I’ve used many different hammers over the last 20 years. In 2002 I bought a Stiletto TiBone hammer and never looked back. A few years ago they incorporated a side nail puller into the head of the hammer, making a perfect hammer even “perfecter”.
Last fall the company released a less-expensive version of their titanium hammer, the Stiletto Hybrid Fiberglass model. The handle is designed to be more durable and have more prying strength than hickory. I’ve broken a lot of wood handles, which is one of the reasons why I switched to the Tibone in the first place.
This new hammer has a 16-ounce titanium head (compared to 15 ounces for the Tibone) with a straight claw and a magnetic nail start. The 18-inch rubberized non-slip grip handle is all black with a spot for your thumb, for those who like to choke up. To be more ergonomic, it’s slightly curved at the base.
Stiletto claims the hammer hits with the same power as a 28-ounce steel hammer, but with less recoil and shock. I am not a physicist so I can’t explain exactly how this works or whether or not it’s actually is true (Stiletto explains here). What I do know, after swinging a titanium hammer for 12 years, is that I love having less weight in my nail bags, less weight to swing when I drive nails, and a hammer that doesn’t break or have its head become loose.
For this article, we received 16- and 14-ounce versions of this hammer from the manufacturer. The 16-ounce model’s handle is slightly longer than that of my Tibone so it gives me a little more reach. I really like this hammer; it drives nails well and slides easily in and out of my hammer loop (I have to spin my Tibone slightly to get it to slide through). After using the tools for about two months, my co-worker and I agree that the 16-ounce model is the better of the two—and about perfect for framing.
This is where the review becomes difficult. After using the Stiletto Hybrid Fiberglass hammer, I realized just how much I love the Tibone. Why? The awesome side puller. When I need to pull a nail (yes I make mistakes all the time), I get the nail started with a Japanese style nail puller, pulling it out an inch or less. I can then hook the side nail puller and yank the nail without any strain to my arm because I can use the leverage of the longer hammer handle (video below).
This method is easier and less destructive to the surface than driving the cat’s paw under the nail and repeatedly yanking to pull the nail out. I know, a long cat’s paw might be able to do the entire job itself, but I want to be able to carry a small cat’s paw in my bags—not a large one.
A Tibone hammer is expensive, retailing for about $220. It’s worth it to me because I use hammers every day all day long. If you can’t justify the price of a TiBone then I’d recommend buying the 16-ounce fiberglass handle version. It’s light, hits hard, and will be a durable hammer. The only thing it lacks is the side nail puller.
A word of caution about using the fiberglass handle model: The head is solid titanium and if you use it to hit hardened steel (like a cat’s paw) the milled face will soon become smooth. I know a lot of guys who use this type of hammer and it doesn’t bother them if the face becomes smooth. The Tibone has a replaceable steel face and by the time I replace it, it too is smooth—so to me wearing out the mill face is not a big problem. I’ve had good experiences using Stiletto hammers and when guys come onto my crew they usually end up switching to that brand.
Stiletto Titanium Hybrid Fiberglass Handle Hammer Specs
Weight: 14 or 16 ounces
Length: 16 inches (14 oz. model); 18 inches (16 oz. model)
Face: titanium; smooth or milled
List price: $150 (14 oz.); $160 (16 oz.)