What are the Different Types of Hand Tools?

Dan Cavallari

Whether you're a seasoned carpenter or simply a do-it-yourself home handyman, you will need an arsenal of hand tools to accomplish a variety of tasks. Some are staples of any toolbox worthy of even the smallest jobs, while others are more obscure and task-specific; regardless of what job you are planning on tackling, you should count on investing in a quality set of tools that will come in handy in numerous situations.

Hammers are a common hand tool.
Hammers are a common hand tool.

Perhaps the most common and well-known of the hand tools is the hammer, which is designed to drive nails, break apart materials, or pry out nails or boards. It is a versatile tool that can accomplish many tasks, but be sure to invest in the right one. Hammers come in different lengths, which are intended for different jobs. Whatever hammer you decide on, be sure it is a well-built one-piece hammer or a two-piece hammer with the head solidly fixed to the handle.

Common hand tools to have around the house are pliers, hand saws, levels, paint brushes and wrenches.
Common hand tools to have around the house are pliers, hand saws, levels, paint brushes and wrenches.

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Other common hand tools you are probably already familiar with are screwdrivers. These come in a variety of sizes as well, and most often come in two different standards: Phillips-style head or flat head. As their name suggests, screwdrivers are used to drive screws into different types of materials.

Electricians use insulated screwdrivers when working with high voltage.
Electricians use insulated screwdrivers when working with high voltage.

While many saws you will find in workshops today are powered and motorized, hand saws are still valuable hand tools that should be present in any handyman's quiver. Countless varieties of hand saws exist, and some saws are designed to cut through specific materials--for example, a hacksaw is designed to cut through metal and cuts on the push stroke rather than the back stroke, which is common amongst wood saws.

An electrician generally will require a voltmeter.
An electrician generally will require a voltmeter.

Some hand tools are less glamorous than the ones mentioned above; a tape measure may prove invaluable, however, and save you the hassle of cutting boards at the wrong length. It is useful in any number of situations in which you must measure materials or space in your home. Pliers can pinch and pull stuck bolts, bent metal, or any other material that requires a firm grip your hand can't provide. Wire cutters are the savior of electricians everywhere and make cutting wires extremely easy. They also allow the electrician to strip wires of their casing, exposing the metal filaments inside.

Wire cutters are a type of hand tool that allows electricians to cut and strip away a wire's plastic insulation and expose bare metal wire.
Wire cutters are a type of hand tool that allows electricians to cut and strip away a wire's plastic insulation and expose bare metal wire.

The hand tools you will need will depend on what jobs you intend to tackle. An electrician may not need the same tools a woodworker will need, so be sure to consider what your specific needs will be. A woodworker may need chisels, but an electrician probably won't. Conversely, an electrician may need a voltmeter, but a woodworker probably won't. Choose your hand tools carefully to avoid spending money on tools you won't use.

A hacksaw, which can cut through metal and plastic, is considered a type of hand tool.
A hacksaw, which can cut through metal and plastic, is considered a type of hand tool.
Power wrenches are a type of hand tool.
Power wrenches are a type of hand tool.
A flathead screwdriver is a type of hand tool.
A flathead screwdriver is a type of hand tool.
Pencils and bevels are tools frequently used by woodworkers.
Pencils and bevels are tools frequently used by woodworkers.
A cordless drill is a useful hand tool.
A cordless drill is a useful hand tool.

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Discussion Comments

Magnette

My personal tool box contains most of the items listed here, but I'd definitely add a few others that always come in handy. A razor knife is handy for cutting sheetrock, scraping paint off windows, and many other tasks. Channel-lock pliers can open up much wider than regular pliers, affording a larger grip and more versatility. And vise-grips are essential - the article mentions using pliers to pull stuck nails or bolts and to grip metal. But vise-grips allow you to really clap down on the object you're trying to grip and can be much more effective in getting the job done. Pliers can sometimes slip, but vise-grips never will.

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