Tool

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Display of agricultural tools Agricultural tools at show.jpg
Display of agricultural tools
A modern toolbox 20060513 toolbox.jpg
A modern toolbox

A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use simple tools, only human beings, whose use of stone tools dates back hundreds of millennia, have been observed using tools to make other tools. The set of tools required to perform different tasks that are part of the same activity is called gear or equipment.

Contents

While one may apply the term tool loosely to many things that are means to an end (e.g., a fork), strictly speaking an object is a tool only if, besides being constructed to be held, it is also made of a material that allows its user to apply to it various degrees of force. If repeated use wears part of the tool down (like a knife blade), it may be possible to restore it; if it wears the tool out or breaks it, the tool must be replaced. Thus tool falls under the taxonomic category implement, and is on the same taxonomic rank as instrument , utensil , device , or ware.

History

Prehistoric stone tools over 10,000 years old, found in Les Combarelles cave, France Prehistoric Tools - Les Combarelles - Les Eyzies de Tayac - MNP.jpg
Prehistoric stone tools over 10,000 years old, found in Les Combarelles cave, France
Carpentry tools recovered from the wreck of a 16th-century sailing ship, the Mary Rose. From the top, a mallet, brace, plane, handle of a T-auger, handle of a gimlet, possible handle of a hammer, and rule. MaryRose-carpentry tools1.jpg
Carpentry tools recovered from the wreck of a 16th-century sailing ship, the Mary Rose. From the top, a mallet, brace, plane, handle of a T-auger, handle of a gimlet, possible handle of a hammer, and rule.
Stone and metal knives ALM 05 Dolch edit2.jpg
Stone and metal knives
An upholstery regulator UpholsteryRegulator.jpg
An upholstery regulator

Anthropologists believe that the use of tools was an important step in the evolution of mankind. [1] Because tools are used extensively by both humans and wild chimpanzees, it is widely assumed that the first routine use of tools took place prior to the divergence between the two species. [2] These early tools, however, were likely made of perishable materials such as sticks, or consisted of unmodified stones that cannot be distinguished from other stones as tools.

Stone artifacts only date back to about 2.5 million years ago. [3] However, a 2010 study suggests the hominin species Australopithecus afarensis ate meat by carving animal carcasses with stone implements. This finding pushes back the earliest known use of stone tools among hominins to about 3.4 million years ago. [4]

Finds of actual tools date back at least 2.6 million years in Ethiopia. [5] One of the earliest distinguishable stone tool forms is the hand axe.

Up until recently, weapons found in digs were the only tools of “early man” that were studied and given importance. Now, more tools are recognized as culturally and historically relevant. As well as hunting, other activities required tools such as preparing food, “...nutting, leatherworking, grain harvesting and woodworking...” Included in this group are “flake stone tools".

Tools are the most important items that the ancient humans used to climb to the top of the food chain; by inventing tools, they were able to accomplish tasks that human bodies could not, such as using a spear or bow and arrow to kill prey, since their teeth were not sharp enough to pierce many animals' skins. “Man the hunter” as the catalyst for Hominin change has been questioned. Based on marks on the bones at archaeological sites, it is now more evident that pre-humans were scavenging off of other predators' carcasses rather than killing their own food. [6]

Mechanical devices experienced a major expansion in their use in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome with the systematic employment of new energy sources, especially waterwheels. Their use expanded through the Dark Ages with the addition of windmills.

Machine tools occasioned a surge in producing new tools in the industrial revolution. Advocates of nanotechnology expect a similar surge as tools become microscopic in size. [7] [8]

Functions

One can classify tools according to their basic functions:

Some tools may be combinations of other tools. An alarm-clock is for example a combination of a measuring tool (the clock) and a perception tool (the alarm). This enables the alarm-clock to be a tool that falls outside of all the categories mentioned above.

There is some debate on whether to consider protective gear items as tools, because they do not directly help perform work, just protect the worker like ordinary clothing. They do meet the general definition of tools and in many cases are necessary for the completion of the work. Personal protective equipment includes such items as gloves, safety glasses, ear defenders and biohazard suits.

