As an adjective hands-on should be hyphenated. It describes something as using one’s hands or being learned by physical action rather than theory. The compound is sometimes confused in the phrase be hands-on, however, since one can be an adjective, the hyphen is still used.
A similar, though unrelated, verb is to hand on or to pass along something. In the second person this verb makes hands on, however, the distinction between the adjective and the verb should be clear from context.
One could also have one’s hands on something, but again, context will make the difference clear.
“It’s all about getting hands-on experience,” Pomietlo said. “It teaches (students) about going through a process.” [The Chippewa Herald]
Unfortunately, we didn’t have long enough to test the Acer Aspire R13’s performance capabilities during our brief hands-on time with it. [V3]
The event is run under the auspices of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Athletics Association (NSSAA) although it is tradition that the host city provide the hands-on volunteers. [Wanganui Chronicle]
Assemblyman Skoufis is hands-on and always willing to take on the good fight. [Times Herald-Record]
Part of the attraction of AVHS is that he could be hands-on in the day-to-day operations and still interact with the animals. [Chaffee County Times]
To my first-hand knowledge as a local MP, Currie was hands-on in guiding the University during the years from 1978-89, a difficult decade for all universities. [The Independent]
So, each person hands on the baton to someone else. [The Source]
Apple customers in China were finally able to get their hands on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Friday. [HNGN]