One of the most common and essential pieces of kit for DIY in the garden and home is the claw hammer. With a long handle and a weighted head, they have a face for striking and driving in nails, and a claw for removing nails and prying apart boards. Whether you’re making a hedgehog house, mending fences or building a shed, a claw hammer is a vital tool.
Claw hammers come in many weights and with different features, and not every claw hammer can comfortably perform each DIY hammering task, so it’s important to get the right one for your needs. While many hammers are designed for driving nails straight, some are specialised to drive them at certain angles, or to only apply a limited amount of force and not damage softer materials. Using the right hammer for the job will help you get your DIY tasks done easily, safely and well.
If you’re looking to get started on some Garden DIY projects, consider our expert review on the best cordless drills and guide to the best drill bits. If you’re looking for project inspiration, why not check out our guides on 10 ways to improve your shed, or how to build a hedgehog house.
Best hammers to buy at a glance
- Best Buy for comfort – Stanley fibreglass curved claw 20oz
- Best Buy for value – Magnusson 20oz
- Best Buy for design – Roughneck 20oz claw hammer gorilla V-series
- Best Buy for versatility – Draper expert claw hammer, 450g/16oz
- Best Buy for heavy duty garden DIY – Estwing curved claw hammer 20oZ
We tested a range of claw hammers by deconstructing and reconstructing pallets made of hardwood, removing nails from hardwood of different levels of thickness and driving new nails into them. To help you find the right one for your garden DIY needs, each of our reviews has a detailed list of pros and cons for clarity and has been rated according to comfort, design, and value for money. Every hammer in our round up below has scored a minimum of 3.5 out of five stars, so you can buy with confidence.
- Best Buy claw hammers
- The best of the rest
- How to choose a claw hammer
- Hammer features
- Which hammer handle is best?
- How we tested claw hammers
In every review we award the outstanding products our coveted Best Buy award. To see these and the others we recommend, browse our pick of the best hammers below:
Stanley fibreglass curved claw hammer 20oz
Our rating: 4.5/5
- Very comfortable to use
- Easy nail removal
- Very well constructed
- Will struggle on thick, tough materials
- Will be hard to find if dropped in long grass
We awarded this hammer a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy for the best claw hammer for comfort. The Stanley fibreglass curved claw hammer 20oz has a sturdy, well-constructed appearance, and at 370mm long and weighing 560g, it’s balance almost entirely favours its head over the fibreglass handle. Its grip is rubber, with ribs for grip and in use, this is secure, comfortable, and its handle absorbs shock well. It delivers strong blows with the head, but with such reduced vibration that it doesn’t cause discomfort, even from moderate periods of work. This comfort does come at the cost of a small amount of striking power, as the Stanley will take a little more time to drive long nails into thick hardwood than some of the other hammers in our test, but even if it takes longer to drive nails into tough materials, it’s still comfortable. This is a good hammer for someone looking to do moderate DIY tasks, such as mending a shed or fence, without causing strain on their arms. This hammer also comes with a limited lifetime warranty against defects.
Magnusson claw hammer 20oz
Our rating: 4.3/5
- Delivers powerful strikes
- Durable face
- Pries out nails easily
- Too powerful for very delicate DIY
- Low shock absorbance
Awarded a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy for value, this hammer is resilient, well-made, and rivals more expensive hammers in power. Made from carbon steel, the Magnusson claw hammer 20oz has a sturdy one-piece design. About 325mm long and weighing 566g, the Magnusson feels weighty and well-made, with a balance that favours weight towards its face, helping it deliver powerful strikes. This hammer’s power makes short work of most hammering tasks, even driving long nails into thick hardwood with ease, but it might be too powerful to use easily when performing delicate DIY work such as driving into thin plywood. While the hammer doesn’t demonstrate the same shock absorbance as some of the other hammers in our test, the power delivered by each blow means it’s likely to finish tasks before fatigue or discomfort sets in. Prying out nails with the Magnusson’s claw is also easy, and the leverage its claw provides feels powerful, yet even. Able to drive galvanised nails through thick wood without any notable scratches on its face, this hammer comes with a lifetime guarantee and is most useful for heavy-duty tasks, such as working with hardwood to build garden furniture, or a shed, and for anyone who wants a reliable, durable hammer.
