10 Hand Tools that Have Real Power

Who says power has to come from an electric socket? Many of the most common and important tools have no power cords to speak of. ©Monkey Business/Thinkstock

The oldest stone tools discovered so far are from Ethiopia and date back 2.3 million years; they include sharp-edged stone flakes and hand-held choppers -- not things we normally find in our modern-day tool chest [source: Freeman].

The first hand axe didn't appear until about 1.7 million years ago, and since then we've not only been perfecting our craft, we've been improving upon what's inside our toolbox [source: Reardon]. Tools used by the Romans resemble (some very closely) the tools we use today, and by 1916 we were ready to put a little power behind it all: S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker -- who had launched a business together in Baltimore six years earlier -- applied for the very first patent for a portable power tool [source: Stanley Black & Decker]. Power tools are handy -- you'd be remiss to leave a general-use power drill out of your toolbox, for example. But the power of a tool doesn't need to be constrained by whether or not it's powered by electricity or powered by your hand -- power also lies in the ability to affect a behavior.

With that in mind, let's talk first about the humble paint brush and its ability to unlock the power of color.