Recently, I had to fix some things around the house, without access to my usual electric tools. I found that the manual tools, such as a crank drill and a handsaw, are quite efficient, and I can no longer see much of an advantage to using their electric equivalents, electric drills and electrical circular saws. One thing that speeds up the work is these manual tools are lighter and I do not have to worry about running out of batteries or running cords around the house.

And more importantly, I can feel much relief working with tools that seem to be much safer. I think with a circular saw, one could easily cut off several fingers at once, in a split second. A spinning electrical drill could cause the similar damage in a short time.

At worst, I think a manual drill or handsaw would just cause a cut, requiring a band aid. I cannot imagine a manual tool causing damage requiring a trip to a hospital. Are there dangers to these manual tools that I do not realize?

  • This is perilously close to an opinion/discussion question, but I agree. When driving deck screws, I don't use a hard-to-control drill-driver, I use a speed wrench with bit-holder tip. Speed and control! Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 4:36
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    I wish my grandpa was alive so I could ask him this question. He was missing two fingers. I don't think power tools were involved.
    – Edwin
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 6:28

3 Answers 3


Anything that cuts wood will cut flesh.

While hand tools are in general somewhat safer (since you'll stop when you cut yourself) it's quite possible to damage yourself to a hospital-visit-required extent (before you stop) through mis-use of hand tools, especially if you think they are magically safe since there's no motor.

I have a guillotine miter trimmer that will take your fingers off if given half a chance. I consider it rather more dangerous than my circular saw, as a matter of fact - if picked up carelessly the massive razor-sharp cutting head will move on its own and if anything is in the way it will be cut either deeply or off.

A rather more common tool that can hurt you badly if you are not careful is the humble chisel. And that hand saw can cut tendons before you stop if you get in its way. For the most part, dull tools are actually more dangerous than sharp ones (of tools that should be sharp) since a dull tool requires more force to use, so when it goes awry it goes awry with more force behind it.

A good deal of situational awareness encompassing "how this could go wrong and where the tool will go in that case" is a pre-requisite for safe tool use, powered or not. As are details like actually using safety glasses when you use a hammer (chips from the object being struck can be flung into your eyes with no need for power to be involved.)

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    +1 I learned the hard way to always position my body in such a way that if the tool slipped (typically a chisel or a carving knife), no body part should be in the area of where the tool might slip. After numerous minor cuts and one that needed 5 stitches, finally sank in.
    – Eli Iser
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 13:38
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    I will add that utility knives are particularly dangerous. They are often not the right tool for the job, but are used anyway because they're close by and convenient. But they are one of the leading causes of injuries, and some companies have gone so far as to outlaw them in order to reduce injuries.
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 13:45

None that I could think of. Just the usual hitting you finger with a hammer. Other than some minor cuts and scrapes I don't really see too much danger with manual tools. But I'm sure there are if the tool is not being used correctly.


If you are working with the tools on a regular basis, you might encounter a repetitive-strain type injury. Electric tools might not make sense for a one-off small project, where merely setting them up is even a bit of a hassle. But working day-in, day-out on projects you might find that hand-tool are more of a physical drain or cause repetitive issues.

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