Almost everyone has used a hand tool in one form or another. Whether it is using sheers during gardening or a screwdriver for home DIY, hand tools are part of everyday life. Hand tools are differentiated from other types of tools by the fact that they only require human strength and power to operate; and they have been around since before even the first modern human. In fact, hand tools have had a huge impact on human evolution, not only enabling us to provide ourselves with food, clothing and shelter, but has also helped us to explore new land and even influenced our economy.

The invention of hand tools

The earliest known stone hand tools have been dated back to over 3 million years ago and were used by Australopithecus, an ancestor to modern humans. This period was part of the stone age, which is a period in time when stone tools where invented and developed; it was also during the stone age that modern humans evolved.

Early hand tools were very simple and include tools such as hand sized rocks that were cut to sharpen them enough to be able to cut newly caught meat ready for preparation for cooking. In the late stone age modern humans were able to develop these simple tools, for example creating basic axes, that transformed humans from hunter gathers to an agricultural based society, where small settlements began to be established. These small settlements transform the way humans lived and socialised with each other and helped to establish the fundamentals of a modern society.

Hand tools and wood

shutterstock_54191584When humans began to use hand tools to utilise wood as a building material it dramatically impacted human evolution. Not only did it help to provide furniture for homes, and eventually to the building of homes themselves, but also meant that humans could build canoes, paddles, boats and oars for the first time. This meant that humans could start to trade with different communities across water, as well as helping humans to continue their migration into new unexplored lands. Trading between different countries helped to establish economies, as well as sharing of ideas, cultures, innovations and goods that transformed human society and even contributed to the development of language and writing.

Working with metal

Once humans discovered the ability to use hand tools to utilise metal it led to another development to human evolution. New weapons for war could be created, such as swords and shields, as well as body armour such as helmets and later suits of armour. Transport also became more sophisticated, not only boats but using horses that enabled humans to cover longer distances quicker. As well as this, the discovery of metal and the ability to use hand tools to manipulate it led to the creation of coins and money, a dramatic step in human evolution that impacted society in a way that still influences our economy today.

Household hand tools

Our ancestors would use hand tools to help hunt animals and cut meat, while over the years hand tools have been used to help hunt animals and later for deforestation that lead to an agricultural way of life and the first human settlements. Over the years hand tools developed and helped build transport and homes, as well as being used in the creation of revolutionary inventions such as coins. As well as this, throughout history humans have used hand tools to help make everyday life easier – whether a hunter gather needing to prepare freshly caught animals ready for eating to today when hand tools are still used for everyday household tasks such as repairing clothing using a needle and thread to screwdrivers for DIY.