Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
Matt

Big Wall Hammer vs. Carpentry Hammer

Recommended Posts

The other day a climbing buddy was trying to convince me that an $86.00 Black Diamond Yosemite Hammer was a waste of money. He said for less than $20 you can find a perfectly good hammer at a hardware store. Sure, you don’t get a fancy hole in the head to yank pins out with, but it’s not that hard to wrap some webbing around the head and made due with what you have. I admit to only have pounded a handful pins so I’m not really sure if I believe him. I know clean aid is the wave of the future-- if I’m trying to minimize my impact on the rock do I really want to pay that much money for something that says I’ve given up on clean climbing? If I shell out $86 for a fancy hammer I’ll want to use it, however, if all I have is a $7.00 carpentry hammer maybe I won’t. Part of me says, “Simplify,” while the other shouts, “But the big wall hammer is so cool!” My friend has spent considerable time in Yosemite and said once he broke his first wall hammer he switched to regular carpentry hammers. What do you think? Is the design of the Black Diamond or other big wall hammers earth shatteringly superior to carpentry hammers, making it an essential piece of today’s aid climber’s rack or will a regular joe blow hammer suffice?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a BD hammer, broke the handle, replaced it and sold the hammer. I had one of those SMiley hammers with a non-wood shaft kinda like an Estwing. The grip sucked and I hated it so I gave it away to a dirtbag Russian in Camp4 who was short on loot (and a hell of a nice guy to boot). I now swing a Kong "Eagle" hammer. Cheaper than the BDs (I think I paid around $65),a little heavier, and I like the head design a little better. This is actually a "Jim Bridwell sig model" hence the "bird/eagle thing". I figure Jim's placed a few pins and knows what belongs in a wall hammer. As for using a carpentry hammer you absolutely could do so, but get one that is fairly hefty, has a square head (for nailing in corners) and preferably does not have a "claw" on the back end. Something resembling a dull pointed back end would be preferable to allow head pasting (a blunt set of chisels and a center punch will work much better though and you'll want them for long stretches of heads anyway).

I've looked in quite a few tool stores and the Estwing catalog and never saw anything I'd personally want to take up a wall. If you're only wanting to try out wall climbing and looking to cut costs, there are plenty of ways to do it...like renting a ledge/haulbag/etc instead of buying. Growing to hate a hammer with 12 more pitches of nailing/cleaning ahead of you will not be fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Matt,

I like the Camp Brenta Hammer - $45.00 Canadian at MEC. From the description:

"The Brenta offers enough metal for getting those pins into place but has less swing power up high for relentless hammering. It is lighter generally, and more balanced, than pure big wall hammers, so it’s ideal for occasional use. "

I saw one at Second Ascent for $25.00 recently.

This supports your ethical desire to avoid placing pins (less swing power), but is cheaper and specialized for climbing applications.

--Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used a carpentry hammer a bit...they work, but here are a couple of things to think about.

1. It needs to be good and heavy in the head so you can drive pins with 1 or 2 blows.

2. It needs to have a super bomber attachment point so that you don't kill your partner.(I had a crazy dream/nightmare about dropping my hammer on my partner one night on El Cap...it turned into a very bad situation...then I woke up. It felt like a bad omen...and later the next day the sling holding my hammer almost came untied!)

3. The hole in the head to yank with a funkness is crucial. I guess you could rig something else, but you need the weight of the head for it to work.

4. One main purpose of carrying a hammer on a "clean" route is to replace missing or broken copperheads. They nose on the Yosemite hammer works ok for this as a quik fix, otherwise you will always need some kind of chisel.

I don't know how someone could break a Yosemite hammer...they are so solid. You'd have to bang on a pin for hours, or hit the wood handle on a sharp edge. They are reinforced with a steel plate just below the head, but most carpentry hammers are not, I'd be worried about breaking one on a wall.

As far as the clean aid debate...

Just because you buy a hammer doesn't mean you must use it. Think of it as a last resort. Or just leave it behind until you do a route that you know will require nailing. If you leave the hammer in the bottom of the bag, you and your partner will be reluctant to take the time to get it out and send it up the tag line unless that is the only possible solution. Otherwise it will be more appealing to trust some sketchy clean piece. Have fun!

There are other good cheaper hammers out there, but I only have experience with the spendy BD one. It works well.

[ 01-28-2002: Message edited by: Lambone ]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will, how the hell did you brake a BD hammer. You are the first person i have ever heard of breaking one. I have had my BD hammer for 7 years now and it has gotten alot of use by valley standards and it is in good condition still.

I would highly recommend getting a BD one as opposed to using a carpentry hammer. Using a pience of webbing around the head to clean pins just doens't work if you have to clean more than a few pins on a pitch. Your arms will be so tired if you don't use a funkness and have a clip in hole for it you won't be able to put in a pin on your lead. I have broken my funkness part way through a route and had to clean with a piece of webbing and it sucked.

