As near as I can tell, the nail pulling is a fulcrum thing; the closer
the fulcrum is to the nail being pulled, the better the leverage is.
With a straight clawed hammer, if you pull a 16 penny framing nail out
about an inch, the fulcrum movet to the head of the hammer, which gives
loust leverage. This can be off set by putting bar or board under the
hammerhead to change the fulcrum back. The other altermative is to pull
the nail by levering side to side rather than back to front. The
straight claws work well for splitting small pieces of wood, digging
small trenches, picking up boards, and prying boards apart (twisting
sideways after driving it in). Wood always moves, and I never found or
heard of a way to keep a wood handle tight forever.I would never trade
the wood handles for the other types, especially the metal ones. They
just feel so much better, especially at the end of the day.
Fine Woodworking did an interesting experiment a few years back with
wood movement. They started with 3 pieces of wood (2x12x12) that were
all dry to 6%. All three were bolted to a metal table on the bottoms.
One had nothing on the top. The other 2 had an I beam on the top. One
was bolted to the I beam. The moisture content was raised way up, then
they were dried out to 6% again. The free standing one expanded a bit
(1/2 inch or so) then shrank back to origional size. The one that
wann't bolted to the top I beam couldn't expand, but shrank to less
than origional size. The one that was bolted top and bottom split as it
If you set your hammer handle in the dry season, it will expand in the
wet season, and then shrink in the next dry season and become loose.
If you reset it again, it will loosen up again. I don't think that I
ever had a handle last more than a few years, so I don't know if this
process will go on forever or not. It is just something that you have
to live with if you use wool handles.