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A sledgehammer is a tool consisting of a large, flat head attached to a lever (or handle). The head is typically made of metal. The sledgehammer can apply more impulse than other hammers, due to its large size. Along with the mallet, it shares the ability to distribute force over a wide area. This is in contrast to other types of hammer, which concentrate force in a relatively small area.
A sledgehammer.


The handle is typically to a full long ; the head mass is usually . Sledgehammers usually require two hands and a swinging motion involving the entire torso, in contrast to smaller hammers used for driving in nails. The combination of a long swinging range, and heavy head, increase the force of the resulting impact.

Sledgehammers are often used in destruction work, for breaking through drywall or masonry walls. Sledgehammers are also used when substantial force is necessary to dislodge a trapped object (often in farm or oil field work), or for fracturing stone or concrete. Another common use is for driving fence posts into the ground. Sledgehammers are used by police forces in raids on property to gain entry by force, commonly through doors. They were and still are commonly used by blacksmiths to shape heavy sections of iron. The British SASmarker counter terrorist team used sledge hammers to gain access to rooms during the 1980 Iranian embassy siege. However, today they use a tool called a "dynamic hammer."

Another iconic use of sledgehammers is for driving railroad spikes into wooden sleepers during rail construction. When the two ends of the Union Pacific railroad were joined at Promontory, Utahmarker, Leland Stanford hammered a golden spike into a tie with a silver hammer.

A straight pane sledge hammer from an 1899 American book on blacksmithing


The origin of the name is rooted in the shipbuilding industry, where ships would be built on large wooden sledges held in place by wooden chocks. The completed vessel would be launched by removing the chocks with a large, heavy hammer.


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