Roughneck Gorilla 11-010 V-Series claw hammer – 20oz
Our rating: 4/5
- Drives well
- Removes nails well
- Magnetic nail starter and additional claw
- Face is prone to scratching
- Less effective when driving into harder materials.
Awarded a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy for design, this hammer is ideal for those working with softer materials like redwood for making garden furniture or fences. Measuring 365mm, the roughneck’s twin-girder design – two bars, connected by crisscrossing small metal beams, is immediately striking to look at. But this design isn’t just for show, it helps to offset the vibrations felt when using this one-piece steel hammer. While it doesn’t erase this discomfort completely, it still has a notable improvement over other steel one-piece hammers and although it may not be as ergonomic as the Stanley, it can be comfortably used on hardwood in short bursts. Weighing 947g, the strikes this hammer delivers are good, even, and it has several additional claws at the tip of its primary claw, which makes removing difficult nails very easy, even at awkward angles. It also has a magnetic nail holder, so starting a nail is much easier. Simply fit the nail into the magnetic slot and drive it into the material. This hammer also comes with a 25-year guarantee, meaning you can rely on it for years to come.
Draper Expert claw hammer, 16oz
Our rating: 4/5
- Has a lot of power for its weight
- Comfortable to hold
- Particularly good for more delicate tasks
- May cause straining after extended periods of driving into hardwood
- Hard to find if dropped in garden
The Draper expert claw hammer 16oz is a good all-rounder, able to work well with every type of material without issue, for these reasons we’ve awarded the Draper expert claw hammer 16oz a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy for versatility. At 3.19mm tall and weighing 740g, it has a standard claw hammer appearance, but the handle is a hollow, hardened tube, which gives the head a weightier feel and increased shock absorption. This improved shock absorption and balance give it the power to work with moderately thick hardwood without causing discomfort. The claw also performs well and is able to get purchase on awkward nails and remove them smoothly and without effort. It’s worth noting that the lacquer coating did get quite scratched after working with hardwood in our test but this damage is only aesthetic. One of this hammer’s biggest strengths is how well-rounded it is, and its ability to work with hard and softwood without struggle. It’s a good choice for anyone looking for a sturdy hammer to work with any material. It comes with Draper’s Lifetime warranty on hand tools.
Estwing curved claw hammer 20oz
Our rating: 4/5
- Drives well, even strikes
- Grippy, comfortable handle
- Removes nails well
- Slight discomfort with extended thick hardwood hammering
- Hefty price tag
- Would be hard to find if dropped in long grass
Winner of the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy for heavy-duty garden DIY, American brand Estwing offers a well-rounded hammer that produces some serious striking power with little effort. This one-piece steel hammer has a traditional design and appearance, it feels well-made and hefty, but not heavy, with a balance that favours the head. Weighing 862g and at 343mm long, it’s a little longer than the Magnusson, and its strikes nails just as well. While the Magnusson may have more immediate power, the even strikes from this hammer are better for ensuring that nails don’t bend, and can be corrected if they’re at an angle. Importantly, it also has an ergonomic grip that’s comfortable to use even when hammering into thick hardwood for a long time. The Estwing’s claw removes nails smoothly with little effort, even from tougher materials. Although, the Estwing’s high price tag may be enough to discourage casual users, this high price is offset by its clear reliability and durability. This hammer is ideal for anyone looking for a long-lasting, reliable tool for demanding, heavy-duty garden DIY projects, such as building a shed or putting up fences.
Although some models didn’t quite achieve a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy award, they still have great features that make them worth recommending. Browse our pick of the best of the rest on test.
Estwing Sure Strike claw hammer 16oz
Our rating: 4/5
- Good power in spite of light weight
- Comfortable to use
- Delivers good strikes as promised
- Struggles with stubbier nails
- Too light for use on just hardwood
The Estwing Sure Strike claw hammer 16oz is well-made, comfortable, and only let down by its relative lack of power. At 330mm long, this one-piece steel hammer is traditional in design aside from its striking face, which is in the shape of a ‘D’, rather than rounded and helps it to deliver more direct blows without slipping. Well-made and weighing 750g, the balance is even, not overtly favouring the head. This balance makes the hammer more manoeuvrable, but does come at the cost of its power, and driving short nails into hardwood is a more difficult task compared to some of the other hammers in this test. However, this lack of power is offset by how comfortable the sure strike is to use and it causes very little strain and discomfort. The Estwing Sure Strike is well suited to those working with softwood, and happy to invest in a comfortable and reliable hammer.
