A power tool is a tool that is actuated by an additional power source and mechanism other than the solely manual labor used with hand tools. The most common types of power tools use electric motors. Internal combustion engines and compressed air are also commonly used. Tools directly driven by animal power are not generally considered power tools. Power tools can produce large amounts of particulates, including ultrafine particles. Airborne particulate matter is a Group 1 carcinogen.


Diverse power tools

Power tools are used in industry, in construction, in renovation, in the garden, for housework tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and around the house for purposes of driving (fasteners), drilling, cutting, shaping, sanding, grinding, routing, polishing, painting, metal working, wood working, heating and more.


A shop under renovation (power tools can be seen on the left of the photo).

Power tools are classified as either stationary or portable, where portable means hand-held. Portable power tools have obvious advantages in mobility. Stationary power tools, however, often have advantages in speed and precision. A typical table saw, for instance, not only cuts faster than a regular hand saw, but the cuts are smoother, straighter, and more square than what is normally achievable with a hand-held power saw. Some stationary power tools can produce objects that cannot be made in any other way. Lathes, for example, produce truly round objects.

Stationary power tools for metalworking are usually called machine tools. The term machine tool is not usually applied to stationary power tools for woodworking, although such usage is occasionally heard, and in some cases, such as drill presses and bench grinders, exactly the same tool is used for both woodworking and metalworking.

Health impact

See also: Health impacts of sawdust, Metal fume fever, and Toxic heavy metal

This section needs expansion with: on-tool extraction. You can help by adding to it. (March 2023)

While hand-held power tools are helpful, they also produce large amounts of noise, vibrations[1] and particulates including ultrafine particles.[2]

Airborne particulate matter is a Group 1 carcinogen.[3] Particulates are the most harmful form (other than ultra-fines) of air pollution[4] as they can penetrate deep into the lungs and brain from blood streams, causing health problems such as heart disease, lung disease, and premature death.[5] There is no safe level of particulates. A 2013 study concluded that "particulate matter air pollution contributes to lung cancer incidence in Europe".[6] Worldwide, exposure to PM2.5 contributed to 4.1 million deaths from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and respiratory infections in 2016.[7] Overall, ambient particulate matter is one of the leading risk factor for premature death globally.[8]

Many construction tasks create dust. High dust levels are caused by one of more the following:

A high dust level example.

Examples of high dust level tasks include:

Some industry standards on the size and amount of dust emitted by power tools exist,[10][11] though it appears that they are not widely known or used globally. Knowing that dust is generated throughout the construction process and can cause serious health hazards,[12] manufacturers are now marketing power tools that are equipped with dust collection system (e.g. HEPA vacuum cleaner) or integrated water delivery system which extract the dust after emission.[13][14] However, the use of such products is still not common in most places. As Q1 2024 petrol powered tools are banned in California.[15]

Using power tools without hearing protection over a long period of time can put a person at risk for hearing loss. The US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended that a person should not be exposed to noise at or above 85 dB, for the sake of hearing loss prevention.[16] Most power tools, including drills, circular saws, belt sanders, and chainsaws, operate at sound levels above the 85 dB limit, some even reaching over 100 dB.[1] NIOSH strongly recommends wearing hearing protection while using these kinds of power tools.[17]

Angle grinder

This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (April 2024)

Main article: Angle grinder § Safety and health


Shaft and belt system

Early industrial revolution-era factories had batteries of power tools driven by belts from overhead shafts. The prime power source was a water wheel or (later) a steam engine. The introduction of the electric motor (and electric distribution networks) in the 1880s made possible the self-powered stationary and portable tools we know today.[18] The global market for power tools is $33 billion (in 2016) and estimated to reach $46 billion in 2025.

Safety Enhancement

Prior to the 1930s, power tools were often housed in cast metal housings. The cast metal housings were heavy, contributing to repetitive use injuries, as well as conductive - often shocking the user. As Henry Ford adapted to the manufacturing needs of World War II, he requested that A. H. Peterson, a tool manufacturer, create a lighter electric drill that was more portable for his assembly line workers.[19] At this point, the Hole-Shooter, a drill that weighed 5 lbs. was created by A. H. Peterson. The Peterson Company eventually went bankrupt after a devastating fire and recession, but the company was auctioned off to A. F. Siebert,[20] a former partner in the Peterson Company, in 1924 and became the Milwaukee Electric Tool Company.[21]

In the early 1930s, companies started to experiment with housings of thermoset polymer plastics. In 1956, under the influence of Hans Erich Slany, Robert Bosch GmbH was one of the first companies to introduce a power tool housing made of glass filled nylon.[22]

