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Players Several
Age range Any
Setup time Minimal
Playing time 10-20 minutes or less
Random chance Medium
Skill(s) required Aiming, Coordination, Strength
Website www.hammerschlagen.com

Hammerschlagen (the "Striking Hammer" or "Hammer-Striking") is a competitive game involving driving a nail into a log. The trademarked name Hammer-Schlagen is owned by WRB Inc.


The concept derives from German Nagelspielen - games played with a nail and an axe. The specific game of Hammerschlagen was developed by Carl Schoene, who grew up in Germany and immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1957. His parents opened a restaurant, Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter, near Stillwater, Minnesota. Schoene had played nail games as a child in Germany, and he continued to play them with friends and customers in Minnesota. Together with his father-in-law Mike Wlaschin, he formalized rules for a game in which patrons competed to be the first to drive their nail into a slab of wood.[1] They called the game Hammer-Schlagen, and in 1999 they incorporated as WRB Inc. to market the game.[2][3][4]

The game[edit]

Hammerschlagen is played with a Cross-peen hammer or blacksmith's hammer with a wedge-shaped (but not sharp) end on it and is 3 pounds. A large (24-36") cross-section of pre-cut Cottonwood (Populus sect. Aigeiros) is set up waist high with the flat sides facing the floor and ceiling. A bright common nail (12/16d) is driven about a half inch into the wood in front of each player. Hammerschlagen often charges a nominal amount from each player to play the game and the winner is rewarded with a prize[5] or a shot of a German spirit, often Apfelkorn.


Each player is assigned a nail. Each player's turn consists of a single swing at their nail with the wedge end of the hammer. Prior to swinging, the player must rest the wedge-end of the hammer on the log next to their nail. The hammer must be gripped behind the line on the hammer and with one hand (female players have the option of using both hands). The swing must be done in one continuous up and down motion.

Frequently, a player will bend their nail in such a way as to make driving it further nearly impossible. In this case, the player may use their turn to make a single-motion swing at the nail from the side in an attempt to straighten the nail. You are not required to stand in the same place for the entire game. Often it is necessary to switch sides of the log to get a better angle on your nail.

The object is to be the first one to pound in one's own nail. To win, the head of the nail must be flush with or below the surface of the wood.

Other Nagelspielen[edit]

Another nail-driving game played in the United States is Stump, which is primarily a drinking game. Stump differs significantly from Hammerschlagen. The basic move in Stump is to toss and catch the hammer; a successful catch allows the player to strike an opponent's nail. The goal is not to drive your nail in first, but rather to drive in the nails of the opponents. The winner is the last to have their nail driven into the stump. The rules require players to drink beer at various points in the game.[6]


  1. ^ "About us". Hammerschlagen.com. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Trademarkia. "Let's Play Hammer-Schlagen HS".
  3. ^ United States Patent & Trademark Office.
  4. ^ Star Tribune. "Local bars rev up for Oktoberfest; Hammerschlagen. The glass boot. David Hasselhoff. What of them? All are on the minds of German bar owners." Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN). September 24, 2010.
  5. ^ "Totally dominated Gastof’s Hammer Schlagen in two... | 29nSNGL*". 29nsngl.com. 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  6. ^ "How do you play Stump Game?". Drinking games. underthelabel.com. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 

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