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Favorite hand tool brands no longer available

IceCzar

Plastic
Joined
Jul 3, 2022
What I really miss most is that while I can find what I need somewhere it's not in stock anywhere remotely nearby now.
 

gwelo62

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
ga,usa
Stahlwille, as far as I can tell, still made in Germany
I bought Stahlwille when I was an appie in Zimbabwe in the 80s. Gedore was also available. Price in the US now is obscene! We were also given some USAG tools from Italy(Ferrari's official spanners). They are pretty good but also pricey here in the US.
 

dundeeshopnut

Cast Iron
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Nobody's mentioned Wescott wrenches. I've managed to get a set with 3 diiferent sizes.

Houses here in peekskill are old enough that yard and estate sales still pesent ample vintage tools at the right prices. I take full advantage.
Funny you should mention the name Wescott. Here in La belle province [Quebec], any adjustable is referred to as "le Wescott". Way easier to say than ask for than "le cle adjustable".
 
Joined
Apr 19, 2006
Location
Manchester, England
Over here they’re just known as “ shifters “ or “ shifting spanner’s “. IE “ Can I borrow your 18” shifter “. Presumably because one jaw shifted and the other didn’t.

Regards Tyrone.
 

Joe Michaels

Diamond
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Location
Shandaken, NY, USA
Somewhere in the tools I got from my father, I have a screwdriver bit with the tapered square shank to be chucked in a brace. What makes this little tool noteworthy is the name on it: Winchester. It is "Winchester" in the stylized font that Winchester used on their firearms. I do not know how extensively Winchester got into making hand tools, so this little tool may well be a rarity.

Dad also left me his "Yankee" push screwdriver. As I recall, the screwdriver bits for it have a plain round shank with a step machined on top to serve as a drive key. I also have a smaller "push drill", made of brass with a hardwood handle. Possibly Goodell-Pratt or Millers-Falls (haven't handled it in years). It has a brass disc on the top end of the wood handle, which covers a place to store bits. This little drill took a simple "V" pointed bit, and was handy if a person was predrilling to avoid splitting thin mouldings or hardwood, also handy if a person was putting in small screws.

In watching youtubes of workers in various industries in bygone years, the use of "Yankee" type push screwdrivers was commonplace. It was the 'cordless screwdriver' of its day. I watched a "History Guy" youtube about how two teenaged Ham Radio operators provided a communications link for US personnel stationed at Antarctica. In the youtube, there were 'stock' clips from old films of workers assembling electronic equipment. They were using push screwdrivers to make up the screws on terminal strips after "landing" the wires. Smaller sized "Yankee" type screwdriver. In some other clip from the British railroads, the 'joiners' putting interior trim and panelling in passenger coaches are also seen using push screw drivers. In both cases, the people using the push screwdrivers were aces. The few times I've tried to use the Yankee push screw driver, the straight screwdriver bit either walked out the end, or climbed out, of the screw slot. The screwdriver bit with me behind the Yankee push screwdriver, wound up damaging the work. Dad could drive fairly large wood screws with the Yankee, and never had it jump out or damage the work.

Dad had one good arm (his left) as a result of injuries sustained before and during WWII. He could swing a 32 ounce framing hammer like no one I've ever seen since. Maybe it is admiration for my father. We did not have a masonry hammer drill, nor did we have a "Ramset" (powder actuated fastener driver, using blank cartridges). Dad used to put up 'scabs' or 'nailers' on poured concrete walls by driving 'cut' type masonry nails with a framing hammer. He swung hard and quick, and I remember seeing sparks flying. Dad never bent or broke those masonry nails and drove them in with a very few blows. Dad and a buddy of mine also used the trick of starting a framing nail using the claw of the hammer. This was done if they were working in a location where they had to hang on with one hand and had only the other hand to start the nail and hammer with, such as overhead, or working off a ladder. They would insert the nail so its head was between the claw and the eye of the 'poll' or handle of the hammer. The shank and point projected out from the claw. With a different kind of swing, they would start the nail into the work. One swing was all you got, and once the nail was started, you twirled the hammer 180 degrees in your hand and drove the nail home with the striking face. Neat trick, obsoleted by power nailers and cordless tools driving construction screws. Good claw hammers were quite a tool in their day, and hammer manufacturers advertised their features in magazines and trade publications. A chronic ailment not appearing in American Medical Association journals is known as "Estwing Shoulder". It is an ailment that has few, if any, new cases. Estwing Shoulder takes its name from the "Estwing" makers of framing hammers. Framing carpenters who swung an Estwing Hammer for years would "throw from the shoulder", making power blows to sink framing nails quickly. This led to a degenerative condition of the shoulder joint and surrounding body parts. With the widespread use of air or power nailers, Estwing Shoulder is mainly limited to people old enough to have been putting up framing using hand hammers and nails.

