Apparently the first indications of hammer use are traced to rock fossils found over 2 million years ago. That means that pre-homo sapiens were using hammer-shaped rocks, probably for dealing final deathblows to prey they had hunted or knocking overly chatty fellow hunters on the head.

Much later, around 32,000 years ago, fossils were found of something more Flinstones-like: stones attached to stick “handles” with leather or animal sinew.

Thor had the hammer of all hammers. But did you know that there are 12 or more varieties of hammers?

Some hammer types

Modern hammers come in more varieties than you may be aware of, each suited to a slightly different need.

The standard claw hammer is of course designed to pound in nails on one side and extract them on the other. The claw can also be used to lever up floorboards.

Another common one is the ball-peen hammer. Also known as an “engineer’s hammer”, this tool is used for hammering and shaping metal, closing rivets, and getting into tight spaces as well as rounding edges off metal pins or fasteners.

What type of hammer do you use for striking something such as chrome wing-outs, when a steel face might cause damage? Soft-faced hammers are available with hard and soft rubber, plastic or copper faces. Some have interchangeable shaped faces for certain types of doors or walls.

Roofers use roofers’ or slaters’ hammers. These contain a formidable spike on one side for putting a nail hole into slate, and a hammer on the other side to knock in the nails that hold the slates to the roofing battens. There is typically a claw in the middle for removing nails.

More obscure types of hammers include the magnetic tack hammer; drywall, brick and blacksmith hammers; the cross-peen pin hammer, for light joinery and cabinet work; and the good ol’ sledge hammer, which can weigh up to 14 pounds!

Watch out hammers: the slightly newer kid on the block is the nailer, or nail gun. According to Lowe’s, a nail gun can sink a thousand nails a day consistently and accurately.