A power tool is any sort of tool that is actuated or operated using an external power source other than human power. They are extremely popular for all types of jobs from small to large and from domestic to commercial use. These tools are popular because they reduce the amount of effort one needs to exert. However, their increased amount of power makes them more dangerous than hand tools. Ever since the first power tool, jobs have been completed faster and more efficiently using them.
The very first power tool ever invented was the lathe which was invented by the ancient Egyptians. A lathe is a tool in which a piece is attached to an axis and then rotated. Lathes are incredibly versatile because different tools can be attached to the machine for different effects. It can be used to cut, sand, engrave, deform, turn, and more.
The original version of this machine was actually a two-person machine in which one person would turn the piece using a rope and the other would operate the cutting tool. This was still technically a power tool since the rope and pulley system supplemented the hand power.
In Ancient Rome, the Egyptian design was improved with the addition of a turning bow that made it easier and faster to turn the piece. During the Middle Ages in Europe, the turning bow was replaced with a foot operated pedal. The pedal was connected to a sapling or other kind of pole. Today, this is called a spring pole and remained a very common type of lathe into the 20th century. While still very far off from the Black and Decker and Makita power tools you might be familiar with, this was a massive advancement in technology of the time.
In the late 18th century, the lathe was revolutionized again. During this time, the spring pole design was replaced with a system turned by a horse. This boring machine was typically used to make cannons. Because it relied on horses instead of humans, it was much more powerful than any other drill in use. This allowed for the creation of much stronger and more accurate cannons.
Eventually, the horse was replaced in many areas by the power of heat and water. In areas with running water, water wheels were used as the primary power source. A water wheel is a wheel that is lined with paddles. It sits in a river or stream. The force of the moving water turns the wheel and the wheel turns the machine.
In areas without running water or in applications that require more power, steam power was used. Steam power operates on a similar principle to the water wheel. Water is heated until it turns to steam. The force of the rising steam turns a wheel that turns a machine. Typically, steam power was harnessed in the form of a steam engine. In the confines of the engine, the pressure increases and creates even more power.