If you are a DIYer, getting your hands on the best air hammer is a must. Every craftsman has a preference, and there is a wide arrange of models to choose from. Even though they are fundamentally different tools, regular hammers and air hammers have one thing in common. Versatility. Also known as air chisels, air hammers are powerful tools that are proven to be useful around any kind of workshop.
In the following sections, we are going to tackle the topic of air chisels, their mechanisms, pros, and cons, and ultimately, we are going to leave you with a bunch of air hammer reviews. Because of their versatility, air hammers have different types and sizes, so it would be best to gather as much knowledge as possible to really know which one to get. Let’s get right into it!
What is an Air Hammer and Who Needs One?
As you probably figured out already, air hammers do not resemble standard hammers in any way. In a nutshell, an air hammer (or air chisel) is a tool that uses pressurized air and transforms it into a series of strong repetitive strokes through the barrel. Now, the type of force you can do with an air hammer differs based on the chisel you use. These come in the form of removable extensions at the end of the barrel.
The strong suit of a well-made air hammer is in the way it transfers the pressurized air from the tank. If there are no PSI losses, and no leaks whatsoever, an air chisel can deliver devastating force to the job you apply it to. By devastating, we mean that an air hammer turned on full blast has the power to cut off a thick steel exhaust pipe with little to no effort.
Now, you do not have to be a metal worker to find a purpose for an air chisel. As it turns out, it is used by artists as well, sculptors to be exact. Air hammer can go through iron, steel, marble, and wood. They have been a considerable help in separating ball joints, and shock absorber nuts, but it is not only thanks to sheer force. Air hammers utilize their vibration too. If you have a stuck bolt or nut, the vibrations exerted while the hammer is on will help it loosen up a bit so the chisel extension can finish the job.
All in all, any type of home renovations job, machinery restoration task, or even machine disassembly can benefit from a solid air hammer.
Best Air Hammers Comparison Chart
Ingersoll Rand Air Hammer 114GQC
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Sunex SX243 Hd 250-Mm Long Barrel Air Hammer
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DEWALT DWMT70785 Air Chisel Hammer
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Astro Pneumatic Tool 4980 Shank Super Duty Air Hammer/Riveter
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Ingersoll-Rand 122MAX Short Barrel Air Hammer
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AIRCAT 5200-A-T Stroke Low Vibration Composite Air Hammer
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Chicago Pneumatic CP717 Super Duty Air Hammer
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Performance Tool M668 Heavy Duty Air Hammer with 5 Chisels
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Best Air Hammer Reviews (Updated List)
1. Ingersoll Rand Air Hammer 114GQC
This popular Ingersoll model has a lot to offer, no matter the task at hand. It is one of the most affordable air hammers out there, and it delivers medium-duty performance. The handle has an installed ergonomic grip, which reduces the overall effect of vibrations, thus making the model more natural to use.
When it comes to power, this particular air hammer model works at 3500 BPM, with an average air consumption clocking at 4 CFM. The barrel is made of alloyed steel, making the unit resistant to elements and humidity. The piston inside is heat-treated which prolongs the life of the model even further. Alongside the air hammer itself, in the box, you will find a three-piece set of chisel extensions, including tapered punch, panel cutter, and a standard flat chisel.
This air hammer is excellent for auto-shops and hobby metalworkers. Its build will provide longevity, and the chisel set makes it possible to adapt to different situations.
2. Sunex SX243 Hd 250-Mm Long Barrel Air Hammer
The Sunex HD air hammer combines high power with a lightweight design. This is mostly due to the aluminum casing which reduces the total weight of the model to just .48 ounces. However, it does have some parts reinforced with steel, for durability’s sake. Despite its small housing, the bigger part of the hammer is the barrel, making this model a long-barrel one. So, this Sunex model can tackle heavy-duty tasks.
Now, speaking of power, this particular air hammer exerts 2,200 BPM, making it stronger than the models from its class. The average amount of air it consumes to operate is around 4 CFM, which any modern air compressor can cover without a hassle.
Considering the power this air hammer brings to the table, the variety of jobs it can cover is vast. Drilling, diving, grinding, cutting, spraying and hammering are just to name a few and give you a broader perspective.
3. DEWALT DWMT70785 Air Chisel Hammer
DEWALT is a renown manufacturer of power tools, but they are not strangers when it comes to air tools as well. They decided to make this air hammer model to match their other products with the black and yellow design. The body of the hammer is made of aluminum, which makes it durable and lightweight, and the handle is rubberized for better gripping.
The barrel on this particular air hammer model is shorter than the rest from its class, making it slightly less powerful when it comes to heavy-duty tasks. And, speaking of power, this hammer requires 4.5 CFM on average to deliver 2200 BPM of force.
The hammer has a touch control trigger which makes it easier to operate, and the handle has an added shock absorbing layer of rubber that helps absorb excess vibrations. Even though this model is considered light-to-medium duty, it is covered by a 3-year limited warranty, which is a lot longer than the rest from its range.
