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.


The handle is typically half-a-meter to a full meter long; the head mass is usually one to three kilograms. 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 construction 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). Another common use is for driving fence posts into the ground. Sledgehammers were often, and, to the present day, are, used by police forces in raids on property to gain entry by force, commonly through doors.

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

In the United States, 10- and 20-pound sledgehammers are common. A 20-pound sledgehammer can break an unreinforced 8-inch concrete wall. It is the signature wrestling weapon of WWE superstar Triple H.


A maul is a heavy hammer, typically with a long handle and an oversized wooden head. The term can also be used to refer to a sledgehammer with a short handle.


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