Dekton fibreglass claw hammer, 20oz
Our rating: 3.8
- Good impact absorption.
- Good power
- Easy-to-find if dropped in grass
- Doesn’t feel like it can withstand prolonged heavy-duty use
- Unfinished appearance
The Dekton fibreglass claw hammer is a powerful, comfortable claw hammer with some rough edges. At first glance it’s a standard fibreglass hammer, weighing 720g and 335mm long with a light shaft and a well-balanced head. The unfinished appearance, including loose bits of rubber on its handle may be off putting for some, but it feels sturdy and well-made in spite of its appearance. It delivers strong, even blows, driving straight through thick hardwood without much effort or discomfort and while it doesn’t have the comfort of the Stanley fibreglass curved claw hammer, it still has good shock absorbance. The Dekton’s claw also levers up nails smoothly and evenly. Although this hammer doesn’t feel like it has the longevity that one-piece hammers like the Estwing Curved Claw have, it’s a good budget hammer for gardeners with a small number of projects. This hammer doesn’t have a warranty, but its lower price means it still provides good value for money.
There’s a number of things to consider when choosing a claw hammer. Powerful hammers tend to be harder to control, and more exhausting to use, but a hammer that’s too light for the task can be equally tiring. So for general use, you should use the heaviest hammer you can use comfortably.
However, this depends also on the task, if your hammer is too heavy and powerful for the task you’re looking to perform you run the risk of damaging the material. So be sure to consider what you’re working with, how much power you’ll need, and choose a hammer to suit those needs.
Finally, once you’ve considered your power, and the materials you’re working with, remember it’s always better to focus on even strikes to drive the nail. These give you more control over the hammer, and time to rectify your mistakes. Always choose a hammer you can safely control.
Hammers can have many different features, which make them suited for different tasks. To help you choose the right hammer for the task, see our guide to their features below:
One-piece or single-piece hammers – These hammers are formed entirely from one piece of metal, rather than having a head attached to a handle. Although they tend to be more durable, single piece hammers lack shock absorbency, meaning your hand and arm feel the vibrations and impact of each blow. This can be exhausting so always check for anti-vibration features before buying a single piece hammer.
Milled face – This is a waffle-like impression on the face of some hammers. Milled faces tend to be good for accuracy and won’t rub the coating off galvanised nails when striking them. However, they may leave an ugly imprint if they impact a soft surface, which a smooth hammer face tends not to do.
Magnetic Nail Starter – A magnetic slot for nails, typically just above the hammer’s face that holds the nail for you. Rather than having to hold and tap in nails, known as ‘starting’, you simply set the nail in place and hammer it in. This comes at the cost of some accuracy, as driving a nail in this way isn’t as precise as holding it in place yourself, but it makes starting much easier and is very useful for those with grip issues.
Extra Claws – Some hammers have small divots or gaps in the hammer’s claw, typically large enough to grasp nails too short for the main claw to gain purchase. These claws are usually positioned perpendicular to the handle or at the tip of the main claw, to give good leverage.
The design and material of a hammer handle can affect its overall toughness and impact absorption, so it’s important to choose one that best suits your needs. Hammer handles are typically made from the following materials, each with its own pros and cons:
- Wood. Relatively inexpensive, wood absorbs shock quite well, but wooden handles do degrade over time and can break if put under enough stress.
- Metal. Extremely durable and long-lived, but quite poor at absorbing shock by itself. Metal handles often come with large rubber grips to help reduce vibrations from impact.
- Fibreglass. The best handle type for absorbing shock, fibreglass handles are light but tend to be more expensive and less durable than wood or metal.
The BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine reviews team tested a range of claw hammers, with each product used to deconstruct and reconstruct hardwood pallets to see how they fared. They were assessed according to the following criteria, with equal marks attributed to each:
- Design: Looked at the material and quality of the head and handle, the design of the tool and grip features.
- Comfort: Assessed how comfortable the hammer was to hold and use, taking into account the weight, size, handle length, ergonomics and grip.
- Performance: Focused on how well the hammer drove nails of varying lengths into pieces of hardwood of varying width.
- Value for money: Considered all of the above along with special features, length of warranty and the price.
For more information on our testing process, see How we review.
This review was last updated in June 2023. We apologise if anything has changed in price or availability.