Hart 21 oz. Milled Face Steel Framing Hammer Review Tool Reviews by Tool

Hart 21 oz Milled Face Steel Framing Hammer Review


For some, a hammer isn’t all that important. If you’re serious about tools, however, or a framer by trade, a hammer is an extension of your arm and something you use almost all the time. With that being the case, issues like weight, features, and balance become very important. In fact, when you’re striking nails almost non-stop, it’s possible to actually calculate the time-is-money factor, and you’ll see that your choice of hammer becomes something that could net you literally hours of labor-savings over the course of a year. It was with that mentality that we turned our fascination to Hart’s line of Mill-faced Steel Framing Hammers and the Hart 21 oz Milled Face Steel Framing Hammer in particular.

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Editor’s Note: This review is adapted from our review of the Hart 21oz. Hickory Handle model – we tested both hammers and these reviews were written using both and with both in mind. Most features are interchangeable though there is a slight weight difference between the steel and hickory when swinging.

There are a few things about these new Hart hammers that stand out. First, you can get them just about any way you want. They have both milled & smooth face; and steel, hickory, and even fiberglass handle models. They range in size from 18 to 25 ounces and the hickory models come in both straight and curved handles – at least in the 21 oz. size. Here are the models that are currently available:

Hickory Handle

  • 18 oz. Smooth Face, Straight Handle
  • 21 oz. Milled Face, Curved Handle
  • 21 oz. Milled Face, Straight Handle
  • 21 oz. Smooth Face, Straight Handle
  • 23 oz. Milled Face, Straight Handle
  • 25 oz. Milled Face, Straight Handle

Steel Handle

  • 21 oz. Milled Face, Curved Handle
  • 25 oz. Smooth Face, Curved Handle

Fiberglass Handle

  • 21 oz. Milled Face, Straight Handle

Hart Framing Hammers

Looking at the head of the Hart hammers, you can see the innovative side nail pull and, on the opposite side, the side nail strike plate that sets these hammers apart from any others we’ve seen. The side nail pull is similar in design to Stiletto’s TiBone hammers, but offset even further away from the head to give it exceptional leverage and pulling power. It’s also far different from the Vaughn side pulls, which have the hammer positioned upside down on the nail and offer only a 90 degree maximum pull. The Hart hammer lays down flat on its side and pulls the nail – provided you have the clearance – a full 180 degrees if necessary. For most 3″ nails, you’ll only need to pull it a little past 130 degrees to get the nail completely out of your wood.

Hart 21 oz Milled Face Steel Framing HammerThe side opposite the nail puller is also very useful in that it allows you to strike a nail sideways with the hammer head. Now we’ve done this for years with many models of hammer – just not by design. Hart seems to have acknowledged that if you’re going to do it anyway, why not make it more effective? The claw of the 21 oz. Milled Face Steel model was nicely shaped, with an ample amount of leverage to provide some pulling power and clearance, though it was thicker than the claw on the Hickory model. The entire head is also somewhat more narrow than the Hickory model and both are dipped in some sort of protective urethane coating designed to keep the steel from rusting – or at the very least to make it look good while it’s in the store. Expect that coating, like most hammers, to suffer from scratches and dings over time.  I have yet to meet a nail that failed to be driven by a rusting hammer head.

Hart 21 oz Milled Face Steel Framing Hammer face

At the top of the striking surface is the magnetic nail holder. The magnet held all of the nails we used very securely and allowed us to get them started hassle-free. It also set the nails into the head within a rather deep channel, so it’s unlikely you’re going to lose on on the way to being set, or have it slide sideways on you should you inadvertently deliver a blow that isn’t perfectly straight to the wood. Just behind the striking face is a rounded out gap that Hart claims is perfect for bending 1/4″ rebar. Problem is, 1/4″ rebar is a rarity, but if you find some, I’m confident you can bend it with this hammer.

Testing in the Field

Hart 21 oz Milled Face Steel Framing Hammer nail pullerWe weren’t framing any houses this week, so instead, we got some dimensional lumber, pressure treated 4×4 material, and a box of 10d hot-dip galvanized nails. We have to say, driving nails with the Hart hammers is almost a pleasure, though there is a noticeable amount of vibration with the steel models that is not present with the hickory handled version. Starting nails with the built-in magnet was consistent and quick – to the point where we felt we were quickly getting into a rhythm with the tool. They also really do hit hard, and the size of the milled face “waffle” head and balance of the steel hammer had us driving in nails at an extremely fast pace. Once we pounded a bunch of nails nearly flush (and we had a 21 oz. Hickory Milled Face Hammer from Hart to try out and compare with as well) we set to work on trying out the side nail pull. What we discovered is that this is, by far, the best leverage on a hammer-located nail pull we’ve ever used. It pulled quickly and smoothly and with a minimal amount of effort. To test just how easy it was I gave the hammer to my 8 year-old son (who isn’t exactly built like a linebacker). He was able to get a 3″ hot-dipped 10d nail pulled with only a bit of struggling. On his second attempt he had figured out the tool and pulled the hammer in 3 tugs. You will do it in a single smooth motion – if you have the clearance. And that’s really the only downfall is that it’s rare you’ll find you have a full 18″ of clearance on the left and right side of a nail to use the full natural leverage of this hammer. With that said, we found we could get the nail started and then, having pulled the hammer upright to a vertical position, remove the nail the rest of the way with the claw end of the hammer.

Hart 21 oz Milled Face Steel Framing Hammers

Conclusion

We used this hammer quite a bit, along with its hickory handled counterpart. Hart is definitely onto something and it’s something that I don’t believe will take long to catch on. Pick up one of these hammers and feel it in your hand and you’ll feel a tool that is pro-grade, with decent balance and innovative features that you’re likely to use. On top of that, the $26 asking price is right in line with what I’d expect to pay for a serious steel handled hammer. Hart may be new, but they’re not “green” (as in ‘inexperienced’). Of course, you might be if you see someone using one in the field and you’re stuck with your old hammer! Go out and, if you don’t buy one, at least pick one up and hold it so you can see what all the fuss is about. You might not put it down.

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