30+ Different Types of Hand Tools & Their Uses (with Images)

At some point, most people will use even the most basic hand tools—from hanging a picture to installing shelves, most of us will need a simple tool kit at home. But even the most seasoned DIYer might have questions about specific tools or might be in the market for a collection of must-haves to keep in his toolbox. So, what do you need?

Different types of hand tools include screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, and wrenches. Depending on your needs, each of these has a different use, and most are not interchangeable. Knowing what hand tools are and their intended purpose is essential for anyone looking to build or repair nearly anything.

Different Types of Hand Tools & Their Uses

Click on each tool in the list below to jump to the designated section or you can also continue reading.

Hand Tools List

Many hand tools are common enough that even if someone doesn’t know what a tool is called, they probably know what it is and how to use it. Let’s look at some of the more indispensable hand tools and information on the many varieties.

1. Screwdrivers

Three flathead screwdrivers with black plastic handle and three Philips screwdrivers with fluorescent green plastic handle.

Screwdrivers are hand tools used for turning screws to fasten or loosen them.

They typically consist of a handle made of plastic, wood, or metal, attached to a shaft with a tip of various shapes such as flathead or Phillips.

Screwdrivers are commonly used in woodworking projects to assemble furniture and in electronics repair to open and close devices.

Read also: Flathead Screwdrivers Vs Phillips Screwdrivers

2. Hammers

A bunch of hand tools but mainly hammers of different sizes and shapes.

Hammers are tools used for driving nails, breaking objects apart, or striking surfaces.

They have a handle, usually made of wood or metal, connected to a weighted head.

Hammers come in different types such as claw hammers, used in carpentry for driving and extracting nails, and sledgehammers, used in construction for heavy-duty tasks like demolition and driving stakes.

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3. Pliers

Two pliers of different sizes and colors.

Pliers are hand tools with two handles joined at a pivot point, used for gripping, bending, and cutting.

They typically have serrated jaws at one end, with variations like needle-nose or slip-joint pliers.

Pliers are essential in plumbing projects for tightening and securing fittings, and in jewelry making for bending and shaping metal wires.

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4. Measurement Tape

A red and blue measuring tape with yellow measuring ribbon.

A measurement tape, or tape measure, is a flexible ruler used to measure distances or lengths.

It consists of a coiled ribbon of metal or plastic encased in a compact housing.

Measurement tapes are indispensable in construction projects for taking accurate measurements of dimensions and in sewing projects for measuring fabric lengths and widths.

5. Wrenches

Wrenches of different sizes in a tool belt.

Wrenches, also known as spanners, are tools used for tightening or loosening nuts, bolts, and other fasteners.

They have a handle with a fixed or adjustable jaw at one end.

Wrenches are commonly used in automotive repair for removing and installing vehicle components, and in plumbing projects for tightening and loosening pipes and fittings.

6. Hand Saw

A hand saw with a yellow and black plastic handle.

A hand saw is a cutting tool used for making straight or curved cuts in wood or other materials.

It consists of a blade with sharp teeth attached to a handle.

Hand saws come in different types such as crosscut saws, used in carpentry for cutting across the grain, and coping saws, used in woodworking for intricate cuts and curves.

7. Utility Knife

An utility knife with a yellow and black plastic handle.

A utility knife, also known as a box cutter or razor knife, is a versatile cutting tool used for various tasks like opening packages, cutting materials, or scoring surfaces.

It typically has a retractable blade housed in a plastic or metal handle, with a mechanism for extending and retracting the blade safely.

Utility knives are commonly used in construction projects for cutting drywall and in crafting projects for precision cutting of paper and cardboard.

8. Axes

Two axes with wooden handle.

Axes are chopping tools with a sharp blade mounted at a right angle to a handle, used for cutting, shaping, and splitting wood or other materials.

They have a long wooden or fiberglass handle attached to a heavy metal head, which can have a single or double bit for different cutting tasks.

Axes are essential in outdoor projects such as camping for chopping firewood and in forestry for felling trees.

9. Pry Bars

A blue metal pry bar.

Pry bars, also called crowbars or wrecking bars, are levering tools used for lifting, prying, and removing nails or other fasteners.

They have a long, straight metal shaft with a flattened, chisel-shaped end for wedging under objects or prying apart materials.

Pry bars are commonly used in renovation projects for removing baseboards and in automotive repair for separating parts.

10. Staple Guns

A black staple gun used by a person hand.

