At first glance, there may not be a whole lot of difference between a hammer and a mallet. After all, they are both used to strike fasteners and workpieces, right? How much more of a difference could there really be?
As it turns out, there are a plethora of differences between the two. Knowing the different features of mallets and hammers will leave you better prepared to choose the best one for the job.
Before you go looking for hammers and mallets from a trusted vendor like RS, know about the construction and materials involved. Perhaps the most notable difference between a mallet and a hammer is the construction of the head. A mallet has a cylindrical head constructed from a variety of materials. A hammer, meanwhile, has a flat head and is typically made of metal.
These shapes give each of them unique benefits. The round head of the mallet is great for striking materials that could become easily damaged. For soft objects like glass and stone, a mallet is a must. If you need to hammer fasteners into place or deliver serious force, then a hammer is the better option.
Generally speaking, a hammer is going to be smaller than your average mallet. The handles are a bit longer and the heads are smaller. If you’re working in a small space, a hammer may be better suited for the project. A mallet could wind up being too cumbersome, keeping you from getting a full swing where it is needed.
Mallets, with their long handles and larger heads, provide more power over a larger surface area. For tasks like shaping metal or pounding out dents, a mallet is the perfect option. If you need a little more precision, like hitting the small head of a nail, then a hammer is probably going to be the more suitable option of the two.
Aside from the head construction, the biggest difference between a hammer and a mallet is the material used in the construction of the head. Hammers nearly always have a hard, metal head, though that type of metal can vary. They are much more ideal for heavy work like breaking through rigid materials or striking nails.
For more delicate procedures, a mallet would be better suited. That’s because mallets come in a wide range of materials like wood, rubber, and plastic. Each of these mallets serves a specific purpose and shouldn’t leave any marks compared to a standard hammer. Another consideration to make is durability. Metal hammers are going to hold up over a longer period because the metal won’t chip or crack unless placed in extreme situations. Mallets, meanwhile, can suffer damage if they are used for anything other than their intended purpose.
Made with a larger head, mallets are great because they distribute the force of the blow over a larger surface area. That even distribution makes it less likely for damage to occur. On harder materials, that might not necessarily matter but for softer materials, it can make a world of difference. A few light taps with a mallet should be enough to get the job done and leave you confident that there will be no issues with the surface area.
A metal hammer, however, has far more concentrated impact power. This is partially due to the fact that the head is harder, but it also has a much more precise point of impact. That power is great for penetrating harder surfaces or delivering enough for smaller surface areas like the head of the nail.