What tools do we make in Britain now?

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Dave54
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What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by Dave54 »

I was just looking to see if I could get an age on an old "Henley Tyres" tyre pressure gauge I found in the back of a drawer in the garage. (I knew it was there, but had more or less forgotten it!)
Anyway I came across this page with loads of old tools on it. Looks a bit like parts of my toolkit! :lol:

https://picclick.co.uk/3-x-VINTAGE-TYRE ... 81987.html

Anyway it set me thinking. We used to make all these tools, mostly pretty good quality.
What do we make these days?
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by kellys_eye »

Politicians - huge tools.

But as ever it boils down to price - even so-called UK manufacturers will out-source the actual manufacture and still claim 'ownership'. In an ideal world I'd buy entirely British and (hopefully) get some bloody good quality stuff - but you never really know.....
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by big-all »

unfortunately as little as about 10% off the total content can be from the uk and last process it can be called british or uk so your say 85%japanese train assembled in england is called british
indeed a beef steer can be born and raised in Argentina gutted and chopped into say 1/4 carcass and shipped to the uk
it is then converted in a uk factory into sausages burgers and called british
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by Job and Knock »

Well, we were never really a big power tool manufacturer. For example the few "local" firms included:

Wolf Power Tools who started as early as 1909 and became a major manufacturer well known for the durability of their tools. After WWII they introduced what was one of the earliest DIY drills in the world, the Wolf Cub drill of 1947. This had available for it a wide range of accessories such as lathe, drill press, planer, fretsaw, circular saw, jigsaw, etc. In the 1960s and 1970s they imported and rebadged a number of Makita (trade) tools as their own (mainly power planers and belt sanders, but also for a while the early Wolf Grinderette 4-1/2in angle grinders - until they got the UK product onto the market) to fill gaps in their own range. They had a couple of failures as well, including the ill-fated Sapphire jigsaw (replaced early on by a far cheaper model sourced from probably Perles). After Gerald Wolf (son of the founder, I believe) retired from the business they merged with another famous British power tool manufacturer, Kango in about 1982. This new business, initially called Kango-Wolf, relocated to Peterborough, but at the same time lost it's Makita-sourced tools as Makita wished to import their whole range, leaving a somewhat lop-sided range with some very old designs which they attempted to fill the gaps in by importing from various German firms (e.g smaler circular saws from Holz-Her, jigsaws from Holz-Her/Mafell, etc). They were bought by Atlas-Copc in 1994 or 1995 and merged into another couple of A-Cs purchases, AEG and Milwaukee. This led to wholesale decimation of the range (and transfer of a few products to Germany, plus closure of the Peterborough factory upon completion of MoD orders in the late 1990s) and a number of AEG tools being rebadged "Kango" for a short period. The only thing that remains of Kango these days is the name on a few Milwaukee tools. The Wolf name was sold to a bunch of cowboys from Nottingham who used it to flog second rate Chinese-made knock-offs of Japanese tools (e.g. the Makita 9403 sander) which were poor quality and not very durable. The name was subsequently bought out of receiverw=ship by another bunch who are selling yet more cheap Chinese tat. Sad end to a once proud name

S. N. Bridges who started in the 1930s became Stanley-Bridges in 1961. S-B also manufactured Stanley industrial tools in the UK - mainly US designs. They eventually moved to Cramlingham and Workington in the 1970s and were finally sold off to Bosch in the early 1980s (along with the US power tool operation). Bosch shut them down almost immediately

Arcoy was a post-WWII startupm (1955 or 1956 AFAIK) who made a very distinctive style of drill together with some famous accessories, notably their rabetter attachment for drills, dovetailer jig and drill stand/chisel mortiser as well as a self-powered portable power planer. They disappeared in about 1970. Possibly taken-over by Stanley, but nor sure

Black & Decker built a factory at Denholme in Middlesex in 1935 to produce US-designed B&D and van Dorn designs. It is often forgotten that at this stage B&D were a major industrial tool maker. After WWII B&D UK started to produce its' own versions of the U.500 T-handle drills manufactured for a short period in the USA (Americans seem not to have taken to them that well as pistol grip models replaced them within a few years) - these T-grip machines then became a British effort with design and manufacture concentrated here (and exporting into the rest of Europe until B&D set-up manufacturing subsidiaries in Germany, France and Italy (where the bought a firm called "Super Star"). In the UK production moved to Spenneymoor, Co. Durham which more and more concentrated on the better quality trade tools (e.g. the Elu cordless drills were made there as were accessories such as Elu's dovetailer jigs). Production was eventually stopped 8 to 10 years back (?)on grounds of cost. So not quite a British firm, but...

Makita, a Japanese firm opened a manufacturing facility in Telford, Shropshire in 1980 which still manufactures and exports all over the world from here. Their web site confirms that, "Our Telford manufacturing plant is the only full-production facility for power tools in the UK and has been successfully running construction on many of our top line cordless power tools since 1991."

There were other firms, but they were insignificant and have disappeared long ago

In other tool areas we still have a few firms which make good stuff, e.g.

