While this review is not a shootout, we thought the best way to communicate our thoughts and feelings about the Stiletto Titanium hammer is to compare it to some other hammers we are familiar working with. Also these other hammers share some common qualities like hickory handles and straight rip claws.
Top: Stiletto 12oz
Titanium Remodeler Hammer, Model TI12
Middle: Douglas 20oz
Framing Hammer, Model FR20S ($75.00)
Bottom: Dalluge 16oz
Trim Hammer, Model 1650 ($32.00)
The particular hammer we ordered from the guys at Stiletto came with a 16” curved hickory handle and a smooth face. There were other choices, but we chose this particular one because we wanted a good, all around hammer to do light framing with and use for our finish carpentry projects. To us, it looked like this hammer would be a good compromise between size, weight, and use that we had in mind.
The finish of our hammer was great, with the titanium having both semi-polished edges and faces along with dull gray as-cast finishes. The face of our hammer is smooth (vs. milled) and on the top of the hammer face is a grove with a strong magnet behind it that holds a nail in place to give you one-handed nail starts. We found this to be very effective for framing-type projects where perfect placement of the nails is not critical. The other feature we liked was the straight claw on the back side with chisel-like sharp ends. This was particularly handy when we needed to pry apart two pieces of wood and when we used it in demolition projects.
The most interesting thing about this hammer is not its overall design, which is rather traditional, but the material used for the head. Titanium has many useful features, but the two that are most important for the hammer are its corrosion resistance and the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal. In its unalloyed condition, titanium is as strong as some types of steel, but weighs in 45% lighter. For hammer users this means that you get a bigger striking surface and lighter overall weight for the same amount of force. Think of it as using a titanium driver verses a wood driver for your golf game. You can actually hit the ball further with less energy when using titanium.
Since we have had these two other hammers in our tool arsenal for a long time, it was easy to see the similarities and differences between them. Let’s start with the Douglas 20 oz Framer. This hammer has a slightly longer handler than the Stiletto, but when swinging the Stiletto to drive nails this was not very noticeable. Both handles are similar in shape so that helped make the Stiletto feel familiar. While driving 16d common framing nails, it quickly become evident how much different it was than the Douglas. The biggest difference was in how much effort we put into swinging the hammer and also how much less feedback we had from striking the nail. With the Stiletto there was less felt shock or recoil from the impact with the nail or the wood when we were setting the nail. Also, since the stiletto weighs less, over head nailing was a breeze. Even after swinging the Stiletto all day, it was not fatiguing as opposed to the Douglas where we would get tired after a while. We think that the oversize stinking face on the stiletto helped to hit the nails with fewer misses negating the need for a waffle face. If we were not looking for such a universal hammer in our test Stiletto, the milled face would have made this an even more amazing framing hammer.
For trim work, we have been using a Dalluge 16 oz with a curved hickory handle. Side by side the Stiletto and the Dalluge are nearly the same size with the Dalluge weighing more. We found that when doing trim work, the lighter weight of the Stiletto head made it very comfortable to drive small size finish nails and then set them to the proper depth with a nail set. The only thing that was a slight negative in using the stiletto for trim work was that when working in sight spaces, the oversized striking face was a little too big.
All in all, we were able to pretty much swap out both our framing and finish hammers for the Stiletto hammer. The whole time we had this hammer on job sites, everyone always wanted to give it a try and it was funny that in almost all cases, the initial reaction to the hammer was, “We can really drive framing nails with it?” or “That will never work!” In the end most would come back later saying they wanted to keep it. Over the last three months that we have had this hammer on our tool belt, we have yet to find someone that did not like it or that did not understand the concept of why titanium hammers are the way to go.
As an added benefit, Stiletto offers a personalization service which is a $15.00 additional fee. It is a pretty easy process; you pick out your hammer, then pick out a font, what you want it to say, and chose from several locations on the tool where you want it. In the screen they give you an approximate idea of what the final product will look like. We tested this out as well and found that in our case what the web showed verses what we received was slightly different. We wished our font would have looked more like what we saw on our preview on the web. In any case, personalizing your tools is a way to help make sure they don’t grow some legs and walk away when you are not looking.
The Stiletto 12oz Titanium Remodeler Hammer is a good all around hammer to do pretty much anything from framing to finish carpentry. With an easy to manage weight, yet the power to handle bigger tasks, almost all carpenters should do themselves a favor and pick up one of these. Sure it might cost a little bit more than other hammers out there, but it was easily able to handle the tasks of both our standard steel framing and finish hammers. Their combined prices equal more than the do-it-all Stiletto. For our Performance rating we gave the Stiletto a 10/10 since it really does make many types of hammer work easier. For our Value rating we gave the hammer an 8/10. Even though it is more on the higher end of the hammer price scale, we think most would find it worth it since it has so many benefits. If our custom personalization on the hammer actually looked a little more like the sample on the web site; we think we would have bumped the value rating yet another point.