Document 55: Millions In Power Tools For Craftsman Hobbies

Anonymous article, Steel May 17, 1937 pages 28-29

I found this article accidentally. Its contents confirms the results of the research that I have conducted previously and also adds valuable information that I had no access to, the data contained in surveys of the National Homeworkshop Guild .

Millions In Power Tools For Craftsman Hobbies

Wood and metal working -- one of the earliest trades of civilization -- is providing one of today's most popular hobbles.

Development of the home workshop movement the past ten years has been rapid, particularly since about 1930. Instead of retarding its growth, the depression stimulated interest in the home shop. As a consequence, a sizable business now exists in the supplying of tools, equipment and material to the many individuals who are deriving pleasure and profit from this avocation.

The home workshop, of course, has been in existence for many years, but it was not until equipment manufacturers offered tools designed primarily for home use and various agencies promoted interest in the movement that its popularity began to assume major proportions.

Publications have helped to encourage home craftsmanship, some being devoted solely to this subject.

Daily papers in certain cities feature a home workshop department.

Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild, since 1930 an undertaking of Fisher Body division of General Motors Corp., has aroused the idea in minds of hundreds of thousands of boys between the ages of 12 and 19 with its annual coach building competition.

deltagram_photo_home_workshop_1930sThe National Homeworkshop Guild has been an important factor in boosting the movement.

This guild was organized in 1933 with headquarters in Rockford, Ill., where a club had been formed the previous year to exchange ideas, conduct helpful programs and demonstrations, and to foster a wider in­terest among the people of the city in useful employment of spare time. Supported by Popular Science Monthly, which was chosen as the guild's official organ, the idea met with hearty response from home craftsmen throughout the country. Today there are clubs in 43 states, Canada and the Philippines.

More than 100 new clubs were organized last year and the 200 additional expected to be added In 1937 will bring the total over 400.

The guild is noncommercial, making no charge for membership. It issues a monthly bulletin, provides speakers, movies and craftwork instruction. Headquarters are 347 Fourth avenue, New York.

Estimate Million Workshops

Some estimates place the total number of home workshops as high as 1,000,000. The number equipped with power tools, however, probably is less than half this figure but is growing steadily.

Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild has a membership of more than 1,250,000 and while the majority of these boys do not have their own shops, they represent potential buyers of home shop equipment at some future date.

Incidentally, the Fisher guild this year, in addition to its coach building contest, is sponsoring a similar competition with identical cash and scholarship prizes for building of models of original motorcar designs.

Large market possibilities for small machinery are offered by the rapidly growing popularity of home workshops.

Probably the most interesting feature of the homeshop worker is that he may come from almost any walk of life and may be following any one of a variety of vocations.

Like golf, the craftsman "bug" bites indiscriminately.

Bank and industrial executives, opera and movie stars, salesmen, professional men, mechanics and laborers are numbered among the ranks of the home shop operators.

Average Equipment

Some enlightening information on this hobby follower is contained in a survey conducted recently among members of the National Homeworkshop Guild.

This revealed that his average age is 35; less than 20 percent of the individuals checked were more than 47. His education is better than average; it is almost a one-to-two chance that he went to college. More often than not, he has never worked in a skilled trade.
It is likely that his shop is in the basement and has been operated an average of five years.

His shop includes five machines and about 50 hand tools. His average investment for machines Is $100 and for hand tools $90. He spends $128 each year for material and miscellaneous supplies, including $25 for tools and $15 for hardware. Recreation is his principal reason for main­taining the shop, this being the response of 70 per cent of the replies to the survey. Of the remainder, 26 per cent indicated the reason was partly for profit and 4 per cent mainly for profit. He spends an average of 11-1/2 hours a week in his shop.

Woodworking tools are the principal ones to be found in the average home workshop. This same survey showed that

68 per cent of the shops had a wood turning lathe

63 per cent had a circular saw,

62 per cent a jig saw,

57 percent a tool grinder,

41 per cent a drill press,

35 per cent a sander,

32 per cent a jointer,

24 per cent a band saw and

21 per cent a shaper.

