FatMax Xtreme MIG15 Framing Hammer

Three thin pieces of forged steel MIG welded together make this a light weight yet super durable hammer

Stanley_51-124_lead

FatMax Xtreme MIG15 Framing Hammer



One of the main drawbacks of traditional framing hammers is their head weight, which can be anywhere from 22 to 32 ounces. With a heavy steel hammer you have to put a lot of muscle into driving nails. A fair amount of the energy created when you swing the hammer onto a nail head gets transferred back to your hand, arm and shoulder, and over the long term can lead to painful conditions such as bursitis and tendonitis.
 
Titanium framing hammers have a real advantage over steel hammers, because they're lighter, and they transfer most of the energy from the hammer to the nail head. But, they're very expensive, easily costing two to four times a conventional framer (see our review of the Stiletto Titan Framer).
 
Conventional steel hammers are made from forged steel. Basically, a thick hunk of metal is heated and then pressed into a hammer. The new Stanley FatMax Xtreme MIG 15 Framing Hammer (51-124) is made by a different process - three thin pieces of forged steel are MIG welded together to produce a light weight yet durable hammer.
 
MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding has been around for a while, though it's the first time I'm aware of it being used in the manufacture of hand tools. The primary advantage of MIG welding is that it produces clean welds much quicker than other types of welding. On the 51-124 you can clearly see the welds that join the striking face, claw and neck together. To me they look to be reasonably clean and well done.


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MIG welds, which join the face, claw, and shank are clean and well done  

My first impression of the 51-124 was that it looked rather delicate for a framing hammer. It's just over 16" long with a 6" head and a 1-1/2", 15 oz striking face. The neck is a mere 13/64" thick. Overall, the hammer weighs approximately 1.8 pounds. By comparison, a 28 oz Estwing weighs in at about 2-1/4 pounds. It's this narrow neck, which extends down through the handle, that accounts for the lighter weight of the 52-124.


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The neck is very slim - which accounts for the reduced weight of the hammer   
   
The face and claw are dual tempered, which increases strength and makes the steel less brittle. The face is nicely waffled, and has a slight crown across its 1-1/2" width. A crowned face minimizes nail deflection and bending by helping to center hammer blows. As well, the face has a wide (3/16") beveled strike rim (face edge) that helps minimize the risk of chipping the face in the event of an off-center strike.


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Large 1-1/2" waffle strike face with a wide strike rim makes it easy to hit the sweet spot
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Double beveled claw does a great job of digging out stubborn nails
I like the claw on this hammer - it's double beveled - about 20° at the tip - which makes it  easier to wedge the claw under nail heads, even as small as 6d. And, at 2" long the claw does a great imitation of a pry bar for pulling out stubborn nails or prying boards apart.

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Notched head with strong magnet holds nails securely 
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The rubber overmold grip does a good job of absorbing shock
The magnet on the top of head is strong enough to hold just about any size nail securely, enabling you to place and sink nails beyond your reach with just one hand. The rubber coated anti-vibration handle is just over 9" long, and has a gentle flair at the end. It's lightly textured - which makes it easier to grip when your hands are wet, and it's very comfortable.
 
While you'll never break the handle on this hammer, steel shanked hammers are somewhat notorious for transferring shock up through your arm, particularly when you overstrike (the head misses the nail and the handle takes the impact.) Fortunately, the overmold grip on the MIG 15 does a good job of absorbing shock. It remains to be seen how the rubber coating holds up over time.
 
The FatMax Xtreme MIG 15 framing hammer is nearly identical to the new DeWALT DWHT51138 framing hammer. Same features, same price, though the DeWALT has a 2" strike face and a different finish.
 
In use, I found that the MIG 15 has great balance and feel and impressive driving power. It really does hit like a heavier (26oz or 28oz) hammer, and you can sink nails just as quickly. I could sink 12d nails with three hits - one to set the nail, and two to drive it home. Another thing I found was that I didn't have to squeeze the handle as hard as on a heavier hammer.
 
A good quality 28 oz framing hammer like the Estwing cost about $50, while the MIG 15 runs about $80. You'll have to decide whether the $30 difference is worth it - I certainly think it does.


KEY FEATURES:

  • 15 oz straight handle rip claw
  • 1-1/2" diameter waffle face
  • All-steel MIG weld construction
  • Dual tempered head rims & claw
  • Vibration dampening grip, 9-1/4" long
  • Magnetic nail holding slot
  • 16-3/8" overall length
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Manufacturer:Stanley Canada
Available From:Tool and equipment suppliers nationwide
Retail Price:$79.99
Model #:51-124
Made In:Mexico

Author: 
Carl Duguay
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