Chapter 7: 1951-1960: Technological Development

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Biesemeyer Table Saw Fence system is Developed

The Biesemeyer Table Saw Fence system becomes one of the most popular after-market items for table-saws, until table saw manufacturers incorporate the Biesemeyer fence system into their saws.

Late in the '50s, the first cordless tools

more on this technology later -- anyone reading this with knowledge about the history cordless technological advances is invited to get in touch

The Shopsmith makes its Mark!

Marketing the Shopsmith was begun in 1946, and by 1952, it was a force to be reckoned with among amateur woodworkers.

As Ashmead -- link below -- and Taylor -- not yet analyzed -- argue, 

Document 11: Gordon B Ashmead "Precision Makes the Shopsmith" 1951

Frank J Taylor, "The Easy Way to Get Rich", Saturday Evening Post 224, No 39 March 29, 1952 pages 44+

Time  Anonymous "Inventor in Menlo" Park Monday, Mar. 29, 1954

Shopsmith Sold!

Yuba Consolidated Industries Buys Shopsmith Firm

The stock of Magna Power Tool Corp., which manufactures the Shopsmith, a home workshop power tool, has been purchased by Yuba Consolidated Industries. Inc., the presidents of both firms announced today.

President Robert L. Chambers of Magna remain as president of the woodworking power tool firm which will become a subsidiary of Yuba, the announcement said. President J. L. McGara of Yuba will continue as head that firm.

Magna has its headquarters in Menlo Park, and plants in Berkeley and Fort Wayne, Ind.

Dr. Hans Goldschmidt, inventor of the Shopsmith. will remain active at Magna in product development, the announcement said.

Source: Oakland Tribune March 25 1958 page E

Anatomy of Early 1950s Routers

router anatomy 1950s

Porter-Cable and Other Routers Widely Advertised New Line of Routers and Accessories

porter cable adv 1950s

On the left is an example of Porter-Cable  subsidizing advertisements in newspaper for local outlets, such as hardware stores.

From evidence collected in the database, these ads ran at about the same time, and from the contents, it is obvious that the advertising copy was supplied by Porter-Cable. Not to be out-done, Stanley and Guild -- also manufacturers of routers -- subsidized ads for their company's products.

Below is a set of "do" s and "don't"s concerning safe router operation that was also run widely, but the source is not indicated.

Considering the content of these instructions about safety, it is not difficult to imagine that they are directed toward users of these tools in homeworkshops. For an account of the historical development of Routers, click here.

router do's and don't's 1950s

AMF DeWalt Power Shop Christmas 1955

The professional woodworker, Robert Scharff, was commissioned by AMF DeWalt Power Shop to write Easy Ways to Expert Woodworking.

dewalt ras dec 1955

Reputation of Dewalt Radial Arm Saw Begins Its Decline

Dewalt Timeline

1910 Alonzo G. Decker and S. Duncan Black form The Black & Decker Manufacturing Company, based in Baltimore, Maryland, and begin making industrial products invented and sold by others.
1916 Company begins designing and manufacturing their own electric-powered tools, including a 1/2-inch portable drill.
1917 First manufacturing plant is built in Towson, Maryland.
1922 First foreign subsidiary is established in Canada.
1924 Headquarters are shifted to Towson.
1927 Black & Decker's shares begin trading publicly.
1936 Company shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
1946 Company introduces the world's first power tools for the consumer market.
1960 DeWalt of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is acquired.

Black and Decker's Portable Power Tools Designed for Home Shops

cross-section for four-sided post

cross-section for four-sided post Christmas ad for black_and_decker_7-in_heavy-duty_saw

Black and Decker Buys Dewalt in 1960

The demise of DeWalt began about 1958.

black and decker buys dewalt 1960

We acquired a Sales Manager who was a former Washington lobbyist and thoroughly greedy. If I tell you he raised worms in his basement, you'll understand he also had other problems. The combination resulted in his allowing Sears to sell DeWalts.

It took 4,300 DeWalts to fill the "pipe-line" into the Sears stores in my area alone - and I never made a call on one of them. I resigned. My 125 dealers quit all in the same morning. I took my wife, and a nice fat commission check - and the next boat to Bermuda.

Black & Decker bought DeWalt from AMF around 1960. Typical of most industry in those days (the tool industry, in particular), salesmanship succumbed to mere order-taking. Demonstration and customer-training was no more. The great Home Showswere a thing of the past because there were no exhibitors.

With competition from a new radial-saw line at Sears, B&D evidently began to lose position. They both put 12" blades on machines that were powered for 10" blades. They both talked "developed horsepower" and the customer thought he was getting more for his money. When Sears moved their elevating handle to the front of the arm, B&D bowed to them. They threw away their solid cast arm (on the smallest DeWalt) and introduced all kinds of design complications in an effort to be competitive.

It was the era of the "Detroit Syndrome" (Give it fins and it will fly!). Features without function. I sincerely believe - if they'd left the smallest DeWalt exactly like it was during it's hey-day, they'd have whipped all comers. (A little sales-effort would have helped, too!)

The end came in November, 1990. The DeWalt was "discontinued" by Black & Decker. (I find myself resenting all those B&D blenders and can-openers and flashlights.) While I don't know the whole story, I'm well aware of the years they simply neglected America's "dream" machine.