Simple machines

A simple machine is a mechanical device that changes the direction or magnitude of a force. [9] In general, they are the simplest mechanisms that use mechanical advantage (also called leverage) to multiply force. [10] The six classical simple machines which were defined by Renaissance scientists are: [11]

Tool substitution

Often, by design or coincidence, a tool may share key functional attributes with one or more other tools. In this case, some tools can substitute for other tools, either as a makeshift solution or as a matter of practical efficiency. "One tool does it all" is a motto of some importance for workers who cannot practically carry every specialized tool to the location of every work task; such as a carpenter who does not necessarily work in a shop all day and needs to do jobs in a customer's house. Tool substitution may be divided broadly into two classes: substitution "by-design", or "multi-purpose", and substitution as makeshift. Substitution "by-design" would be tools that are designed specifically to accomplish multiple tasks using only that one tool.

Substitution as makeshift is when human ingenuity comes into play and a tool is used for its unintended purpose such as a mechanic using a long screw driver to separate a cars control arm from a ball joint instead of using a tuning fork. In many cases, the designed secondary functions of tools are not widely known. As an example of the former, many wood-cutting hand saws integrate a square by incorporating a specially shaped handle that allows 90° and 45° angles to be marked by aligning the appropriate part of the handle with an edge and scribing along the back edge of the saw. The latter is illustrated by the saying "All tools can be used as hammers." Nearly all tools can be used to function as a hammer, even though very few tools are intentionally designed for it and even fewer work as well as the original.

Tools are also often used to substitute for many mechanical apparatuses, especially in older mechanical devices. In many cases a cheap tool could be used to occupy the place of a missing mechanical part. A window roller in a car could easily be replaced with a pair of vise-grips or regular pliers. A transmission shifter or ignition switch would be able to be replaced with a screw-driver. Again, these would be considered tools that are being used for their unintended purposes, substitution as makeshift. Tools such as a rotary tool would be considered the substitution "by-design", or "multi-purpose". This class of tools allows the use of one tool that has at least two different capabilities. "Multi-purpose" tools are basically multiple tools in one device/tool. Tools such as this are often power tools that come with many different attachments like a rotary tool does, so you could say that a power drill is a "multi-purpose" tool because you can do more than just one thing with a power drill.

Multi-use tools

Bicycle multi-tool Bicycle multi-tool.JPG
Bicycle multi-tool

A multi-tool is a hand tool that incorporates several tools into a single, portable device; the Swiss army knife represents one of the earliest examples. Other tools have a primary purpose but also incorporate other functionality – for example, lineman's pliers incorporate a gripper and cutter, and are often used as a hammer; and some hand saws incorporate a square in the right-angle between the blade's dull edge and the saw's handle. This would also be the category of "multi-purpose" tools, since they are also multiple tools in one (multi-use and multi-purpose can be used interchangeably – compare hand axe). These types of tools were specifically made [ by whom? ] to catch the eye of many different craftsman who traveled to do their work. To these workers these types of tools were revolutionary because they were one tool or one device that could do several different things. With this new revolution of tools the traveling craftsman would not have to carry so many tools with them to job sites, in that their space would be limited to the vehicle or to the beast of burden they were driving. Multi-use tools solve the problem of having to deal with many different tools.

Use by other animals

A Bonobo at the San Diego Zoo "fishing" for termites A Bonobo at the San Diego Zoo "fishing" for termites.jpg
A Bonobo at the San Diego Zoo "fishing" for termites

Observation has confirmed that a number of species can use tools including monkeys, apes, elephants, several birds, and sea otters. Philosophers originally thought that only humans had the ability to make tools, until zoologists observed birds [12] and apes [13] [14] [15] making tools. Now the unique relationship of humans with tools is considered to be that we are the only species that uses tools to make other tools. [16]

Recently, a Visayan warty pig was observed using a stick in digging a hole on the ground at a French zoo. [17]

Tool metaphors

A telephone is a communication tool that interfaces between two people engaged in conversation at one level. It also interfaces between each user and the communication network at another level. It is in the domain of media and communications technology that a counter-intuitive aspect of our relationships with our tools first began to gain popular recognition. Marshall McLuhan famously said "We shape our tools. And then our tools shape us." McLuhan was referring to the fact that our social practices co-evolve with our use of new tools and the refinements we make to existing tools.

