Seems that each year more folks discover the allure of unpowered hand tools. Using a properly-balanced tool that can swiftly achieve results, without needing to be plugged in, is wildly satisfying. Here's a look at some of our faves for 2017:
Our resident tool writer David Frane posted a slideshow of his tour to Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, the Maine-based manufacturer of highly-effective old-school hand tools:
Looking to buy classic and used? Shannon Rogers of the Hand Tool School offers both buying tips and a list of resources in "Where to Find Vintage Hand Tools":
Useful new-school hand tools continue to emerge, as with 3Coil Design's Crane Knife Portable Scalpel and Puna Multitool:
Leatherman's Skeletool RX is designed for first responders, and/or those of us that wouldn't mind having a glassbreaker option on our multitool:
Sometimes you need the convenience of pliers with the precision of a wrench. That's when the Knipex Pliers Wrench comes in handy:
The Kirk Wrench is an unusual-looking tool that can get into tricky places that regular tools can't:
When it's time to destroy something, you'll want to pick up one of DeWalt's well-designed Demo Hammers:
Need a different kind of hammer, mallet or maul? UK company Thor makes every kind under the sun, including some wicked rawhide mallets:
Or maybe you're looking for a single hammer that can be rendered multifunctional with swappable heads. In that case, look no further than the Martinez Tool Company's Modular Hammer:
Wera makes this handy racheting driver bit with onboard storage called the Kraftform Kompakt Pistol RA. Click on the link to see the nifty GIF of how it pops open:
A design that looks newfangled, but which actually dates back to 1975, is the assisted-splitting Chopper1 Axe:
An unusual tool the likes of which I'd never seen, but which leathercarvers all know, is the swivel knife. Click the link to see how it operates, it's pretty darn cool:
Lastly, using a lot of different hand tools without some way to secure the workpiece in place would be impossible. Journalist and woodworker Christopher Schwarz resurrected a forgotten 17th-Century design for a workholding device that has now become one of my most useful purchases, the Moxon Vise.
More of the best of 2017:
Our Favorite Transportation Stories from 2017
2017 Best of Transforming Furniture
The Best of Footwear Design in 2017
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That Kirk wrench is unbelievably clever. Don't need it very often, but it's a lifesaver when you do!