One in Ten Britons Don’t Know How to Use a Single Item from Their Toolbox

A new study has revealed that many Britons would struggle to use the items in their toolbox correctly, without looking it up.

The new research from SGS Engineering quizzed Britons on their knowledge of common toolbox items, with 9% admitting they couldn’t use a single tool without asking someone for help.

Brits are most comfortable when using a good old-fashioned screwdriver, with almost two thirds of those surveyed (61%) claiming that they know how to use one correctly. You’d think that using a tape measure would also be fairly simple, yet over a third of those surveyed (40%) said that they do not know how to use one.

Jab saws were revealed as the tool that Britons are most clueless about, with just one in ten people (10%) saying that they are confident on the correct technique for using one. Similarly, just one in seven people (15%) think they know how to use a bolster (cold chisel), and only a quarter of those surveyed (27%) think they know how to use bolt cutters.

Screwdrivers are the tool owned by the highest percentage of people, with two thirds of us (67%) having one in our toolbox. On the other end of the scale, only one in ten people (10%) own a nail gun, and just one in 20 people (5%) own a jab saw.

There appears to be a higher number of women who have never used their toolbox, as over one in ten women (11%) say that they don’t know how to use a single item in their toolbox. The men aren’t much better, with one in twelve (8%) admitting that they couldn’t use any of the tools without asking for help from someone else.

Brits look to be slow starters when it comes to building up their toolbox, as 15% of 18-24-year-olds say that they don’t own a single tool. By contrast, just one in twenty people aged 65+ said that they don’t own any tools.

Edinburgh residents showed up as the worst in the UK when it comes to DIY knowledge, with 16% of those surveyed admitting that they would have to ask for help before using any tools. The DIY champions are just down the road in Glasgow, with just one in fifty (2%) Glaswegians admitting to needing help when using tools.

As a company passionate about tools, and with many respondents reporting difficulties in using some of the most common tools correctly, SGS Engineering have put together a visual guide on how to safely use five of the most common items found in a toolbox. 

How to use common tools – a safety guide


The first step when safely using a screwdriver is to use a head that is the correct size and shape to match the screw. Once a suitable grip has been made into the surface, insert the screwdriver into the screw head and turn clockwise. To stay safe, ensure that your other hand is away from the screw in case the screwdriver slips away from the screw head. 

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