A tool is any physical item that can be used to achieve a goal, especially if the item is not consumed in the process. Informally the word is also used to describe a procedure or process with a specific purpose.
They’re used to solve problems, and help us get things done. Tools can be anything from simple stones to complex technologies. They have been used by humans since the Paleolithic age.
Let’s look at the history of tools and how they have evolved over time.
In this post we'll cover:
- What Does It Really Mean to Call Something a Tool?
- The Evolution of Tools: From Simple Stones to Complex Technologies
- Tools: A Guide to Different Types
- Essential Tools for Your DIY Home Projects
What Does It Really Mean to Call Something a Tool?
When we talk about a tool, we’re referring to an object that’s specifically designed to be manipulated by the body to achieve a target. The meaning attached to the term “tool” goes beyond just an object that can be carried or held. A proper tool is something that’s used to change the way something is, or to alter the environment in a more efficient way.
The Physical Definition of a Tool
A tool is a physical object that can be manipulated by the body. It’s an external, unattached object that’s manipulable and can be modified to fit a specific purpose. Tools are appendages that extend the body’s ability to achieve a target, and they’re used to modify inanimate objects or the environment to facilitate the achievement of that target.
The Future of Tools
As technology advances, the definition of a tool may change. We may see tools that are no longer physical objects, but rather environmental or manipulable in a different way. However, the core meaning of a tool will remain the same- an object or means of achieving a target.
The Evolution of Tools: From Simple Stones to Complex Technologies
- Undoubtedly, the first tools were made from stone.
- These early stone-made tools developed at least 2.6 million years ago.
- In those days, stone tools were mainly used for hunting and survival.
- The earliest stone tools were found in Africa and date back to the Paleolithic era.
- The main purpose of these tools was to butcher animal carcasses and prepare meat for consumption.
- The early stone tools were simple, sharp-edged flakes that were able to cut through the tough grain of wild animal bodies.
The Evolution of Stone Tools
- As humans evolved, so did their tools.
- Over the centuries, stone tools became more sophisticated and were used for a wider range of tasks, including construction and carving.
- The actual forms of stone tools varied depending on the materials available and the task required.
- The most widely recognized stone tools included hand axes, scrapers, and arrowheads.
- Stone tools were extensively used by humans for hunting, fishing, and preparing food.
The Emergence of New Technologies
- The invention of the bow and arrow was a significant step forward in hunting technology.
- The archaeological finds suggest that the bow and arrow appeared around 10,000 years ago.
- The wheel was invented around the same time in Mesopotamia, which revolutionized transportation and construction.
- Iron tools were developed around the 1st millennium BC, which replaced stone tools in many areas.
- Upholstery regulator was invented in Combarelles, France, which was used for carving animal bones.
The Importance of Tools in Human History
- Tools played an important role in human evolution and the development of civilization.
- The ability to create and use tools distinguished humans from other species.
- Anthropologists study tools extensively to distinguish between different species and to understand their cultural and historical significance.
- The finding of distinguishable tools in digs suggests that hominins were culturally and historically different from one another.
- The study of tools also pushes back the dates of human evolution and the divergence from other ape species.
- The earliest tools were perishable, consisting of unmodified materials, but as technology developed, tools became more complex and distinguished artifacts.
Tools: A Guide to Different Types
When it comes to basic tools, there are a few types that every homeowner should have in their garage. These include:
- Screwdrivers: These are used to loosen or tighten screws and come in different sizes and shapes to match the screw head.
- Hammers (different types explained here): These are used to drive nails or break things apart. There are different types of hammers, including claw hammers, ball-peen hammers, and sledgehammers (we’ve reviewed the best ones here).
- Wrenches: These are used to tighten or loosen bolts and nuts. They come in different sizes and shapes to match the bolt or nut.
Cutting tools are meant to produce a repeated process of cutting and are commonly used in DIY projects. Examples of cutting tools include:
- Saws: These are used to cut through different materials such as wood, metal, and plastic. There are different types of saws, including hand saws, circular saws, and jigsaws.
- Blades: These are used to cut through thin materials such as paper, cardboard, and fabric. There are different types of blades, including utility blades, hobby knives, and scalpels.
- Scissors: These are used to cut through materials such as paper, fabric, and wires. There are different types of scissors, including regular scissors, pinking shears, and wire cutters.
