Choosing Hand Tools

What Should I Look for in a Hand Tool?

The Masonry r2p Partnership[1] reached out to members of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) to learn more about how they select hand tools, the brands they consider best and why, and what has the greatest influence over their purchasing decisions. They learned that workers:

  • Believe it is important to purchase hand tools that reduce the risk of injury;
  • Comfort, durability, and familiarity have the greatest influence when purchasing hand tools; and
  • Some workers are already taking steps to ensure their hand tools "fit their hand better," by grinding, sanding, shortening or extending handles, adding grips, or changing the handle size.

There are many different types, styles, and brands of hand tools used by craft workers in the masonry industry. Using the right tool for a job is critical, but equally as important is finding and using a version of the tool that is right for you.

Through surveys and discussions with masonry workers, contractors and instructors, the following broad categories of hand tools were identified as those commonly used. For each category, specific selection criteria[2] were developed to help workers select, use, and purchase hand tools.


[1] The Masonry Research to Practice [r2p] Partnership's core members are the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC), the International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (ICE), and the International Masonry Institute (IMI). This Partnership, with support from CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training, NIOSH, safety and health researchers and other industry stakeholders are working cooperatively to improve the safety and health of workers in the masonry industry.

[2] Tool selection criteria were developed by Tim Morse, Ph.D., Certified Professional Ergonomist, Consultant and Professor Emeritus, University of Connecticut Health Center,, with the support of CPWR staff.