Help! Is it a hammer or a tuning fork?

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Forum topic by docholladay posted 04-20-2010 05:17 AM 15761 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3265 days

04-20-2010 05:17 AM

I have a real gripe about claw hammers these days. I have purchased several claw hammers recently. The reason I have purchased so many is that I would really like to find a good one that doesn’t sound like a cheap tuning fork every time that I strike something with it. I have spent anywhere from $5.00 – $40 for a hammer (yes, I know there are choices much more expensive than that, but I refuse to spend $100 for a hammer, considering that I don’t make my living with them) and they all ring like a bell when you hit a nail with them. I have also purchased sizes ranging from a 24 oz framing hammer to a 13 oz finishing hammer. I have tried them with wooden, fiberglass and steel handles and that does not seem to make a difference either. I have an old stanley 16 oz hammer that does not make this ringing noise. It does have a pretty nice patina on the head (not rust). Does the patina somehow cancel the vibration that is causing the ringing on all of these new hammers? Is there anything I can do to these hammers to stop this ringing sound? After a few hours of that ringing noise, I’m hearing it in my sleep. Help!

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

34 replies so far

View JuniorJoiner's profile


488 posts in 3646 days

#1 posted 04-20-2010 05:24 AM

are you sure it is not tinnitus?
estwing hammers have used, and never heard of such a problem.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View Built2Last's profile


234 posts in 3683 days

#2 posted 04-20-2010 01:53 PM

Do you really drive nails with a hammer, been a while since I used one for that reason!! LOL Guess I’m spoiled with nail guns.

View MrWoody's profile


326 posts in 3980 days

#3 posted 04-20-2010 02:11 PM

How much have you spent on hammers that you are unhappy with ???

-- If we learn from our mistakes, I'm getting a fantastic education.

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3265 days

#4 posted 04-20-2010 02:17 PM

Junior, I have tried 2 Estwing hammers. One was a 20 oz finisher and the other a 22 oz framing hammer. Both had the blue rubber anti-vibe handle grips. They both had a rip claw although I have tried some with rip claw and some with curved claw. I think that the 20 oz Estwing was the most annoying of all. It is a very high frequency pitch which of course makes it all the more annoying. I thought about tinnitus. Even had that checked. Maybe I am just hyper sensitive to high frequencies. That might explain my affection for dogs. I guess I should just put my earplugs in my ears.

I just find it odd that 2 old hammers, each with a pretty healthy patina, do not make this ringing noise. Maybe something about the age, lots of use and the patina have served to cancel some of these high frequency vibrations.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2833 posts in 3644 days

#5 posted 04-20-2010 02:21 PM

Well, personally I like to use a nail gun but I do have two hammers that don’t seem to have any issues. They’re the yellow, fiberglass handled ones at Home depot for about $7.95. I’ve used them a lot and they seem to work well without noticeable vibration.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View rance's profile


4266 posts in 3366 days

#6 posted 04-20-2010 03:31 PM

Use a Lie-Nielsen hand plane. I bet they don’t ring.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

453 posts in 3211 days

#7 posted 04-20-2010 03:34 PM

But getting them to stay on the handle is a bitch.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View JAGWAH's profile


929 posts in 3290 days

#8 posted 04-20-2010 03:42 PM

Seriously consider the tinnitus possibility.

I have had tons of hammers. I have never noticed a ringing except when I find myself hammering near steel structure and occassionally miss.

I have owned at one time or other quite a few, enough to know a cheap hammer isn’t neccessarily a bad hammer nor is and expensive hammer a good hammer.

I now use a 17oz Douglas and find it to be the best hammer I’ve ever had. But there again I’ve never ran into this noise you speak of.

As to patina or age understand a hammer can fail after long use and should be replaced. People use hammers far longer than they should. Metal stresses and fatigues and small chips can fly off causing serious eye injury.

Be careful using an old hammer.

-- ~Just A Guy With A Hammer~

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5135 posts in 4166 days

#9 posted 04-20-2010 04:09 PM

Jagwah, I will quote you when I buy a new leather gripped Estwing (if I can find one locally). Maggie will want to know why I need a new hammer when I have a perfectly good, much used 1978 Stanley 16 oz.


View F Dudak's profile

F Dudak

342 posts in 4016 days

#10 posted 04-20-2010 04:27 PM

Can’t imagine that this would be an issue unless you used it for hours framing. Framed for 20 years mostly hand nailing and never really had any problems with the pinging that you speak of. There were other guys on the crew that would get a hammer like that from time to time. I always used a Crafstman 20 oz. wood handled framing hammer. If it got broken it went back if it wore out it went back. Replaced quite a few hammers in 20 years!

-- Fred.... Poconos, PA ---- Chairwright in the making ----

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4099 days

#11 posted 04-20-2010 04:48 PM

ear plugs and get some one else to do the nailing ?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4099 days

#12 posted 04-20-2010 04:53 PM

when you hit a bell it goes bang, ding, dong…...

when you squeeze the trigger on a rifle…............bang

drop a book to the floor…............bang

hit a baseball witha baseball bat…...............bang

I think it has something to do with the laws of physics and I have yet to hear a hammer, be it a free junker or the 300 dollar titanium framing hammer, that when struck down upon a nail…....that it didnt make a, “ting, ding, dong, bang,” type sound.

maybe you have that tendenitous, or that ringing illness some folks get in their ear?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3321 days

#13 posted 04-20-2010 04:56 PM

I never had anything like this on my hammers except for one where the handle
also was made of steal covered with rubber all the others are with wooden
ash handles
after you posted the question I did go down in my basement shop and tryid them
on a anwill all of them and no one of them had any ringing tone in them
even the cheepest craphammers among then (3 I got as gifts from some children but
hold on to them becourse they are gifts) don´t make any ringingnoise
but I will test for it next time I have to buy a hammer so thank´s for bringing
it up
this is one of the reesent I like with LumberJock you learn so many new thinks
that most peopple even have tought of before


View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4291 days

#14 posted 04-20-2010 05:34 PM

Could it be the nails? Have you tried that variable, using different ones to see if the ringing is centered there, rather than the hammers?


View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18396 posts in 3882 days

#15 posted 04-20-2010 07:12 PM

The better hammers have a tuning fork to cancel out vibrations. Mosat of us who use hammers regularly can’t hear it ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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