Matt, the whole clean climbing thing is great and if that is what you wan't to do don't buy a hammer right now. But if you really get into wallin you will be puttin in pins and cleaning pins and you will need a real hammer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by Wallstein:
Will, how the hell did you brake a BD hammer. You are the first person i have ever heard of breaking one

If you want to repeat this stunning feat of big wall trickery just do the following:

Get on a pitch that leans drastically to your non-dominant hand side. Lean way the hell out there and try placing an angle with your "off" hand. After about eight misplaced blows smacking the handle into the end of the pin (head was glancing off the pin and then the handle took the impact) hear a loud "crack/crunch". Inspect handle to see large chunk of upper handle flopping to the side. Retire hammer to bag and pass remainingg hammer back and forth on the haul line to lead and clean pitches. Pray you don't break the second hammer.

BTW, I've got two friends who've both broken hammers, a BD and an old A5. And both of those guys used to work general carpentry/framing! I was just lucky that the whole hammer head didn't go sailin' into the talus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A caveat: even if all you were going to do is clean aid, I'd say carry a hammer anyway for cleaning nuts. Its often the only way to get those really stuck fuckers out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It’s easy to replace wood handles. I have an old Chouinard head in my garage ready for a new handle right now. When its handle was last replaced it lasted several walls with extensive nailing only to break when I was using it as a pry bar. I think the advantages of a real piton hammer head are well worth the additional cost especially given that $50.00 more won’t seem so much up after a couple walls. When I have had wood handles break they have always loosened over time or split in such a way as to not loose the head. Now I always bring a spare along for the ride. If you ever see one of those discontinued Chouinard blue handled hammers for sale stay away. I was belaying a friend on a FA and as he was placing a bolt at the belay he noticed the head slowly detaching. It blew off before the bolt was placed. Now get this: he took it (the handle) back and complained and they said something to the effect that they knew there was a design problem with them and they were going back to wood handles. The sad part is the were still offering them for sale!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt:

I used both the BD hammer and a $7 hareware store hammer. A hareware store hammer is fine for most routes that don't require much nailing. This, in my experience, encompasses most trad routes as they can go mostly clean. The routes I've done were all climbed back in the day when the climbers required the creativity to modify or manufacture their own equipment. I don't think a overpriced hammer will make the difference between success and failure on moderate aid routes. I drilled a hole for a funkness device, chopped off one of the nail-grippers, and attached a leash.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grivel makes an 'alpine hammer', smaller and lighter than the BD Yo hammer. I find this to be the perfect thing for predominately clean routes that require occasional pins. Makes a great cleaning tool for stuck nuts and what not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That bricklayer hammer looks kinda cool. One thing I'd be worried about tho is the length of the pick(?). I use to climb alot with an old Chouinard Alpine hammer and the long pick was always getting tangled in stuff. I wonder how hard it would be to shorten the bricklayer. If I couldn't shorten it I am sure that the ensuing tangles would drive me batty. Anyone have any ideas on what the best way to shorten it would be? By the way after deciding that I never wanted to climbed another ice or mixed route I started using the pick end of the Alpine hammer as a cleaning tool and wore it down to a fair approximation of the Piton hammer shape.

PP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is kind of a different subject but I have a bricklayer hammer that I cut both ends of the head off of. I use it for cleaning those hard to floss wires. It isn't quite heavy enough to sink a pin but I don't use it for that. Sometimes I like to give my stacked wires a little love tap with the help of a stiff cleaning tool. I find that it makes a lot of "clean" pieces just a little bit more family friendly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is RURP:

I thought this Lamebone character does not know about aid climbing or has done very little. So why does he pretend he is an expert with such advice as about hammers? Maybe I would trust his advice more if he was to talk about gym chalk or "quick-draws".

RURP has spoken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey f%#*K you RURP...

I never said I was an expert at anything. Matt asked question and I offered my knowledge on the subject. I've done one nailing route in Yosemite, that is the extent of my hammer knowledge, so I listed the things I found important about hammers. Where do you come off judging my advice based on the fact that I work at a gym. How about you wait till you've climbed with me before you start talking shit.

'Bone has spoken...la-di-da. rolleyes.gif" border="0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the old BD hammer before they put the hole in it. I'll sell it for $40. While you're at, buy some pins too. 1 BD rurp, 1 CMI 21 rurp, 1 peck, 2 KB, 2 LA, 1 baby angle, 3 angles. Some scratches. Nothing major. $7 apiece OBO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A buddy of mine had a carpentry hammer. He had welded the claw shut then drilled it out for attaching a funkness.

You might also want to look at a bricklayers hammer. It will save you the trouble of welding the claw shut. All you would have to do is add a hole for said funkness. The other bene is that there is already beveled face for pasting copper heads. (go to www.sears.com and do a search for "bricklayer")

Not quite sure how you attach a leash to either. Maybe an eyebolt screwed into the bottom of the handle.

I've not used either so I can't comment either way on how effective they are.

gev

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×