Hand-Powered Tools I Love

I'll tell you straight up: I love tools that don't rely on electricity or gas to work. My kids always say that I was born a hundred years too late, and they're right!

I love using tools that are relatively quiet, don't belch smoke, and don't need fixing in order to work--a mechanic I am not. Hand-powered tools just make sense to me. And it's been my experience that when I choose well, they last a long time. In fact, most of what I own in this category will outlast me, I'm sure.

Following is a photo listing of some of my favorites, in no particular order:

My Amish-made egg beaters. Oh, how I love them! I use this tool often for such things as thin batters (pancakes or waffles, anyone?), scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes (when I'm not making a large batch), and whipped cream (ditto). I have never ever been sorry I bought these, even though the price tag is steep. They are heavy-duty, made entirely from metal (except for the top of the handle and wheel), and a larger beater area than others I've seen or used, which means I can mix up some fairly large portions. Plus, it seems made to last a lifetime...just like grandma's!

I'll say it outright--This is my very favorite kitchen tool! It's also spendy, so I can understand that not everyone has the budget for it. But I saved my shekkels and bought it and I have never looked back. I can (and have!) make cakes, cookies, large batches of mashed potatoes, several loaves of bread at a time--anything a Kitchen Aid or Bosch can do, this handy tool can do also. In fact, it's built just like a Bosch and uses Bosch parts. It's heavy but not too heavy to easily move around, in part because of the compact size and shape. I think it's easier to move this around my kitchen than my Kitchen Aid (which, by the way, I rarely use anymore). Another plus is that it doesn't feel like you're losing at arm wrestling when you crank the handle. It is amazingly easy to use, and there are two speeds--high and low--that make cranking even easier. I also splurged and bought the food processor bowl and blades and use that to whip out bunches of hash browns and sliced veggies, etc. I hope I live to be 100 because I'll need at least that many years to get all the fun work out of this! Love, love, love. Did I say I love this?

And then there's my treadle sewing machine. I actually have two: this one, and an antique. The modern one above has a Janome 721T sewing machine in an Amish-made treadle sewing cabinet made especially for the Janome machine. I can do all sorts of things with this setup: regular sewing, fancy stitches, hemming, buttonholes, etc. Works like a charm and the cabinet is pretty and functional. The picture below is of my workroom, which shows my antique White sewing machine with a lantern on it.
And since we're sort of on the subject, I also use lanterns regularly. I have the usual complement of cheap lanterns that don't put out much light--although it's enough light to see and read by. I used to exclusively use Aladdin lamps, but I gave them away several years ago because I found them to be noisy and expensive to keep running. (I realize that's probably not a very popular viewpoint, but it's my experience.) The lamps I currently love the most are like the one in the picture that is sitting on top of my antique treadle machine and in the picture below (the one on the right side). It's German made and really throws out the light. Good investment!

And here's my spinning wheel. I am an avid knitter and spinner, and love my wheel. I use it constantly! I used to have a spinning wheel that had a more traditional look, but this double treadle Lendrum wheel is perfect for my style of spinning. It has good ratios and I can effortless spin anywhere from laceweight to almost bulky. Can't beat that.

This is my Atlas meat grinder. I got it on eBay and it's a gem. Obviously, it grinds meat--makes great tasting meat hash with potatoes and leftover roast beef. Yum! But in this photo I happen to be grinding walnuts, which is does just as well as the meat grinding.

And although I don't have a photo of it, I also have a Corona wet corn grinder that looks a lot like the Atlas. I use the Corona to grind wet nixtamal, which is what I need when making my corn tortillas. You can read about it here: Making Homemade Corn Tortillas.

Here's my Vortex hand-crank blender. I don't use this tool as much as some of the others, but it's very handy for making milkshakes, smoothies, and pancake or waffle batter. Plus, with the pour spout, it's not messy. Regarding making smoothies: I have made them using ice cubes. The ice cubes mean you'll get quite a workout (although it's not bad), and you'll definitely have to crank for a longer amount of time to get them fully crushed. But it's a handy tool nonetheless.

My rotary lawn mower. This works great if you don't have a lot of dandelions (it doesn't mow those tall stalks...it just lays them down and they pop up again). I suppose that's one way to get ahead of weeding! Also, I'm an early riser, and since this is quiet (no motor to make noise), I can get outside and mow my lawns as soon as it's light enough to see. I'm done for the day before most people are even getting out of bed. Love that!

And last but not least, my mop. It's a take on the Swiffer wet jet. The container is refillable and the pads are reusable--just throw them in the washing machine and you're good to go. The part that makes the cleaning solution spray is a lever that you squeeze. No batteries, no expensive refills. I usually use water with a bit of vinegar added. Once the floors dry the vinegar smell is gone. And I often go the extra mile and fill a quart jar with orange peels, add vinegar to the top of the jar, cover the jar with a plastic lid (metal would rust because of the acid content in the vinegar), and letting the contents sit for several days before I strain out the citrusy vinegar solution. To use, I add a bit of this mixture to the water in my mop's container and get busy mopping. The orange peels lend a citrus scent to the mixture and the oils from the orange peels seem to make my floors shinier. Good stuff!

Well, there you have it. Some hand-powered tools I regularly use in and around the house. No electricity needed. Which pleases me no end.

I'd love to hear what tools you use. Maybe you've got a favorite that I haven't yet tried!

Blessings to you and yours,


  1. I was wondering what is the brand name of your German lanterns? Thanks! Ellen

    1. Hi, Ellen!
      I bought it from Lehman's Hardware and they call it the French Alps Table Lamp. It uses a Kosmos burner, so the light is surprisingly and wonderfully bright. I can read or knit at night with it with no difficulty. I used to use only Aladdins, but I prefer this lamp.

  2. Hello out there in Amish land. I was considering the sale of my mom's 1938 Singer Treadle, table, draw, light, sawing machine, thinking that the great Amish community which carries many old ways might find the machine in a new home. I remember the days mom would saw to repair my denim and today most machines can't handle that power. Anyone interested would live in the eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey areas or travel thru those areas. Thanks for reading, George.