Framing and hammer technique

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I'm working on building an ice rink, framed like a conventional house. (There will be a sheet of plywood to hold the liner in place. The liner's clear, 10' by 25'. Need anymore details, JOAT?) I've never done framing before, and have hardly used a hammer to drive in a nail longer than in inch. So, my question is, what techniques do I need to use to make sure I can get the nail in straight and effectively? Would a framing hammer make that much of a difference? I've got a regular "standard" hammer that I've been using with some success.
I'm not going to get a framing nail gun due to a $200 compound miter saw purchase a few days ago. Renting one is unfortunately not an option, as all the rental places I called have them rented out already.
I did do the research on Google, and found little of value.
Puckdropper
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A couple of pros did some repairs to our garage earlier this year and there wasn't a nail in any of their framing, cordless hammer drills and 3" Phillips flat-heads worked like a charm, the only nails used were for the siding. I added some more framing later to put up interior sheathing and shelves and used their approach, I'm sold on it. If you ever need to make repairs to the rink screws might make that easier than nails.
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DGDevin wrote:

I"m putting up an exterior shell around my shed/shop to hold insulation. So it's framing of a sort, all 2x4. I started out nailing with 4" nails and switched over to 3" screws with square heads. I think they're available at McFeely's in the US. I agree with Mr Devin; it's much easier and for my purposes, more than adequate in strength.
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Tanus wrote:

SPAX screws and a impact driver do a dandy job.
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..................................................

practice, mostly.
if you're driving 16d nails you'll probably want to get a hammer with at least a 20oz head and a toothed striking face. if you can find a place that will let you drive a handful of nails with a variety of hammers you will have a better idea of what is likely to work for you. handle length, handle shape, head weight, head shape, these all are user preference things that will make a lot of difference in getting the nail in straight and with the minimum number of whacks.
I think for a first framing hammer I'd recommend something like this: <http://doitbest.com/Hammers-Vaughan-Bushnell-model-999-doitbest - sku-301701.dib>
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote in wrote:

I'm not afraid of practice, but it sure does help to know what you're supposed to be doing when you do practice. I know you can't buy skill, but you sure can expedite the process with a good description of how to do something properly.

I'll take a look around a couple hardware stores. The tools I've gotten from one local industrial supply store have been good tools. They're not always cheap, but quality usually isn't.

Thanks for the suggestion.
Puckdropper
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"Puckdropper" wrote:

Kind of like getting into a knife fight, the guy with the S&W .44 is going to win.
IOW, bigger is better.
You want to drive 16d nails, get a 24 OZ framing hammer with a serrated face. (I like wooden handles, but that is personal choice)
After a couple of hours the first day, you will probably wish your arms would fall off.
Yes, I'm assuming you will get to be ambidexterous with that hammer.
About the time you are finished framing, your arms will be in shape<grin>.
BTW, after you bend a few nails driving them incorrectly, it will be intutive how to correct the problem.
It's an OTJT kind of thing.
BTDT, don't ever want to do it again.
Have fun.
Lew
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a framing hammer w/ 16" handle 20-24 oz. will help. for a guy that is only occational user i'd say 20 oz would be a little more user freindly. beware of the waffled head if you hit yourself it's like a meat tenderizer. i've always liked the estwing brand ross
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Ross Hebeisen wrote:

Agreed on Estwing. Swing a 20-24 oz for a bit and take a rest. Just don't get so sore you don't want to see another hammer. After a couple days, your forearms get to looking like Popeye's. The ladies will drool. :-) As with most things, think moderation.
    mahalo,     jo4hn
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jo4hn wrote:

Just an irrelevant aside that popped into my head, but one of my father's friends was a retired tracklayer for the Seaboard Coastline. He was a little skinny guy who looked like he was 90 years older than God. He could drive a railroad spike using two 20 pound hammers, one in each hand and he used to drive finishing nails with one in one blow without making the tiniest mark on the wood. I really wish that video cameras had been affordable while he was still alive, I'd like to have had some footage of him doing his thing.
Practice makes perfect.
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Ahh, jo5hn who promotes spinach panache! Wreckless abandon. Discoloured thumbs ^up on Estwing. I have been looking for another 16 oz leather wrapped to complement my engraved one. For me, a 26 oz, long Estwing with a serrated head is the way to fly. Even after using an air-powered framing nailer, I still make a pass with a 26 to 'suck-up' the joint. Or screws.
rrrrrrr
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Robatoy wrote:

