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With the recent camera releases (or maybe Spring fever) I've been rather amazed watching various photography forums have major melt downs during the last few weeks. I said something about cameras and lenses just being tools, not life and death, and got immediately annihilated. They aren't just tools, I was told, they are the means to make a living for some people, and the passionate hobby of others. That got me thinking, though: I have friends who make their living as carpenters, and others for whom woodworking is a passionate hobby. I got to thinking how silly their forums would seem if they acted like we do:

So, here's a thread from Hammeruser.com



Thread Title: Nails for Stiletto TB15?

Hammeruser: I’ve saved up for months and just got my Stiletto TB15SS titanium hammer. At $220 they’re pricey but with the replaceable stainless steel face, ultra light weight handle, and excellent balance I can see myself using this for many years. I’ve had it 3 days now and it’s just wonderful. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good framing nail to use with this hammer?

Hammergeek: You say it’s wonderful but I don’t see any photos of nails you’ve driven. I think it’s just overpriced crap.

Hammerfiend: You know, Ken Rockbuster said the Stiletto is really overpriced and he wouldn’t have one. For $14 you can get a Tekton rubber mallet set. It’s not any good for driving nails, but it is great for body work on your car. That’s what Ken recommends.

MC: If you really were a professional, you’d be using a Graintex SH 1660 sledgehammer. It’s got a 36 inch handle and 20 lb head and can tear through walls in a heartbeat. Your Stiletto can't touch this.

Hammeruser: I do framing work and carpentry, so tearing through walls really doesn’t apply to my work.

M.C.: That’s because you have absolutely no skills. A good hammer user can drive nails with a 20 pound sledghammer with no problem. You’re one of those rich doctors, aren’t you, that thinks upgrading your hammer is going to make you a better carpenter?

Hammeruser: Here’s a picture of some framing I did with the hammer yesterday in about 2 hours. I really think it's going to make me more productive.

Hammertime: I blew up those pictures 200%, ran them through Photoshop and measured the arctan radius of the depth of the nailheads. It’s obvious that you were torquing the hammer from right to left when using it, which makes all of the framing you did inconsequenctial and of no use to anyone. A better hammer doesn’t make up for poor technique.

Banger: A real carpenter could have done that with rusty wire and a rock. It’s not about the equipment, it’s about the carpenter.

Hammerangel2: User, don’t pay any attention to M.C., he’s an absolute Graintex fanboy and has lost all perspective.

M.C.: How would you know what I am? I’ve made hundreds of dollars every year with my Graintex tearing down walls, which makes me a full-time professional. You amateurs make me sick.

Newhammerer: I’ve got an order in for mine through Amazon, but I’m concerned about getting a bad copy. How do I test the hammer when I first get it to make sure I have a good copy?

Thor: You guys are all wrong. I do all my work with an SE 11” rock pick. M. C., haven’t you watched Shawshank Redemtion? That guy hammered through a prison with an SE 11. Sure it took a few years, but anything you really love doing you’ll be doing for years. Just because something is newer, doesn’t make it better.

Hammeruser: Could anyone make some suggestions about good nails?

WhammerHammer: Why don’t you read the manual, do a Google search, and stop wasting our time with inane questions? Besides which, if you were a really good hammerer it wouldn’t matter what type of nails you used.

Whacker: H2O just released their latest Impact Index and the Stilleto rated 92.745, the highest impact per oblique force applied they’ve measured (except for jackhammers).

BigBanger: I don’t trust anything H20 measures, they’re numbers are all crap and don’t reflect real-world hammering. Besides, they down score everything to be equivalent to a 6 ounce jewelers hammer, which makes no sense. I prefer a 'hand's on' review. Maxwell's reviews over at SilverHammer.com really let you know how a hammer does in the real world.

Nailguru2: Hammeruser, while others will stick with the mainstream manufacturers, I’d take a real hard look at Grip Rite galvanized zinc coated sinkers. They’re a classic design, the sharpest nails made, and have amazing microcontact. Plus they’re hand assembled in Germany, not mass-produced in Taiwan.

Hammergeek: All I can say is after reading this thread I’ve cancelled my order for the Stilletto TB15. I’ll wait until the price drops. In the meantime I’m thinking about buying a used TB10 on the Buy and Sell forum.