Glue and Holding Tools
Glue and holding tools are meant to help hold materials together during the making process. Examples of glue and holding tools include:
- Clamps: These are used to hold materials together while glue dries. They come in different sizes and shapes to match the material being held.
- Glue guns: These are used to deliver hot glue to materials. They come in different sizes and shapes to match the user’s needs.
- Tape: This is used to hold materials together temporarily. There are different types of tape, including masking tape, duct tape, and electrical tape.
Electrical tools are meant to perform tasks related to electrical work. Examples of electrical tools include:
- Wire strippers: These are used to strip the insulation off of wires. They come in different sizes to match the wire being stripped.
- Multimeter: This is used to measure electrical properties such as voltage, current, and resistance.
- Pliers: These are used to hold and manipulate wires. There are different types of pliers, including needle-nose pliers, lineman’s pliers, and diagonal pliers.
Professional tools are meant for those who work in a trade or require tools for their job. Examples of professional tools include:
- Power tools: These are tools that are powered by electricity or a battery. They include drills, saws, sanders, and more.
- Sets: These are collections of tools that are meant to match a specific job or trade. Examples include mechanic’s tool sets, electrician’s tool sets, and plumber’s tool sets.
- Bits: These are attachments for power tools that are meant to match the material being worked on. Examples include drill bits, screwdriver bits, and router bits.
Safety tools are meant to protect the user from harm while using tools. Examples of safety tools include:
- Gloves: These are used to protect the hands from cuts, scrapes, and other injuries.
- Safety glasses: These are used to protect the eyes from flying debris or other hazards.
- Earplugs: These are used to protect the ears from loud noises that can cause damage.
Essential Tools for Your DIY Home Projects
When it comes to DIY projects around the house, having the right tools is crucial. Here are some hand tools that are a staple in any toolbox:
- Screwdrivers (Phillips and Robertson): These are absolutely essential for driving screws and mending furniture.
- Pliers: These come in handy for gripping and pulling nails or removing small pieces of wood.
- Hammer: A good hammer is important for attaching and removing nails and for lifting things.
- Wrench: This tool is used for tightening and loosening bolts and nuts.
- Pry bar and wedge: These are useful for removing blocks or delicate pieces of wood.
While hand tools are pretty handy, power tools can make your DIY projects much easier and faster. Here are some power tools that you may want to consider adding to your toolbox:
- Drill: This is a must-have item for any building project. It allows you to make different types of holes and install screws with ease.
- Circular saw: This tool is used for making straight cuts in wood, and it’s fairly simple to use.
- Jigsaw: This tool is similar to a circular saw, but it allows you to make more intricate cuts.
- Battery-powered screwdriver: This tool runs on a rechargeable battery and is great for installing screws quickly and easily.
Working with tools can be dangerous, so it’s important to be prepared and to take proper safety precautions. Here are some safety items that you should always have on hand:
- Safety glasses: These will protect your eyes from flying debris and sawdust.
- Gloves: These will help you grip tools and protect your hands from cuts and scrapes.
- Dust mask (best ones reviewed here): This will prevent you from inhaling sawdust and other particles.
The Right Tools for the Job
When it comes to DIY projects, having the right tools for the job is crucial. Here are some tips to help you find the best tools for your projects:
- Match the tool to the project: Make sure you have the right tool for the job at hand.
- Consider adding smaller tools: Sometimes, smaller tools can allow you to make tight cuts or work in tight spaces.
- Invest in quality tools: While it may be tempting to buy the cheapest tools, investing in quality tools will result in better work and fewer frustrations.
- Know the different types of screws: Phillips and Robertson screws are the most common, but there are many other types that may be needed for specific projects.
- Use the right driving tool: Make sure you have the right tool for driving screws, whether it’s a screwdriver or a power drill.
- Use the right nails: Different projects require different types of nails, so make sure you have the right ones for your project.
- Use the right screws: Similar to nails, different projects require different types of screws, so make sure you have the right ones for your project.
So, tools are objects we use to make our lives easier. They’re a part of our everyday life and we couldn’t live without them.
From knives to screwdrivers, we use them for almost everything. So don’t forget to read the manual and use them properly so you don’t hurt yourself. Thanks for reading!
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.