A couple of hammer manufacturers that may (or may not) still exist are: Vaughn (makers of a variety of hammers including machinist's hammers and blacksmith 'rounding hammers' at some point); and, Plomb Tool. Plomb was the founder's last name. Plomb made a variety of hammers and some 'striking tools' for blacksmiths. I have a Plomb 12 lb 'stone sledge' in my blacksmith tools. It was a yard sale find for a couple of bucks, with a good handle. I use it as a straight peen sledge. I have a number of "Warwood" sledges and a splitting maul as well as a 5 foot pinch bar. The name "Woodings-Verona" may be a forerunner of the Warwood name.

Another forgotten maker of mechanics' hand tools was "Vlchek" (sp ?). I have a pair of 'water pump pliers' made by Vlchek, which I think was the company founder/inventor's name. US made pliers, good tool.


Learning to properly use and care for hand tools was a part of most boys' educations in the 1950's-70's. Good tools were often 'bought one time', given proper care so they never needed replacement. I am somewhat amazed by the rapid development and proliferation of 'cordless' power tools. As advances in motor and battery technologies occur, good power tools are obsoleted fairly quickly. Having a cordless impact wrench which can rattle off wheel bolts on a backhoe, or a cordless cutoff saw which can cut semi-dried rough cut framing lumber, or a cordless 'driver' to rapidly drive construction screws are tools which amaze me. Just as quickly as these tools appear, it seems that a new generation of more powerful and more compact ones will come along to obsolete them. Good classic hand tools were "timeless" for a number of generations. Now, between the way our society has gone, and the dependence on cordless tools, many of the old hand tools are becoming akin to fossils, as are those of us who came up using them/
 

JST

Diamond
Joined
Jun 16, 2001
Location
St Louis
Being able to fix anything, or do anything, even the basic stuff, around your house is becoming a marker for being a "fossil". A lot of folks apparently don't know how to hang a picture, let alone anything else.

Vlchek made wrenches also, I have a number of them. Plomb, Thorsen, Indestro, and many others made good socket wrenches as well as other tools. Even the "lesser" brands were not bad.

Up at my father's house are a number of socket sets that are hex drive. The wrench looks like a fat allen key with snap balls on the ends. Generally the sockets are stored on the wrench, although one or two have a sheet metal holder that the sockets go in, with the wrench slid in over them to hold them in place.

I'm amused at your use of the term "water pump pliers". That, or just "pump pliers" is the name I know for them, but very few people seem to know what is meant by those terms these days.
 

John Garner

Titanium
Joined
Sep 1, 2004
Location
south SF Bay area, California
Joe --

There were two old-time toolmakers that were often confused. Fayette Plumb of Philadelphia made hammers and axes. Adolphus (IIRC) Plomb of Los Angeles made wrenches, struck tools (punches and chisels), and screwdrivers.

As Plomb grew from a local to national brand, Plumb sued Plomb over the similarity of the names. Plumb prevailed, and re-sued when Plomb dragged their corporate feet changing their name.

Today, Plumb has been re-named Crescent Plumb under Apex ownership. The Crescent Plomb hammers continue to be made in China, a move made probably 10 years ago while under Cooper ownership.

Plomb changed their name to Proto, in 1959 or thereabouts, and added a number if other toolmakers to their stable, under both Pendleton Tool and later Ingersoll-Rand ownership. These other makers include Paschall Tool (mechanic's hammers; I've neither seen nor heard of a Paschall nail hammer), Challenger, Fleet, J P Danielsen, Vlchek, and a couple others I'm not recalling at the moment.

Today, Proto is Stanley's US flagship line of mechanics' tools.
 
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dundeeshopnut

Cast Iron
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
dundeeshopnut --

In my coffebreak language lessons at Aerospatiale Cannes, I was taught that the French expression for "Crescent-type adjustable wrench" was "cle a molette", but the term actually used was "cle anglais".
Quebec french and France fench are quite different. Quebec takes a lot more "enghish words" and uses them with a french conjugation. Any auto garage, try using the "correct" french name or a part and they will stare at you blindly. Ask for a "un muffler pour mon Focus" and they will happily oblige.
 

