# Titanium vs steel hammer heads

1. Jan 8, 2010

### hfh hammer

Gentlemen,

I am a retired (after 35 plus years) secondary, college art teacher. For the last eight years I have volunteered at Habitat for Humanity. My question has to do with titanium and steel headed hammers. Titanium hammers have been on the market for awhile now. They cost anywhere from $80 to more than$200. Equivalant wighted steel hammers are typically much less, $20 to$50. The advertisments for ti hammers claim that a 16 oz ti will perform the same job that a 22oz steel hammer, the job being to drive a 16 penny framing nail into a piece of wood. The claim is that your elbow will not be subjected to as much wear, etc. You will not be as tired at the end of the day. These are their main selling points. The other is that since the hammer weighs less you will not be carrying as much weight in your tool belt. Stilleto, a maker of ti hammers also claims that ti hammers transfers 97% of energy to the nail, while steel transfers only 70%. They also talk about less starting energy required in a lighter hammer, therefor more speed at impact.

My question -- Is 16 ozs of titanium any more effective than 16 ozs of steel for driving a nail? Are any of the ti claims relevent as applied to hammering a nail?

Larry

2. Jan 8, 2010

### Prologue

If the claim is true that the titanium transfers more energy then sure.

The energy can be converted into two forms on impact, motion of the nail, or heat in the hammer. If, for some reason, titanium has the property that it doesn't absorb as more heat as the steel, then the rest will go to driving the nail.

This property of titanium may be due to its crystalline structure or whatever, but the end result would be that it vibrates on impact in such a way that drives more nail, rather than it being converted to heat in the head of the hammer.

So it is feasible. Is it true, I dunno, try it out.

Edit: I just wanted to add this. The comparison may be similar to that of a steel hammer to a lead hammer. A lead hammer obviously deforms more than steel when you strike something, and when you deform something in this way you inevitably heat the material up. If the titanium alloy they use deforms less than steel, it has a good shot at actually working.

Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
3. Jan 8, 2010

### turbo

Titanium is also lighter than steel, so you can more easily accelerate it to nail-driving speed with less wear on your arm. There are models around $80 (check Amazon) with wooden handles. I prefer wood to fiberglass/composite handles for the reduced vibration. I don't do enough framing anymore to warrant a better framing hammer, but if I was planning on building another garage or a house, a titanium hammer would be high on the list. My niece's husband is a carpenter, and I have tried his. I really liked it, though I would have preferred a wood handle. Don't remember the brand, but he tends to buy high-quality ($) tools.

4. Jan 8, 2010

### rcgldr

It could be that Titanium collisions are more elastic than steel collisions, which would result in more force, but I'm not sure if it becomes a control issue.

5. Jan 8, 2010

### marcusl

Huh? A 16 oz Ti hammer head weighs the same as a 16 oz steel head.

I don't believe this one either. Hit one steel hammer head against another (gently, they can shatter) and you hear a high-Q ringing noise. No way 30% of the energy is being dissipated as heat, you'd hear a dull thud.

6. Jan 8, 2010

### turbo

A titanium hammer head equal in volume and face-size to a steel head is lighter than the steel head. If you're going to frame walls on a horizontal surface and then stand them up and join them, a steel hammer is fine. If you are going to be driving nails above chest-high off and on all day long, then 4 oz or so makes quite a difference.

7. Jan 8, 2010

### marcusl

True, but I'm not seeing why a 16 oz Ti hammer drives a nail as well as a 22 oz steel one. There is less momentum and energy to transfer to the nail, assuming the swing speed is the same. On the other hand, if you can swing the 16 oz Ti hammer faster, then you can also swing a 16 oz steel hammer faster.

8. Jan 8, 2010

### DaveC426913

Mythbusters to the rescuuuuuuue!

They were completely unable to get two hammers to shatter under any circumstances they could imagine.

9. Jan 8, 2010

### tiny-tim

Momentum (or impulse) is what matters.

Momentum in = momentum out, it doesn't matter whether you have a 50 lb hammer or a 5lb one, the same momentum from you will make the 5lb hammer go 10 times as fast, but when it hits the nail, the factor of 10 will cancel out, and the nail will go in just as far.

The only difference is that a lighter hammer is easier to carry (especially over a long time), and so hammers are made as light as possible.

For some reason I don't understand, steel hammers cannot be made as light as titanium hammers. For that reason only, titanium is better.

10. Jan 8, 2010

### turbo

Part of the design of a decent framing hammer is to give you sufficient face area that you can sink nails in two strikes (or so), even if you hit a bit off-center. That's why it important to compare hammers that are of similar size, not just similar weight. Steel framing hammers are seldom lighter than 20 oz, and are often significantly heavier. If you can shed 4 oz or more of head-weight, you can accelerate the head of the lighter hammer with less force and strain on your body and the hammer-face will meet the head at a speed capable of sinking the nail, despite its lower mass. I have absolutely NO measurements to back this up, just an afternoon of spiking joists on my back deck with my niece's husband. I loved that Ti hammer of his. My back deck is elevated about 7 feet, so the reduced weight was very welcome.

11. Jan 8, 2010

### hfh hammer

Gents,

Thanks for sorta of an answer to my question - ti vs steel hammers. But my last physics class was in the 12 th grade, and that was more than 50 years ago, so I am having trouble understanding your answers. Maybe I should rephrase my question -- will you expend less energy swinging a 16oz ti hammer than you would swinging a 20 oz steel hammer? If you calulated the amount of muscle power over a period of time, to drive a quantity of nails, would the ti hammer be any more effective than a steel one?

Thanks,
Larry

12. Jan 8, 2010

### Bob S

Do they mean a pure titanium hammer (density 4.54 grams per cc), or titanium alloyed with steel? steel density is ~7.85 grams per cc. A lot of difference.
Bob S

13. Jan 8, 2010

### Prologue

If you swing them the same number of times, the answer is obvious isn't it? I think the real question is, is a titanium hammer just as good at driving nails in (you know, can you do it in two blows)? I don't know nor care to find out by experiment, someone else can vouch for that. I was just giving thoughts on why it *might* be true.

14. Jan 10, 2010