With technological advancement and the growing need to ‘get the job done’ quickly, power tools are taking the construction world by storm! With their speed and scale advantage over traditional hand tools, they seem like a ‘no-brainer’ when it comes to choosing one over the other.
But, is it really that simple? There are definitely strong points to using hand tools over power tools. Perhaps I’ve piqued your interest and you’re now wondering what these advantages are. Well, let’s answer this question (and others) together in this article!
The main advantage of hand tools over power tools is precision. Fine carving and intricate detailing are easier to do with hand tools. As well, you can use hand tools anytime, anywhere as they don’t require a power source to work. Hand tools are also lighter, quieter, safer and easier to transport.
Now that you know the main advantages of hand tools vs power tools, let’s look at each in detail below. I’ll also discuss the main differences between the two and why power tools are considered more dangerous. I’ll explore the many uses for hand tools and explain how they’re classified.
And now, if you’re ready to learn more about the importance of choosing hand tools over power tools, then let’s get to it!
What is a Hand Tool?
A hand tool is that which doesn’t require a battery, cord, compressed air or power source to operate.
Since no motor is necessary to run them, these tools can be used anytime, anywhere by almost anyone! Different types of manual hand tools include hammers, pliers, manual saws, screwdrivers, and wrenches.
It’s important to note here that portable power tools, even though they can be carried in a tool belt or easily transported in a toolbox, are not considered to be hand tools. Examples of these include abrasive wheels, circular saws, grinders, portable belt sanders, and battery-operated drills.
You can also check this big list of power tools I’ve put together.
Are Hand Tools Better than Power Tools?
Both hand tools and power tools come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
The 6 main reasons to choose a hand tool over a power tool include the following:
1. More Precise
Hand tools are more precise than power tools. Fine carvings and intricate details in wood, metal and other materials are easier to achieve with hand tools.
Since they can be fully controlled and easily maneuvered, hand tools are better for jobs requiring a high level of precision, such as building musical instruments or decorating wooden artwork.
2. Not as Loud
Hand tools tend to be quieter than power tools. When deeply focussed on your work, the last thing you need is a loud, buzzing tool distracting you.
As well, hand tools are less disturbing to those around you, including your family, neighbors, and co-workers. Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and/or hearing loss is also a potential problem with power tool use.
3. Always Work
Hand tools always work! They don’t need a power source to run nor do they have any mechanical or computerized parts that could breakdown and/or need repair. As well, they tend to last longer because they have fewer moving parts.
They never need to be charged up or plugged in so they’re always ready to go!
4. Safer to Use
Hand tools are safer overall to use. The risk of injury is far less than with power tools.
Power tools often run at high speeds. This significant increase in power makes them more dangerous.
Therefore, it’s recommended that only those with experience and training should operate power tools, as safety is of the utmost importance.
5. Lighter Weight
Hand tools aren’t usually as heavy as power tools. This makes them easier to handle and work with.
Since most are designed to be used with just one hand, they tend to weigh less than 3 pounds each as opposed to power tools, which can weigh up to 10 pounds.
The lighter weight makes hand tools simple and safe to use.
6. Easier to Transport
Hand tools tend to be smaller or more compact than power tools, making them easier to transport. This is ideal for those who need to take their tools with them from job to job.
Travel-friendly hand tools are also less expensive to purchase and operate since they don’t require electricity to run.
Their hassle-free as well when it comes to maintenance. You only have to keep them rust-free.
How Does a Hand Tool Differ from a Power Tool?
I guess the most obvious difference between a manual tool and a power tool is the need for a power source (a battery or electricity, for example) with the latter.
Power tools run automatically whereas hand tools work manually. Hand tools also have fewer moving parts and are simpler in nature, making them easy to use.
What are the Hazards of Hand Tools?
Hand tools, for the most part, are generally safe to use – provided you maintain and use them properly.
Accidents happen when tools (especially those that are loose or broken) are used incorrectly.
A few examples of the possible hazards that come with using hand tools inappropriately include the following:
- Using a chisel as a screwdriver, thus increasing the odds of the chisel tip breaking off and possibly injuring the user.
- Using a hammer with a loose, cracked or splintered handle whereby the head can fly off when struck, possibly hitting the user.
- Using a wrench with a ‘mushroomed’ head that can shatter upon impact, sending sharp tool fragments flying, possibly striking the user.
The lesson to be learnt here is to always use a hand tool the way the manufacturer intended. Never use tools that are loose or broken. Inspect your tools beforehand and make sure to store them properly afterwards.
What are the Disadvantages of Using Power Tools?
Power tools, albeit fast and accurate, have some drawbacks to them. The reliance on a power source to work is the main one.
Another disadvantage is the potential for parts to fail, requiring costly repair and/or replacement.
Even if they’re battery operated, should the tools run low or “die”, they won’t function properly, if at all!
Why are Power Tools More Dangerous than Hand Tools?
A key point to mention when it comes to power tools is the danger factor involved. Tools that spin or cut at a rapid rate are hazardous, should the operator not be paying full attention (or have an unfortunate accident) while handling them.
Power tools are also more likely to cause health issues related to harmful dust, fumes, gases, vapors or other toxins being immitted during use.
Check this informational booklet from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) that offers a summary of the basic safety procedures and safeguards associated with hand and portable power tools.
In summation, the main advantage of using hand tools instead of power tools involves precision. Fine carving and intricate detailing in wood, metal or other materials are often easier to do with hand tools.
And, since manual tools don’t require electricity or a power source to operate, they can be used anytime, anywhere by almost anyone. Not to mention, manual tools are also lighter, quieter, safer and easier to transport.
The choice of whether to use a hand tool instead of a power tool depends upon the needs, preferences, and budget of the user.
Therefore, it’s important to understand the difference between the two so you can pick the best tool for the job. Don’t forget to always use tools safely and correctly, the way the manufacturer intended. And also to store them corectly.
Hopefully, this article has been of help to you. Thanks for reading and good luck with your future “handyman” endeavors!
Cheers tools owners!