"Women's Tools"

Well it’s been discussed before…don’t remember where but usually the argument is that we shouldn’t have to design specifically for women when it comes to power tools. Also women who would be interested in tools don’t want a “female” specific product. But the article above says something a little different. Any thoughts…

…you can put a baby blue grip on a hammer but just how light can a 10 lb sledge be?..a good tool is task specific and designed for the human hand regardless of gender…the rest is marketing 101 bs…not that there is anything wrong with that…

I’m surprised it took someone so long to develop tools aimed at women. Unfortunately Barbara K seems to be someone who just found a supplier in China and asked them to change the yellow and black cases for grey and blue.

It would be nice to do research into what women would like to do around their homes and design the tools around those activities. Perhaps it will lead to the same tools that exist but in girly hues…or perhaps it would lead to something more interesting.

All you students posting, “help me with an idea” take note!

I worked on a project that started out as ‘design us a cordless drill for women.’ Did a ton of research as to what women want in a drill, what would they use it for, etc. etc. In the end, though, the company didn’t want to alienate their core consumer (males) and had us make the drill more ‘gender neutral.’ The biggest thing for women is the weight factor.

I do agree with the previous post about women don’t want a tool that looks like it was designed for a women…i.e. pink, etc. They want something that looks like it will do the job, not some bulbous pink and purple thing.

As a women, I love building things. Weight is definetely a factor, as is the grip of tools. I have very small hands and have trouble gripping certain tools. I’m not weak, but at 5 ft tall and a small frame I can’t lift as much as a 200 lb man.

I don’t care if its pink or has flowers on it, and while I think pink appeals to little girls, I can’t imagine that color only would sway women.

Um, I’m guessing none of you are women.


I was surprised to find these tools in the latest issue of Consumer Reports.

They stated that they found men and women were able to apply a greater amount of torque with the Barbara K tools. I guess good design is not gender bias.

On the down side, the neoprene ribs or wings on the plyers dig into the user’s fingers and palms making it uncomfortable to use.

This goes to show how design for non-traditional user groups can uncover solutions that really make things better for everyone. Perhaps if this were taken further, more advantages for all power tool users would be discovered.

I saw a PicQuic screwdriver with smaller diameter handles at the Home Depot 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately, it was pink, giving the impression one shouldn’t take it seriously, even though it was obviously designed for smaller hands.


Along those marketing lines, it would be even more challenging to design these tools to appeal to teenage girls- because it would empower them to be able to help out around the house, care about how things work, solve problems and maybe even make some spare change/allowance money… instead of worry about those sterotypical things like school, boys and clothes and makeup…


my wife swears by the mikita drill-drivers. Her logic is that the compact design is well suited for the way that women hold the thing.

She’s not weak by any means (her experience is from working in the stage hands union), but she doesn’t have as much upper body strength as a man… it’s not a color choice, or even a situation where the tool is “dumbed down” for easier understanding… she just says that it’s easier for her to operate.

i agree with much of what has been said, however i do feel color is important. tools can be very intimidating when you are not used to them. colors like black orange and yellow don’t help in the matter. these colors say “caution, danger…don’t use this unless you really know what you’re doing.” in some cases these colors are necessary but in most household tools they are not. something as simple as color change can make an inexperienced user feel more at ease and confident when handeling unfamiliar tools.

I’m 5’2" and about 105 lbs and have used a 20lb sledgehammer in a smithy workshop - the biggest issue as everyone has brought up is the size of hands and the lack of upper body strength. if the premise of the design of tools is flipped over from a specific gender and framed as “how do we design a tool to achieve this task in such a way that it can be used without the same application of brute force” we’d be on to something.

it connects to what was said above about less torque being required for some tools - but I’d like to take it a step further and say blank out the current forms from your consciousness and imagine you had to start from scratch, knowing the laws of mechanics and physics that we do today, then, how would we design a tool to provide X amount of force in the most efficient way possible.

I actually think most hand tools are no problem. At 5’4", my hands are about the same size as most women. If you look at most of the major mfgs, you will find pliers, wrenches and cutters in different sizes. Lee Valley in Ottawa makes a number of hammers that can be wielded by smaller people, and composite handles reduce the weight quite a bit. Socket sets are nice because most of the handles are small enough diameter to be comfortable in a wide variety of hands.

The real issue is in handheld power tools. Motors and battery packs make up most of the weight in a cordless drill. You could always design a hand grip with an snap over sleeve for larger hands, but there is no way to reduce weight and still maintain run-time and torque. The Dewalt cordless circular saw has a blade with a smaller diameter than normal, but probably because a larger one would require more torque and thus a heavier motor and battery pack. But ask what a corded saw is used for and you’ll understand why the blades are all at least 7" in diameter. The two largest power tools I’ve used are the framing nailgun and the power hacksaw. Those things are heavy and I don’t think they have to be. Higher pressure would mean smaller pistons and shorter hose lengths would reduce the weight of a nailgun. The power hacksaw could probably use a few more “hollow” components and more aluminum.

And, are you sure about colour? My sister loves my big yellow drill. Makes her feel macho in front of the neighbours. And she handles her compound miter nicely. Way better than most of the men on her block, including her 6’5" husband! Besides, these are tools… if you aren’t sure about using them, you’re just asking for an injury. I certainly wouldn’t lend my circular saw to someone who had never used one before.


…seems to me that smaller and lighter would benefit all users…none of us are getting any younger…as for the 20lb sledge, you just let gravity do half of the work.

c’est moi - I wouldn’t know how to use a 20lb sledge anymore - was 19 then and a couple of decades have passed, agree with your point, none of us are getting any younger. to add to that, the entire demographic will shift soon enough as the majority of the first world ages, while the youth are in the upcoming and emerging markets. yet because the demographic isn’t attractive or glamourous so few products are designed for those getting on in the years.