I define a hand tool as a tool that requires some manual effort in order to operate properly. Some examples of issued patents I have worked on this field include: tools for installing something, for removing something, for cleaning shoes, tools for use on ships, for changing diapers and mixing drinks.
Hand tools are evaluated in a number of art groups across technology centers 3600 and 3700 largely depending on what the tool does. Tools that have moving parts are evaluated in much the same way as machines [add link]. Tools that do not have moving parts are known as “articles of manufacture” and patentability typically rises and falls based on how the shape transitions along its length and why it transforms in such a way.
In general, hand tools are only protected with utility patents. There are some other attorneys that may try to recommend obtaining a design patent for some reasons. I advise against this. In 2012, the Federal Circuit ruled that all of the aspects of a hammer were functional and were not enforceable as a design patent (http://patentlyo.com/patent/2010/04/design-patents-eliminating-the-ornamentalfunctional-dichotomy.html). Since that time, I have moved away from using design patents on hand tools, but it is still out there.
In a typical utility patent case, an inventor will file a provisional application shortly after coming up with the hand tool. Then, a prototype is built and tested both for market viability and for possible improvements. At some point either before or after filing the provisional application, a search is conducted and a patentability opinion is obtained. If the market seems viable a non-provisional application is filed within a year.
The AIPLA median cost from someone in the rural western United States is $2,000 for a novelty search, $3,500 for a provisional application and then $8,500 for the non-provisional application, $2,000 to respond to an office action and $600 to pay the issue fee and docket maintenance fees. A median case with one office action would cost $16,600 to issue. My 99th percentile cost across all kinds of applications is $9,676. If you go with me there is an excellent chance you will pay $6,900 less than someone you pick at random.
Call me and I will let you know if my service is a good fit for you.