How to Hammer a Nail without a Hammer?

Sometimes you need to hammer a nail – and there’s no hammer in sight! So, what do you do if you need to drive a nail, hang a picture, or fix a loose chair leg and you can’t get your hands on an actual hammer?

Not to worry, a little creativity and ingenuity, and perhaps a little searching, and you’ll have yourself a perfectly capable hammering tool in no time flat.

I’ll take a look at some of the best options for hammering a nail without a hammer and test them out to see which one actually works best.

Option 1:  Flat Rock

A large flat-sided rock is just about the best thing you can grab when you need to hammer a nail. Look for a large, heavy, flat rock that’s got some decent weight to it.

Start the nail as you would with any other nail, by tapping on it lightly to get it started. Then once it’s set, use the weight of the rock to drive the nail into place.

hammering nail with flat rock

This method works well, except for finishing the nail, which can be a little tricky to do with a large unwieldy rock.

Score: 7/10

Option 2: Chisel

A chisel – particularly one with a metal strike plate on the butt – makes an excellent makeshift hammer when a real hammer is nowhere to be found.

driving nail with a chisel

Starting the nail is fairly easy, as you can grip the nail and strike it precisely with the metal butt. Once it’s started, actually driving the nail is a little more difficult than with the rock, as the chisel doesn’t have that hefty weight behind it.

The nail took 15 or so strikes to actually drive into place, so it’s not a great option if you have multiple nails to drive, but it gets the job done when you’re in a pinch.

Score: 6/10

Option 3: Axe or Hatchet

An axe or hatchet with a blunt end is a fantastic tool for driving nails and is really close to using an actual hammer.

driving nail with an axe

Use the blunt end as you would with a hammer. When you’re doing this, you’ll want to be cautious with the sharp end of the axe so as not to stab yourself.

If you have an axe or hatchet with a fat blunt end, then I’d recommend using it over any other option, as you can drive nails with relative ease.

Score: 9/10

Option 3: Prybar

A prybar – especially one with straight, flat sides, can also work as a hammer in a pinch.

This method worked fairly well, although the nail did start to twist and bend once I got about a quarter of the way through driving the nail. I was able to twist it back into place and drive the nail, but I could see this being awkward and difficult if you have multiple nails you need to drive.

Score: 5/10

Option 4: Large Wrench

A medium to large-sized wrench makes a surprisingly good hammer when you need to drive a few nails.

driving nail with wrench

I actually didn’t expect this tool to be that effective of a hammer, as it’s fairly lightweight, but it worked surprisingly well. Strike the nail with the bottom of the wrench head until you’ve driven your nail all the way in.

If you have smaller nails to drive, then a decent wrench makes a solid option and provides you with a good deal of accuracy.

Score: 8/10

Denis Gardner

I've loved tinkering and fixing things for as long as I can remember. So, naturally, I gravitated towards DIY and home improvement when I bought my first home. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or messing around with my newest tool!

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