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Rock Hammer vs. Brick Hammer: Explained Usage for Rockhounding

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When it comes to rockhounding, having the right tools can make all the difference, and hammers are a crucial part of any rock enthusiast’s arsenal. Whether you’re searching for fossils, seeking out hidden gems, or simply eager to explore fascinating geological formations, you’ll likely find yourself reaching for either a rock hammer or a brick hammer. But what sets these two types of hammers apart, and when should you use one over the other?

Rock and brick hammers have unique characteristics and advantages, making them suitable for different situations and rock types. Understanding the key differences between these essential tools will help you choose the best hammer for your rockhounding needs, ensuring you’re well-equipped to tackle the terrain’s challenges.

The difference between a rock hammer and a brick hammer is that a rock hammer is for geological fieldwork, whereas a brick hammer is typically used in construction for brick or stone jobs. There are various rock hammers, but a brick hammer refers to a specific hammer type.

Read on to learn more about when to use a rock or brick hammer, how to find the best hammer for you, the different types of rock and brick hammers available, and what they are best used for.

Rock Hammer vs. Brick Hammer Explained Usage for Rockhounding
Difference Between Rock Hammer vs. Brick Hammer

If you want to check out the best rock-hounding hammers, you can find them here (Amazon link).

What is a Rock Hammer?

Rock hammers are versatile tools designed specifically for geological work, capable of breaking up, splitting, or smoothing various materials, including various rock types, dirt, sediment, fossils, bones, and more. These hammers come in various shapes, sizes, and materials to suit different needs and preferences. Still, they generally feature solid, blunt, and chiselled ends that suit them well-suited for their intended purposes.

While many different types of rock hammers are available, high-quality options are typically forged from a single piece of metal, ensuring durability and longevity. However, as Thought Co. points out, rock picks and fossil hammers are usually made from hard metal, making them unsuitable for use as chisels or struck by other hammers. The hardened steel used in their construction can splinter and send off chips if subjected to such use, posing a potential safety hazard.

If you are looking to do any sort of geological fieldwork or any job that involves breaking rock, then a rock hammer is right for you.

Different hammers work better with different rock types, so you should choose the right hammer for the rock you intend to work with and your intended purpose.

For example, if you are looking to work around fossils and sedimentary rock, then a chisel edge is better, but if you are working to break up tough, metamorphic rock, a crack hammer is much better suited. 

While some rock hammers may be able to be used on different types of rock, not having the correct tool could cause the hammer to break or make the job much more difficult. 

Below, we go over some of the most common rock hammers and what they are best used for so you can find the right hammer for your job.

Chisel Edge Rock Hammer

Good for:

These hammers are also known as fossil or palaeontologist hammers and are typically used for softer rocks. According to The Field Student, they are best for those looking to break or work through sedimentary or layered rock, which may have become shale or slate.

Sedimentary rocks are where fossils are typically discovered, and the chisel edge is used to break apart soft rock while preserving the fossil.

Bad for:

If you work with dense materials, the chisel edge rock hammer is probably not the best. It can struggle to break through rocks that are higher on the Mohs scale.

You can check my pick for a chisel edge rock hammer here (Amazon link).

Pointed Tip Rock Hammer

Good for:

Pointed Tip Rock Hammers can also be called prospectors or rock picks. According to Thought Co., it is the most used geological hammer.

The hammerhead breaks or trims smaller rocks and works with light chisels, whereas the pick end scraps or breaks away unwanted sediment.

Bad for:

The pointed-tip rock hammer struggles to deal with larger or tougher rocks. If you are dealing with large, dense rocks that are higher on the Mohs scale, this is not the hammer for you.

You can check my pick for a pointed-tip rock hammer here (Amazon link).

The Crack Hammer

Good for:

While pointed-tip rock hammers and chisel-edged rock hammers are similar, the crack hammer looks vastly different from the two and is used like a geologist sledgehammer.

Thought Co. states that crack hammers are typically larger and can be blunt on both sides or have one pick-end side. You should use a crack hammer if you are looking to break tough, hard-to-break rock, and it is best used in metamorphic geologic work.

They weigh more than other rock hammers, are not good at chipping or prying, and should be used with eyewear as they typically send rock shatters flying during use.

Bad for:

Crack hammers are not good for delicate rockhounding work. Pick a different hammer on our list if you work with fossils or delicate materials.

The crack hammer can also struggle with rocks lower on the Mohs scale that will absorb the blows of the hammer without breaking, and the crack hammer doesn’t have the chisel end to scrape away the dust.

You can check my pick for the crack hammer here (Amazon link).

