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Favorite hand tool brands no longer available

12V71T

Plastic
Joined
Mar 20, 2022
I'm with Joe Michaels as far as wood hammer handles. A while back I needed to replace a broken handle on a Blue Point ball peen hammer. The Snap On guy said he didn't have any handles on the truck but he did have a new encased-in-plastic ball peen I could replace it with. I told him to order a wood handle because I don't mind waiting. Blue Point uses an uncommon (at least to me) eye shape in their hammer heads, so you have to either buy one fro them or carve one to fit. I also have a Collins wood maul, USA made, that has had at least four or five handles on it and is due for another. I don't think Home Dumpo or BLowes even sell replacement handles anymore.

I also miss the old Porter Cable. I still have and use several Porter Cable tools my father had that are probably 30 years old or more.

Central Tools is another vanished brand. They're still sold by somebody (Matco?) but it's all Chinese crap. I have a Central sled gauge and a few others I use regularly at work.
 

dundeeshopnut

Cast Iron
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
I miss the Thorsen ratchets, specifically the no 77 "open gear" type. Strong and I believe the smallest head per size of ratchet. Easily reversible with your thumb or index finger when using one handed or "working blind". Thank god for ebay for such items as they can still be found "almost new".
 

rj1939

Stainless
Joined
Jan 31, 2008
Location
southern il
The round head fine tooth Craftsman ratchets from the 80's.............I used a 1/4 inch and 3/8 for all of my working life. They were fabulous for taking most things apart in tight quarters, never abused them, used others for that. I have stocked up on them on fleabay........don't want to run out.

S & K has had their ups and downs, not sure what their status is now, they about disappeared back in the 80's.................I bought a set of combo wrenches at a promotional thing at a trade show 1/4 to 1 1/4 for less than 40 dollars, they have never been used and are still in the box they came in. I've got dad's Slip and Kill ratchet set that he bought when I was just a kid.

Sioux electric drills were tough to beat, as was anything Sioux
 

JDM-oldschool

Plastic
Joined
Jun 2, 2022
Not something that disappeared but that appeared lately. I was searching for a new screwdriver set because I have all mixed up from different brands and ages. I was happy with a very old Connex so I searched for those. I was really disappointed. I havent seen such a poor handle quality ever. And at some point that was a really good brand.
Then I searched for the other good brands like Gedore, but they are overpriced and most brands have such strange unsymmetrical handles.
So I came to Wera. I did not know them before but I am totally convinced. They have great solutions like the lasertip and special wrenches, are well made and great to hold. Actually I am planning to change a lot more to their tools, I dont miss the old ones anymore.
 
Joined
Apr 19, 2006
Location
Manchester, England
I would think StahlWillies only customer was rich car collectors .....prices are beyond astounding.
I had a 1/2” drive “ Stahlwille “ ratchet that I had issued to me at one place I worked at. It was the best ratchet in my toolbox by far. I had it for the best part of 40 years. I gave it away when I retired. My down and dirty ratchet, the one that got all the abuse, was a “ Kamasa “ round head that I had given to me. Somebody had snapped the head in half and then welded it back together again ! It sounds crap but it did the job and I never managed to break it again.

Regards Tyrone.
 

Pathogen

Hot Rolled
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
I bought a Metrinch set when it was advertised on TV

I still have it and it has outperformed every brand mentioned and more
 

JST

Diamond
Joined
Jun 16, 2001
Location
St Louis
Diamond Tool and Horseshoe...
AKA Diamond Calk Horseshoe Co.