Only 12 per cent Included a metal turning lathe.

Growth of home craftsmanship has been a boon to some tool builders. Perhaps the best illustration of this is the development of the Delta Mfg.Co, Milwaukee, largest manufacturer of small power tools. Thirteen years ago it was a small mailorder company engaged in selling scroll saws; today it has a large line of power tools and accessories, distributed nationally through retailers.

Prior to 1924 there were few motor-driven machines available to homecrafters. The smallsize woodworking tools on the market were comparatively high in price and were not designed for home use, nor did they find sales in that direction.
In 1924 the Delta company introduced a scroll saw intended for the home user. Retailers of larger tools used in production shops were not interested in handling the equipment and it was necessary to sell direct by mail.

Additional tools were developed and the business expanded steadily, finally reaching the point where it became desirable to establish retail outlets. Success of the home market for tools had become apparent by that time, and many retailers were eager to sell such equipment. Through prosperity and depression, Delta for 13 consecutive years has reported increased sales.

Here is one industry that turned hard times into good business.

Individuals, either with more leisure time or entirely out of work, turned to workshops in increasing numbers during the early 1930's. Here many found an opportunity to set up their own business and licked unemployment in that fashion. Schools also provided a more active market during the depression when budgets were pared and purchase of lower priced tools was necessary. Not being able to afford big machines, manual training and vocational shops bought smaller power tools developed for home shops and found them better adapted than the larger equipment.

Large Industrial Shops Are Buyers

Another interesting outcome of home tool development is the manner in which large industrial shops have become buyers of these machines. This trend also was aided by the depression since prices of home tools were relatively low. Companies first bought them to save on initial cost, but discovered that their construction and the qual­ity of work produced by them were comparable with those of larger and more expensive tools. The industrial market consequently has continued to expand, until now a large proportion of the machines manufac­tured by the Delta company are sold to industrial users, and several Delta machines are designed solely for production work.

South Bend Lathe Works, South Bend, Ind., has helped to popularize its 9-inch "Workshop" lathe by cultivating the homecraft market.

This small member of the South Bend line is adapted both in size and price to the home shop, as well as being used for the production of small ac­curate parts In the manufacturing plant, tool room or laboratory. To assist operators the company issues bulletins covering the use of the lathe in various operations and also offers practical machine shop proj­ects. The latter include drawings, job sheets and necessary rough cast­ings, steel and hardware for manu­facture of a variety of products ranging from simple hand tools to gasoline engines and other types of machines.

It is not surprising that manufacturers of home workshop tools have found it desirable to incorporate good design in their products. Often the home craftsman is inexperienced and is inclined to expect too much of his equipment whereas a skilled workman is familiar with a machine's limitations and will operate it accordingly. The former also is more outspoken than the latter regarding design and supposed defects of his tools, but sometimes in this respect he becomes helpful in suggesting improved design.

Investment Is Small

Considering quality of the machines, investment necessary to equip a home workshop capable of turning out a wide variety of products is small, as indicated by the guild survey figures.

For about $30 the home craftsman can purchase a four-speed, 11-inch lathe and for $18 additional can equip it with a compound slide rest for metal turning.

An 8-inch circular saw will cost him $33, while a 10-inch band saw or a 24-inch scroll saw $20 to $30.

Jointers sell for $25 to $45 and

drill presses from $25 up.

These prices do not cover the motors or separate stand, if desired, for each machine. Hand tools, of course, also are extra. The well-equipped shop will contain at least

a circular saw, or preferably a combination saw and jointer,

a lathe and drill press

The 8-inch saw, or 8-inch saw with 4-inch jointer, is the most popular size.

A lathe with 11-inch swing and measuring at least 36 inches between centers is large enough for the average shop. Four speeds between 900 and 3400 revolutions per minute usually suffice.

The drill press is a valuable tool, being used for routing, carving, grinding, sanding and mortising in addition to simple boring operations. For average purposes, a unit drilling to the cen­ter of an 11-Inch circle, taking drills up to 1/2-inch and having a table travel of 36 Inches or more, is required.

May 17, 1937