Banger: Why don’t you rent one for a few days and see how you like it? Hammerrentals.com has them for $29 for 4 days. You could build a nice shed in that amount of time and really get a feel for how it works for you.

WhammerHammer: I agree with Hammergeek. The price is insane. I’ve started a petition to boycott Stilletto until they make their prices more reasonable. They think just because there’s a 4 month waiting list for their new hammers they can charge whatever they want. They’d sell twice as many if they just charged $25.

Euronailer: You guys think you’ve got it bad? Over here the Stilleto is 300 Euros and we’ve got 17% VAT. You guys in the U. S. need to stop complaining. I may fly over to the U. S. and pick one up, the money I save would pay for 1/162 of my air fare.

Justgotmine. I just finished using my brand new Stilleto. Here’s some shots of nails I’ve driven. Do you guys think I have a good copy of the hammer? The nails seem a little crooked to me, but that might just be technique.

Hammerguru: Justgotmine – looking at your images those are pretty long nails. Were you using good technique with a nail stabilizer? It also seems the hammer wasn't lined up square to the target. It’s impossible for us to help you if you don’t eliminate all the other variables. It could be the hammer, could be the nails, could be technique.

Nailed'em: Nailguru, you’re always over here spouting about 'microcontact' and the way the nails 'render'. That’s all BS put out by you Grip Right elitists. I can get 4 boxes of Smegma nails for what just one box of Grip Right costs and they work just fine.

Banger: I had to try 4 boxes of Smegma nails to get just one that was sharp.

Nailguru2: I’m not a Smegma fan by any means, but if you get soft nails you can send them back to the factory to be resharpened under warranty. I had them resharpen a box of mine and they were incredible!

Nailer: Did you guys see that Hammerrumors.com says that Big Blu hammers is coming out with an X-2 in time for Hammerkina? It’s going to have a synthetic rubber grip, fiberglass shock absorbing, and a semi-square rocker face. I’m holding off any new purchases till I see some nails driven with that baby.

Roger: In this case, it truly is the user, not the hammer: Hammertime

</Satire off>

Author's note: This little post got a lot more attention than I had expected. The most interesting thing to me is that it's now been reposted to forums involving gun collecting, coffee tasting, audiophiles, automobiles, computer programming, videography, racing bicycles, and (I should have known)  various tools. All of whom identified with it. So I guess I learned today that it isn't just photographers who act like we act. Apparently it's people.

And from the "OMG are we sick or what?" department, Amazon is now nearly sold out of Stilletto TB15SS. Seriously. You guys just had to try it out, didn't you? :-)

Finally, don't stop reading here. The reader's comments are much funnier than the blog post. As always, I thank everyone who took the time to post comments. Once again the reader's comments are better than the author's blog.


PS - for the several people who suggested nail guns should be included in the discussion, that wouldn't work because . . . .

. . . . wait for it . . .

this forum doesn't discuss point and shoots.

347 Responses to “Hammerforum.com”

Frank said:

Love the closing line!

Boom Boom!

scott said:


Philip Hinkle said:

Awesome post Ron. Those that annihilated you are the very problem in both the photo can video industry. It's not about the tools it's about the person using the tool. A great photog can take a T2i with an 18-55 kit lens and out shoot Aunt Jane with a 5DMKIII and a 24-70 2.0L lens. A great videographer can take a consumer cam or even a Flip type cam and outshoot Uncle Joe with an EX1 because they understand how to shoot great video. It's just like the Mac/PC debate over editing systems. I love to debate with Mac people cause I'm a PC users but it still boils down to the editor behind the tool and not the system or the software. Randy Stubbs of the event video world used to create award winning projects on $100 consumer software with a basic prosumer level camera because he knew what he was going.

Those people that took you to task just did it cause they are the ones that feel they need the bells and whistles to be better. It's all a "size matters" game to them. Don't let them get to you. You are smarter than that.

I'm a DSLR shooter now and my whole rig consists of a few GH2s, a SteddiePod, my Cineglasses (ie...reading glasses) and a few Lumix fast primes. I can shoot great footage with those tools and not look like the Terminator....oh and I use AutoFocus too on the new Lumix lenses cause it works and I can be more productive when the situation is right. Being a Pro isn't about doing everything with the most expensive gear in all Manual mode....it's about knowing when the tools at your disposal can be used most efficiently.