Abingdon-King d*ck in Birmingham (wrenches, etc)

Ashley Isles chisels and turning tools

and it's worth remembering that whilst Rabone-Chestermann were subsumed into Stanley Tools a long time ago the levels factory in Birmingham still exists and designs and makes many of the better quality Fat Max levels for both the UK and export markets

......but overall, yes, quite sad and depressing, really
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by Dave54 »

I am, or was, a big fan of Wolf power tools, as I think you know. They were tough.
Desoutter was another one who made (and still do but not mains electric) tough electric tools.
I've got a shaper attachment for the drill here somewhere. I think that's an Arcoy. It has multi bladed cutters with it, and can run a tiny, very narrow saw blade which can be handy occasionally. It actually works better than you'd think!
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by Bob225 »

Crown tools are still made in the uk, very good quality but they have a price to match (i have a set of chisles for special occasions)

ot. I was in B&Q (just browsing as i had time to kill) its either pure genius or............. but they put the paint tin openers with the chisels
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by Rorschach »

Footprint and Maun are still going and UK based.
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by Dave54 »

And of course Clifton planes, lovely tools, but as you'd expect not cheap.
I haven't got any.
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by arco_iris »

Fantastic post, J&K!

I must be a dinosaur, although I rarely use them, I have a Footprint pipe wrench, a Maun shear-nose wire cutter, a King d*ck socket set (arrow-marked, ex-war department, 5/16" drive, imperial - so not a lot of use) and several arrow-marked KD spanners. Also, I have and still use on occasion, a Stanley Bridges XK350 drill mounted on a pale green SB pillar stand which must be over 50 years old and works perfectly except for some lateral guide wear so isn't too accurate.

In the 1970's I got a lot of my tools cheap from a "traditional dealer in ex-military" stuff - including Land Rovers & armoured cars, a scrap yard really but the old boy was probably a millionaire (and the grand-children still continue, mostly in metal recycling). The Stanley Bridges drill was my father's and the stand came from a boot sale 25 years ago.

Another British name, not yet mentioned, is Sykes-Pickavant - which will tell you I trained as a motor engineer.
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by Job and Knock »

Dave54 wrote:Desoutter was another one who made (and still do but not mains electric) tough electric tools.
Desoutter dropped out of the electric drill market in the late 1950s/early 1960s AFAIK. They are incidentally still around making various air over electric*, air over air*, etc drills for industry which are often attached to production machinery for drilling. Very accurate, very durable, very expensive. Sorry I missed them
Dave54 wrote:I've got a shaper attachment for the drill here somewhere. I think that's an Arcoy. It has multi bladed cutters with it, and can run a tiny, very narrow saw blade which can be handy occasionally. It actually works better than you'd think!
That is probably the rabetter. Arcoy, Stanley-Bridges, etc made these until the mid-1970s - the German firm Wolfcraft (no relationship at all the British firm Wolf) still make something similar, I believe
Arcoy Rabetter 001_01.jpg
Arcoy Rabetter 001_01.jpg (49.8 KiB) Viewed 4670 times
Mine came with a steel blade (no TCT in those days) and a set of wobble washers to turn it into a somewhat limited variable width groover.
Rorschach wrote:Footprint and Maun are still going and UK based.
Footprint did go pop at the start of the recession - the downturn caught them out at the end of a very expensive move to new premises and retooling. Fortunately the family bought much of the tooling back from the receivers and have gotten underway again, albeit with a much reduced product range
Bob225 wrote:Crown tools are still made in the uk, very good quality but they have a price to match
Yes! Forgot them. I have a set of registered mortise chisels made by them. I also have some Robert Sorby chisels m(they are still going) as well as one of their brilliant ProEdge belt grinders (very pricey, well built, one of the best grinders I've ever used - and I've had lots including a Makita horizontal wetstone and a Tormek T7 in the past). The other chisel make is Henry Taylor who are also still with us.

Maybe we should start doing some projects with "tools of yesteryear" if only to show that the latest gizmos aren't essentials....

....of course I'm the kind of old fogey who's daft enough to collect and restore this sort of stuff (and who's to say that you don't actually need 30-odd Wolf drills? - I'm actually using a 40 year old 110 volt Wolf drill at work at the moment)

* = air over electric means air drill with rise and fall (z-axis) controlled by electric actuator, air over air means air drill with air actuator (not normally addressable, so they only have a raised and a lowered position, often wity manually set stops). Often used on CNC routers and the like
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"The person who never made a mistake, never made anything" - Albert Einstein

"I too will something make, And joy in the making" - Robert Bridges, 1844~1930

"The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” - Bertrand Russell from The Triumph of Stupidity", 1933
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by boxedin »

I'll throw a few names in the ring
Thor Hammers Birmingham
https://www.thorhammer.com/thor-history.html
Richard Carter Holmfirth
https://richardcarterltd.co.uk/about-carters/
Thomas Flynn the umbrella co for some brands already mentioned
https://www.flinn-garlick-saws.co.uk/
Monument Tools
http://monument-tools.com/our-history/
Lets not forget Ashley Isles
http://www.ashleyiles.co.uk/
Bulldog Tools
http://www.bulldogtools.co.uk/
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by Cannyfixit »

Britool and Bedford comes to mind,I think Britool were sold out to Facom though
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by boxedin »

Cannyfixit
Britool now called marketed as Hallmark and under the ownership of Trademarque
http://www.trademarquetools.co.uk/britool-history
John Bedford Tools don't appear to be making tools anymore
https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/John_Bedford_and_Sons
http://progress-is-fine.blogspot.com/20 ... -sons.html
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Re: What tools do we make in Britain now?

Post by dewaltdisney »

Has anyone mentioned Marples? I have a set square and a mortice gauge I bought in 1972 and they are still in good condition and fit for purpose even though I am not :lol: I think they are still going in Sheffield. Also Record tools, are they still going,they used to be in Sheffield too.

DWD
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