4. Astro Pneumatic Tool 4980 Shank Super Duty Air Hammer/Riveter
This Astro Pneumatic Tool is not only an air hammer, but it has the option of being used as a pneumatic riveter. It is a popular choice among construction site workers due to its multi-functional features. The body is made entirely of metal, with the handle being made of aluminum and the barrel out of steel.
Speaking of the barrel, this model has a long barrel, which tells you that it can tackle heavy-duty (or super-duty to quote the manufacturer) jobs. The trigger fires of instantaneously, making the air hammer provide a force of total 1800 BPM, making it super-powerful for its range.
If, however, you decide to use it as a riveter, this unit will be a loyal ally in installing and removing rivets, in I-beam suspension, as well as servicing of springs, kingpins, etc. It also comes with a spring retainer to make the transition easier.
5. Ingersoll-Rand 122MAX Short Barrel Air Impact Hammer
Ingersoll-Rand is a company that specializes in air tools, and air hammers by extension. They make chisels and air hammers of all ranges, and this particular model caught our attention with its combination of compact design and a short piston barrel, which makes it ultra-easy to handle.
The casing is made of a 3-material combination: heavy-duty plastic for the handle, aluminum for the barrel cover, and hard steel for the barrel itself. The handle is ergonomically designed, and it has an anti-vibration feature, making the handling of the air hammer easier.
Overall power this unit can exert clock somewhere around 2500 BPM, which makes it a medium duty air hammer, with an ultra-compact design. The model comes with a practical quick-change retainer for easier chisel change. However, this Ingersoll-Rand doesn’t come with chisel extensions included, meaning that you will have to buy them separately.
6. AIRCAT 5200-A-T Stroke Low Vibration Composite Air Hammer
This AIRCAT doesn’t look like a regular air hammer. The manufacturer decided to go with an industrial red color finish, which is rare in the castor of air guns. So, if you care about aesthetics, this is a bonus from the start. The handle is rubberized, and it has a patented ergonomic grip that helps reduce vibrations and overall noise of the air hammer.
When it comes to power this air hammer provides, we are talking about 2200 BPM, which when combined with the extra-long bare, makes this a heavy-duty machine. It does require a 90 PSI air compressor as a power source, which should be covered by an average air compressing unit. One of the best things this model has is the quality of the valves. They are made of metal and are not easily damaged, which is excellent because these machines tend to vibrate a lot while operating.
7. Chicago Pneumatic CP717 Super Duty Air Hammer
This Chicago Pneumatic air hammer is one of the most powerful in its class, with a price to follow that. It has a simple casing made of aluminum and steel combination. It is somewhat lightweight at 4 pounds, considering the power that it delivers.
Its long stroke heavy duty piston, combined with a long steel barrel can deliver a force of 1800 BPM, which is considered a professional heavy-duty level. With this much power comes a more substantial need for pressurized air. This particular model requires an air compressing source that can deliver 7 CFM, which is an above average requirement. However, this has a payoff in performance.
This Chicago pneumatic air hammer is popular with construction workers and truck drivers around the world because it delivers an extra kick of power comparing to the others in its range. It comes with an extra-large .498 shank for maximum utility.
8. Performance Tool M668 Heavy Duty Air Hammer with 5 Chisels
Here we have a Performance Tool air hammer set, perfect for beginners and DIYers out there. The casing is made of dark heavy-duty plastic, and the barrel is made of hard steel. With its simple design, this tool will help you with everyday tasks around the workshop.
The rating of this unit is around 3000 BPM, making it slightly less powerful than the models from its class. The trigger is regulatory, meaning that you can adjust the pressurized air directly. The strong suit of this air hammer is its compact design. It also comes with a set of 5 heat-treated chisel extensions that will help you adapt the hammer to the task at hand. Everything from panel cutting and hole punching to exhaust work and rivet removing is fair game.
This beginner-friendly air hammer comes with a 1-year limited warranty policy.
How Do Air Hammers Work?
Like any other tool, air hammer working mechanism requires pressurized air, to draw power from an air compressor. The compressor storages air under pressure, ready to provide as soon as we open the valve. Compressed air, full of potential energy, travels through a secured air hose and enters the handle of the air hammer. Usually, on the handle, you can find a trigger, also known as a controller, which will control the power output. The whole tool resembles a handgun or a pistol.
When you press the trigger, powerful pressurized air enters the barrel which contains a moving piston and two chambers (under and over the piston). New air that comes from the tank presses the piston down, and the piston then pushes the hammer part (also known as chisel extension), making it hit the surface you intended. The remaining air pushes the piston back into the starting position, and also acts as a cushion that prevents material damage to the hammer body.
This process happens an enormous number of times just during a single second, thus producing the force and vibrations to tackle the job at hand. Even though air hammers can fit into your hand, do not underestimate their power. Practice caution whenever you have to utilize this powerful tool.
Because not every task is similar, you have the option to change the chisel extensions to adapt the hammer even more. If you are not sure what kind of chisel you need, it would be best to start small on a material test sample and observe the effects. The extensions essentially do the same thing. However, some tasks require more precision, and that’s why you should experiment a bit and see which one matches the job in the best possible way.
