Common American Names For Tools Translated

Going online is a great way to research DIY projects before you start, but the use of different terminology between the US and Australia can make the results confusing. Here's a list of common tool names you might encounter and their local equivalents.

Yes, in practice, many a hardware store will know what you're after whichever term you use, but it doesn't hurt to be fully informed. Most of the commonly used names in Australia derive from British usage.

Wrench: Spanner. The descriptive adjectives used for these are often the same, but we've listed some exceptions below.

Box-end wrench: Ring spanner

Flare-nut or tube wrench: Crow's-foot spanner

Lug wrench: Wheel brace.

Spud bar: Crowbar.

Hex key: Allen key (aka that little tool you always find in self-assembly furniture packs).

Upholstery hammer: Tack hammer.

Boxcutter: Utility knife/Stanley knife.

Miter saw: Mitre saw.

Vise: Vice (I realise no-one will appreciate the difference when you're speaking with the last two).

Wire wool: Steel wool.

Hand pruners: Secateurs.

String trimmer: Whipper snipper.

Hand truck: Trolley.

Got any other tool or hardware names we should add to the list? Tell us in the comments.

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    Hand truck makes me think of a kid with a Matchbox car. VRRROOOOM!

    I was hoping for something along the lines of;

    Doofus = Drongo
    Slacker = Bludger
    Moron = Dill
    Hillbilly = Feral

    etc etc

    String Trimmer = Weed Whacker to most yanks I know (including myself).

    American Nut Fu*ker: Adjustable Wrench

    Not so much a problem when it's written down, but hearing Americans pronounce "solder" as "sodder" is always hilarious.

      Trust me, Peter, it's nowhere near as risible as Aussies sound when they pronounce it "soll-der".

      How did the "l" ever get dropped given the etymology of the word is from Latin derivatives of "solid" which certainly IS pronounced with an "l" everywhere today?

        Probably the same weird way they dropped the "h" from "herb" :--P

        Probably lost the L when it entered the English language by way of French, as the french word "souder" which most definitely is pronounced without an "l".

    A Box cutter should refer to a compact carton cutter. See here:

    The tool contains a single sided razor blade and is only long enough for the cutting of box cardboard (corrugated cardboard) not the internal contents.

    The utility knife = stanley knife. Unless you have a utility belt, in which case it most likely catches bad guys.


    Where I'm from (Midwest), it's more common to use:

    allen wrench instead of hex key
    weed whacker instead of string trimmer
    dolly instead of hand truck

    Just out of curiosity, what do Aussies call what Americans call a crowbar?

      I've always thought a 'crowbar' was the long, straight one, and a 'pinch bar' has the curved, split ends (like what Gordon Freeman carries).

      Definitely a dolly a trolley is overhead rolls along an I beam for hoisting, weed whacker or weed whipper

    If you need to solder something you may be surprised to learn that the Americans pronounce it sodder - as in this link

    Spud bar is not a crow bar. A spud bar is about 6 feet long and is used to dig in the dirt, while a crow bar is about 3 feet long and is used to pry things apart like wood or metal.

    A hand truck is also a Dolly depending on which part of the US your from.

    String Trimmer is a Weed Eater

      Actually the 6 foot long crow bar is correct, what you're referring to is a "jimmy" or "pry" bar at least in my teachings (apprentice builder/handyman)

    Sorry Randy, you're wrong. A Crow bar is the 1.8 meter long tool and has been known as such long before the United States existed. The curved tool used for prying is (shock) a pry bar.

    I thought yanks used a hammer for everything...

    Yankee screw driver = hammer

    A tube wrench isn't the equivalent of a crow's foot. A tube wrench is a tube spanner, like a spark plug socket or the tube for removing the spark plug that you receive when you buy a lawn mower.

    Stilston wrench = pipe wrench = Plumbers Wrench
    Pin hammer = Upholstry hammer = tack hammer
    Claw hammer = Claw hammer
    Easebar = jimmy bar = wrecking bar = 1 1/2 foot long claw crowbar
    Crowbar = fencing bar = leverbar = tamper (crowbar with flat end for tamping in holes)
    snips = tinsnips
    needle nose pliers = wire pliers = long nose pliers
    fencing pliers = parellel nose pliers = snape nose pliers
    MultiGrips = locking pliers

    There are interesting names for these in Europe also ... I think the name for a small hand held sledgehammer is a whammet or pugiron something like that.

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