I have some very nice pliers and adjustable wrenches from them. The pliers after the name was apparently changed to eliminate the "calk" and "horseshoe". They are "Diamond" brand, but labeled "Duluth USA"
 

SteveM

Diamond
Joined
Sep 22, 2005
Location
Connecticut
Almost any wrench brand made in the USA but Crapsman.
I don't need a wrench with a free replacement guarantee. I need a wrench that doesn't easily break, forcing me to own two of every common size wrench and socket.
The older ones were built with the intent that they weren't going to need replacement.
The new ones are built with the idea that if they save enough money building them like crap, they can afford to replace them.
I have Craftsman tools I've owned for almost 50 years and they are still top-notch tools.
The youtube channel "Project Farm" did a test of adjustable wrenches. They threw in an older Craftsman. Not only did it beat the new Craftsman, it beat a lot of the other new wrenches.
I buy old used Craftsman at garage sales any chance I get.
Steve
 

neilho

Titanium
Joined
Mar 23, 2006
Location
Vershire, Vermont
... I also have a Collins wood maul, USA made, that has had at least four or five handles on it and is due for another. I don't think Home Dumpo or BLowes even sell replacement handles anymore.

....

They're available in hardware stores around here, but...this is Vermont. Still expensive - $25-30, so I've been buying picks or mattocks in thrift stores for their handles. The kind whose heads are held on by a big taper. Usually under $10.The head slides off easily and the tapered end reshaped to fit the mauls. Usually a bit more rugged than maul handles, too.
 

MrStretch

Cast Iron
Joined
Mar 20, 2017
The Nickolson Swiss pattern files were excellent. I have some #4 and #6 flat hand files that are still great after many years of use.
 

MCritchley

Hot Rolled
Joined
Mar 22, 2007
Location
Milwaukee
Has anybody mentioned files? Nicholson used to be very good, but not for years. Or have they improved again? Not sure what brands can be recommended now.
Grobet, Corriadi, and NOS are the three types of files that I’ll buy. I got ahold of an enigineer responsible for the Nicholson line to let them know what a disappointment their products became. His comment was they solved all of their manufacturing issues in Brazil and nothing has changed with their products since off shoring. He could not grasp that a person could tell a difference between a good and garbage file.
The call was my divorce from Aptex, they ruin every brand they buy.

Nicholson does rebrand some Swiss pattern files that are not made in Switzerland. I think Grobet is doing the same thing.
 

12V71T

Plastic
Joined
Mar 20, 2022
Owatonna Tool Company or just OTC, pullers of all kinds, bearing splitters, slide hammers, hydraulic presses. Bit of a stretch to call a press a hand tool but hand pumped at least. I have'nt bought any in years but I believe they got bought out by Bosch. Not sure of the present quality or where they're made.
 

Conrad Hoffman

Titanium
Joined
May 10, 2009
Location
Canandaigua, NY, USA
+1 on old Millers Falls tools. Also Lufkin, back when they made metal-working tools. I have just a few odd pieces that are quite nice. I have a few Pratt & Whitney gauge blocks that are good and I know they made a lot of excellent gauging.
 

Joe Michaels

Diamond
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Location
Shandaken, NY, USA
Goodell-Pratt is another forgotten maker of hand tools and small machine tools in the USA. I believe they were absorbed into Millers-Falls. G-P made good hand tools, some machinist tools, and small lathes and bench drills. Not top of the line, but serviceable for light/hobby use.

Nicholson, the file maker, was in Providence, R.I. I have a booklet entitle 'File Filosophy', my late father having gotten in prior to my birth (1950). In that booklet, Nicholson speaks of the file brands they absorbed: Johnson and Kelly come to mind. With hand filing almost an unknown skill, good files made in the USA are almost an unknown. I've had some very good files made by Simmons, the saw makers.

On this same tack: not so long ago, circular saw blades were made of steel and did not have carbide teeth. Portable compound mitre saws and similar did not exist.
Woodworkers and carpenters used steel hand saws and circular saws that had to be filed and set. Some carpenters, woodworkers, and small sawmill operators (such as farmers or woodlot owners) would hand file and set the teeth on their own saws- both handsaws and circular saws. This created a demand for 'threesquare saw files' and 'mill files', a file made to file the flat surfaces and gullets of circular saw teeth. Another type file that is about extinct is known as an 'ignition' or 'contact point' file. These were very thin fine cut files made to slip between contact points on automotive engine distributors or magnetos or electrical relays. I have a few of these 'contact point files' in my tools. After filing contact points, they were polished with a semi-flexible strip of very fine abrasive (some mechanics called it a 'points stone').