Hybrid Hammer

Good for:

The final type of common rock hammer is the hybrid hammer. The hybrid hammers have different, specialized uses and are typically not made specifically to break apart rock.

An example of a hybrid hammer could be a welding or chipping hammer with an almost axe-like side and a pick side, or a geological pick with a shovel-like side and a pick side.

Bad for:

Hybrid hammers are usually categorized into specific niches, so make sure the hybrid hammers you are buying is suitable to the rock you are working with.

If you buy a hybrid hammer built for working with softer rock, it will struggle to deal with tougher rocks.

You can check my pick for the hybrid hammer here (Amazon link).

TIP: Cutting rocks with a hammer can be challenging sometimes. That’s why I’ve written a step-by-step guide on how to do it properly. Feel free to read it here:
Step-by-Step: How to Cut Rocks with Hammer and Chisel

What is a Brick Hammer?

Masons and bricklayers use a brick hammer to help cut or shape brick and stone. These hammers are used for different materials, such as stone, tile, brick-and-mortar, or paving.

They are designed to be versatile and durable and are a must-have for almost any construction or house project where stone or brick is involved. The head is typically made of a single piece of forged metal. 

Unlike a regular hammer, brick hammers aren’t used for lining up a nail and driving it home.

You use the blunt side of the hammer to break up larger pieces of brick or stone or just to crush whatever material you are using into a finer grit. This site can also be used to drive stakes and chisels. 

The chisel end of the brick hammer is used when more finesse is required, such as chipping away small pieces of material or smoothing the material. You can also use it to split apart bricks or rocks connected by mortar to preserve them for future use. 

For rockhounding, brick hammers can be useful to keep around because they are built to deal with man-made material or tough, igneous rock.

If you are performing geological work around any man-made structures, either ancient ruins or modern construction, a brick hammer is a great tool to combat those tough, man-made materials.

You can check my pick for the hybrid hammer here (Amazon link).

TIP: Do you know what other tools you can use to cut rocks? Check out the best tools for cutting rocks in the article below:
What Can I Use to Cut Rocks? These 5 Tools are the Best!

What Other Types of Hammers Can You Use for Rockhounding?

Like many other tools, there are a wide variety of different hammers to accomplish various tasks, and many may actually fill your rockhounding niche, especially if a specific hammer is hard to come by or unavailable to you for whatever reason.

Below, we listed some other hammers that you may find useful as a substitute for traditional rock hammers or that can fill a certain niche.

Claw Hammer

Good for:

When people think of a hammer, they typically envision a claw hammer as the most popular type of hammer. It features a sloped, split claw end for wrenching nail heads and a blunt end to hammer in nails or stakes.

It is the hammer typically found in almost every home toolset and can be used to break up small, tough rocks while rockhounding or even pull up stakes or other objects in the ground that you may have to work around. It can also be used with a chisel if necessary.

Bad for:

Claw hammers are not designed specifically for rockhounding and will struggle with either too hard or too soft rock.

However, because it is so easy to come by and versatile, it is a great substitute for a basic hammer in an emergency.

You can check my pick for the claw hammer here (Amazon link).


Good for:

The sledgehammer may be the second most well-known hammer due to its prominence in construction, movies, and advertisements as the primary smashing tool.

According to Garage Tool Advisor, sledgehammers feature a double-blunt-ended head and a long handle to leverage strong, heavy blows. It is used for driving at large stakes, breaking up tough materials such as concrete, and doing various other demolition jobs. 

For rockhounding, it can be used to break up larger, harder rocks and is a great tool to keep in the arsenal.

Bad for:

Sledgehammers are designed with one thing in mind: destruction. If you want to work with fossils or any delicate material you want to preserve, then a sledgehammer is not for you.

You can check my pick for the sledgehammer here (Amazon link).

Club Hammer

Good for:

Tools First says a club hammer is basically the sledgehammer’s smaller cousin. It is used for demolition work where precision is more important than raw power and is a common tool for any construction job.

Like the sledgehammer, it is a great option to take to your work site if you want to break up large, hard rocks.

Bad for:

Again, like the sledgehammer, the club hammer can struggle with softer rock or in trying to preserve a fossil or artefact. Make sure you want to destroy everything you swing this hammer at.

You can check my pick for the club hammer here (Amazon link).

Rubber Mallet

Good for:

Another iconic hammer that most people are familiar with is a rubber mallet with a double-blunt head like a sledgehammer but not used to generate power or demolition.

According to Tools First, the rubber head can be used when placing and securing delicate materials such as ceramic tiles or mosaics.

