A needle file set

A hand tool is any tool that is powered by hand rather than a motor.[1] Categories of hand tools include wrenches, pliers, cutters, files, striking tools, struck or hammered tools, screwdrivers, vises, clamps, snips, hacksaws, drills, and knives.

Outdoor tools such as garden forks, pruning shears, and rakes are additional forms of hand tools. Portable power tools are not hand tools.


Hand tools have been used by humans since the Stone Age when stone tools were used for hammering and cutting. During the Bronze Age tools were made by casting the copper and tin alloys. Bronze tools were sharper and harder than those made of stone. During the Iron Age iron replaced bronze, and tools became even stronger and more durable. The Romans developed tools during this period which are similar to those being produced today. In the period since the industrial revolution, the manufacture of tools has transitioned from being craftsperson made to being factory produced.[2]: 2 

A large collection of British hand tools dating from 1700 to 1950 is held by St Albans Museums. Most of the tools were collected by Raphael Salaman (1906–1993), who wrote two classic works on the subject: Dictionary of Woodworking Tools[3] and Dictionary of Leather-working Tools.[4] David Russell's vast collection of Western hand tools from the Stone Age to the twentieth century led to the publication of his book Antique Woodworking Tools.[5]

General categories

The American Industrial Hygiene Association gives the following categories of hand tools:[2] wrenches, pliers, cutters, striking tools, struck or hammered tools, screwdrivers, vises, clamps, snips, saws, drills and knives.

See also


  1. ^ Scott P. Schneider (1998). "Tools". In Jeanne Mager Stellman (ed.). Chemical, industries and occupations. Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety. Vol. 3 (4th ed.). International Labour Organization. pp. 93.33–93.34. ISBN 978-92-2-109816-4.
  2. ^ a b Cacha, Charles A. (1999). Ergonomics and Safety in Hand Tool Design. CRC. ISBN 1566703085.
  3. ^ Salaman, R. A. (1997 edition revised by Philip Walker; first published in 1975 by George Allen & Unwin [Publishers] Ltd). Dictionary of Woodworking Tools, c. 1700–1970 Mendham, NJ: Astragal Press ISBN 978-1-879335-79-0.
  4. ^ Salaman, R. A. (1996). Dictionary of Leather-working Tools, c.1700–1950, and the Tools of Allied Trades Mendham, NJ: Astragal Press ISBN 978-1-879335-72-1.
  5. ^ Russell, David R., with Robert Lesage and photographs by James Austin, cataloguing assisted by Peter Hackett (2010). Antique Woodworking Tools: Their Craftsmanship from the Earliest Times to the Twentieth Century Cambridge: John Adamson ISBN 978-1-898565-05-5 OCLC 727125586.