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Tool Guide: Choosing a Hammer-Why a Hand Hammer

This humble 3lb Trow and Holden Hand Hammer, also known as a striking hammer, is not to be overlooked and will prove to be another essential hammer for the waller’s kit.  A predictable go to for striking chisels and more. And why is this? A striking hammer needs to have a balance that feels good to you, making it easy to swing and control without effort or strain.

Balance is something that may seem fairy individual, but the weight of the head, the length of the handle and where the eye hole in the hammer head is positioned, and even the thickness of the grip are critical factors to achieve this balance.  And the result, a well-balanced hammer will be comparatively easy to swing accurately, again and again.

For dry stone walling applications, particularly when dealing with harder stone types, striking power or force is the key factor.  The heavier the head of the hammer and the faster it is swung the more power you will have.  A longer handle will increase the speed of the strike.  However, both weight and and handle length come at a price.  The heavier the head and the longer the handle, the more difficult it will be to control and swing accurately.   At our Stone Shaping Workshops and others you can try a wide range of weight and handle configurations to find out what is right for you.


The Trow and Holden 3lb Hand Hammer is available with either a fiberglass or wooden handle.  Fiberglass handles have the advantage of rarely needing to be replaced.  However, fiberglass handles also tend to transfer more vibration and shock into your wrist and elbow more than wood handles. Also, the wooden handled 3lb Hand Hammer comes with a shorter handle, if you know you prefer shorter handles. it’s a good option.

There are times  when using the back of a 4lb Trow & Holden Stone Buster for striking a chisel is too heavy , while the 2lb Trow & Holden Stone Buster version generally does not give enough power.  For work that requires more than a few swings, grabbing the 3lb Trow & Holden Hand Hammer  makes this humble hammer a great choice.  Also, in addition to striking chisels, the hand hammer also works well for striking stone directly.  The hand hammer can be used most often for general shaping in applications when any hammer head shape will work. Tilting it slightly to the side so the left or right “edge” of the striking face makes contact with the stone yields good results.  It is also handy for driving feathers and wedges, too.


How is this Trow & Holden 3lb Hand Hammer different from hardware store versions that may cost less?

Because this hammer will be superior in the following ways:

  • The hardness of steel in the head matters. Too hard and the head will chip or crack. Too soft and it will quickly mushroom. (Both instances can end with sending shards of steel shooting off into your leg.)
  • Handle’s length is well-balanced to the weight of the hammer’s head
  • Some of the most common 3lb hammer handles are made of steel. This sends a tremendous amount of shock and vibration into your wrist and elbow leading to all kinds of problems in the future.
  • The shape of the head also affects the balance. Many hardware store brands have a design primarily suited with easy manufacturing rather than with ease of use.

2.50 Introduction to Stone Shaping Workshop

Learn techniques and efficient methods for getting stones to break where you want them to. To provide a basic understanding of how to shape a variety of stone types to produce shapes that will aid in creating a strong wall while “taking off the ugly.”


 Stone Shaping on Sept 9th in Barre, Vermont training site .

 Stone Shaping on Oct 20th in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire training site .

Demonstrated above the use of 3lb Trow & Holden Hand Hammer being used along with 1.5″ Trow and Holden Hand Tracer (Tracing Chisel).