Brief History of Hand Tools

Tools are useful for carrying out manual labour tasks for builders and for ordinary people who like doing DIY tasks at home. The earliest tools date back millions of years. Here is a quick guide to the history of hand tools.

Pliers and Tongs

Pliers are hand tools used mostly for holding and gripping objects. The ancient invention was made of two wooden sticks thousands of years ago by Mesopotamians. Bronze pliers may have replaced wooden pliers as early as 3000 BC.

There is a range of pliers on the market today. Diagonal cutting pliers can be used for cutting wire that does not require larger cutting tools. Round-nose pliers are used for cutting and modelling wire into a specific shape or form. Adjustable pliers have grooved jaws so that they can pivot in different positions to grasp objects of different sizes.


Solymon Merrick invented and patented the first wrench in 1835. Daniel C. Stillson improved on the design and was granted a patent in 1870. The wrench works as a lever with stainless steel notches at the mouth for gripping.

Wrenches, otherwise known as spanners, are hand tools used for tightening nuts and bolts. Some wrenches have been made for specific applications and can be tightened to better fit various objects.

Stillson is a renowned inventor of the pipe wrench. Walworth manufactured the design, and he was paid about $80,000 in royalties for his invention. Other inventors followed, like Charles Moncky and Robert Owen, Jr., who invented the ‘’monkey’’ wrench and the ratchet wrench in 1858 and 1913, respectively.

Woodworking Hand Tools

Hammers, saws, mallets, squares, and nails were changing the woodworking industry thousands of years ago. Hand tools helped ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans to build shelters and to survive in ancient society.

The oldest woodworking tool was a hammer, which was dated 3.3 million years ago in Kenya, and may have been used for breaking animal skulls and bones.

Hand tools still play an important role in our daily lives. Whether you have a DIY project at home or need a power tool for a building project, there is a tool out there that can do the job.

History of Power Tools

From Visually.