1. Improve swing
Starting with the basics, improving your swing can help reduce your chances of bending a nail. One way to do this is by reducing the amount of swings it takes to drive the nail in. Reduce them down to three. When holding the hammer, use the bottom part of the hammer. Do not grab the hammer in the middle. Use your arm like a pendulum on a clock, and keep your wrist stiff while delivering the blow.
2. Start the nail with one hand
Using one hand to start the nail allows you to have one free hand for grabbing other things. One of the ways to do this is by inserting the nail into the back of the hammer. Place the head of the nail against the base of the hammer, with the end going through the claws. When you swing the hammer, the nail will drive in as far as the claws. Simply remove the hammer from the nail and drive it in the normal way.
3. Alternate way to start a nail
Another way to start a nail is by holding the nail tightly between your fingers. Wrap your hand around the hammer, with the head of the nail pressed against the side of the hammer. Simply drive the nail in using the force of your hand.
4. Drive in small nails one-handed
Small nails can usually result in smashed fingers if you are not careful. This handy trick will allow you to drive in a nail without hurting yourself! Place the nail into a sheet of paper that has been folded in half. Go through both halves of paper with the nail. The paper will act as a holder while seating the nail. Before you drive the nail all the way in, tear the paper away.
5. Protect your surfaces
When hammering in finished nails, it is a bummer to miss your mark and mess up the surface of your work. A good way to prevent this and protect your surface is to use perfboard. Perfboard has holes that nails can go through when hammering. Once you have the nail seated, simply remove the perfboard.
6. Telephone books as work surfaces
Telephone books can serve as great work surfaces. They help to deaden the sound of hammering and offer good protection.
7. Convert your hammer into a mallet
If you are scared that you will damage wood when tapping a joint together, you can convert your hammer into a rubber mallet. Cut a tennis ball into an X shape, and place of the head of the hammer.