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The Evolution of Power Tools


Whether you’re a handyman, contractor or DIY enthusiast, the chances are you wouldn’t be as successful as you are today without an array of excellent tools in your arsenal. But have you ever wondered where power tools actually came from?

Today, power tools range from the historic lathe to top of the range battery powered chainsaws. If you want to know how we went from the humble spanner to some of the best power tools money can buy, keep reading.

First up, the water wheel… 

Before electricity was invented, energy was sourced from water wheels connected to overhead belts. The water wheel worked by using flowing water to power paddles around a wheel. The force created by doing this made machinery move – which was the first real ‘power tool’!

Although we don’t use water wheels as much nowadays, the hydraulic turbine is a modern-day equivalent of the water wheel. Built using the same principles, a hydraulic turbine uses the flow of liquid or gas to turn a shaft and drive machinery.

Electric power tools

The first ‘modern’ power tool came along not long after Edison invented the electric lamp. Since electricity was first invented, it’s become essential for everyday life. As such, nowadays we use 287.4 terawatt-hours of energy a year!

Following the discovery of electricity, the manual drill came along much later. The power drill was invented when the manual drill was paired with an electric motor. A few years later, power tools as we know them came to life.

In 1910, one popular manufacturer decided they could improve the first electric drill prototype by adapting the design to be like a pistol with a trigger switch. Soon after, Bosch followed suit with their very own version.

The rise of cordless and battery-powered tools

Up until the mid-20th century, power tools would need to be wired to a power source. As such, workers had to be extra careful using electrically powered equipment.

However, that all changed in 1961 when the first cordless power drill was invented. This drill was powered by a rechargeable nickel battery and was mainly marketed to industrial and commercial companies.  However, due to the popularity of these drills and their ease of use, it wasn’t long before they made their way to every competent DIY enthusiast’s toolbox.

As well as drills, nowadays, more and more tools are becoming cordless – whether that’s for ease of use or health and safety reasons. Furthermore, given that the cost of electricity and energy has risen, many people are ditching their traditional power tools for cordless ones, providing a safer, cheaper and more sustainable alternative to traditional tools.

Final thoughts…

Although nowadays it’s hard to imagine life without power tools, they didn’t always exist in the way they do today. Whilst the humble screwdriver still has its place in construction, we can vouch for most professionals when we say that power tools have revolutionised the way we work.

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