Hand tools are simply any tools that are not power tools. This classification includes tools such as rakes, hammers, screwdrivers, and hand saws. According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association, there are twelve classes of hand tools: wrenches, pliers, cutters, striking tools, struck or hammered tools, screwdrivers, vices, clamps, snips, saws, drills, and knives.
Hand tools are the oldest form of tools used by humans. They were invented during the Stone Age, when stones were used for cutting and smashing as well as hunting. Originally, the stones themselves were used. Eventually, humans began to develop ways to chip away at the stones to create cutting edges in stones such as obsidian. In fact, obsidian can be chipped to produce an edge comparable to surgical steel. The stones were also ground and shaped to fit human hands, as well as used for arrow heads or crude knives.
In the Bronze Age, bronze became the preferred material for creating implements. This metal was obviously more resilient than stone. Also, it was easier to shape and create an edge. Bronze is a copper and tin alloy that is very malleable, making it easy to work with. These tools were commonplace around the world until the end of the Bronze Age, which was around 1200 BCE.
This ushered in the Iron Age, in which iron was the material of choice. Iron is stronger, heavier, and more rigid than bronze. This made it the preferred material for creating tools. In fact, some tools you might use today are still made from iron. Though the process of creating tools has obviously improved in the last two thousand years, iron remains a cheap and reliable metal for creating blunt tools. For example, some hammers and axes produced today have iron heads.
One of the drawbacks of iron is its rigidity. Though necessary for creating strong, sharp tools, rigidity tends to make the metal brittle. An iron edged implement chips much easier than bronze or steel.
Due to their ease of creation and widespread use, hand tools are available just about anywhere. Brick and mortar stores, as well as online stores, offer wide varieties of tools. For example, using the Internet, a crafter in British Columbia can search for any hand tool Melbourne stores might carry. In the inverse, an Australian crafter can search for tools in Canada. In this way, crafters can select the perfect tool for their jobs and also compare prices.
Certain hand tools such as hammers or knives have been around for thousands of years. While a power tool might seem like the more attractive option, nothing can replace thousands of years of testing. When you buy a hammer made from quality materials, you know exactly what to expect. You do not have to worry about running out of gasoline or electricity or running an extension cord. As long as you can swing the hammer, you can rely on it to function. The same is not true for newer technology.