The History of Hardware Tools


Hardware hand tools are used by craftsmen in manual operations, such as chopping, chiseling, sawing, filing, forging, and more. The date of the earliest tools is uncertain. Tools found in northern Kenya in 1969 maybe about 2,600,000 years old, and even older tools may remain to be discovered.

Bourdon Tube Pressure Gauge

In 1849, the Bourdon tube pressure gauge was patented in France by Eugene Bourdon.


Chainsaws or Chain Saws (Also look under Saws below)

The history of the chain saw and the mystery of its invention.


Drills – Drill Chucks

Jacob’s Chuck

A. I. Jacobs invented the first three jaw drill chuck, Jacob’s Chuck. The Jacobs® Chuck Manufacturing Company was founded in 1902 by the inventor.

Martin Cherrington invented the horizontal directional drilling in 1972.



“Let There Be Light” — The flashlight was invented in 1898 and the biblical quote of “Let There Be Light” was on the cover of the 1899 Eveready catalog.


Hand Tools

Center for the Study of Early Tools

Antiques Tools



A hammer is a tool designed for pounding or delivering repeated blows. The hand held hammer is an ancient invention no one inventor can be named. A “hammer” is distinguished by many other names, such as pounder, beetle, mallet, maul, pestle, sledge, and others.

Pneumatic Hammer

Charles Brady King of Detroit invented the pneumatic hammer (a hammer which is driven by compressed air) in 1890, which he patented on January 28, 1894. Charles King exhibited two of his inventions at the 1893 Worlds Columbia Exposition; a pneumatic hammer for riveting and caulking and a steel brake beam for railroad road cars.


Hydraulic Jack

Richard Dudgeon, Inc. was founded in New York City as a machine shop. In 1851, founder and inventor Richard Dudgeon was granted a patent for a “portable hydraulic press” – the hydraulic jack, a jack which proved to be vastly superior to the screw jacks in use at the time. In 1855, Richard Dudgeon astounded New Yorkers by driving from his home to his place of business in an innovative steam carriage. The noise and vibration generated by the “Red Devil Steamer” frightened horses so badly that city authorities confined it to one street. Although the inventor claimed the carriage could carry 10 people at 14 m.p.h. on one barrel of anthracite coal, it was too far ahead of its time and failed to gain popular favor. Other inventions attributed to Dudgeon include: roller boiler tube expanders, pulling jacks, filter press jacks, steam forging hammers, railroad lifting equipment,  heavy plate hydraulic hole punches, and many types and sizes of lifting jacks.


Lawn Mowers

Lawn Mowers & Greener Pastures

The first patent for a “Machine for mowing lawns, etc.” was granted to Edwin Beard Budding (1795-1846) from Stroud, Gloucestershire, England, on August 31, 1830.


Machine Tool – Hall of Fame

The American Precision Museum is the home of the Machine Tool Hall of Fame. It is an incredible collection of pictures and biographies of some of the leading figures in the development of the machine tool industry.


Paint Roller

The paint roller was invented by Norman Breakey of Toronto in 1940.


Pliers – Tongs, Pincers, Plyers

Simple pliers are an ancient invention – no one inventor can be named. Two sticks probably served as the first uncertain holders, but bronze bars may have replaced wooden tongs as early as 3000 BC.



Saws are toosl with a thin metal strip with teeth on one edge or a thin metal disk with teeth on the periphery. In 1777, Samuel Miller invented the circular saw in England, the round metal disk type of saw that cuts by spinning and is used hand-held or table-mounted. Large circular saws are found in saw mills and are used to produce lumber. In 1813, Shaker-Sister, Tabitha Babbitt (1784-1854) invented the first circular saw used in a saw mill. Babbitt was working in the spinning house at the Harvard Shaker community in Massachusetts, when she decided to invent an improvement to the two-man pit saws that were being used for lumber production. Tabitha Babbitt is also credited with inventing an improved version of cut nails, a new method of making false teeth, and an improved spinning wheel head.

In 1807, William Newberry invented a band saw. In 1780, Gervinus also invented acircular saw, however, a more primitive one.


Screws and Screwdrivers

Early Screws – Archimedes Screw – Phillips Head Screw – Robertson Screw – Square Drive Screws – Screwdriver



There is history behind this cutting invention.


Tape Measure – Alvin J. Fellows – 1868

On July 14, 1868, Alvin J. Fellows of New Haven, CT patented the tape measure. Alvin’s measurements were 40-46-42.


Tool Chests

The look of tool chests can tell us much about workers and workplaces.


Wrenches, Monkey Wrench, Ratchetless Wrench

A wrench is also called a spanner, it’s a tool, usually operated by hand, for tightening bolts and nuts. Solymon Merrick patented the first wrench in 1835.


Welding Tools and Welding History

In 1885, Nikolai Benardos and Stanislav Olszewski were granted a patent for an electric arc welder with a carbon electrode called the Electrogefest. Benardos and Olszewski are considered the inventors of welding apparatus.


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