How To Hammer a Nail

Whether you are afraid of smashing a finger with the hammer or you’re having trouble getting the nail in straight, hammering a nail into a board or wall can become a simple and painless task with just a few simple steps.

The Hammer

For basic tasks around the home, you’re best using a 16-ounce curved claw hammer. It can be found at any hardware store. Avoid purchasing larger hammers because they are harder to handle and if you miss the nail you may end up with a hole in your wall. A smaller hammer is for more delicate work but, if it is all you have on hand, it will probably work for hammering a nail into drywall. You can check this hammer buyer’s guide.

Using a Hammer

When hammering in a nail, you want to let gravity do most of the work for you. Hold the handle near the end. Don’t grip the hammer tightly. Instead, hold it comfortably in your hand.

When you are hammering, allow gravity to bring down the head of the hammer. Use your whole arm to swing the hammer, not your wrist. Keep your wrist comfortably straight to avoid injury.

Holding The Nail

For most people who are not comfortable using a hammer, one of their biggest fears is accidentally hammering a finger or two. If this fear is stopping you or slowing you down, try one of these two tricks.


One of the oldest tricks in the book is to hold the nail in place with a pair of pliers. You will find that a nail can usually be held straight with the pliers and your fingers will be out of the way of the hammerhead.

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Index Card or Pressed Board

Another trick to holding the nail is to first push the nail through an index card. This works best with fine nails. Position the nail to where you want it and hold the end of the index card as you hammer. When the nail is hammered in place, tear away the index card.

If you don’t have an index card handy or if a card is bending under the weight of the nail you are using, use a piece of pressed cardboard. You can cut a rectangular piece of pressed cardboard from a cereal box or notebook cover. Push the nail through the cardboard and line the nail up to the desired spot. Hammer the nail into place, your fingers safely holding the end of the cardboard, and tear away the pressed cardboard.

Nail Holder

Or you can also buy a cheap nail holder, which makes it easy to hold a nail and also keeps your fingers safe.

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