I have a hard time accepting the files marketed under Nicholson's name. Blue plastic molded-on handles on a poor substitute for what Nicholson once made. Molded-on handles on files just does not look right to me. A proper wood file handle is what I grew up using.

As for bearing scrapers, there was Mound Tool, of Wheeling, West Virginia. Mound seemed to be a prolific maker of 'spoon' type bearing scrapers as well as other forged tool steel bearing scrapers. They came in sets, either in a canvas roll, or in a wood box with sliding lid (and 'finger joints' at the corners). I have a number of Mound Tool bearing scrapers in my tools, and use them on babbitted bearings.

Speaking of files and bearing scrapers: a good file with the teeth worn beyond any use was (and still is, by me at least) considered as 'good file steel'. Grind off what's left of the teeth to create a smooth surface, and it's material for forging other tools. I've forged scrapers and knives from old files. The reason for grinding off the teeth (or 'cuts' as the grooves are called) is to prevent folding these over during forging and having a less-than-solid forged tool.

Hammer handles are another subject that set me back on my heels early last fall. I had been to a yard sale and bought a 'shingler's hatchet' for 5 bucks. Nice old hatchet, no damage, made by one of those edge tool firms that once existed in the US (forget the name). A buddy was putting standing seam metal roofing on our garage and on my blacksmith shed. He is a skilled roofer who does a lot of cedar shake roofs as well as skilled with copper and slate roofing. I showed him the shingler's hatchet and his eyes lit up.He said he had a big cedar shake job coming up. I told him I'd give him the hatchet in shape for him to use. The handle was bad, so I removed it. I went to the local hardware store and picked a "Link" brand hickory handle off the rack. Nothing fancy. When the clerk scanned the bar code on the handle, she told me it was SEVENTEEN DOLLARS ! I let go with an exclaimation of disbelief and had her check the price. Seventeen bucks. I bought the handle and for the coup de grace, it had only a wood wedge with it. I filed a steel wedge out of a piece of scrap.I like to drive the wood wedges in the slit in the handles, putting some wood glue on them. When the wood wedge is driven home, I drive a steel wedge cross-wise to it. I tend to save pieces of sledge handles and other hardwood handles and often will make a handle, but this time, I wanted to get the hatchet ready to give to my buddy. He was delighted with it.

There were once a large number US edge-tool makers. Most are long gone. Recently, a bro of mine and I were working putting 4/4's pine siding boards on my blacksmith shed. He had logged and milled the boards himself. We needed to fit the ends of some of the boards between a top header and a roof purlin. Some of the boards were a little tight (roof purlins also rough sawn lumber). My bro pulled out a cute little hand adze. He said it was a "cooper's adz (OK, who do you spell 'adz' ?). The cooper's adz was a yard sale find over 50 years ago. He had it stoned to a keen cutting edge and quickly adjusted the thickness of the boards to fit where they needed to go. I checked the name on the adz and the company that made it was out of business by 1880 or thereabouts. Still a good tool, held a keen cutting edge, and well made for the purpose. In my bro's hands, it was quicker and neater than using an angle grinder with a coarse sanding disc or using a hoof rasp (another tool I keep handy).

PEXTO is another brand of US hand tool that vanished. PEXTO is a kind of nickname for "Peck, Stowe, and Wilcox", a firm in Connecticut. Pexto made hand tools as well as tinsmith's and sheet metal working equipment such as 'jump shears', brakes, roll formers and similar. Pexto made snips, rivet snaps, tinners' hammers, 'wing' dividers', framing squares, and other hand tools. Good quality tools and good quality sheet metal working equipment.

In our home kitchen, I have a medium sized very old meat cleaver. It was made by "Bridge Tool Company". They were in St. Louis, but that is all I could find out about them. Dad bought the cleaver at an auction of a butcher shop down in Brooklyn well over 50 years ago and the cleaver was old then. It is really good steel, well made. I use it as a cleaver, and I also use the flat side of it for pounding meats to make schnitzel. A good overhand swing or two with the flat side of that cleaver, and you have a piece of meat thin enough to use for shim stock. Modern cleavers sold in 'gourmet' cook stores and thru catalogs are wimpy versions. As I wrote, Bridge Tool is otherwise unknown, but I wonder if they forged other tools.

