After starting to build-up my own homeowner’s toolkit post-house purchase, I started to wonder if I was missing anything. So, I did some research to compile the ultimate list of the different types of hand tools, what they are used for, and some visual aids to go along with it all.
What are hand tools and what are they used for? Hand tools are classified as small, manual tools that are used to fix things by hand. When you use one of these objects, you are holding it in your hand, just like the name suggests.
More specifically, hand tools are not electronic or automatic. Anything that you do with a hand tool will require the use of your own strength. Some examples of hand tools that you might be familiar with are screwdrivers and wrenches.
No matter where you live, whether you are a home owner or a renter, it is very likely that you have some kind of hand tools laying around somewhere. Even further, you have probably had to use some of them every once in a while. Hand tools are an important component of every day life, and we need them more than we might think we do.
In this article, we will explore all of the different types of hand tools that exist, along with what they are used for, their overall purpose, and some photos of each individual tool that will provide a better explanation than words can. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about hand tools from A to Z.
The Purpose And Importance Of Hand Tools
When it comes to discussing some of the most important things that we use in our daily lives, hand tools are rarely brought up in the conversation. Although many people overlook the purpose and importance of hand tools, most of us would not be able to live without them.
Just because hand tools are not the most glamorous or interesting of objects that you could possibly think to talk about on a daily basis, they certainly deserve a lot more recognition than what they currently receive.
In this section, we will start off by talking about the purpose of hand tools, or otherwise, what they are generally used for and why they exist.
The Purpose Of Hand Tools:
- Used to complete small tasks (usually around the house)
- Meant to be more reliable than electric tools
- Easy and accessible for everyone to use
Now that we have established the general purpose of hand tools, it is time to get more into detail on the topic. Next, we will be discussing the advantages that come with hand tools.
Along with being helpful in small, every day tasks, hand tools hold a much higher value than just this. In fact, some of them can even be put above the modern conveniences of power tools in certain scenarios.
While this statement might come as a shock to anyone who is living in such a technologically advanced world, it is very true that hand tools can do some things that power tools just can’t, and they can even be safer and easier to use along with it.
Take a look at the list down below to see some of the advantages of hand tools for yourself, you might be surprised at how great they actually are.
Advantages Of Hand Tools:
- Can be carried around almost anywhere (small and lightweight)
- Do not require any charging or plugging in
- Quick solution for emergencies
- Safer than power tools, can be used by anyone
- Inexpensive to purchase and last for years
First of all, hand tools are very small and lightweight. They usually don’t weight much, and you could fit about 5 of them in the same pocket and carry them with you all day if needed.
As a result, they can be moved around the house without any kind of strain or trouble. If you need to fasten one of the outlets in the living room, you can grab your handheld screwdriver and walk across the house with no problems.
In addition, they do not require any charging or plugging in to use them. With electric power tools, they will either be powered by a battery or plugged into a power cord in the wall. Both of these options are non-satisfactory for a variety of reasons.
If you are using a corded tool, you will need to stay only in the vicinity of your power outlet in order for it to work. There are plenty of safety hazards that come along with that as well, but that is another conversation.
There is very limited mobility with this type of setup, and you will not be able to move where you need to go without yanking the cord or possibly moving it around to different power outlets as you adjust your position.
The cordless power tool seems to solve this problem, however it brings more of its own. Even though there is no power cord attached to these types of tools, they do have batteries that need to be charged.
On top of that, the batteries will die out quicker than you might think. If you plan on doing a project all day, you might as well pick up your hand tools now, because your cordless equipment won’t hold up as long.
As a result of the hand tools not being powered by any kind of outlet or battery, you can use them in any circumstance, literally.
Imagine an emergency situation where all of the lights go off in your house for several hours, but something is leaking in the kitchen sink and you need to prevent it from flooding.
If you had corded power tools in this situation, you would be seriously out of luck. With no power, there would be no way to plug in your tool to the outlet and draw electricity from it.
While it is true that you could use a cordless tool for some time, there is always the big chance that you could lose the battery at some point, or maybe you forgot to charge it the night before.
All in all, it is beneficial to have something that is reliable, such as a hand tool set, because you will never need to depend on any other factors to use them.
Aside from being great for moving around and saving the day in potential emergency situations, hand tools are much safer than power tools in general. Even though power tools are much more convenient in certain instances, they come with their fair share of risks as well.
With any kind of electric wiring, you can run into problems with electrocution or yanking of the tool if anyone steps on it. This can be dangerous for a variety of reasons that are quite self explanatory.
When you are operating a power tool, there are so many things that can go wrong if you are not careful. From power saws to electric drills, you must check every step twice in order to avoid injuries.
