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Intro to Hand Tools

In the next section of the Tools documentation for construction, we will be examining various hand tools. The purpose of this section is for the reader to understand safe steps on how to use these tools efficiently for robotics work. It is important to read carefully about the tips and tricks for these tools in order to minimize the chance of injury when working on the robot! It is important that you don't use a tool to do tasks that it's not meant to be used for. For example, using a screwdriver as a mallet. Also, it's important to always remember to return tools back to the designated areas after use before leaving the Maker Space.


There are two types of screwdrivers: phillips head and flathead. Phillips head screwdrivers are most commonly found as a cross or plus sign, whereas flatheads are just one single line similar to a minus sign. Always make sure to use the proper screwdriver on a screw. Use the screwdriver to take out and put in screws on a mechanism. One might choose to use a longer screwdriver in order to reach in hard-to-reach places. Contrary to this, one might want to use a shorter screwdriver to reach tight spots. A tip when using a longer screwdriver is to go through holes to reach your destination instead of a weird angle, which might lead to stripping a screw.


Allens come in two different types: T-Allens and Allen keys. Realistically, there isn't a difference in the two types besides that T-Allens are easier to grip and can sometimes get the job done much faster. However, they're very bulky and our team tends to not carry various sizes, which is the advantage of having regular Allen keys. Allens are used to drive bolts and screws with hex sockets. Fortunately, our team typically carries bolts with hex sockets, not screws. A great example of this would be seen on our 2023 Charged Up! Robot, Tea-Rex. The tubing and support system are both lined with either 10-24 or 10-32 hex bolts which makes it extremely easy to navigate in the pit.

Center Punch

Center punches are used to mark the initial dent/hole before drilling it. After defining the horizontal and vertical, hold the pointed end of a center punch on the cross-section and hit the flat end with a mallet. This will create a mark, which you will drill out and/or drive a fastener into. Typically, it would be okay to drill without a pilot hole (the dent marked a center punch) if it were wood. However, with metal, it's a different story because drilling straight onto metal is risky and it's very easy to get hand injuries involving a drill or driver if you dion't create a pilot hole.


DO NOT use the scribe as a center punch.** Scribes are much longer and have sharper points, which are used to mark lines/outlines of a metal piece that are going to be cut. A sharpie works as well, but a scribe is better.

Wood Saw

The wood saw is used to cut wood. They are identified by their large, sharp teeth.


The metal hand saw is used to cut small metal pieces, aluminum churros, ThunderHex, and etc. If it does not look like a wood saw, it is a hacksaw.

Tips for Saws

When sawing with any handheld saw, don't power through it by applying maximum force, but rather use long straight patterns in order to get the maximum out of handsawing. Applying hard force just creates more friction which leads to an uneven cut.


Pliers are used to hold small objects. It’s function might vary depending on the type of plier. An example is removing hot bits.


The wrench is use to grip, fasten, turn, tighten, and loosen things like locknuts, nuts, and bolts. It comes in different sizes.


Mallets are mainly used to hit the center punch. Mallets are also used to apply force to parts to shape or move them with less risk of damaging parts. For example, applying force with the mallet to a bearing to get it into it’s frame, then using the mallet to insert a hexshaft through the bearing(s). They are not used to hit people.

Rivets Guns

Rivet guns are used to drive rivets in to fasten sheet metal or heavy fabric. The thicker side of the rivet goes into the hole, and the slimmer side goes into the rivet gun. When using the rivet gun, keep the rivet and rivet gun straight against the surface. To remove a rivet, drill it out.

Last update: 2023-11-14