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History of Hand Tools



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The history of hand tools is as old as history of human civilization. Though an exact history of hand tools is difficult to figure out, studies have shown that tools were used even at the early stone age. There is evidence of humans using knives at the stone age. With the beginning of civilization, sophisticated hand tools were developed and today with advanced technology, there is a wide selection of hand tools in different shapes and sizes, to serve different purposes.

Hand Tools and Animals
According to philosophers, hand tools were not only used by humans but also by other species like monkeys, apes, several corvids, sea otters, and others. Later, proper observations revealed that not only humans had the ability to make tools but also birds and monkeys. Later on philosophers came to the conclusion that that we are the only species that uses tools to make other tools.

Hand Tools and Human Civilization
Most research scholars believe that the use of hand tools was an important step in the evolution of mankind. Hand tools tell us about the society that made them. The more developed a society, the more tools it produces, and the more tools it uses. While discovering and inventing many new things, humans had evolved an opposable thumb, which was useful in holding tools, and increased dramatically in intelligence, which helped in the use of tools.

Evolution of Hand Tools
The story of the evolution of hand tools was not one of continual development as there are periods when progress was slow or even went backwards. The first sign of use of hand tools came in the stone age. There is evidence of Romans making and using tools and some tools of the Roman age are still used today. Machine tools occasioned a rise in producing new hand tools in the industrial revolution of eighteenth century. During the Victorian period, a craftsman's hand tools were his main source of earning. Specialist crafts and hand tools were developed period after period to turn wood and metal into useful things. Carpenters, sawyers, carvers, joiners etc. have all used the different types of hand tools in their operation. Every stage of the manufacturing process had its special tool, from hammers, saws and axes to chisels and gouges.

Hand tools were by craftsmen in manual operations, like chopping, sawing, chiseling, forging, filing since a long time. Some tools were found in northern Kenya and after research, it was found that they were about 2,600,000 years old.

Tool Stone Age Bronze Age Early Iron Age Greek and Roman Dark Ages Middle    
Ages 1600 to 1800 1800 to 1962            
Axe X X X X X X X X
Knife X X X X X X X X
Adze X X X X X X X X
Auger X X X X X X X X
Chisel X X X X X X X X
Hand-saw   X X X X X X X
Bow drill   X X X X X X X
Cross-cut saw   X X X X X X X
Drawknife     X X X X X X
Plane, smooth       X X X X X
Rule       X X X X X
" jack       X X X X X
moulding "       X X X X X
" plough       X X X X X
T-axe         X X X X
Breast auger         X X X X
Brace           X X X
Saw, fret           X X X
tenon "             X X
Spokeshave             X X
Marking gauge             X X
Breast drill               X
Screwdriver               X
Twist bits               X
Metal brace               X


Chronology : Woodworking Hand Tools in History
William L. Goodman, a self-taught carpenter and teacher of woodworking skills in an English boy's school, published the study of woodworking tools in history under the name, "History of Woodworking Tools". The schema that he constructed and printed in the book is reproduced here because it describes the historical evolution of the tool kits of both English carpenters and their colonial and American descendants.



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