For rockhounding, it can be used to hammer in stakes, work with chisels, or flatter out softer materials. Because of its weight and makeup, it is a great rock-hounding tool because it can be used delicately and precisely.

For bad:

Most rubber mallets are not designed for use in the field, so you must ensure they are built well enough to handle your work.

Rubber mallets will also not be tough enough to break through tougher materials as they generate less power than metal-headed equivalents.

You can check my pick for the rubber mallet hammer here (Amazon link).

Electrician’s Hammer

Good for:

An electrician’s hammer is just a claw hammer with a slightly longer reach and a shock-proof layer so electricians can work without worrying about getting shocked.

If you are rockhounding anywhere near electrical equipment or lines, such as a buried cable, an electrical hammer might be a good tool to keep breaking and moving materials without worrying about getting shocked.

Bad for:

Unless you work near electrical equipment, an electrician’s hammer is not designed to assist in rockhounding. It will be as useful as your average claw hammer in that case.

You can check my pick for the electrician’s hammer here (Amazon link).

Hatchet Hammer

Good for:

According to Garage Tool Advisor, the hatchet hammer is essentially a cross between an ax and a peening hammer. Because of its many uses, it is commonly included in wilderness survival kits and is one of the most versatile tools in the world.

If you are rockhounding out in the wilderness or hiking to your site, a hatchet hammer is a great tool for its incredible versatility.

Bad for:

Hatchet hammers are not designed for any specific rockhounding purpose, so if you aren’t going into the wilderness or hiking to your destination, you probably don’t need to keep a hatchet hammer.

You can check my pick for the hatchet hammer here (Amazon link).

Rip Hammer

Good for:

According to Tools First, the rip hammer is the claw hammer’s big brother, who is used to dig holes or tear apart various objects and materials.

Usually, the claw end is straight instead of curved. For rockhounding purposes, it can be used to break fairly tough materials and pull up stakes or other objects stuck deep in the ground.

Bad for:

Like the claw hammer, the rip hammer is versatile but was not designed to be used for rockhounding. It can also struggle to break harder rocks but is a great alternative if specific rock hammers are unavailable.

You can check my pick for the rip hammer here (Amazon link).

Scutch Hammer

Good for:

The scutch hammer is the first hammer on our list with no blunt face. According to Garage Tool Advisor, it features a double-chisel head and is used to remove or scutch old mortar from bricks and other materials so that it can be reused. It is a great tool for any rockhound that doesn’t have access to a chisel or
traditional pickaxe.

Bad for:

Since scutch hammers lack a blunt face, they aren’t ideal for smashing or crushing tasks. Moreover, it’s crucial to choose a scutch hammer that’s sturdy enough to handle working with rocks without breaking, bending, or scratching.

You can check my pick for the scutch hammer by clicking the link provided (Amazon link).

It’s worth noting that the hammers mentioned above are not specifically designed for rockhounding purposes but can be easily found at most home hardware stores or even department stores.

In the event that one of your rock hammers breaks and you need an emergency replacement, there’s likely a hammer on this list that will get the job done in a pinch!

TIP: There are many different types of chisels, and, just like hammers, you have to pick the one that best suits your job. If you want to learn more about chisels and how to use them, you can learn more from our article about them here:
Recommended Rock Hammers, Picks, Chisels & Bars For Rockhounding

You Need a Chisel, Too

After you’ve chosen the best hammers for your rockhounding adventures, you’ll also need a chisel.

The chisel is one of the oldest tools known to man and was even used by the Egyptians in their mason and sculpting work. In addition to hammers, protective gear, and the material itself, chisels are needed to hone their materials.

A chisel is a tool, usually made of a soft, tempered metal for durability and power, that is used to split carefully, carve, divide, smooth, or shape various materials, including stone, rock, brick, mortar, or even wood.

Chisels are typically made of a softer metal, so they don’t chip or splinter when a hammer hits them. Because they are softer, they typically show marks or mould around where the hammer makes contact over time and should be replaced when they become too disfigured.

You can check my pick for rock chisel here (Amazon link).


In conclusion, working with various hammers, chisels, and other tools is an important part of almost every project or work.

It is important always to take all the necessary safety precautions, such as protective gear, eyewear, and proper technique for your health and the job’s quality.

It is also important to understand what tool is best for your job and know how to use it before you start work.

TIP: Don’t forget to use protective equipment while using your rock or brick hammer! Goggles and protective gloves are the basis. You can check out my recommended safety equipment in the article below:
Recommended Safety Equipment for Rockhounding: Stay Safe!