Hey! This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

Air hammers are very versatile tools that are powered by air compressors and can be used for many jobs. They are suitable for a wide array of demolishing and stripping jobs, making them incredibly handy for renovations and other DIY projects within your household.

In the garage, the air hammer is an indispensable aid to peening solid rivets, popping out CV joints, and other disassembly jobs that are simply too difficult to do by hand.

This article will provide all the relevant information on air hammers, along with a buying guide and examples of some of the best air hammer readily available on Amazon.

Table of Contents

What is an Air Hammer?

An air hammer is a versatile pneumatic hand tool that is very useful for a wide variety of jobs, which include woodwork and renovation, automotive work, and metal fabrication. Air hammers are similar in appearance to drills, as they consist of a barrel connected to a handle grip and trigger switch. The barrel houses the attachments which can include chisel bits, hammer bits, tapered pouches, various cutting and separating tools, amongst much more.

How Does an Air Hammer Work?

An air hammer is often referred to as an air chisel hammer, and they operate by using compressed air from an air compressor to fire their piston. When fired, the piston engages the attachment causing it to push forward in a hammer-like motion. The barrel lengths of air hammers range from 7 to 12 inches, enabling them to accept various attachments that will grind, puncture, and chip through extremely hard materials like metal, stone, and concrete.

What is an Air Hammer Used For?

Uses for air hammer are certainly in abundance. The most common air hammer uses are in the following areas:

  • Metalworking
  • Garages
  • Woodworking and stoneworking
  • Jobsites

Depending on the job you need your air hammer for, you should be able to find the right attachment. Most air hammer attachments are universal so that attachments from different manufacturers will usually fit other manufacturers’ tools.

Metalworking

Metalworking shops use air hammers to cut and shape metal. They are used to flatten, shape and cust most metals from thin aircraft-grade aluminum and copper to other materials like 10-gauge structural steel. Air hammers are also used to deburr and smooth metal as well.

Garages

Garage shops use air chisels to free frozen nuts, break shock absorber fasteners, cut exhaust pipes, and split ball joints and rubber bushings.

Woodworking and Stoneworking

Woodworking and stoneworking shops will use air hammers to speed up the chiseling and carving jobs on wood and stone.

Jobsites

Air hammers are used on job sites for a wide variety of jobs but usually for removing material like tile, cement, mortar, etc.

Air Hammer Buying Guide

There are a few things you must consider when shopping for a pneumatic air hammer. It generally comes down to picking one with enough power to do the job you need it to do, and then some.

Light air hammers are typically well suited for cutting sheet metal and doing fine chiseling, while you will generally turn to the more heavy-duty air hammers for heavier automotive applications.

The top things to consider when comparing air hammers include:

  • Power
  • Speed (blows per minute)
  • Size and stroke length
  • Weight and noise
  • Attachments

Let’s take a look at each in more detail!

Power

The power of a pneumatic air hammer is generally indicated by the air consumption required from the air compressor, given in CFM (cubic feet per minute). To learn more, visit our SCFM vs CFM for Air Tools & Air Compressors GUIDE To Compressor Ratings.

The more powerful the air hammer, the more air it will consume and the higher the average CFM rating it will have. Most powerful air hammers can draw anywhere between 3-4 CFM for low impact applications, all the way up to around 15 CFM for maximum impact applications.

In regard to pressure, most air hammers regardless of their CFM rating will require a constant pressure of around 90 PSI (pounds per square inch) to work effectively. This shouldn’t be a problem, but you must ensure your air compressor is capable of providing the necessary CFM for your specific air hammer tool. Here’s a more in-depth article on selecting the right air compressor: What Size Air Compressor For Air Hammer?

Speed (Blows per Minute)

The speed of an air hammer is typically given in terms of BPM (blows per minute). The faster the BPM, the faster the job will be completed. For any tasks that include cutting and grinding, more BPM also provides cleaner and more even cuts.

Decent air hammer models will have BPM’s reaching up to around 2,000 or even more, with some of the more powerful units capable of 3,000 BPM. A pneumatic air hammer model with a high BPM combined with a long stroke can be one of the most powerful units you can buy, but this will come with being the most expensive as well.

Size and Stroke Length

Stroke length is the distance the piston must travel each cycle, typically given in terms of inches. A standard, medium-duty air hammer will have a stroke length of around 2-5/8″ to 3″. If you have a longer stroke length, then you will be able to have greater piston velocity at the end of one stroke cycle, providing greater power delivered to the attachment.