Greg Menke

Diamond
Joined
Feb 22, 2004
Location
Baltimore, MD, USA
Dad also left me his "Yankee" push screwdriver. As I recall, the screwdriver bits for it have a plain round shank with a step machined on top to serve as a drive key. I also have a smaller "push drill", made of brass with a hardwood handle. Possibly Goodell-Pratt or Millers-Falls (haven't handled it in years). It has a brass disc on the top end of the wood handle, which covers a place to store bits. This little drill took a simple "V" pointed bit, and was handy if a person was predrilling to avoid splitting thin mouldings or hardwood, also handy if a person was putting in small screws.

In watching youtubes of workers in various industries in bygone years, the use of "Yankee" type push screwdrivers was commonplace. It was the 'cordless screwdriver' of its day. I watched a "History Guy" youtube about how two teenaged Ham Radio operators provided a communications link for US personnel stationed at Antarctica. In the youtube, there were 'stock' clips from old films of workers assembling electronic equipment. They were using push screwdrivers to make up the screws on terminal strips after "landing" the wires. Smaller sized "Yankee" type screwdriver. In some other clip from the British railroads, the 'joiners' putting interior trim and panelling in passenger coaches are also seen using push screw drivers. In both cases, the people using the push screwdrivers were aces. The few times I've tried to use the Yankee push screw driver, the straight screwdriver bit either walked out the end, or climbed out, of the screw slot. The screwdriver bit with me behind the Yankee push screwdriver, wound up damaging the work. Dad could drive fairly large wood screws with the Yankee, and never had it jump out or damage the work.

I keep a small yankee screwdriver with hex drive bits and a small set of hex drive drill bits (along with the screw bits) in the motorcycle toolbag- the theory being it <might> work as a shade-tree drill press. Its small enough and light enough to reasonably carry. OTOH I am a tool packrat on the motorcycle so who knows.

I'm a big fan of using the brace-and-bit though, mounting a hex drive for modern screw bits and one for driving sockets. Its hard to beat the modern battery powered screw guns but once the batteries run out or if you want really good feel, the brace sure wins. I was amazed by how easily a 4" deck screw could be driven with one.

Along that vein, I have one of those cranked hand-drills with the v-bits in the handle- it recently was the perfect tool for drilling some holes in an AV cart to pass wire-ties through. Didn't have to lug anything around, no batteries and no need for battery levels of torque.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2004
Location
Metuchen, NJ, USA
John Garner mentioned Fleet mechanic's tools. An interesting bit of trivia about Fleet is that some of their sets came in steel toolboxes with lift-out tote trays. These boxes would have a riveted-on nameplate with the purchaser's name in raised letters!

I've been told that such personalization of kits was done by several makers back in the day, but I've not seen any other than Fleet.

John Ruth
 

JST

Diamond
Joined
Jun 16, 2001
Location
St Louis
We called those drills "punch drills", and used the heck out of them when I was a kid. Anyplace you would use a drill-driver now, we used those.

Ours were brass-plated steel, mostly, and had the storage for drills under the handle cap. The cap had a hole, and a ball with spring as a snap retainer. You pushed down the ball, and turned the hole to whatever size drill you wanted, and tipped up the drill to slide it out.

Drills had a notch on the shank, and had half of the end removed for 0.1" or so. The notch was a retainer notch, and the end took the drive. The nose of the drill had a sleeve that either pushed in, or pulled out, depending on maker, to let the drill slide in. When the nose sleeve was released, it moved a ball into the notch to hold the drill in place, if you had it rotated to the right position.

They worked pretty well, despite having drills that looked like a figure-8 in cross section, straight fluted, with a standard point.
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
Back when all I had was car spanners..(Ford were best),there were Dowidat tools....pretty good quality in the days when there was a lot of weak rubbish about.....one double end Dowidat flex head would fit all the bolts on a BSA motorbike........Dowidat was also made here in the days of the 'TariffWall"......I collect any Dowidat stuff I see.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2004
Location
Metuchen, NJ, USA
They worked pretty well, despite having drills that looked like a figure-8 in cross section, straight fluted, with a standard point.
On this side of the pond, that's a Yankee Push Drill. The flutes have to be straight because the drill is bidirectional: it rotates counter-clockwise on the upstroke. CCW movement of a conventional twist drill just stuffs the swarf back into the hole!

Like any drill, those two-flute drills benefit from occasional sharpening.

John Ruth
Who notes that autocorrect wants to change "swarf" into "dwarf".
 

