No nails were harmed during the making of this review. The reason is, I haven’t hand-driven a nail in a while. I did use the Vaughn VW18P 18-ounce steel—steel—rip hammer in most of the ways I use hammers, though, so I hope that counts.

I’ve been dropping a titanium slugger in my loop for years and I have few complaints. And after carrying a 20-ounce one-piece, blue-handled steel hammer for years, the lighter titanium was great.

When Vaughn approached me to do a review, I asked for the titanium version, which it turns out, is no longer available. So, steel (Vaughn’s line of steel hammers—Dalluge—is here) it is. OK, let’s give it a whirl.

At 18 ounces, it’s imperceptibly heavier than my titanium-and-hickory “everyday carry” (I stole that phrase from Matt Risinger in this video). At 17 inches long, it’s about the same length too.

The head bolts into the neck of the tool and has a steel overstrike protection plate to support the hickory neck of the hammer. For someone who has broken a titanium striker pulling gun nails on a framing job, this feature—along with the steel shank that slots into the center of the hammer handle—is welcome protection.

Still, I mainly use hammers to nudge, lift, set, and pry things. In all regards, this hammer out-matched the much more expensive and fragile titanium model I have.

The “fetch” of the claw is just slightly curved and it’s almost—almost—chisel sharp. It’s ideal for sneaking behind a piece of trim or a hard-to-remove ledger board with some hidden screw or nail in it. It’s perfect for splitting a block or sinking into the end of a 6x6 as an assist to lift it up.

You could use it to lift a door into plumb if you’re hanging it by yourself—just enough to get that first hinge screw started.

It has a nail-puller notch in the cheek of the tool. I’d use it if I could find a nail. Most gun nails lose their heads anyway. But it’s there if you find some commons.

The thing I like the most is that it hits just a little harder than my space-age hammer. The thud is a bit more solid. So if you do the “chisel trick” to straighten out a deck board, you can sink the chisel into the joist with authority and not have to swing the hammer very hard. If you need to blast the flat bar in, consider it blasted. And, with all that, I’m of zero doubt the Vaughn will outlast you (or me) hand-banging spikes all day.

Need to set a scratch awl to anchor a line? One solid tap. Need to pound down a bunch of sheared-off screws so you don’t cut yourself to ribbons throwing that old joist in the trailer? Done.

The hardware did come a little loose during the two months or so I had it out deck building and whatnot, and a little piece of wood came off the handle, but that doesn't bother me. The rest of it is so great, I’m sold on steel.

And, the steel sings. It rings like a hammer I had a million years ago.

At $75, it’s a great value. Might as well get a replacement handle—it is wood after all—for $25 just to have on the truck.

Last thing: This is a contractor-invented hammer. 15 years or so ago, it was called the Douglas Hammer. Unchanged, it was great then, and it’s great now.

This article originally appeared in Tools of the Trade.