Oh yeah I forgot. After you have nailed up the wall with the air nailer, you have to follow up with the framing hammer and leave a few marks to make others think you did it all by hand.     gronk,     jo4hn
Once upon a time after I retired, I stick framed a 10x12 pool and garden shed. A kid next door offered to help if I would teach him a few basics. The basic that I initially did not teach him was how to hammer. That is: tap, tap, hand out of the way, bang, bang. Oh well, I guess we all have had some blue fingers at one time or another.
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Got the Estwing, gonna give it a try here in a minute or 30 after I've warmed up a bit. It's kinda cold outside and getting colder, thankfully I've got some heated shop space to work in.
The whole point of asking about technique is to minimize future soreness. It does no good to have a beautiful 85' by 200' sheet of ice if you're too hurt to skate. :-)
Puckdropper
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so, how's your thumb? : )
smashed thumbs heal quick enough. the thing to watch out for is the tennis elbow. if that starts developing you need to make a serious effort to vary your swing.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote in wrote:

My thumb's ok, how'd you know I got a splinter at Lowes? I managed to avoid damaging my nail-holding hand in this project.
Where I ran in to trouble was at the base of my pointer finger. The hammer tends to pivot a bit from my bottom two fingers, so the handle rubs on the pointer finger. Other than maybe holding the hammer with two fingers on the handle, I'm not sure how to avoid this. (Maybe I should tape the finger?)
Puckdropper
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Always true, but you can also make much more of something than you should. You know - analysis paralisys. It's just nailing. For framing I use a 22oz hammer. A 20oz will work if you prefer. I don't use a really long handled hammer because they don't swing as well in my hand - that's something you can immediatley tell by handling one in a store. After that, it's just nailing. Hit 'em hard and hit 'em square.

You'll be hard pressed to find a hammer that is not up to the task. Don't let youself fall into a trap of overbuying "quality" that will never factor into your use of a hammer. I still frame with a couple of Stanley hammers that I bought decades ago, before I realized that it was much cooler to use an Estwing. I've proven time and time again that I can hit my thumb just as easily with a Stanley as I can with someone's Estwing.
Now - quite stalling with all of these questions and go buy a decent hammer and get to work. You keep this up and the warm whether is going to get here and you'll look silly with a brand new ice skating rink in you back yard in May.
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Puckdropper wrote:

Whether or not you need a framing hammer depends on what you are nailing and how big the nails are. Main difference is the waffle ("non-slip") face and the weight. Mine is 26 oz. and it is a HEAVY SUCKER!! It *does* drive the big stuff into the hard stuff. It also gives you sore arms. If you can drive what you want with the hammer you have now there is no reason not to use it.
Nails don't have to go straight; i.e., at 90 degrees to the wood face. In fact, angled nails hold things together better. If, by "straight", you mean continuing in the direction you want it to go then the main factor is for the hammer head to hit the nail head squarely (not at an angle) and centered.
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dadiOH
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wrote:

One thing I think is important when getting started is don't force it. Let the hammer weight do the work. So what if it take a couple of more swings to drive the nail. In the end, you'll bend a lot less and probably won't be as tired in the end. As with anything, with practice you'll get better and will be able to drive a 16d nail with a couple of swings.
As stated before, the most important thing is to hit the nail head center and square.
My $.02 worth Bill
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I swung a hammer for 25+ years, so I have a little experiece with this. Frist off I wood get a wooden handle hammer, (a 20 oz worked for me) with a milled face. The wooden handle has less vibration, which will help with the wrist. The milled face helps prevent "skipping" the nail thus reducing the chance of bending the nail. When you bend the nail, and when you go to remove it, grab the nail and bend it sideways, not straight back. It took replacing a couple of handles before I learned that trick. When driving the nail, set the nail with just a couple of light taps, then take your hand and place behind your back, and swing with your arm, not your wrist. I think the best method would be to use screws, they might take a little longer, but you dont have to worry about them backing out. Good luck
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I like the way my Hart 22 oz hammers feel. Wood handle. Straight, not the ax handle California style. I think I have both the smooth and waffle face versions. When I have to nail, I use one of these hammers. For everything including 4d finish nails. For demolition work I have a steel handle, rubber grip Craftsman 22 oz hammer. I get blisters with this hammer if I use it for nailing. I wear gloves for demolition work. Long ago when I bought the first Hart hammer I also tried one of those 14 oz titanium high dollar hammers along side the Hart in the store. It took quite a few more swings and thus more work to drive nails with the light weight titanium hammer.
Fortunately I don't use any hammers much anymore. I have several cordless drills and boxes of various length drywall screws. Someday I'll get air nailers of various sizes when I have a big enough job to need them.

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