New "category" of tools


I had an interesting thought the other day. Are there any tools that haven’t been invented yet?

I don’t mean cordless versions of corded tools or other “upgrades” to existing tools. I’m talking in a much broader context. For example, the invention of the nail gun in the 1950’s was the first of its kind. Or the jigsaw in 1946. What is the next major “category” of tools?


I’m sure we’ll see new tools pop up from time to time, just as we’ll find new uses for existing tools. I mean, the pulse driver is pretty new, and the Porter Cable Restorer was also recently released. Of course, the former is an evolution of impact drivers and the latter merely a new take on a sanding tool, but they are still innovative tools. Also, keep in mind that impact drivers themselves weren’t around two decades ago and the oscillating multi-tool, while invented fifty years ago, only took off in popularity in recent years.

When it comes to power tools, there will always be room for something new that fills a niche. Some people think that a saw is a saw and a driving tool is a driving tool. They are perfectly content with having only a drill and a circular saw. Others of us (I imagine 99% of Toolguyd readers) see the need for a couple of different drills, an impact driver, screwgun for decking or drywall, and reciprocating, jig, circular, miter, and table saws. Seeing the right tool in action can change one’s opinion of what they’ve made due with as well. My father-in-law has an old blue Ryobi 18v drill–he’s had it for well over 15 years and is so out-of-touch with tool technology that he cussed the new lithium batteries because the two he bought a few years ago stopped working. He had never upgraded his charger, though, so it killed the batteries (better than the alternative). Yet, a few days after watching me fasten some drywall with my DeWalt screwgun with collated screw attachment, he was asking what it was called so he could order one. He’d never imagined such a tool existing, and doesn’t really understand the specialized nature of it, but he’s dead set on getting one to drive the handful of screws he may set in any given year.


I’m sure something new and innovative will come along. Can you believe we actually used to turn screws by hand?!?!? Then we used to trun screws with a drill, insane, I know. I’ll use my impact thank you. Wait what’s this oil pulse thingy?!?!? That’s a little illustration of the evolution of how such a basic task has gotten so much better.

The OMG I can’t believe I lived without it is the OMT. That was one of those tools that seemed to come outta nowhere. Yes there will be more new cool tools, just think for all of human history we’re only had smartphones for 10 years.


I think one of the next revolutions in tools is going to be 3D printing. It’s not ready in it’s current form, it’s still in the briefcase sized cellphone stage.

There’s a lot of materials you that you can use now – concrete, metal, and I’ve even seen wood fiber. Maybe we’ll see the plumber have one in the truck to print out the exact abs fitting they need. Or they might be in the stores – they’ll carry less stock. You put in an order on the way to the store and it’s done when you get there.

Like any new technology I can’t predict how it’ll be used, but it is definitely going to play a role.


Maybe to take over the world or other evil plans lol.



I think you’re spot on with the 3D printing idea. It’s only a matter of time before materials strong enough to be used in tools (carbon fiber, metal, etc) are printable in some form.

I also think the idea of printing a part in your van and then installing will take off at some point.

I personally haven’t used a 3D printer- but assuming the software is user friendly and intuitive; I see no reason either of the above scenarios wouldn’t take off


This is not exactly a “tool” but as I have read about this invention over the years I cannot but think that some day in the not too distant future it will be available for commercial sale. I’m talking about the “exoskeleton”. I understand they are being developed for military use right now but I’m guessing in forty, maybe even twenty years one will be able to go to Lowes or Home Depot and pick out a set for the legs or a set for the arms or the deluxe set that contains both. Imagine putting on a pair of “arm enhancers” and cutting and splitting wood for the fire place. How much easier to hustle around a three quarter inch 4 by 8 sheet of plywood. I can’t wait but alas, I probably won’t be around when the exoskeleton goes commercial.


Maybe some sort of robot assistant, not just carrying stuff but holding pieces in place like an assistant. You know, a guy who doesn’t know much, doesn’t get paid much (at all) but is totally reliable. Let that “guy” wear the skeleton usually.


There you go! I hadn’t thought of that!


Sometimes its evolution and sometimes revolution.

The OMT - patented by Fein and first introduced as the Multimaster - seems to me to have been an adaptation of the Stryker oscillating saw invented by Dr. Homer Stryker in 1943 for use in removing plaster casts. The fact that Fein recognized its potential for woodworking - having made their version of the Stryker saw since 1967 - was what was inspired… When the Fein Multimaster patents expired in 2008 - that resulted in the OMT becoming really popular - but many were using a Multimaster from its introduction in 1995. I bought my first one fro my home shop in 2001 having bought a few for the business a few years earlier.

