Perhaps you have seen a commercial for the Craftsman Auto-Hammer recently and wondered as I did how useful is this new tool really. Would this ever replace my real hammer? Can it do handle large nails, what about finishing nails? I had the chance to review one the other day and hopefully this will provide a little insight if you are thinking about getting one or asking Santa to put one under the tree. Checkout the photos and also a Coptool YouTube video below.
Out of the Box
A flip up view window to check out what’s inside… I suppose it can be helpful to check out the actual size of the tool, closest you’ll get to having a model on display. Just like the large Lego kits from my younger years, got me pumped then too. When I got the tool out I was a little surprised it had only 1 battery, I had originally thought it came with two. Also the bag was a little wimpy; it comes in two separate parts you need to put together by the zipper. As for the tool itself it’s pretty basic, no battery indicator, speed adjustment, adjustable heads or other such features. The good news is the tool is the perfect size, it feels nice in the hand with a large trigger and full soft grip that goes all the way to the top so you can use your other hand to stabilize the head. The battery looks just like every other 12 volt lithium you have ever seen with 3 cells inside. The charger is pretty basic with standard indicator lights and 30 minute charge time.
Feature / Benefits of the Auto-Hammer
While the Auto-Hammer is pretty basic at first glance there are some thoughtful features that went into building this tool. First off the LED light can be a big help in some applications, working outside or in a well lit shop obviously not necessary but there would be many situations it could be useful. The magnetic head is also another smart feature that was added to this tool. You can put a nail in the head and drive it accurately with just one hand, no need to hold the nail as all. This could be handy if working on a ladder or trying to hold up something while trying to hammer.
But How Does it Work
I went through an entire battery worth of test nails of all sizes from little trim nails to large deck nails and other odd things. I got about 80 nails in with the one battery. Right off the bat I was a little frustrated with how the auto hammer worked it would start the nail great, get it all the way down but once you get to the end the piston would vibrate off the nail head and hit the wood. Also it was hard to tell when you finally did get the nail all the way in, so I kept taking the auto-hammer off, checking the nail depth and putting it back on. However after doing about half the nails I did get better at using the tool. There is some finesse involved which I didn’t get right away; I was actually able to put finish nails in drywall flush without damaging the drywall at all (Watch Video). This is because the piston actually works kind of like a variable speed trigger as you can slightly engage it and do finish nails or lean on it for heavy pounding. I suppose you could also use a nail set to get them flush or even countersink them. With nails up to 1-7/8” by the end of the test I could also get the nails flush pretty accurately but the 3” nails still caused some issue getting flush without occasionally slipping off and hitting the wood. Also there is some vibration to the tool so after 80 test nails my hand felt like I hammered 80 nails. I was also able to successfully use the tool with my right hand (normally a lefty) which it was pretty easy and I was pretty dangerous with the regular hammer in my right hand. I like to use my off hand for these tests to get an idea how an even bigger novice than myself might handle the tool. Try it sometime its pretty entertaining.
All in all this is a nice tool and a good holiday gift idea for the DIYer, especially for $99 (Sears). I would never build a deck with it or frame a house but for occasional odd jobs and around the house use it could be pretty handy. This is not a good tool for a professional carpenter but for someone who likes gadgets and doing random projects I can see the fit.