Joe G | fotosiamo said:

An awesome article Roger! I shoot fashion and commercial photography, but with a Panasonic GH2 mu4/3 camera and I have gotten great reviews of my work despite it not being shot with a Canon or Nikon. You can see my work at http://www.fotosiamo.com

I also write for http://www.SLRLounge.com, and I linked this article on our page because it is a real good read for every photographer out there:


Thanks Roger!

- Joe Gunawan | http://www.fotosiamo.com

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Thank you, Joe. I like your illustration better than mine. Wish I had thought of that!


swoiwode said:

LOL at the last line. And, overall too true. Thanks, Scott

Yves Choquette said:

And the wooden hammer? Where's the wooden hammer for the nostalgic weirdos?

Uhit said:

Hammering is a no brainer...
...if it weren't so, one would get serious headache!


Everybody knows, that the real nostalgic weirdos use their head for... err...
...their work.

...and remember, there is a big difference between wood and wood -
same with hammer head.


As always:

Nail what You want with the tool that fits the best,
but don't moan about the outcome if it is a no brainer...

...tools for fools - knock on wood!

TechSupport said:

"What happens to my nail when I use a crophammer; will it come out of the other end of the subject wood? Is it really closer when I hit it? Can I really stand farther away?"

There's definitely a bigger chance for the nail to go through the whole wall with the crophammer, as the Depth Of Fit is bigger. Standing farther away from the wall should alleviate that, you are correct. It is perfect though for very thick walls.

Melker said:

I prefer to drive my nails in with the Nikon F or the Canon F1. The F4 have to soft rubber covering the body to be a good hammer...oh wait I´ll guess I mixed my hobbys. How do you push a sledgehammer two steps ;-)


Melker said:

Tecsupport: Woldn´t you need good working light to be able to drive the nails all the way trough the wall with a crop hammer? A full hammer would do the job in less light and you would´t need blocking earmuffs due to lesser noise.

Hammerparty said:

i wonder what operating system to use with my new TB15SS

Brian said:

Operating system? Well, certainly not Windows I should think..... :)

geornejoype said:

перевозки грузов в контейнерах

Toftinite said:

dellllllll :)

aneciglover said:

every day i smoke ecigarette

boggyhammer said:

As no one else has mentioned it I should raise the use of man made uneven round headed nails that one over-hammered give a nice soft 'bokeh' effect to the framing...

David Evans said:

I find the brass base plate of a Leica M9 really shows its class as it is applied to a good old solid titanium nail. This requires much more skill than a hammer because, obviously, you can only see 2/3 of the nail when checking through the viewfinder.

canlı tv said:

thanks for this post. goods it. i like...

John Young said:

One problem I see with the Stiletto is the fact that there are only a handful of nails out there capable of taking full advantage of the pixel size/density of the new Titanium. No zoom nails currently made will stand up, so that leaves us with fixed-length nails.

Since this is a full-frame hammer, if you want to cover all framing needs, you will have to carry 15mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm, 200mm, and either 300mm or 400mm nails. Most of us aren't strong enough to carry all these nails. Yet, if you are going to walk around with gaps in your nail lengths, why invest in a full-frame Titanium hammer to begin with?

I know there are some legends like Henri Carpenter-Person that got by with a full frame hammer and 50mm nails, but most of us aren't up to his standard. Other legends used much heavier equipment altogether... walking in the footsteps of Anvil Adams.

Granted, if you are like me and primarily frame sporting arenas, there is still no better option than a trusty fast 70-200 zoom nail, but results might be less optimal than you expect. I built over 50 frames using a Stiletto and my 70-200 zoom nails and blew them up to 1,000%. I tested hammering anywhere from 2.8 times with short quick strokes to freeze the frame all the way up to 11 and even 16 times with long slow strokes for better depth of nail.

When I blew up the frames and looked at the nail heads, those hammered 2.8 times only showed Titanium level accuracy in the center 1/3 of the nail head. The outer edges of the nail head could have been hit with a rock. Optimal quality seemed to be in the 4-5.6 hits range. Anything above 5.6 hits began to show deterioration of the nail head due to deflection.

Using my best fixed length nail, the quality was indeed superb. In fact, I can honestly say I've never seen anything like it. Of interest, I noted a slight degree of focus shift with this nail which required me to aim just a fraction above the nail head. Getting these results required near perfect technique, though... which few framers possess.

and FINALLY... don't forget about the TRIPOD!!!

