Explore Old Hand Tools in Pictures
Centuries before electricity was harnessed, people were using hand tools to build and create objects. These tools remain as a testimony to the ingenuity of previous generations and are fascinating to look at. The idea that buildings like the New York Tribune Building could be built with these simple tools and hard work is almost mind boggling.
Although you may not see these tools as often today, you can explore old hand tools in pictures and learn to identify and appreciate these functional beauties.
Antique Radial Saw
A new generation of craftsmen is using vintage tools like this old hand-powered radial saw to create homes, furniture, and other objects. Old saws like this can be difficult to find in working condition, and they sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Antique Wood Plane
Planes smooth and shape wood for furniture, homes, and other projects. Hand planes were created by attaching a sharp, cutting edge to a block of wood or other body. The woodworker then moves the plane over the wood to smooth and shape it. Identifying an antique wood plane is important for determining value, since they can range from only a few dollars to several hundred, depending on brand, size, condition, quality, and other factors.
This handmade wooden clamp is a great example of an antique hand tool. The clamp was important when two pieces of board needed to be held tightly, as when being glued together. Many clamps were made of cast iron, which is prone to rust and other condition issues. Depending on their rarity, age, size, and conditions, clamps can range in value from about $40 to several hundred.
Grindstones and Grinding Wheels
Surely one of the most important of the vintage hand tools, if not the most important, was the grindstone. The grindstone was used to keep the other tools sharpened and in good working order. Because these are so heavy and difficult to ship, most people buy and sell them locally rather than online. In good shape, antique grinding wheels sell for around $200 - $300.
Antique Hand Drill
Hand drills did everything electric and cordless drills do now, although they did not offer the speed of their modern counterparts. The woodworker turned a crank on this antique hand tool to drill a hole. These are still used by some woodworkers, and they sell for around $25 to $100, depending on their size, condition, age, and other factors.
Brace and Bit
A brace and bit is somewhat different from a hand drill. Because of the U-shape in the crankshaft, the brace and bit can be used to drill much deeper and wider holes. Values for this antique hand tool are similar to drills, with many selling for $25 to $100.
This old adjustable wrench is much the same as any wrench today. Although the first wrench was patented in 1835, there have been wrenches and wrench-like tools found in areas with early Colonial artifacts. Antique wrench values can vary based on a number of factors, but many old examples of this vintage hand tool sell for around $50 to $100.
The carpenter's rip saw allowed carpenters to cut with the grain of wood to make clean, straight lines. The rip saw is a coarse saw, important in cutting boards. These old tools can hold their value well, with examples in good condition selling for $100 to $300.
Hammers have been around for centuries, and although there are many styles and sizes, their basic design hasn't changed significantly over the years. This means that an antique hammer can work just as well today as it did more than a century ago. These antique hand tools can also be attractive collectibles to display on your wall or in your workshop. Many sell for $50 to $100, although especially rare or lovely examples can be worth much more.
Pliers allow someone to grasp something more tightly and securely than they could with just their hand, and you'll find vintage pliers in many thrift stores and antique shops. Some of the oldest pliers were made by hand, although most examples from the early 20th century feature some level of factory manufacturing. Most small vintage pliers range in value from about $20 to $50, but larger ones or those featuring fine craftsmanship may be worth more.
Files and Rasps
Useful for carving, sharpening, smoothing, and shaping wood and other materials, files and rasps have been around for many years. You can find these antique hand tools online and in antique shops, but condition can be a major issue. Many have rust and other damage, which can affect their use. In good shape, antique files can sell for around $30 to $50, depending on size, age, and other factors.
Vintage Hay Rakes and Pitchforks
Vintage and antique hay rakes are some of the most important old tools used in agriculture. The basic design consists of a long handle with wood or metal tines on the end. The farmer would use the rake or fork to gather hay after it was dried. These make beautiful decorations and can sell for hundreds of dollars in good shape, although most sell for under $100.
Scythes and Sickles
Another old agricultural tool was the sickle or scythe. These cutting tools allowed workers to cut grass or crops by hand. Scythes used a two-handed design, while sickles required only one hand. The sharp end was attached to a wood or metal handle. These are quite common in antique shops, often selling for under $50.
Antique Hand Tools Make Great Collectibles
As you visit yard sales, flea markets, and auctions, look for more antique tools such as saws, planes, and drills for your collection. Many of these antique tools are worth money, and even those that aren't especially valuable offer a glimpse at history. Tools make a great collectible too.