Energy sources

As of 2021, an electric motor is the most popular choice to power stationary tools. Other power sources include steam engines, direct burning of fuels and propellants, such as in powder-actuated tools, or even natural power sources such as wind or moving water. In the past, stationary tools were powered by windmills, water wheels, and steam. Some museums and hobbyists still maintain and operate stationary tools powered by these older power sources. Portable electric tools may be either corded or battery-powered. Compressed air is the customary power source for nailers and paint sprayers. A few tools (called powder-actuated tools) are powered by explosive cartridges. Tools that run on gasoline or gasoline-oil mixes are made for outdoor use; typical examples include most chainsaws and string trimmers. Other tools like blowtorches will burn their fuel externally to generate heat. Compressed air is universally used where there is a possibility of fuel or vapor ignition - such as automotive workshops. Professional level electric tools differ from DIY or 'consumer' tools by being double insulated and not earthed - in fact, they must not be earthed for safety reasons.

Battery types

Different battery powered power tools often use batteries which are not compatible across brands and models. This may cause vendor lock-in, and results in poor sustainability if and when either the battery, charger, or power tool component fails, resulting in potentially all having to be replaced.

Examples of battery differences include the battery technologies themselves, with nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and nickel–cadmium batteries (Ni-Cd) being common previously,[23] but as of 2021 lithium-ion batteries have become the de facto standard for new power tools. The voltage is one of the most important factors for battery compatibility. In simple terms, a higher voltage rating on the tool often means that the power tool can deliver more power, with all else being equal. Using a battery with the wrong voltage rating may damage the tool, persons, or surroundings. As of 2021, 18 volt battery packs are the de facto standard in new power tools. The ampere hour, in simple terms, tells something about how long the power tool can operate before it needs to be recharged. If comparing two batteries with the same battery technology and same voltage rating, a battery with twice the amp hour rating should last about twice as long. In practice there may however be some variations to this. Also, batteries with a higher amp hour rating in practice can also often let the power tool deliver a slightly higher peak power due to the ability to deliver a higher current.[citation needed]

Even when using the same battery technology, voltage rating and amp hour rating, the interface of batteries for power tools are often not compatible across different manufacturers, and sometimes also not even within the same brand or product line. There are examples of aftermarket adapters being made so that the user can mix and match batteries between well-known brands, but these often do not fully implement the tools battery safety and monitoring systems and the use is done at the user's own risk.

Battery alliances

There are initiatives with the goal that the same battery can be used across products from several manufacturers, mostly those who offer special tools rather than general ones. Mainly two German companies have opened their 18V systems for others:


Power tools include:


Power Tool Manufacturers With a Full Range Program

Brand Owner Headquarters
AEG Electric Tools Techtronic Industries TTI, China by acquiring the AEG Electric Tools brand in 2004.

Brand under license from Electrolux.

Black & Decker Stanley Black & Decker Cop.  United States
DeWalt Stanley Black & Decker Cop  United States
Bosch Robert Bosch GmbH  Germany
Hikoki Formerly Hitachi Group. today owned by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.  Japan

 United States

Hilti Hilti AG  Liechtenstein
Makita Makita Cooperation  Japan
Metabo Metabowerke GmbH. today owned by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.  Germany

 United States

Milwaukee Techtronic Industries TTI by acquiring Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation in 2005  United States


Ryobi Power Tools Techtronic Industries TTI by acquiring Ryobi's North American power tools business in 2000. Brand under license from Ryobi Limited.  Japan


Specialized Companies

A number of companies, some of which are comparatively small and specialized, build niche solutions for industry and trade.

Brand Owner Headquarters Usage / Program
Dolmar Makita Corporation, Japan, by acquiring Dolmar GmbH 1991  Germany


Forestry and garden tools
Dremel Dremel now a Brand of Bosch Power Tools  United States


Fast-moving multifunctional tools
Duss Friedrich Duss Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG  Germany Drilling (hammer drills, chisel hammers, diamond drills)
Fein Fein-Verwaltung GmbH of C. & E. Fein GmbH  Germany Tool for cutting, drilling and grinding (metal construction)
Festool TTS Tooltechnic Systems Holding AG (Wendlingen am Neckar)  Germany Sawing and sanding for wood construction (also compressed air)
Flex Chervon Holdings Ltd, Owner of Flex-Elektrowerkzeuge GmbH (Deutschland, Steinheim an der Murr)  Germany


