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18 Incredibly Handy Hammer Hacks

The humble hammer is a go-to for most home improvement projects. But did you know it can do more than just pound nails? See what else this good ol’ tool can do.

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Measuring StickFamily Handyman

Measuring Stick

If you can remember the length of your hammer then it can be a handy measuring device in a pinch. We've got more measuring tips and tricks where that came from!
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PVC Hammer Holder

PVC Hammer Holder

Next time you're nailing, do it in style with this sturdy but stylish hammer holder. To make one, use a hacksaw or band saw to cut away one side of a 6-in.-long piece of 2" PVC pipe, leaving 2 in. at the bottom to drop the hammer into. To create belt slots, drill 1/4-in. holes in two lines and clean out the waste between the holes with a rattail file. That's it—drop in the hammer and enjoy its easy-to-reach location. Once you've got all that done, get to work trying out the hammer hacks no one ever thought to tell you.
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Check Out These Hand Tool Hacks and Modifications for Woodworking:

Hand tools normally work perfectly for the job they were intended. But sometimes, you need modify that hand tool—make a hand tool hack.

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quick-draw hammers

Quick-Draw Storage

Here’s an instant rack for hammer storage! Drive 2-in. drywall screws into a board and tack it to a shop wall. Hook the hammers on the screws so it looks like they’re ready to pull out a nail. The hammer claw’s V-notch interlocks tightly with the screw threads so the hammer won’t fall off, and the handle angles toward you for an easy grasp.

Check out 30 more handy hints for the workshop.

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HH screwdriver hammer stuck nails

More Leverage

Shove a screw driver under the hammer head to protect delicate surfaces, like cedar decking or any other finished surface. For a straight pull, size the screwdriver so the pivot point is as close to the nail as possible. The screwdriver also gives the hammer claw better leverage, so you can often rock the hammer directly back on its head rather than sideways. But not always. Use this straight pull only on nails that come out fairly easily or that aren’t driven deeply. Otherwise you could break a wooden-handled hammer. Although you can yank a lot harder on hammers with a fiberglass or steel handle, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to use a sideways pull.

Hand tools are great, but they’re even better when you use them creatively for things they’re not designed to do. Check out these 16 genius hand tool hacks you need to know.

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Family Handyman

Free Finger Saver

I build a lot of small projects, including wren and bluebird houses, and I use lots of small nails—so small that at times I can’t grip them to start the nail. My solution: a plastic lid from a small peanut can. Just trim the lid back and drill a small hole near the end. Then cut a slit leading away from the hole so when you pull the lid back it releases from the nail. — Miles Stromback

Plus: 101 simple Saturday morning project you can do.

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Lumber SplitterFamily Handyman

Lumber Splitter

The claw serves as a mini-axe to split wood blocks or chop off protruding board edges.
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Homemade Hammer Mallet

Homemade Hammer Mallet

Cover a metal hammer with a tennis ball to protect the surfaces of your projects when you knock them together or apart. Carefully cut an 'X' in the ball with a sharp utility knife. Make it just large enough for the head of an 18- to 24-oz. hammer to slide through. You'll discover that your rubber-bumper hammer works better than a standard rubber hammer, since it concentrates the blow on a small area and doesn't leave black marks. If you don't want to waste a tennis ball on your hammer, check out this combination mallet.
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Hammer Extension

Hammer Extension

When you need to extend the reach of your hammer to get into a tight spot, the hinge pin from an old, heavy door hinge makes a great punch. Learn how to silence a squeaking hinge here.
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remove stuck nails

Maximize Your Hammer Power

Ram the claw of your hammer into the nail shank and rock it sideways using the claw edge as a pivot point. Repeat the process until you pry out the nail. This technique produces maximum pulling power with little stress on the handle. Learn more tips for removing stuck nails here.

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Caulking Gun for AirheadsFamily Handyman

Caulking Gun for Airheads

The hammer handle makes a decent (well, adequate) caulking plunger when you really need a dab or two. The debate continues: Should you caulk your toilet to the floor?
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nail holder with hammer

Safer Trim Nailing

Push the nail into a thin strip of card-board to hold it in position while nailing and to shield the wood from an errant hammer blow.

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FH12MAY_HANGUP_01-2Family Handyman

DIY Hammer Coat Rack

I was shopping for unique hooks for our rustic cabin, and I was flabbergasted at the cost of the most interesting ones. Searching for cheaper alternatives, I cruised online and unearthed a heap of creative ideas. Then I rooted around in the old junk box and voilà—distinctive hooks with a real DIY feel. If you’re looking for a coat rack that expresses your DIY life, start digging and get creative! Here’s a gallery of new ideas to spark your imagination. — Marcia Roepke, Art Director

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Give Paint-Clogged Screw Heads a TapFamily Handyman

Give Paint-Clogged Screw Heads a Tap

If you live in an old house, you've probably run into screw heads clogged with layers of paint. Instead of trying to scrape out the paint, try this trick: Simply take a driver bit, set it on top of the screw head, and give it a couple of taps with a hammer until it seats itself in the screw's slots. Plus: 14 handy hints for painting.
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bobby pin nail holder

Handy Nail Holder

When working with small nails or in tight quarters (or both!) keep your fingers out of the line of fire with the help of a hair accessory. A bobby pin is perfect because it can grip even the smallest nails and it provides plenty of distance between your fingers and the hammer.

Just place the nail inside the bobby pin; then hold the bobby pin where you need the nail and hammer away. Once the nail is started, you can remove the bobby pin and continue hammering.

This hint also works with an index card. Simply press the nail through a corner of the card and hold it where you need it. Start hammering and then tear the card off of the nail.

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Hammer Cushion

Hammer Cushion

A rubber chair leg cap instantly converts a hammer into a rubber mallet. And if you want to drive a nail without denting the surrounding wood, cut a hole in the rubber cap. Pound until the rubber strikes wood, then finish driving the nail with a nail set. A 1-1/8-in. rubber cap fits tightly over most hammers and costs about $1 at home centers and hardware stores.

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Avoid Ugly Hammer MarksFamily Handyman

Avoid Ugly Hammer Marks

Nails are easier to drive if you take a full swing. But the downside is that if you miss the nailhead, you'll leave a deep 'elephant track' in the decking. Use a 1/4-in. plywood cushion to protect the deck boards in case you miss with a hammer. It allows you to concentrate on nailing without worrying about denting the deck boards. Simply start the nail. Then slip a small square of 1/4-in. plywood over the nail and swing away. Remove the plywood for the last blow. Plus: 15 modern deck building tips and shortcuts.
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Blade StraightenerFamily Handyman

Blade Straightener

Bend those out-of-shape blades on a reciprocating saw back to an almost-straight condition. Straighten it out with the claw or you could also lay the blade flat on a 2×4 and beat it. Learn the many uses for a reciprocating saw.
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Make-Do Mallet

Make-Do Mallet

If you need a mallet once in a blue moon but don't own one, improvise: Use a heavy kitchen sponge. Get it wet, wring as much water out of it as you possibly can, then wrap it around the head of your hammer and secure it with a heavy rubber band. Plus: 20 home hacks using hangers, rubber bands and cardboard tubes.