See also

Related Research Articles

Utility knife Any of various types of knives used for general or utility purposes, especially ones with retractable-and-replaceable blades

A utility knife is any of various types of knives used for general or utility purposes. The utility knife was originally a fixed blade knife with a cutting edge suitable for general work such as cutting hides and cordage, scraping hides, butchering animals, cleaning fish, and other tasks. Craft knives are tools mostly used for crafts. Today, the term "utility knife" also includes small folding or retractable-and-replaceable-razor-blade knives suited for use in the general workplace or in the construction industry. The latter type is sometimes generically called a Stanley knife, after a prominent brand.

Forge Workshops of a blacksmith, who is an ironsmith who makes iron into tools or other objects

A forge is a type of hearth used for heating metals, or the workplace (smithy) where such a hearth is located. The forge is used by the smith to heat a piece of metal to a temperature where it becomes easier to shape by forging, or to the point where work hardening no longer occurs. The metal is transported to and from the forge using tongs, which are also used to hold the workpiece on the smithy's anvil while the smith works it with a hammer. Sometimes, such as when hardening steel or cooling the work so that it may be handled with bare hands, the workpiece is transported to the slack tub, which rapidly cools the workpiece in a large body of water. However, depending on the metal type, it may require an oil quench or a salt brine instead; many metals require more than plain water hardening. The slack tub also provides water to control the fire in the forge.

Hammer Weapon or tool consisting of a shaft, usually of wood or metal, with a weighted head attached at a right angle that is used primarily for driving, crushing, or shaping hardened materials

A hammer is a tool, most often a hand tool, consisting of a weighted "head" fixed to a long handle that is swung to deliver an impact to a small area of an object. This can be, for example, to drive nails into wood, to shape metal, or to crush rock. Hammers are used for a wide range of driving, shaping, breaking and non-destructive striking applications. Traditional disciplines include carpentry, blacksmithing, warfare, and percussive musicianship.

Lithic reduction

In archaeology, in particular of the Stone Age, lithic reduction is the process of fashioning stones or rocks from their natural state into tools or weapons by removing some parts. It has been intensely studied and many archaeological industries are identified almost entirely by the lithic analysis of the precise style of their tools and the chaîne opératoire of the reduction techniques they used.

Stone tool Any tool, partially or entirely, made out of stone

A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made either partially or entirely out of stone. Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, most stone tools are associated with prehistoric cultures that have become extinct. Archaeologists often study such prehistoric societies, and refer to the study of stone tools as lithic analysis. Ethnoarchaeology has been a valuable research field in order to further the understanding and cultural implications of stone tool use and manufacture.

Mechanization Process of changing from working by hand or with animals to work with machinery

Mechanization is the process of changing from working largely or exclusively by hand or with animals to doing that work with machinery. In an early engineering text a machine is defined as follows:

Every machine is constructed for the purpose of performing certain mechanical operations, each of which supposes the existence of two other things besides the machine in question, namely, a moving power, and an object subject to the operation, which may be termed the work to be done. Machines, in fact, are interposed between the power and the work, for the purpose of adapting the one to the other.

Anvil Metalworking tool

An anvil is a metalworking tool consisting of a large block of metal, with a flattened top surface, upon which another object is struck.

Hand axe Stone tool

A hand axe is a prehistoric stone tool with two faces that is the longest-used tool in human history. It is usually made from flint or chert. It is characteristic of the lower Acheulean and middle Palaeolithic (Mousterian) periods. Its technical name (biface) comes from the fact that the archetypical model is generally bifacial Lithic flake and almond-shaped (amygdaloidal). Hand axes tend to be symmetrical along their longitudinal axis and formed by pressure or percussion. The most common hand axes have a pointed end and rounded base, which gives them their characteristic shape, and both faces have been knapped to remove the natural cortex, at least partially. Hand axes are a type of the somewhat wider biface group of two-faced tools or weapons.

