A hand tool is any tool that is not a power tool – that is, one powered by hand (manual labour) rather than by an engine. Some examples of hand tools are garden forks, secateurs, rakes, hammers, spanners, pliers, screwdrivers and chisels. Hand tools are generally less dangerous than power tools.
Hand tools have been used by humans since the stone age when stones 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 craftsman made to being factory produced. :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 and Dictionary of Leather-working Tools.
General tool categories
The American Industrial Hygiene Association gives the following categories of hand tools: wrenches, pliers, cutters, striking tools, struck or hammered tools, screwdrivers, vises, clamps, snips, saws, drills and knives.
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- Scott P. Schneider (1998). "Tools". In Jeanne Mager Stellman. Chemical, industries and occupations. Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety. 3 (4th ed.). International Labour Organization. pp. 93.33–93.34. ISBN 978-92-2-109816-4.
- Cacha, Charles A. (1999). Ergonomics and Safety in Hand Tool Design. CRC. ISBN 1566703085.
- 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.
- 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.