The Porter Cable restorer - invented by an independent (Wellington Tool) looked to me to be a homeowner version of tools from Metabo and Fein used in the metalworking trades - and not unlike the Makita Wheel Sander that had been out for many years.

A more recent addition to my home shop was the Festool Domino machine. I bought their XL version when it came out - and its changed my way of working. Portable power tools for doweling had been out previously (I tried one by Freud - which had serious precision issues) and a new one from Mafell looks promising - but the Domino system works efficiently and precisely - much easier than earlier jigs to create floating tenons. I predict that once the Festool patents expire we’ll see more options for this tool.

Back on topic of what tools are likely to be invented - I agree that 3D printing offers lots of potential. Perhaps the adaptation of waterjet machining to a handheld (or small portable) tool might also offer options we don’t have now for cutting metal and concrete in the field. A compact (maybe even handheld) rail gun for breaking concrete and stone would also be nice. At the other end a compact tool for pumping concrete and grout would be nice.


I know I’m going to get flack for this… And I probably deserve it…

I think the “Next Revolution/Evolution” of tools is going to be in a Human Prosthetic. Something that replaces a human body part, and is capable of enhanced tasks within the tool use user space. Although I can’t predict what will come first, I CAN tell you for certain that it will start with someone using their own, old-fashioned, prosthetic in a way that is unexpected or unintended. It will then lead to an actual design addition to the original that makes it all-new, and dedicated as a tool for use in the trades.

Maybe it will be a Wood or Metal Worker, perhaps a Machinist, whatever the trade it originates as, it’s going to come out of anger and frustration. Then, we’ll look back ten years later, and wonder how we ever lived without the plethora of Enhanced Prosthetic Devices that we’ve developed. Glass Eyes? Try Thermal Vision Camera, linked to a Google Glasses style device that feeds the data overlay to the other eye. Or, the old robot joke, where there’s a hex driver under a fingertip, and the user can command the finger to spin the driver.

Yes, there’s the idea of lift-enhancing motorized exoskeletons, but I genuinely believe we’re far enough along the trend of Home-Prototyping, that thermoplastics, Arduino/Raspbery Pi programmed devices, and whole-home Semi-AI control devices may well be a path we’re headed toward augmenting OURSELVES as tools, rather than having the tools becoming increasingly automated outside ourselves.

And this is the point where I should shut up before people start thinking I’m crazy, or paranoid. And, for the record, I’d agree with that assessment. But, I don’t mean any of this as a threat or danger to any of us, or our trades. I’m talking about people who have survived injuries being the people who come up with ways to go BACK to the work they did, with augmented prosthetic devices to empower them to do so. With just Human Will driving it all, Trades people just refusing to be benched due to accidents, then using all this tech around us to make their injuries work for them again. Yes, to the crazy and paranoid… but No to them being part of what I’m seeing the trend to be. The corporate sales divisions will step in after a few years, buying up home prototyping companies, like Makerbot, and all the 3D printing/Laser Cutting device manufacturers, and releasing them under their own names, so what comes out of them carries their brands, and their technology.

“The New DeWALT GyroFinger Driver! Just turn your hand in the direction you want the finger to spin!”

Shutting up now. Probably going to get yelled at now.


precision computer controls moved from the large machinery to your hand drill I think are probalby coming.

you see it now with programmable torque tools on production floors. It’s a electric screw driver with RPM and Torque sensing that BT connects to a computer on the end of the production line so it records all the screws/bolts driven in during the making of your new TV set.

So that exists today though spendy - tomorrow it’s on your new impact drivers for when you putdown that deck on your next job. Now you can record via your mobile and BT - all the screw and lag bolt drives on the ____ deck build job. 3 years from now when someone falls though and the boards have popped off - you can sit in court with your insurnace company and say "according to the Dewalt job site tracking . . . . . whatever we installed 1540 SPAX number _______ screws to the recommended torque of __________. So the boards didn’t loosen up due to improperly installed screws . . . .

I figure some flavor of that is coming quicker. I made 1845 cuts on the job site with saw number ____ using diablo ________ blade. It was then replaced due to wear as indicated by the Milwaukee Job boss ZXL _______.

etc etc.

Little surprised you don’t see this already in tire shops on impact wrenches. again though - it’s coming.


Yeah, thinks like the Shaper Origin and Shopbot Handibot and Goliath CNC are interesting early examples.

The big thing is, it’s easy to count revolutions / measure resistance, and for many things that’ll be good enough.

The big question is, when is the next breakthrough in sensor technology and what is it and what can it be used for?