Oldowan Archaeological culture

The Oldowan was a widespread stone tool archaeological industry (style) in prehistory. These early tools were simple, usually made with one or a few flakes chipped off with another stone. Oldowan tools were used during the Lower Paleolithic period, 2.6 million years ago up until at least 1.7 million years ago, by ancient Hominins across much of Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe. This technological industry was followed by the more sophisticated Acheulean industry.

Clockmaker Artisan who makes and repairs clocks

A clockmaker is an artisan who makes and/or repairs clocks. Since almost all clocks are now factory-made, most modern clockmakers only repair clocks. Modern clockmakers may be employed by jewellers, antique shops, and places devoted strictly to repairing clocks and watches. Clockmakers must be able to read blueprints and instructions for numerous types of clocks and time pieces that vary from antique clocks to modern time pieces in order to fix and make clocks or watches. The trade requires fine motor coordination as clockmakers must frequently work on devices with small gears and fine machinery.

Pliers

Pliers are a hand tool used to hold objects firmly, possibly developed from tongs used to handle hot metal in Bronze Age Europe. They are also useful for bending and compressing a wide range of materials. Generally, pliers consist of a pair of metal first-class levers joined at a fulcrum positioned closer to one end of the levers, creating short jaws on one side of the fulcrum, and longer handles on the other side. This arrangement creates a mechanical advantage, allowing the force of the hand's grip to be amplified and focused on an object with precision. The jaws can also be used to manipulate objects too small or unwieldy to be manipulated with the fingers.

Stone carving The act of shaping stone materials

Stone carving is an activity where pieces of rough natural stone are shaped by the controlled removal of stone. Owing to the permanence of the material, stone work has survived which was created during our prehistory or past time.

Tweezers Tool for grabbing small objects

Tweezers are small tools used for picking up objects too small to be easily handled with the human fingers. The tool is most likely derived from tongs, pincers, or scissors-like pliers used to grab or hold hot objects since the dawn of recorded history. In a scientific or medical context they are normally referred to as forceps.

Staple gun

A staple gun or powered stapler is a hand-held machine used to drive heavy metal staples into wood, plastic, or masonry. Staple guns are used for many different applications and to affix a variety of materials, including insulation, house wrap, roofing, wiring, carpeting, upholstery, and hobby and craft materials. These devices are also known as trigger tackers.

A wedge is a triangular shaped tool, and is a portable inclined plane, and one of the six simple machines. It can be used to separate two objects or portions of an object, lift up an object, or hold an object in place. It functions by converting a force applied to its blunt end into forces perpendicular (normal) to its inclined surfaces. The mechanical advantage of a wedge is given by the ratio of the length of its slope to its width. Although a short wedge with a wide angle may do a job faster, it requires more force than a long wedge with a narrow angle.

Saw set

Saw set is a term applied to various forms of a tool used in the tuning and sharpening of saw blades. The saw set is used to adjust the set, or distance the saw tooth is bent away from the saw blade.

Linemans pliers

Lineman's pliers, Kleins, linesman pliers and combination pliers, or side-cutting pliers are a type of pliers used by linemen, electricians, and other tradesmen primarily for gripping, twisting, bending and cutting wire, cable and small metalwork components. They owe their effectiveness to their plier design, which multiplies force through leverage.

Dental instrument tools of the dental profession

Dental instruments are tools that dental professionals use to provide dental treatment. They include tools to examine, manipulate, treat, restore, and remove teeth and surrounding oral structures.

Multi-tool


A multi-tool is a hand tool that combines several individual functions in a single unit. The smallest are credit-card or key sized units designed for carrying in a wallet or on a keyring, but others are designed to be carried in a trouser pocket or belt-mounted pouch.

References

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  17. "Pigs recorded using tools for first time".