JST

Diamond
Joined
Jun 16, 2001
Location
St Louis
On this side of the pond, that's a Yankee Push Drill. The flutes have to be straight because the drill is bidirectional: it rotates counter-clockwise on the upstroke. CCW movement of a conventional twist drill just stuffs the swarf back into the hole!........................
Eh, I am on the same side, depending on what you call a pond..... NJ is a different world from ours, though, no "coasties" inland where I am.

The drill only CUTS going one way, since there is no pressure on it when reversing. A true twist drill "might" stuff swarf back, but these drills were never made for making very deep holes, so odds are that a minor amount of twist would remove the swarf well without doing any "stuffing".

Another point is that the straight flutes do not remove swarf, so that there is no need to "stuff" the swarf back. It does not leave very effectively in the first place!

The real reason may be that the drill handles, while they work, really do not produce that much torque. A twist drill, combined with the push force, would probably just dig in deeply and stall... the more push, the deeper the dig-in, and the worse the stall.

I do have one drill which is a normal-looking twist drill made to use in a "punch drill". It is a dismal failure if used in wood (the general material to be drilled with these). It may work in metal, but I have actually never used a punch drill for metal, the type of drill is of pretty much no use in metal.
 

JohnMartin

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jul 8, 2006
Location
Cumberland, Maine
Dad and a buddy of mine also used the trick of starting a framing nail using the claw of the hammer. This was done if they were working in a location where they had to hang on with one hand and had only the other hand to start the nail and hammer with, such as overhead, or working off a ladder. They would insert the nail so its head was between the claw and the eye of the 'poll' or handle of the hammer. The shank and point projected out from the claw. With a different kind of swing, they would start the nail into the work. One swing was all you got, and once the nail was started, you twirled the hammer 180 degrees in your hand and drove the nail home with the striking face. Neat trick, obsoleted by power nailers and cordless tools driving construction screws. Good claw hammers were quite a tool in their day, and hammer manufacturers advertised their features in magazines and trade publications. A chronic ailment not appearing in American

Henry Cheney (pronounced as in cheese) was a hammer manufacturer in Little Falls, NY with a line of ball pei, nail hammers, etc. All were top quality forged hammers - no cast heads from him.

They were most famous for a line of nail hammers which they called ”Cheney Nailers”. These had a recess at the top of the nail slot, with a spring loaded ball at each side. You could stick a nail head in the slot, where it would be held by the balls, and then drive it in. Pull the hammer down off the started nail and turn it around to finish driving it.
 

Tom A

Hot Rolled
Joined
Apr 26, 2009
Location
NW Florida
Interesting discussion on framing hammers, and using the hammer to start a nail.
The last hammer I bought was one of these, although it was quite a bit cheaper back then : http://www.qualitydist.net/sto-ti14mc.html
Surprisingly, it really hits hard, for such a lightweight, and I found it a lot easier on my elbow and shoulder - Maybe something to do with the handle shape?
It has a feature designed to do just that - Set the nail. It has a little slot milled in the front edge of the face, a magnet set into the front, and a small overhanging notch, to catch the nail head - It works pretty well, and you don't have to flip the hammer over.

All that being said, before I even started my last construction project, I went and bought a nice Hitachi framing nailer - I'll never look back ;~)
 

John Garner

Titanium
Joined
Sep 1, 2004
Location
south SF Bay area, California
As a point of trivia, Stiletto was a "house brand" of Baker & Hamilton, a hardware wholesaler in San Francisco. I don't know for sure when B & H closed its doors for the last time, but I'd guess it has been close to fifty years.
 

Scottl

Diamond
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Location
Eastern Massachusetts, USA
Being able to fix anything, or do anything, even the basic stuff, around your house is becoming a marker for being a "fossil". A lot of folks apparently don't know how to hang a picture, let alone anything else.

Vlchek made wrenches also, I have a number of them. Plomb, Thorsen, Indestro, and many others made good socket wrenches as well as other tools. Even the "lesser" brands were not bad.

Up at my father's house are a number of socket sets that are hex drive. The wrench looks like a fat allen key with snap balls on the ends. Generally the sockets are stored on the wrench, although one or two have a sheet metal holder that the sockets go in, with the wrench slid in over them to hold them in place.

I'm amused at your use of the term "water pump pliers". That, or just "pump pliers" is the name I know for them, but very few people seem to know what is meant by those terms these days.
The first socket wrenches I ever had were a set my dad gave me that he bought with "points" from gassing up at a Gulf station. The Brand was Fleet and while the larger sockets were 1/2" square drive the smaller ones were the hex drive as you described with not only an L wrench but also a straight screwdriver type handle.
 








 
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