Framing hammers are specialized claw hammers which have been specifically designed for use in framing tasks. Framing requires a lot of hammering at high speed, as the goal is to quickly establish the framework of a structure so that construction can start in earnest. These tools tend to be used primarily by professionals, although some people may keep a framing hammer around for heavy duty home improvement tasks.
The key feature of a framing hammer is that it is heavy, and it has a long handle. This provides a lot of driving power so that someone can drive in a nail with just a few strokes. It can take some time to get used to handling a framing hammer, as the heavy design and long handle are a bit off-putting at first. People with less arm strength may also have trouble wielding a framing hammer effectively.
Often, the head of a framing hammer is textured. This is designed to prevent slippage, so that the whole head of the hammer is an effective surface for nailing. The textured head can leave markings on the wood used in framing, but this is not viewed as a cause for concern, because the framing will be covered by other materials in the end. Textured heads also make framing hammers safer to use, since they are less likely to bounce or slide and hurt someone. For tasks on wood which will be seen, a smooth finishing hammer is used.
Some framing hammers have a classically curved claw, but many have rip claws, flattened claws which are designed for tearing things apart. The rip claw can be useful for quickly removing temporary supports during the framing process, and for rectifying mistakes quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
A shock absorber is often included in the design of a framing hammer to distribute the force of hammer blows, reducing the risk of injury for construction workers. The handle may also be designed for maximum traction and a comfortable grip so that the hammer will be easy and comfortable to use. Some framing hammers also include a nail start.
When choosing a framing hammer, it is a very good idea to handle the hammer, to get a sense of how it feels. It should feel comfortable and secure in the hand, and it should be easy to swing. If the hammer is difficult to swing or hard to control, it will be dangerous. If possible, it helps to actually use someone else's framing hammer on a job to see if a particular brand and model still feels good at the end of a day of work.