Many of the construction tools construction workers use today have a long history with some even dating back to prehistoric times. Tools were an essential part of human evolution as we most likely wouldn’t exist today if our ancestors hadn’t used them. The following are the origins of some common tools.
The hammer has been used as a tool by humans and their hominid ancestors for over 2 million years. The first hammers were made of stone. Metals hammers were developed during the Bronze Age around 5,000 years ago. An American blacksmith, David Maydole, created the modern claw hammer as a special order for a customer in 1840.
Screws have been used for over two thousand years in wine and olive presses but were not used as fasteners until the Industrial Revolution. The handheld screwdriver was developed around 1800, a few years after the invention of equipment that allowed for the mass production of metal screws. The popular Phillips head screw, named for its inventor Henry Phillips, was developed in the 1930s for use in the automotive industry.
Saws made of flint have been discovered in archeological sites dating to around 50,000 years ago. The use of metal saws by the Egyptians was depicted in hieroglyphs and artwork. Two-person crosscut saws were used by the Romans and throughout the Middle Ages. These saws were later brought by settlers to the New World where they helped tame the new frontiers. The first circular saw was patented by Englishman Samuel Miller in the 1770s.
Used as a tool for over 10,000 years, the first chisels were made of stone. Later chisels made of metal were much more effective and were used throughout the ancient world to cut stones for building, create works of art and construct ships. Modern chisels are basically identical to their historic counterparts although today’s chisels are made of more durable materials such as high-strength steel.
Another ancient tool, pliers were first made of wood and were used to grip hot objects such as coals or metal during the forging process. Throughout history various additional uses have been found for pliers including cutting, crimping, sealing and bending, and pliers have been used in jewelry making, electronics manufacturing and dozens of other applications.
The first drills were utilized by primitive humans to create enough friction to start a fire. Several ancient cultures including the Egyptians developed a type of drill, the bow drill, which was used to make holes. Drills operated by hand or by water or steam power were used during the Middle Ages and Industrial Revolution. The first electric drill was invented by Australians Arthur James Arnot and William Brain in 1889.
Of course even these basic tools have undergone great changes over the years, the biggest being that tools like drills and saws are now available in electronic versions in addition to the older manual ones. Who knows what the future will hold for construction tools- perhaps tools of the future will make even our electric versions look ancient.
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Eric Blair is a former construction foreman and avid blogger. Eric writes on behalf of Fall Protection USA, a provider of self-retracting landlines and other construction safety equipment.