is magnetized to hold onto tacks while the other is clawed, much like the nail hammer to remove them.
  • Sledge Hammers: Commonly referred to as sledges, these striking tools are used for more heavy applications such as driving striking spikes and cold chisels. Their striking faces can differ based on their applications.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the striking tools used in industrial applications, but by adhering to these guidelines, you can ensure that you are safely and effectively using them.