To accommodate pistons with a certain stroke length, an air hammer can have a short barrel, a medium barrel, or a long barrel. Short barreled air hammers with low CFM are suitable for light work that require dexterity and control rather than sheer power, such as cutting through sheet metal and body panels.

On the other hand, long-barreled air hammers are better suited for more demanding tasks like hammering stakes and loosening stuck nuts. The size of the air hammer can also refer to the diameter of the chuck and the bore, which depicts which types of attachments it can take.

Shank openings are typically around the 0.4″range, while bore diameters are in the 3/4″ or thereabouts. You must be aware that manufacturers will usually stick to their tool specs, which should be compatible with universal tool dimensions, but also may not be.

Weight and Noise

Small lightweight air hammers can be as light as 3 lbs, while the more heavy-duty models can be as heavy as 6 lbs or even more. You must also keep in mind that air hammers are loud, with most units being rated at 90 decibels or more.

Exposure to noise as loud as 90 decibels for as long as 8 hours is extremely likely to result in hearing damage. You should use hearing protection whenever possible, and take frequent breaks between tasks that use air hammers in order to protect yourself.

Attachments

Most air hammers will come with a set of attachments like chisels and shaping tools when you purchase them. The better brands will typically have five or more chisels included as a set, and these will have their own organizer in the carrying case for ease of storage.

You should also pay attention to the recommended hose diameter or inlet diameter of the air hammer when searching, to make sure it is compatible with your air compressor hose set up or whether you need to purchase an adapter.

Air Hammers Available On Amazon

I have picked out some of the best air hammer and air hammer accessories available for purchase directly from Amazon. First up is this Ingersoll Rand air hammer!

The IR air hammer boasts terrific reviews along with multiple features that make the tool comfortable and easy to use. This I R air hammer is a best seller.

Next up we have this Chicago Pneumatic air hammer, suitable for automotive, truck, and off-road equipment.

The Chicago Pneumatic air hammer boasts terrific reviews from users.

This Astro pneumatic air hammer again is readily available and boasts very good reviews amongst its users. This heavy duty air hammer is suitable for heavy duty off-road, industrial and automotive applications.

These are all but a few examples of some of the best air hammer available online. Other notable ones you should look out for include the Kobalt air hammer and the Campbell Hausfeld air hammer.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How does a air hammer work?

When an air hammer is fired, the piston engages the attachment causing it to push forward in a hammer-like motion that will grind, puncture, and chip through extremely hard materials like metal, stone, and concrete. The barrel lengths of air hammers range from 7 to 12 inches, enabling them to accept various attachments for your application needs.

What is a air impact hammer used for?

Air impact hammers are invaluable for auto work, enabling the user to free frozen nuts, split stubborn joints, or cut off rusted old mufflers. They can also speed up the laborious process of chiseling wood or make short work of tile removal by grinding away mortar. Metal shops use air hammers to cut sheet metal or even shape aluminum and steel.

Will an air hammer break concrete?

You may be able to use an air hammer with a very high BPM to chip away at concrete, but if you really wanted to break the concrete with ease it would be strongly recommended to use a jackhammer.

How powerful is an air hammer?

Some of the most powerful air hammers are capable of providing 3,000 BPM (blows per minute) which is a significant amount to complete almost any air hammer application.

Can you use a hammer drill like an air hammer?

Some hammer drills have a setting called “hammer only mode” which enables you to use your hammer drill like an air hammer. This, however, may not always be true for all hammer drills.

What is an air hammer used for?

Uses for air hammer are certainly in abundance. The most common air hammer uses are in metalworking, garages, woodworking, stoneworking, and job sites to complete a wide variety of tasks. Depending on the job you need your air hammer for, you should be able to find the air hammer bits. Most air hammer accessories are generally universal so that attachments from different manufacturers will usually fit other manufacturers’ tools.

Is an air hammer the same as an air chisel?

Air hammers, are often referred to as air chisels because you simply add chisel attachments into their end and use them as a chisel.

How are air hammers rated?

Air hammers are typically rated with a CFM (cubic flow per minute) rating of how much free airflow they require in order to operate successfully. They can also be rated via their BPM, the number of blows per minute they’re capable of delivering, which will typically depict how fast they can complete tasks.

If you’re wondering how to plumb an air compressor setup, visit our guide!


If you have any questions about air hammers, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!