Some of the most important potential applications of carbon nanotubes are related to their mechanical properties. Stiff sp(2) bonds result in a Young's modulus close to that of diamond, while the relatively weak van der Waals interaction between the graphitic shells acts as a form of lubrication. Previous characterization of the mechanical properties of nanotubes includes a rich variety of experiments involving mechanical deformation of nanotubes using scanning probe microscopes. These results have led to promising prototypes of nanoelectromechanical devices such as high-performance nanomotors, switches and oscillators based on carbon nanotubes.