Staple guns are hand tools used for driving staples into wood, plastic, or other materials to fasten or secure them together.

They have a handle with a mechanism for advancing and driving staples, along with a magazine for holding a strip of staples.

Staple guns are commonly used in upholstery projects for attaching fabric to furniture frames and in construction projects for securing insulation and roofing materials.

Related: What Is The Difference Between Nail Guns And Staple Guns?

11. Hand Files

Hand file with black and red plastic handle.

Hand files are abrasive tools used for shaping, smoothing, and finishing surfaces by removing material through abrasion.

They consist of a hardened steel bar with parallel rows of teeth or ridges, called the file’s cut, and a handle for gripping and applying pressure.

Hand files are commonly used in metalworking projects for smoothing rough edges and in woodworking projects for shaping and refining intricate details.

12. Vise

A classic metal vise.

A vise is a clamping tool used to hold objects securely in place during operations such as cutting, drilling, or shaping.

It consists of two parallel jaws, one fixed and one movable, operated by a screw mechanism or lever to adjust the opening width and grip strength.

Vises are commonly used in metalworking projects for securing workpieces during machining and in woodworking projects for holding pieces while carving or sanding.

13. Anvils

A blacksmith anvil on a metal base.

Anvils are heavy metal blocks with flat, hardened surfaces used as a work surface for forging, shaping, and repairing metal objects.

They typically have a horn or pointed end for bending and shaping metal and a flat top surface with various features, such as holes and notches, for specific tasks.

Anvils are commonly used in blacksmithing projects for shaping hot metal and in jewelry making for forming and soldering metal pieces.

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14. Scissors

Five different shapes of scissors.

Scissors are cutting tools consisting of two blades pivoted together to cut materials with precision.

They have a handle for each hand, connected by a pivot point, with sharpened edges along the inner side of the blades.

Scissors are commonly used in sewing projects for cutting fabric and in crafting projects for cutting paper and other lightweight materials.

15. C-Clamps

A metal C clamp.

C-clamps, also known as G-clamps, are clamping tools used to hold objects securely in place during woodworking, metalworking, or other tasks.

They have a C-shaped frame with a screw mechanism for adjusting the clamping pressure, along with a stationary and movable jaw for gripping objects.

C-clamps are commonly used in woodworking projects for securing workpieces to a bench or table and in metalworking projects for holding pieces during welding or machining.

16. Crowbar

Red crowbar made of metal and a black rubber handle.

A crowbar is a levering tool used for lifting, prying, and removing nails, boards, or other materials.

It has a long, straight metal shaft with a flattened, chisel-shaped end for wedging under objects or prying apart materials.

Crowbars are commonly used in demolition projects for removing floorboards and in renovation projects for dismantling old structures.

17. Hand Planer

Black hand planer.

A hand planer is a woodworking tool used for shaping and smoothing wood surfaces by removing thin layers of material.

It has a flat base, called the sole, with a sharp blade protruding from it, along with a handle for guiding and applying pressure.

Hand planers are commonly used in carpentry projects for flattening and smoothing rough lumber and in furniture making for shaping and chamfering edges.

18. Mallet

Rubber mallet with a wooden handle.

A mallet is a hammer-like tool with a large, usually wooden, head used for driving chisels, stakes, or other tools without damaging them.

It has a cylindrical or rectangular head attached to a handle, providing a larger striking surface than a traditional hammer.

Mallets are commonly used in woodworking projects for assembling joints and in metalworking projects for forming and shaping metal without leaving marks.

They are also made from rubber or plastic and they are used for tiling and other projects.

19. Chisels

Four chisels of different sizes with a wood handle.

Chisels are cutting tools with a sharp metal blade used for carving, shaping, or cutting hard materials such as wood, stone, or metal.

They have a long, straight handle with a tapered blade at one end, which can have various shapes and sizes depending on the intended application.

Chisels are commonly used in woodworking projects for carving intricate details and in masonry projects for shaping and sculpting stone.

20. Level

Red bubbel level used by a person.

A level is a measuring tool used to determine whether a surface is horizontal (level) or vertical (plumb).

It has a straight, rigid body with one or more vials of liquid and an air bubble, which indicate the orientation of the tool relative to the earth’s gravitational pull.

Levels are commonly used in construction projects for ensuring the straightness and alignment of walls, shelves, and other structural elements, and in DIY home improvement projects for hanging pictures and installing fixtures.