However, when you use a simple manual hand tool, you can rest assured that you would have to put forth a lot of effort to get seriously injured. This is not to say that it is not possible and you should not be careful, but it is just much less likely than the alternative, which is an attractive point to most people.
Finally, manual hand tools are very inexpensive to purchase. If you want to get a single tool, you can find it for under ten dollars at most retailers. There are additional deals for sets of them as well, and they are not bad with the price tag, either.
Not only are these types of tools very inexpensive to stock up on in large quantities, they are also known to last for years without much maintenance or care.
Most homeowners can agree that their hand tools are not the most prized items in their homes, and might not always be the best taken care of, but they are always around somewhere and are useful when they are needed.
If getting an entire set of tools for well under one hundred dollars and keeping them for years and years in the future doesn’t sound like a sweet deal, then I don’t know what does.
Types Of Hand Tools And What They Are Used For
Now that you have gotten a pretty good understanding of what hand tools are and the advantages of using them, it is time to get into the main topic of hand tool types and what they are actually used for.
In this section, we will quickly outline the main types of hand tools and their individual purposes, before we go into the photos that will be included toward the conclusion of this article.
Take a look at the list below, where you will find a brief outline of the names of these tool categories. You might recognize a lot of them from being in your own house, while some others are foreign objects that you have never heard of before.
Either way, you will be able to get some valuable information about the types of tools that you might be able to use in your own home.
Types Of Hand Tools And What They Are Used For:
- Wrench – tightening and loosening
- Torque wrench – tightening and loosening
- Pliers – gripping and cutting
- Cutters – cutting
- Files – grinding and cutting
- Chisel – breaking materials apart (used with hammer or mallet)
- Hammer – striking objects and driving nails
- Mallet – striking objects, evening surfaces, applying pressure, driving stakes
- Screwdriver – tightening and loosening screws
- Vises – holding objects together
- Clamps – holding onto objects
- Punches – placing holes in materials
- Snips – cutting
- Saw – cutting different materials (finely or roughly)
- Drills – driving holes into surfaces
- Knives – cutting things
The first tool on this list is also one of the most common that you will find in any hand tool kit: a wrench. The wrench is an essential hand tool that is used for a variety of tasks both indoors and outdoors.
The basic purpose of this type of tool is to tighten and loosen different objects, usually nuts and bolts. A wrench has a handle and extends out with two open arms and an empty space in between both of them, which is a perfect fitted slot for a small bolt to be inserted into.
To use a wrench, you will place the top part over the targeted object that you would like to tighten or loosen, and use force to turn it to the left or the right until it is completed. There are so many different types of wrenches, and they come in a lot of assorted sizes to fulfill certain tasks.
Torque wrenches technically fall under the category of a wrench, but they look much different. They still have the handle, but instead of open arms at the end, it is more of an open-ended tube.
Torque wrenches are used to apply torque, or movement, to different objects. This is done by placing the targeted object, usually a bolt, into the socket and turning the handle accordingly.
Both traditional wrenches and torque wrenches can be used inside the house for simple tasks like fixing a sink, as well as outside in the garage to fix the engine of the car.
Pliers, on the other hand, are used for gripping things mostly, but they can also be used to make cuts and separate materials. A pair of pliers has two handles that are held onto by the user, and ends with an opening and closing clamp with a sharp point on the very tip.
When you open and close the handles of a pair of pliers, the end will open and close, allowing you to place an object in between it to get a better grip. The inside of the mouth usually comes with teeth for added friction, and will help you to hold onto things and even pull them if needed.
Pliers can also be used to cut things if needed by applying pressure with the clamp down on an object until it is completely separated from the other side. An example of this kind of scenario would be a bolt that is incorrectly screwed in to a surface.
If the bolt is crooked and won’t come out with any other measures, you could use the pliers to cut off the head and remove the body of the bolt from the surface. This should be done with a pliers that have beveled teeth for the strongest grip and the sharpest cut.
Very similar to pliers, cutters are also used for cutting. They are designed in a similar fashion to the structure of the pliers, but they consist of blades at the end instead of teeth that are primarily used to grip objects.
Cutters are usually very large, and look similar to the shears that are used to trim bushes in the yard. With two long handles, the user simply opens and closes them to manipulate the mouth of the blades on the opposite end.
Depending on the type of cutters that you are using, you might be able to cut into a variety of different materials, which will be indicated by the manufacturer at your time of purchase.
File hand tools are very similar to the file that is used to even out your fingernails, only they are normally made of metal grates and are much larger in size. The average file will have a special handle for the user, an a long extended body that is used for fine tuning a project.