We all know that for any kind of framing other than sports arenas, it is impossible to hand-hit a nail as well as you can hit it using a tripod. But when you hit a nail using a Titanium hammer on a tripod, it's vibration city!!! This means you will have no choice but to fork out the money for the top-of-the-line carbon fiber tripod from Hit-mo.

All-in-all, I'm not sure I'm ready to take the plunge just yet. Besides... one of the best pieces of advice I ever received was by on old framer who told me "Always Invest in nails, not hammers".

Ben said:

Amazing. Simply hilarious.
My roommate is giving me funny looks because I keep bursting out laughing.

Phil said:

Well said. And I agree. A camera, like a gun, is just a tool.

Yves said:

Until Stiletto comes out with their new face plate that hits nails but avoids fingers, I won't buy one. On top of that, the laser device which points the nails is useless : too powerful and melts the nails before you even hit it...

Ha! Driving nails is driving me nuts

Brian MacDougall said:

Classic...especially "Hammerkina."

Michael Everhart said:

You really hit the nail on the head!

Nosaj said:

I didn't even realise what it was originally supposed to be parodying. The story just rings so true in so many different areas of the internet. :P

Arturo V Ramos said:

will be waitng for your comparison/s between D4 fps and your TB15 nps (nails per second) performance.
....see yah at " HAMMERKINA 2013"

Carroll Stewart said:

I can't remember how many times I have pulled a nail out of my apron, with the point on the wrong end. Before I even have my CanNikca Boron Hammer out of it's Huitoper life-time guaranteed holster, the 8976.4 MP sensor on my CanNikca,(with AlienNail wireless safety warning signal software,Version 345B), alerted me and saved a smashed thumb each and every time, pretty much..

My apologies for going off-topic, I just felt the TB15 had just been beaten to death.

Terrence Butz said:

Having recently been assigned to new market development for Maybelline, it has come to my attention that many thousands of carpenters across the country are not aware of the benefits of using our extensive line of colorful nail polish products. Maybelline Nail Polish can be applied to everything from simple box nails to heavy construction spikes. Our nail polish makes it possible to easily drive large railroad spikes with a five ounce finish hammer. By using bright colors such as Pink Shock or Fuschia Fever, your local building inspector will have an easier job determining if your construction project meets code nailing requirements. We understand that the half-ounce bottles of nail polish sold to fashion conscious women at cosmetic counters would not go very far when polishing nails for a new housing development. With proper identification, carpenters will be able to purchase our full line of fashion colors in 55 gallon barrels. Please contact your Maybelline representative for samples and to set up a delivery schedule.

Terrence Butz
Maybelline, Inc.

Lee H. said:

LOL - I'd missed this from last year, but extremely funny. Thanks Roger!

Mike N said:

Where are the blue Lithuanian hammers? The red ones are fake.

T.L. Lang said:

You hit the nail on the head.

Ebll said:

I'll just keep waiting for a FF hammer (full faced)haha

Cet said:

This was the best part of it:

"Banger: I had to try 4 boxes of Smegma nails to get just one that was sharp."

Damn, that reminded me so much on my 4 Simgas 30/1.4 DC EX HSM

Mulder said:

with a proper sledgehammer you can use up to 2 stops less force than with a crophammer. if you use IS (Stiletto calls it VC) you can even lower your aiming time by up to 3 stops and still get straight nails into the wood, even viewed at 100%. With Stiletto I like that they built VC into the handle, that safes alot of dosh on nails b/c you can buy unstabilized nails, damn marketing strategists. oh, and never get he third party lens, you get what you pay for. just my 2 cents ;)

Nancy said:

“Banger: I had to try 4 boxes of Smegma nails to get just one that was sharp.”

Well, even my mom told me to never touch Smegma nails but to look out for canoncised Milah-nails only. It's a much healthier and cleaner banging.

Robin said:

All this is exactly what's wrong with the world today. Nails make it easy. I started with wooden pegs when I was mere nipper and have never seen the need to embrace all this newfangled nonsense with nails. The best wooden pegs come from Gottingen although the Soviets stole the best designs at the end of the war and made some pretty good copies.

