To design comfortable hand tools, knowledge about comfort/discomfort in using hand tools is required. We investigated which factors determine comfort/discomfort in using hand tools according to users. Therefore, descriptors of comfort/discomfort in using hand tools were collected from literature and interviews. After that, the relatedness of a selection of the descriptors to comfort in using hand tools was investigated. Six comfort factors could be distinguished (functionality, posture and muscles, irritation and pain of hand and fingers, irritation of hand surface, handle characteristics, aesthetics). These six factors can be classified into three meaningful groups: functionality, physical interaction and appearance. The main conclusions were that (1) the same descriptors were related to comfort and discomfort in using hand tools, (2) descriptors of functionality are most related to comfort in using hand tools followed by descriptors of physical interaction and (3) descriptors of appearance become secondary in comfort in using hand tools. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.