The purpose of a file is to get rid of all of the extra materials on a surface. Again, this is very much like a nail file. This can be anything from saw dust to metal scraps. Anything that is left loose on another material can be filed off with this tool.
With a strong enough file, you might even be able to make a few cuts with it. This is also depending on the sharpness and thickness as well, along with what the material is that you are trying to cut.
Although it would be a very tedious task, it would be possible to file away at something and eventually separate a piece from the entire thing.
Chisels, on the other hand, are a bit different from all of the tools that have been mentioned in this section so far. While it is considered to be a hand tool, it is not really a standalone object that can be used to fix something on its own.
Instead, it is used in combination with another tool that can apply blunt force: either a hammer or a mallet. A chisel is basically a long, cylindrical object that is usually made of a solid material and has a pointed end.
The purpose of using a chisel is usually to break something apart that is large or firm, such as a block of stone or a large brick. To use a chisel, you hold it in your non-dominant hand toward the middle of the body.
The chisel will be held against the object that you are trying to break, with the point resting directly on the surface. With your other hand, you will swing the hammer or mallet onto the upper end of the chisel, and the bottom point will break into the material below, causing cracks to form until it completely breaks.
Speaking of mallets and hammers, both of those items are next on this list of convenient hand tools.
The hammer is something that most of us are familiar with, and probably have laying around all of our houses somewhere. It is one of the oldest and most basic tools in existence, but there is a good reason why it is still around to this day.
Hammers come in a lot of different varieties, but the most basic form is the claw hammer. This is the tool with the wooden handle and the head with the claw in the back. It can be used to both hammer nails into a surface and dig them out with the other end.
There must be hundreds of individual types of hammers that exist, with some of them fulfilling extremely specific purposes.
The mallet happens to be one of these types of hammers. Although mallets and hammers are not the exact same thing, they belong to the same family of tools.
Just like hammers, there are tons of different types of mallets as far as the materials that they are made of and what they are normally used for.
Mallets come in wood, metal, rubber, and more, and are used for applying blunt force and evening out surfaces. They essentially apply force to a general area without any specific target, so you could pound a dented metal surface without creating a new one.
Screwdrivers are another one of the most basic homeowner’s hand tools. With an oval-shaped handle at one end and a long, pointy, metal stick with tip on the other, they are primarily used to loosen and tighten screws into another surface.
When you are looking for a screwdriver, there are two main types. One of them will have a flat top, while the other will be more intricate, with four indentations on the tip. This is due to the fact that there are two main types of screw heads, and the screwdrivers will fit into either one.
Other than this small limitation, screwdrivers can be considered universal. As long as you have one of each in your home, you should be set for anything that comes up.
Vises and clamps are both very similar tools, but they are used for slightly different purposes. A vise is normally used on a table top work space to hold a material or piece of equipment in place.
The clamps, on the other hand, are more of a hand-held tool that are used similar to pliers. Their main purpose is to hold things in place while working on them.
Punches are almost exactly what they sound like. They are usually used for materials that are more easily bent and manipulated like metal. When you use a punch, you place the material into the mouth and squeeze the clamps together.
When you release, you will have a brand new hole or indentation on the area that you lifted it up from.
Snips are also exactly what they sound like. With a very fine-tipped point and two handles, you can make tiny and precise cuts on almost anything that you need to. These types of tools, however, are best used for the ends of wires and other small materials that are similar in structure.
The saw, or hand saw, is a classic addition to any hand tool set. There are plenty of different types of manual saws that can be used, with a variety of blade sizes and thicknesses.
Some of them are meant to cut precisely in small areas, while others are supposed to roughly chop wood with crosscut teeth.
The next item on the list, the drill, might seem confusing being that we are talking about hand tools. This type of drill, however, is something that can be twisted and turned with just the fingers, and will produce the same results as the power tool.
Last but not least, we have the knife on our list of reliable hand tools. Knives can be used to create precision lines and cut through all types of material, both indoors and outdoors. If all else fails, you can direct the blade of a knife and manipulate it to do what you need it to.
List Of Hand Tools With Pictures
After getting a more in-depth explanation of the different types of hand tools that exist and how they are put to use for a variety of tasks around the house and yard, you might be wondering what a few of them look like.
While you might be familiar with the majority of the list already due to personal experiences, there are probably a few items that you have never heard of before.
In this section, we will clear up all of the confusion with photos of each type of tool next to the name that you read about previously. Whether you are learning something completely new or just need to refresh your memory, the photos down below will help you do that.
- Torque Wrench
As you can see, there are so many different types of hand tools that exist in the world, with some that you might have never seen the entire time.
After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of the types of hand tools and their importance in every home. With all of your new knowledge, you’ll be on your way to creating the ultimate homeowner’s toolkit in no time!