Air Hammer Buying Guide
Ok, we have mastered the essential purpose of an air hammer, but now it is time to dive into the details. What to look for? How to approach these tools if you are new? What size and power to consider? We got you covered. Air tools are a great asset, and air hammers are one of the prime representatives.
1. Blows Per Minute (BPM) and What Does It Mean?
Every air hammer has a measurement in BPMs or blows per minute. Remember when we talked about the piston and the cycle that pushes it to hit the hammer and return it? Well, BPM is the number of those cycles per minute. Compressed air enters the barrel and makes the piston go back and forth for several thousand times in a single minute. How does this unit exchange to raw power? The lower the number of BPM the stronger the impact of the hammer.
This number essentially defines the power potential of the model, and we suggest that you take a more medium-oriented path, if you are a beginner that is. The safest bet is to get an air hammer that has somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 BPMs. This is considered a medium-to-heavy-duty, and it will cover 90% of tasks you can throw at it.
2. Instant-power VS. gradually-progressive trigger
This is one of the most asked questions from people getting into air tools, and for a reason. The trigger lets you control the power of the air tool by allowing and preventing air from the compressor to the barrel. How this occurs can be divided into two groups: instant and gradual progressive.
Instant air hammer triggers start using full force almost at the same time you pull the trigger. This feature brings results faster, and it is often a preferred choice of construction workers. If you do not have time to wait, an instant trigger is the best way to go.
On the other hand, a gradually progressive trigger will take a moment or two to reach full power. This option is excellent in terms of safety because it lets you prepare and adjust the hand position and grip. It also provides you with slightly better control over the tool in contrast to the instant air hammer triggers.
3. Barrel Size
There is no straight answer or universal barrel size for each task. Almost every model comes with a barrel of different lengths, making it unique in a sense. Essentially, a longer barrel enables the air hammer to provide a stronger force to the piston, thus developing more power overall. Heavy-duty air chisels are known to have the longest barrels but are also less portable and accessible. If you are aiming to have a tool that peaks in versatility, do not opt for air hammers with the longest barrels.
The same set of rules that apply to power output apply to barrel size. Medium-sized barrels will cover most of the work you need to be done. If you opt for a model with a short barrel, you will be able to reach every corner, yes, but at the cost of power. Moderation is key!
4. Air Power Source
Air hammers utilize the power of tightly compressed air. The pressurizations occur in an air compressor that needs to be attached to the air hammer via a hose. Now, even though it sounds simple, and any compressor can do the job, make sure to check the PSI rating of the air hammer. This PSI rating needs to match the rating of the air compressor you poses.
For example: if your compressor goes up to 100 PSI, and the hammer is rated at 80 PSI, they are compatible. Any air hammer rating over 95 % of the total PSI the compressor can exert is not compatible and will not work correctly. Nowadays, the best air compressors are built to withstand any kind of tool, so it probably won’t be an issue.
5. Is a Chisel Set Really Needed?
The short answer is yes and no. A regular air hammer chisel that comes with almost every model out there will do the job, but only in trained and experienced hands. However, with a chisel set, you can adapt to the task better, and enter the whole process with more certainty of success. Chisel sets come in packs of 5 or more, and they provide chisels of different widths and surfaces. Some even have extensions for metal sheeting, which is great if you work with steel or other more resistant metal materials. All in all, a chisel set is always a welcome bonus!
Tips on Using an Air Chisel
Before you start the hammering, make sure that the air compressor tank is full and in an operational state. Waiting on a compressor tank to fill up again is tiresome and can take some time, so prepare it on time.
After you have made the plan of action, it is time to decide upon the chisel extension you want to use, and to place it in the designated spot on the end of the air hammer barrel. Use the little quick-change retainer to remove the previous chisel and install the one you selected. Before you put it in, make sure it is lubricated. If it is dry, put some machine oil on the base of the chisel extension. Tighten the chisel with the retainer.
Now that the air hammer is ready, it is time to connect it to the air compressor. Just match the air connectors located on each end of the hose, and tighten them up. Make sure that there are no leaks on the air connectors, or bends on the hose.
If you followed each step, you are now ready to use the air hammer for several tasks.
One particular thing that we would like to address is the occurrence of hand fatigue from using the air hammer. The vibrations can put a lot of tension on your wrists and palms, and prolonged use of the chisel can lead to tissue damage.
If this is the case, we recommend that you get a pair of vibration reducing gloves. They can be bought in any tool shop, and they are proven to be a great help in working with air tools, especially air hammers and jackhammers.
Now you are armed with the necessary knowledge to decide on the best air hammer for your tool shed. If you decide to get one, you will quickly notice the utility and versatility it delivers, especially if you own a larger air compressing unit. We suggest you go through our list of guidelines and see what kind of model suits your needs. After all, air tools are safer to use than electric ones, and the results they provide are sometimes even greater.
Additionally, our air hammer reviews are there to give you a closer look into what today’s manufacturers have to offer in terms of power, size, and utility. All you have to do now is study the guide for a moment or two, and you’re all set.