In Hudson, NY, there was Mephisto Tool. Until recently, they forged cold chisels, pry bars, calking and yarning irons (for making up joints on cast iron soil pipe). They also forged and made 'ice tools' for handling ice cakes and the like. Their location, in Hudson, NY, was in the midst of a bygone industry: cutting cake ice when the Hudson River froze and laying it up in ice-houses or shipping down to NYC. Hence, the ice tools in their lineup. Mephisto, as a name still exists, but is elsewhere and likely not the forge shop it once was in Hudson, NY.

While not a 'vanished brand', I will mention the Vermont firm of Trow & Holden. They are a forge shop still in business, making tools primarily for stone carving and quarrying. A few years back, my bro (the guy who has the cooper's adz) called me to ask about stone carving tools. His wife was dying of cancer, and was at home with hospice in the house. My bro and his wife had decided on a 'green burial', so no 'raised' or 'above ground' grave stones. A flat slab of natural or native stone (bluestone in our Catskills) was allowed. I had learned of Trow & Holden from Bud Provin (Jim Rosen will know the name), a motorcycle mechanic in Vermont. Bud works on old motorcycles and used to take machine shop work to Trow & Holden. Bud had mentioned to me that I'd like their shop, knowing the kind of work I do.
I called T & H and talked to a nice, knowledgable and sympathetic lady. She recommended a few 'lettering chisels' and a small hammer with a 'truncated cone' head for tapping them. I bought the set for my bro, and he sat near his wife's bed, quietly tapping away to letter her name and epitaph on a flat piece of bluestone. I was a pallbearer as we carried her remains out of their house in a wicker casket, and helped set the bluestone slab on top of her grave after we backfilled it.

T & H has quite a shop, doing forging as well as machine work. They also make a line of carbide-tipped stone working tools, as well as tools for pneumatic sculpting and carving hammers, so have kept in step with the times.

Another brand that used to exist was Kraueter. Dad had a few pairs of electrician's or 'linemans' pliers made by them, and I have one firm joint caliper and pair of 'wing dividers' made by them. Good old tools, which I still use. Another one-of-a-kind tool that I have is a heavy 'S' shaped adjustable wrench with the name "Westcott" on it, as well "Oneida Chuck Company" as the makers. I bought that wrench new in an old hardware store on Reade Street in lower Manhattan, probably around 1962 for small money. I have an Oneida 4 jaw chuck on my 13" LeBlond Regal lathe, and have seen a few "combination" Oneida lathe chucks over the years.

As this thread evolves, I find myself remembering all the old names of US tool making firms that have passed from the scene. I am fortunate in that my late father liked good tools and accumulated a good assortment which passed to me.
 

jim rozen

Diamond
Joined
Feb 26, 2004
Location
peekskill, NY
Yard and garage sales are a major source of tools for me. Some of the items need a bit of TLC but that's just a project in the making. I've gotten pretty good a replicated Crescent thumbwheels for their adjsutable wrenches as many of those show up missing that part. Turn, knurl, and then thread with a butress thread. Important point: get the butress thread pointed the right way. Screwdrivers these days are by Klein also pliers and whatnot. That's the only section I'll buy tools from in home desperate.

And then there's the occasional roadway find. I now own a VERY nice set of Klein lineman's pliers that clearly fell off somebody's tailgate. Easy to spot and grab those when you're on a motorbike.
 

eKretz

Diamond; Mod Squad
Joined
Mar 27, 2005
Location
Northwest Indiana, USA
Oh yes, we seem to have departed from the "hand tools" to all tools. In that case, definitely miss Pexto, Lufkin, Miller's Falls, and plenty of others. Also SK, Armstrong, Williams and Wright (actually, the latter two still seem to be making good tools) from the original category.
 








 
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