Separating, grinding and screwing
Hazet Hazet GmbH,  Germany Impact screws (mainly pneumatic range)
Lösomat Gedore GmbH, Remscheid (Gedore Torque Solutions), by aquirung Lösomat Schraubtechnik Neef GmbH, Vaihingen an der Enz  Germany High-torque screwdriver tools
Mafell Mafell AG  Germany Sawing (wood)
Matjeschk M-PT Matjeschk-PowerTools GmbH & Co. KG, Ralbitz-Rosenthal  Germany Bohren und Schrauben
Perles ATech d.o.o.  Slovenia Drilling tools
Stihl Stihl AG  Germany Forestry and garden tools

Trading Companies

With purchases from other manufacturers and OEM production

Brand Owner Headquarters Program range
AEG Electric Tools Techtronic Industries (TTI) by acquiring the AEG Electric Tools brand in 2004

and licensed the brand name from Electrolux, the AEG owner.

 China Full range
Einhell Einhell Germany AG, Landau an der Isar  Germany Full Range
Parkside Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG  Germany Full Range
Stahlwerk Stahlwerk Schweissgeräte GmbH  Germany
Worx Positec Tool Corporation  China Full Range
Würth Würth-Group  Germany Full Range

More brands and its manufacturer

The incomplete list lists the brand first, then its manufacturer or owner.

See also


  1. ^ a b "NIOSH Power tools database". Archived from the original on 2009-11-12. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  2. ^ "Particulate matter emissions from activities of building refurbishment".
  3. ^ "EHP – Outdoor Particulate Matter Exposure and Lung Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis". ehp.niehs.nih.gov. Archived from the original on 29 May 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-29.
  4. ^ Wasley, Andrew; Heal, Alexandra; Harvey, Fiona; Lainio, Mie (13 June 2019). "Revealed: UK government failing to tackle rise of serious air pollutant". The Guardian.
  5. ^ US EPA, OAR (26 April 2016). "Health and Environmental Effects of Particulate Matter (PM)". US EPA. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  6. ^ Raaschou-Nielsen, Ole; Andersen, Zorana J; Beelen, Rob; Samoli, Evangelia; Stafoggia, Massimo; Weinmayr, Gudrun; et al. (August 2013). "Air pollution and lung cancer incidence in 17 European cohorts: prospective analyses from the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE)". The Lancet Oncology. 14 (9): 813–822. doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(13)70279-1. PMID 23849838.
  8. ^ "The Weight of Numbers: Air Pollution and PM2.5". Undark. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  9. ^ This article contains OGL licensed text This article incorporates text published under the British Open Government Licence: "Frequently asked questions – Dust". HSE GOV.UK. 13 Jun 2023. Retrieved 8 Apr 2024.
  10. ^ "EN 50632-1".
  11. ^ "EN 50632-2-5".
  12. ^ "FAQs - Dust, HSE".
  13. ^ "Beware of dust - Hilti Canada".
  14. ^ "Dust control - Hilti Hong Kong".
  15. ^ Shiffler, Amanda (2023-12-18). "California's Green Lawn Care Law: What You Need to Know". Lawn Care Blog | Lawn Love. Retrieved 2024-03-13.
  16. ^ "Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Noise Exposure Revised Criteria". Basis for the Exposure Standard: 24–5. 1998.
  17. ^ Franks, John R., ed. (1996). Appendix A: OSHA Noise Standard Compliance Checklist (PDF). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. p. 60. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  18. ^ "Modern Marvels: The World's First Power Tools". History. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved Oct 4, 2011.
  19. ^ "History of Milwaukee". Milwaukee Tool Corporation.
  20. ^ History of Peterson and Milwaukee Companies
  21. ^ Nagyszalanczy, Sandor (2001). Power Tools: An Electrifying Celebration and Grounded Guide. Newtown, CT: The Taunton Press. ISBN 978-1-56158-427-7.
  22. ^ Ogursky, Gunter. Design: The Quality Factor. Esslingen, Germany: Robert Bosch GmbH.
  23. ^ Cordless Tool Batteries Battle - NiCD vs NiMH vs Li-Ion
  24. ^ "CAS - Diese neun Firmen nutzen ein gemeinsames Akku-System". 20 June 2018.
  25. ^ THE battery for your home and garden | POWER FOR ALL ALLIANCE
  26. ^ History - Gloria
  27. ^ Bosch, WAGNER, Gardena und weitere Hersteller gründen Akku-Allianz | WAGNER
  28. ^ https://www.ampshare.com/ [bare URL]