An Amazing Collection of Framing Hammers

Chaz Arthur in his shop with just a few of his 204 framing hammers, the vast majority of which have never been used. He chose to collect milled face framing hammers because it’s a small enough category for a regular person (someone who is not rich) to assemble a significant collection. As you go through these photos you’ll see he succeeded.

This Hart Tool Company California Framer was the first tool in Arthur’s collection. The original Hart Tool Company is gone and the brand (Hart Tools) is now owned by TTi (owner of Milwaukee, Ryobi, and Stiletto). The trademark “California Framer” is currently owned by Vaughan.

The Woody is based on a design by Todd Coonard and was brought to market by the Hart Tool Company. Good looks, a clever name, and an unusual head to handle interface made this hammer a status symbol on framing sites. It one liability was the price; at twice the cost of other hammers it was not a tool you wanted to leave lying out during lunch break.

The Stiletto AA14MC was designed by Gary Pimental and featured a titanium head and aluminum handle. Popular for its light weight, there were eventually problems with the head to handle connection; with enough repetition and the right amount of torque the head would break off. The failure of this tool led to the development of single-piece titanium hammers.

Stiletto has used a variety of materials in handles: aluminum, wood, and more recently fiberglass. But the product that really set them apart from the competition was the one-piece cast titanium hammer with a replaceable striking face.

For a short period of time Dead On Tools produced titanium headed models with replaceable steel faces. Attractive and well-balanced, they went out of production because Stiletto owned the patents on titanium heads.

Carpenter/inventor Harold Hurley dubbed this framer the Cobra. Introduced in 2001, it had an interchangeable striking face, quick change head, and short radius nail puller. According to Hurley its downfall was the packaging; it came with a spare face so it couldn’t hang with the other hammers. Vendors often put it on the shelf with replacement handles, where few shoppers saw them. About 5,000 Cobras were produced.

The Hardcore Hammer was invented by brothers, Steve and Rick Spencer, and is made in the U.S.A. It features a hardened milled disk set just below the face of the head—where it won’t scar the lumber or turn your fingers into mincemeat. There are currently 12 different models, all with wood handles. The company also makes axes and hatchets.

Arthur got this “Toasted” Woody in 2013 as a memento to celebrate his collection hitting the 200 mark. The hammer is a D20W Douglas, with art provided by Quintyn Zilembo of ToastedBoardz in Grants Pass, Oregon. Zilembo uses pyrography (wood burning) to decorate skateboards, axes handles, toolboxes, and anything else that catches his eye.

After losing the rights to the Douglas patent, Hart Tool Company quickly patented the head you see on this HW22SB (to prop up sales of the Woody). Hart eventually went under and the brand (Hart Tools) is now owned by TTi, which also owns, Milwaukee, Ryobi, and Stiletto.

The Gossage Side Strike had a milled face and side—for striking nails sideways when there isn't space to use the face. The trademark for this hammer was filed in 1994 by Greg Gossage of Santa Rosa, California. The tool has long since gone out of production.

The Dogyu is typical of the bugle shaped hammers used in Japan. Estwing makes a hammer of this type for sale in Asia.

The PowerStrike is a current model hammer designed and produced by Gary Pimental, the designer of the original aluminum handled Stiletto. Strong and light, it features an interchangeable striking faces (smooth or milled bullseye pattern). The PowerStrike is manufacturer in Vista, Calif.

The Nupla 19028 features the well-known Nupla rubber grip fiberglass handle and is one of several dead-blow framing hammers on the market.

Hunter patented a hammer with overstrike protection incorporated into the head. Sold between 2000 and 2010, the tool is basically a Hart with overstrike protection.

The Douglas D20 Woody sold for a short period of time in 2012 but went away because TTi owned Hart Tools holds the trademark to the Woody name.

The Dude Nail Buster is based on the design of the Patriot Hammer, which was introduced by the Hart Tool Company during the patriotic groundswell following the 9/11 attacks. Sold by a Southern California company called Dude Tools, the Nail Buster is made in the U.S.A. and has 9 stars on one side of the head and 11 on the other, to honor the fallen.

The brainchild of Ted Floyd, the Ted Hammer had a triangular striking face for striking into corners. Produced in the early 90’s the Ted Hammer was forged and assembled in the U.S.A and originally sold for $37.

In addition to the Ted Hammer, Ted Floyd also patented the head and construction techniques used to create the top Banana, which had a stainless steel head, dimpled striking face, and synthetic handle.

This rare True Temper Rocket A20RS is one of the few used tools in the collection, and as you can see, it’s pretty used up. One of Arthur’s dreams as a collector it to find one that has never been used. Until that happens, he’ll keep the old one as a placeholder.

This strange looking Estwing (WF21LM) is one of a couple of weight-forward models produced by the company in recent years. It was designed to provide a more natural striking angle, dampen vibration, and have a solid connection between handle and head. This particular model had a square striking face for access into corners; it was later dropped for a model with a round face (WF21LG). Estwing seems to have dropped these hammers but some vendors still have them in stock.

The BCX HardCore Red is part of a limited run of “art piece” hammers produced by HardCore and the famed Canadian axe specialist Graeme Cameron. It’s unlikely very many of them ever got used.

The Estwing Hammertooth Hammer has a fin-like projection that can be used to tweak framing lumber by pinching it between claw and fin and then twisting. The name is a play on the Hammerhead shark.

The idea behind the Vaughn S2 was to make it possible to replace the head, claw, or handle as needed. Features include overstrike protection on the handle and cushioning behind the striking face. This hammer is out of production.

Arthur’s collection is too large to keep on display; he stores it in a series of Rubbermaid containers with cardboard between layers. He is up to 20 containers with three layers of hammers inside. Arthur has no trouble finding any one tool because the boxes are labeled and he keeps a list of what’s stored in each.

Here are a few of the patent documents for tools in the collection.

More patent documents.

Here’s a look at both sides of the “Toasted” Woody made for Arthur by Quintyn Zilembo of ToastedBoardz.

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