Hand Tools Still Evolving (Believe It or Not)

Spring is in full swing, which means that small DIY projects around the home are popping up quicker than the rows of unwanted weeds and dandelions in that once-manicured front lawn.

And if you’re tasked with doing small repairs like hanging up curtains, fixing windows, and repairing shelving, you’re going to need some simple tools to accomplish these jobs.

Sure, you may already have the basics in your tool box. But if it’s full of those “one-time-use” tools you picked up in college (I’m just going to leave this ad here), check out some of the new features you might be missing--and some insight into how developers are continuing to evolve tools.

Image: By M338

Screwdrivers go ergo

There’s a reason that cheap screwdrivers cost the same as a cup of coffee. Have you ever had a screwdriver snap on you when you try to make that one last tightening of the screw? Don’t be that guy/gal. Spend a little cash and get a new one (before your lousy no-name brand snaps). Most of the modern screwdrivers on the market have inter-changing bits and padded handles (ain’t nothing like a screwdriver blister). Plus they can deliver high-torque strength for easier fastening.

Next-gen pliers

At some point you might be tasked with doing a bit of electrical work. If so, you know safety comes first and the tools you’ll use for wiring also need to be safe. Creo customer Groz Tools specializes in the design and manufacturing of engineering tools and equipment. As you might guess, the company’s tools take the even the most common implements to a more precision and professional level. For example, the company offers a pair of Insulation Pliers that will keep you from getting zapped.

Combination or lineman’s pliers with product features highlighted, image from groz-tools.com

These aren’t mere pliers. They’ve been tested in accordance with VDE standards, insulated to 1000V AC for live wire working, are individually forged from chrome vanadium steel, with a grip that’s shockproof and anti-slip. Sounds like something that was designed for repair work on the International Space Station.

[For a behind-the-scenes look at how Groz designs its tools and equipment using Creo, watch this video – the fun starts at 3:30]:

Hammer time

You’re going to need a hammer. Whether you’re pounding nails, pulling out rusty nails or prying off a stubborn hinge, a good hammer is worth its weight in gold. Which is to say, if you’ve owned an ancient rusty hammer since the Reagan administration that “still works fine, thank you very much,” you’d be surprised by the new generation of claw hammers on the market. They’re made of a lighter steel, shaped for more efficient leverage, and include ergonomic rubber grips that absorb shock and cut vibration.

Good lighting

When I was a kid, I was the lighting source. I held the dimming flashlight (does anyone remember a flashlight not being dim when they were a kid?) in the direction of the work being done by an older brother or dad so they could tighten something in a dark corner or in the middle of the night.

Lighting sources have come a long way. Now, with LED technology, work lights are lighter, stronger and last longer. And one huge benefit of LEDs is that they don’t dispense heat in small spaces, just the light.

Most hand tools are deceptively simple. They have a function and they (mostly) perform these functions well. If you’ve had the same tool for years, you’d be surprised by the evolving ergonomics and new designs that are being applied to modern tools, including bent, curved and pistol grips. These shapes and designs aren’t mere aesthetics, either, and can directly impact hand tool performance, ergonomics and balance.

[Interested in seeing how Creo can help companies design the next, great screwdriver? Read our case studies here.]