Source: Wally Kunkel, How to Master the Radial Arm Saw, Self-Published,

Saber Saw Excites a lot of Workshop Interest

Sabre Saw Excites a lot of Workshop Interest


    No powered tool since the de velopment of the electric drill has excited so much interest, perhaps as the portable electric sabre saw.

    Light in weight, sturdy in construction and versatile in application, it gives the home handy mat "muscle" with which to handle sawing jobs at moderate cost. Called, also, a "jig saw" of "bayonet" saw, the sabre saw i' in the market in many models ant capacities, from heavy-duty machines to specialty saws designee primarily for light construction and home repair.

    Let's consider the latter, for ex. ample. The machine we have ii mind cuts stock up through a board one inch in thickness. Heavier duty models have maximum cut depth upward of three inches.

    The machine under discussion rips, crosscuts, jigs, and can be used as a band, keyhole, coping or scroll saw.

    Reciprocating action of the bade depends for its effectiveness, or being operated against a firmly anchored material. If material is loose, it tends to ride with the blade and, therefore, little cutting action results.

    That factor would seem to make it especially suitable for use by the tyro unacquainted with power tools.

    As with any powered tool, you can, of course, carve Yourself nicely if you disregard safety precautions.

    Never change blades on any powered saw without first disconnecting the saw from the power source.

    Never plug saw in without first making sure that on-off switch is in the "off" position, Three general types of blade are used with these portable saws. There is a coarse blade for making rough cuts, a fine-toothed blade for scrollwork and a special blade for cutting nonferrous metals.

    In addition, there is a host of specialty blades for some machines Heavier duty models can be equipped with bladefor cutting brass and steel tubing, for example.

    Other qualities of sabre saws that endear them to :sandy men: they cut their own way in making inside cuts; no starter hole is needed. Light in weight, they can be used in home repair to get at awkward locations where sawing operations are usually a nerve-straining, muscle-aching chore,

    Source: "Mr Fix", "Sabre Saw Excites a lot of Workshop Interest" Tacoma News Tribune, 11-30-1958.

Rockwell Manufacturing Company in Uniontown PA Announces Deltashop

My hunch is that Rockwell is responding to the impact on the DIY market. If you follow the release of the Shopsmith in 1947, it is difficult not to marvel at the immediate response of wannabe woodworkers. Until my hunches can be fleshed out with details I hesitate to say much more. However, in the '50s decade, it is obvious that the post-WW II housing boom was being watched closely by manufacturers of woodworking equipment. With some help from Deltashop collector, Michael Turri, I discovered that -- using this search string: -- raymond loewy delta homecraft -- a search in the "google books search engine" yields several "hits" in such sources as Popular Scence for the later 1950s to show that Deltashop hired the famous Studebaker automobile designer, Raymond Loewy, to add some "pizzazz" to individual Deltashop tools. For additional evidence that this news trickled down to a more local level, click on this pdf file created out of an advertisement in Reno's Nevada State Journal, January 20, 1959, page 3


Uniontown PA Morning Herald

Rockwell Manufacturing - through the Delta Manufacturing Divison -- Tool-At-Time' Plan Offered

A "tool-at-a-time" plan, aimed at making it easier for home do-it-yourself enthusiasts to assemble a DeItashop, a new multi­purpose woodworking tool that will do approximately 98 percent of all home workshop operations, has been announced by the Delta Power Tool Division of Rockwell Manufacturing Company.

Available heretofore only as a completely assembled unit, the Deltashop is now available in four separate packages which can be purchased "a-tool-at-a-time".

The first of the four packages consists of a tilting arbor circular saw and the basic Deltashop stand to which the three other tools are later attached. These three tools, listed in recommended order of purchase are

a jointer-planer,

a drill press and

a sander,


"Our decision to offer this equipment 'a-tool-at-a-time' is in response to the rapidly-growing 'do-it-yourself' market." F. P. Maxwell, Vice President of Delta Power Tool, said. "Hardware retailers across the country have reported hundreds of instances .where homeowners have ex­pressed a desire to own a Delta-shop but have been unable to make the entire capital outlay at one time. The design of the Deltashop is such that it lends itself to 'a-tool-at-a-time' sale without any mechanical modification whatsoever.

The Deltashop was originally introduced two years ago [1953]. Its wide acceptance by home work­shop owners has been predicted on its compactness and on the fact that it consists of four separate power tools - rather than a series of attachments. It is approximately three feet square, and is so engineered that change-over from one tool to another can be made quickly. No changeover is required to move work from the circular saw to the. Jointer, the two most often used tools


click here for the 6-page assembly instructions booklet

Source: Uniontown (PA) Morning Herald April 21, 1955, page 24

Deltashop Gives Rockwell Three Power Woodworking Machines Targeted for the Home Workshop Market


The image on the left comes from Popular Science November 1956, where we see that a full-page adverisement trumpets its three major machines designed for home workskshops.

Getting the Most Out of Your Radial Saw was published in 1956 for Delta's "domesticated" radial arm saw -- as shown in the middle on the left, which features and "extra-arm".

(I have a "soft-touch" for this particular "double-arm" radial saw. I have owned one for over forty years. It still runs well -- and true, when it is set properly -- but because it will slip out of alignment unpredictably, using it requires patience and stamina, thus it is used only for certain functions, with constant attention to its alignment.)

On the other hand, evidently because Deltashop only stayed on the market briefly, a woodworker's manual designed to illustrate its uses was never published.