Tips for Better Hammer Use
Starting and Driving a Nail
First, if you are working with hard wood, drill a pilot hole in the material to prevent splitting.
To begin hammering, grip the hammer firmly in the middle of the handle - shake hands with your hammer!
Don’t hold the hammer too tightly.
Hold the nail between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand and place the nail where it is to be driven.
Tip: If the nail is small, you may want to use a thin cardboard to hold the nail in place while hammering (make sure to pull the cardboard away before completing the drive). If the nail is bigger, hold the nail on the work between the thumb and fingers. Begin driving the nail by tapping lightly.
Using the center of the hammer face, drive the nail in with firm, smooth blows. The striking face should always be parallel with the surface that’s being hit. Avoid sideways or glancing blows. Take care not to mark the work surface.
Methods of Nailing
Toenailing - to create a sturdy fixing, take a few nails, angle them in different directions, and finish driving them in. Clinching - when a nail is so long that it goes through your workpiece, drive the nail flush with the surface, rest a heavy hammer against the head and bend the pointed end parallel with the grain by using sideways blows with another hammer. Blind Nailing - chisel up a sliver of wood and drive the nail under the sliver. Use glue to set the sliver back in place and cover the nail head.
Pulling a Nail
Use a claw hammer to pull a driven nail by sliding the claw under the hammer head. Pull the handle of the hammer to withdraw the nail. If pulling a long nail, use a wood block to raise the hammer head and provide leverage.