One of the most common tools you will ever use is a hammer, and probably one of the claw variety. If you intend on pounding a nail into a board, this is a good way to do it. Not only does it pound well (and there are lots of black-and-blue fingers to attest to this), but it's practical design allows for the easy removal of old or bent nails. Using leverage, simply wedge the claw end of the head around said nail and bend away. The rounded head does most of the work as you apply an irresistable force and the nail comes out with a squeak.
The design here is timeless and brilliant. Hold the hammer low on the handle and physics will dictate maximum swinging power transferred to that steel head upon impact. Hold it high for a more delicate touch (delicate for a hammer, anyway). The face (the part that hits the nail) is just large enough to increase your odds of a direct hit, but small enough not to obscure the target. It's a practical thing of beauty.
There are a lot of different types of hammers, but in your basic project making, the claw is the one that will see the most action. It's well made, time-tested, and oh, so effective.