Why a Titanium Hammer May Be More Healthy for You
Just about any framer, form builder or scaffold erector that has been swinging a hammer as part of his livelihood can tell you that, at some point in their career, they have suffered from joint and muscle pain in their hammering arm. The very tool of their trade can often be the culprit responsible for this discomfort. If the hammer is a means to an end, it makes sense to maximize the hammer’s potential. So how can hammering be more efficient? We’ve reviewed the Stiletto 12 oz Titanium Remodeler hammer and the Stiletto Titanium flat bars, so we were all ears.
This is a good question, and so I turned to Joel Allen, Director of Innovation at Stiletto Titanium Tools for some input. He explained that the physics of hammering ultimately comes down to energy transfer. In the motion of hammering there is energy that originates in your arm (particularly, your muscles & joints). This energy gets stored in the hammer head and is released upon impact with the nail. A titanium hammer harnesses a full 97% of the energy garnered from that hammer swing and transfers it directly to the nail. For comparison, a steel hammer transfers only 70% of that energy to the nail. If you do some quick math you may wonder where the 27% loss of energy went on the steel head hammer. For the most part, it gets transferred back to the hammer user through energy that is released in the recoil of the steel. Essentially, vibrations are sent through the hammer head, back down the handle and into your arm. While some steel hammers have implemented some vibration-absorbing handle materials, at the end of a day steel is just not as efficient at transferring the strike energy to the nail.
In addition to its vibration properties, titanium is also roughly 45% lighter than steel. That means that you not only get a more effective transfer of energy, you also expend less energy swinging a titanium hammer. The lighter weight heads are similarly-sized as their steel counterparts, and so the reduction in weight doesn’t reduce the area of the striking face. So is this the best framing hammer type you can buy?
“If Titanium is So Great, Why Isn’t Everyone Using It?”
Joel laughed as I asked him this, but he quickly got serious. He told me that in his many conversations at job sites and trade shows, most guys are quick to say there is no point in owning a lightweight titanium hammer.
But then they get to use one.
For many guys it is an eye opening experience. What sells titanium hammers isn’t an end-cap display in a home improvement warehouse or hardware store, but getting the opportunity to actually swing one. You have to put one in a tradesman’s hands and let them experience the difference. Take Stiletto, for example. Since they started selling titanium hammers back in 1997, word of mouth has been their biggest marketing asset. People that use titanium hammers realize their benefits and have done an amazing job spreading the word.
The biggest deterrent or excuse for not purchasing a titanium hammer is their cost. In its raw form, titanium is about five times more expensive than steel to produce. In addition to the high raw material costs, it is also more difficult to make titanium tools due to the manufacturing process. For this reason, a titanium hammer can easily be four to ten times more expensive than a comparable steel model.
And the Final Reason to Go Titanium Is…
While the health benefits of titanium hammers were not fully realized when they hit the market 16 years ago, enough facts now show that there is a significant rise in user comfort. If you factor in fewer pain pills, doctor visits and other muscle or joint injuries, the additional cost of a titanium hammer quickly pays for itself. The greater efficiency and the reduction in weight helps reduce the potential for carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. In the end, that means less down time, more productivity and (most importantly) less pain while working.
If you use a hammer all day long, anything that can make your work easier and promote better health is something worth taking a look at. But don’t just look at it—pick one up and give it a swing!
Special thanks to Joel Allen, Director of Innovation at Stiletto Titanium Tools for speaking with us about titanium tools.