Craftsman 12V Nextec Hammerhead Review

Craftsman 11818 Nextec Hammerhead Auto Hammer Review

The Craftsman Nextec Hammerhead Auto Hammer was the first battery-powered nail hammering device to come on the market a while back and we figured it was time we put this tool through our series of torture tests. With all the hype and claims of what this tool can do, it was time for us to experience firsthand the wrath of the Hammerhead.

Craftsman Hammerhead kit

Our test tool came in a cardboard box with a nifty lift-and-see-through lid that lets you look, but not touch, the tool. Once we got into the box, we took out the included 30-minute quick charger and put the included single 12V battery into it to let it charge up to full strength. While we waited, we did a thorough examination of the tool. The body of the Craftsman Hammerhead Auto Hammer is made of gray ABS plastic with black overmold rubber grip areas on the front and back sides of the tool.

There is a trigger that must be pressed in order to activate the hammer action. Just above the nail sleeve is a handy LED light that should help make it easy to see what you are doing when working in a dark place like an attic or crawlspace. The nail sleeve is designed to protect the user from ever coming into contact with the hammer anvil that is located up inside the chamber; also, as a second function, it helps as a guide and nail holder thanks to its built-in magnet. The overall size of the tool is pretty small, yet it feels comfortable in the hand. The weight of the tool sort of feels like holding a large hammer in your hand. We did have to laugh at the mini, almost micro nail puller that was included with the auto hammer. We hope that this little nail puller is not an indication of the size of nails that this tool can handle.

Craftsman Hammerhead Review Testing and Use

Craftsman Hammerhead autohammer

Once the battery was fully charged as indicated by the LED light on the charger, we put it into the base of the Craftsman Hammerhead Auto Hammer. Next, we took a nice, dry, #1 grade piece of pressure treated 4×4 lumber and set it up as our test material. There was no beating around the bush with us; the package said it is able to drive 3-1/2″ common 16d nails, so we decided to start our testing with these. 

It immediately became evident that we were not going to get far with this test. First off, even after numerous attempts, we could not get a single nail to go more then 2″ into our test lumber. Even worse was the noise the tool made. Our decibel meter was going crazy as we were hitting readings as loud as 110 dB SPL measured from three feet away.  Even when we tried to put extra weight behind the tool to help it drive the nails in; we could not stand the noise after about 20 seconds. Needless to say, we wore ear plugs for the rest of our tests.

We proceeded to use smaller and smaller size nails until finally we found some that we were able to drive flush. The verdict – 2-1/2″ 8d common nails. With this size nail, we quickly (about 4-6 seconds) drove the nails flush into the wood. To us, this is a far cry from what the packaging claims and let’s face it; you can’t exactly fix some framing or build much of anything substantial with only 8d nails. Just to make sure we were not crazy, we went back and tried to send some 16d nails into a piece of white pine 2×4. Again, like our initial test, we were left with nails that protruded a good 1 to 2 inches out of the wood.

When we first saw the Craftsman Hammerhead Auto Hammer at the 2009 IBS tradeshow in Las Vegas last January, we thought this tool was pretty interesting and promising. You can read our initial reaction to the Auto Hammer here.  After the fact, we noticed that they were using small 6d and 8d nails in the demonstrations and with the test tool, so of course to us the performance of the tool seemed impressive.

If you are still not convinced at the lackluster performance of this tool, please check out our comprehensive Ryobi Auto Hammer vs Craftsman Nextec Hammerhead shootout.


Craftsman Hammerhead Review LED

The Craftsman Hammerhead Auto Hammer is a nifty idea, but for us that is about it. Aside from maybe using it on a limited basis to drive small size nails, this tool really has no business being in your tool collection. We think the best use of this tool is that it might make a good gift for the guy on your list who has it all (yeah, you know who we are talking about).

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