BMFjackHammer said:

Hammeruser, you're either a Stiletto Fanboy "Tool" ... or a Stiletto Shill. M.C. hit the nail on the head. The Stiletto TB15SS is over-priced junk that couldn't drive a thumb tack into a cork board! I haven't actually tried one but, from what I've read (and I've read A Lot!), I don't care to. If you did ABX tests I bet you couldn't tell a TB15SS from a Fischer-Price.

Anyone with two-penny common sense knows that Hammer-World.org is "The Most Trusted Name for Pounders." Hammer-World recently reviewed the entire Stilleto line and gave the TB15SS their WORST rating: "TWO Smashed Thumbs Down."

IMHO, I don't get why hammer heads are so quick to jump on the FOTM and buy into all the hammer hype. I am Done with this thread!

Ron Weissman said:

I don't attend Hammerkina or CES (Construction Equipment Show) because I don't use mass market, 'big box' tools. I focus on building artistic sets for theatrical and Hollywood productions and thus have need of specialized Medium Format strikers, such as those like Scandinavia's FaceOne, where the striking plane can be replaced by one of several special purpose front elements from Mama Mia, Anvil, HassleWood and Contact!, based on the type of nail and the type of wood involved, density, plane of confusion and diameter of impact metrics.

Nevertheless, I have learned that the rumor site, HAR (Hammer, Anvil Rumor) has just published a highly speculative note on a so-called Z-Striker coming from Japan, where the hammer striking plane automatically senses and then calculates the right distance and force to hammer a nail, including old fashioned nails. This supposedly allows formerly manual hammers to operate with automated precision. This rumored Z-Striker has not even been confirmed, but has already led to dozens of forum postings and overheated debates and proclamations that established tool vendors are kaput.

Let's get real! Why spend so much silly time reacting to hints of suggestions of gossip about theoretically possible designs--but completely unverified-- that may or may not hit markets sometime in the distant future--or not. What's next? Debates about validity of as yet unknown H2O measurement results for an unconfirmed tool with zero known operating characteristics?

Pat Cree said:

I am an audiophile as well as a photo junkie and both hobbies have those who suffer from "upgradeitis". My advice is:-

Buy the best item for your budget, when you need it, and don't replace it until it breaks, or technology revolutions have really made it obsolete (for example film to digital cameras).

Ansel Adams took astonishing photos in the wilderness of Yosemite with a huge glass plate camera. The camera and magazine of ten plates must have weighed 25 kg. If he had an exposure meter, it was quite primitive. On a day trip, he could take only ten shots, unlike our modern digital cameras, which allow hundreds of attempts.

His output and that of similar geniuses should remind us all that the photographer, not the equipment, makes a great image.

A note to audiophiles: Once you have something quite good, listen to the music, but if you haven't got a good sub-woofer buy a one now! I have 40 year old vinyl records which reveal deep bass I never knew was there until I bought one.

Even if you have the latest Stiletto TB15SS, you can't beat a good 4lb sledgehammer for those inconvenient walls you may need to knock down someday!

Gordon Cooper said:

I note that you entirely ignored the flint, bone, horn, copper, brass and bronze hammer using crowd. Makita still makes accessories for most of these products, even if you have to do some filing to use the carbon fiber adapter handles.

The new Stiletto 5000 will not drive nails made before Spring of 2013. Even if you ignore that, the plutonium powered handle warmer option for the Arctic is still so buggy that it melts 20% of the nails it comes in contact with. Stiletto claims that is a desirable feature, but I am not so sure that the fact it glows in the dark will help me increase productivity. It was nice of them to include the free bottle of Rogaine in the Gucci bag that the hammer kit came in.

exeter carpenters said:

how to calculate angles in carpentry work?

DSPounder said:

All this talk about nail sharpness makes no sense at all!
If you actually investigate the physics you will find that while it's true that a sharp nail slips easily between the fibers of wood, it just as easily will slip right out again. So, if you don't want to have to go around every three months pounding all the nails in your deck back in, you will make sure to get *dull* nails. I have even gone so far as to purposely blunt the tips of my nails by hitting them all on the wrong end with a hammer before driving them. Then, when driven into wood, instead of slipping between the wood fibers, they break them. The broken fiber ends then grip the nails holding them in-place *much better* than sharp nails.

Rich Owen said:

What a hoot! And oh so true!!!

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