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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Craftsman Hammerhead Auto-Hammer Review

Craftsman gave me their NEXTEC Hammerhead Cordless Auto-Hammer to review. It is a battery operated nailer that doesn’t need a hose or compressor, unlike a large pneumatic nail gun. It’s also a much lighter weight than a pneumatic nail gun – something that this short woman appreciates. It quickly and powerfully drives a variety of nail sizes.

My test: I took the Auto-Hammer to a family reunion to a give it a thorough test run in case the party got a little slow and to get numerous opinions on it. Needless to say, if you want to get cozy with some of your husband’s older male relatives that you really don’t know very well and are a little old fashioned about women doing DIY projects, bring a new power tool to test at a family gathering. Just a helpful hint from me to you.

We had a bunch of different size nails and nailed some scrap boards together. We compared the performance of the Hammerhead Auto-Hammer to a traditional claw hammer.

The results: The Auto-Hammer did what it said – it hammers nails. Some of the older men in my posse, test group, as well as myself liked that the Hammerhead did it with minimal effort on the user’s part. I’m short, and sometimes I don’t have the extra oomph needed to start a nail without bending it while I’m trying to drive it into a wall. Not so, with the Hammerhead. A squeeze a the trigger and a little downward pressure is all it took to drive a large nail into a couple of two by fours. Even my nephew Mr. J(age7) and his girly girl sister Miss H(age 6) both used it to easily nail thick boards together without incident (they were surrounded by adults and all safety precautions were taken.) I asked Mr.J7 what he thought of the Hammerhead Auto-Hammer and he said, “Cool. You could build a doghouse real quick with that.” Miss H6 agreed and with that picked up her stuffed unicorn with the fuzzy purple mane and scampered off to play.

Where the Auto-Hammer really impressed my audience was at removing nails. Sure, the Auto-Hammer kit comes with a small (and very cute) pry bar, if you need to pull a nail out a wall BUT if you’re in a situation where you can flip the boards over you use the Auto-Hammer to drive the nails out of the backside of a board it did it much more easily than trying to remove them with the claw part of a conventional hammer. This isn’t the intended purpose of the Auto-Hammer (please use caution doing so) but every single man in my party was duly impressed and wanted to give that a try. Most said that application alone would make them consider buying the Auto-Hammer despite the $100 price tag.

Pros



  1. The magnet in the head holds nails up to 7/16-in wide. Great for those times when you wish you had three hands to hold the nail, steady the wood, and whack the nail on the head.

  2. The magnet in the head makes for very little chance of smacking your fingers with the hammerhead or dropping a nail before hammering it.

  3. Great for those tight areas where you can’t fully swing a claw hammer or don’t have the strength to fully drive a nail into a thick pieces of wood.

  4. Great for those jobs that are in between using a claw hammer and a pneumatic nail gun.

  5. Easy to use. I really hate to use the cliché “so easy a kid can use it” but I think my test demonstrated that with adult supervision, a young person can safely and successfully use this tool the first time out.

  6. Best when using larger nails than smaller size nails. Small nails tended to bend, much like when using a claw hammer but easily remedied if you hold the nail to the board with a pair of needle nose pliers, something I also do when using a conventional claw hammer.

  7. Much easier to use to start hammering a nail into hardwoods than with a conventional hammer!

Cons



  1. The nail sleeve that covers up the impact mechanism and retracts during use can leave divot marks on the wood if you aren’t careful.

  2. Not powerful enough to replace a pneumatic nail gun in order to use for heavy professional construction work (think building a people sized house) but it’s not intended to do so. It’s great for smaller projects, like say, the dog house my nephew suggested or hanging peg board on one of the walls of my garage, etc.

  3. The battery is a little hard to push into the charger. It requires a good shove to fully seat the battery onto the prongs in the charger in order to fully charge the battery. If the battery isn’t fully seated it won’t charge properly and you’ll be very disappointed with the results (obviously.)

Overall I like the Craftsmen Hammerhead Cordless Auto-Hammer. I think Craftsman got this one right because it is a power tool that appeals to both women and men for a variety of reasons. It’s a nice addition to my toolbox and if the men in my group had their way, I’d give up the Auto-Hammer and it would be a nice addition to their toolboxes. Not likely. I’m keeping the one I tested. However, I’m not ruling out buying one for those men on my gift list who suggested that I store it in their garages instead of my own.