21. Adjustable Spanner (Monkey Wrench)

The adjustable spanner, also known as a monkey wrench, is a hand tool designed for tightening or loosening nuts and bolts of various sizes.

It typically has an adjustable jaw, allowing it to fit different fastener sizes.

The tool resembles a wrench with a straight handle and a fixed jaw on one side and an adjustable jaw on the other side, operated by a thumbwheel or knurled knob.

Real-life examples of projects include plumbing repairs, automotive maintenance, and general construction tasks.

22. Wire Cutters

Wire cutters are hand tools used for cutting and trimming electrical wires, cables, and other materials.

They feature sharp blades that can shear through wire cleanly and effectively.

Wire cutters come in various sizes and types, including diagonal cutting pliers and lineman’s pliers.

Common projects involving wire cutters include electrical installations, electronics repair, and crafting.

23. Pipe Wrench

The pipe wrench is a specialized tool designed for gripping and turning pipes and fittings with rounded surfaces.

It consists of a cast iron or steel handle with serrated jaws that grip onto the pipe when pressure is applied.

Pipe wrenches come in different sizes to accommodate various pipe diameters.

They are commonly used in plumbing installations, repairs, and maintenance tasks.

24. Adjustable Pliers

Adjustable pliers, also known as locking pliers or vice-grip pliers, are versatile hand tools used for gripping, bending, and twisting objects of different shapes and sizes.

They feature an adjustable jaw that can be locked into position, providing a secure grip on the workpiece.

Adjustable pliers are indispensable in automotive repair, metalworking, and plumbing projects.

25. Allen Wrench (Hex Key)

An Allen wrench, also known as a hex key or Allen key, is a small handheld tool used to drive screws and bolts with hexagonal sockets.

It typically consists of a L-shaped or T-shaped metal rod with a hexagonal tip at each end.

Allen wrenches are commonly used in furniture assembly, bicycle maintenance, and machinery repair.

26. Wire Strippers

Wire strippers are tools designed for removing insulation from electrical wires to expose the conductive metal underneath.

They feature a pair of cutting blades and adjustable jaws that can strip wires of various gauges without damaging the conductors.

Wire strippers are essential in electrical work, telecommunications installations, and electronics repair.

27. Tinsnips (Aviation Snips)

Tinsnips, also known as aviation snips or compound snips, are cutting tools specifically designed for cutting sheet metal and other thin materials.

They have long handles with offset blades that provide leverage and control for cutting straight lines or curves.

Tinsnips are commonly used in HVAC installations, metal roofing, and ductwork fabrication.

28. Hand Trowel

A hand trowel is a small handheld tool with a flat, pointed blade used for spreading and smoothing materials such as plaster, concrete, or mortar.

It typically has a wooden, plastic, or metal handle attached to a steel or stainless steel blade.

Hand trowels are essential in masonry work, tile installation, and gardening projects.

29. Wire Brushes

Wire brushes are tools used for cleaning rust, paint, and debris from metal surfaces.

They feature stiff wire bristles attached to a handle, typically made of wood, plastic, or metal.

Wire brushes come in various shapes and sizes, including wire wheel brushes, wire cup brushes, and wire scratch brushes.

They are commonly used in automotive restoration, metal fabrication, and surface preparation.

30. Chalk Line

A chalk line is a tool used for marking straight lines on surfaces such as wood, concrete, or metal.

It consists of a reel filled with chalk powder and a string coated with chalk.

The string is stretched between two points, and then snapped against the surface to leave a straight line of chalk.

31. Caulking Gun

A caulking gun is a tool used for applying caulking or sealant to joints, seams, or gaps in various surfaces such as windows, doors, and plumbing fixtures.

It consists of a frame with a trigger mechanism that advances the caulking tube and dispenses the sealant through a nozzle.


Hand tools have a rich history predating the existence of cities or agriculture, highlighting their enduring value.

While utilizing them requires some expertise, mastering their usage leads to consistently superior outcomes.

Perceptions of hand tools vary among individuals. Nonetheless, those acquainted with their functions generally acknowledge the essential nature of many listed tools for any toolbox or workshop.

The key lies in specialization, emphasizing the importance of setting specific objectives before selecting the appropriate tool for the task at hand.

Related: Types of Power Tools | Types of Carpentry Tools | Hand Tools vs Power Tools


Hi there! My name is Jack and I write for ToolsOwner. I have a passion for everything related to tools and DIY projects around the house. You often find me in my workshop working on new projects.