Saturday, March 10, 2012

Vanished Tool Makers: Oxwall Tools






Back in the day, everyone seemed to have a set of cheap stamped wrenches from this company. 











They also made a variety of other small tools, mostly tool-kit stuff (below, with faux-leather plastic case):


Their slogan was "Tools for Home Craftsmen The World Over," but in the interests of honesty it should have been "Truly Terrible Tools." They did start out with a plant in Oxford Township, New Jersey, and you can find ads for their tools in 1950's Popular Mechanics (above, from 1953). However, they seem to have been among the first American tool companies to start outsourcing tool manufacturing, initially to post-war occupied Germany and then to Japan.  (Did I hear you say, "cheap labour?") 





Finally, Taiwan got its turn:



The history of their company reads like a history of many now-defunct American tool manufacturers: outsource your manufacturing and let your domestic plant decay. Then let the county take it over for taxes, sell it to a sleazy lawyer who strips it of its assets and then possibly commits arson and burns it down, leaving the remains as an ugly contaminated mess for the local taxpayers to deal with:


And people wonder what's wrong with capitalism.  With a legacy like this, their departure from the marketplace is unlamented.

For more on Oxwall Tools history, see my later post on Powermaster Tools.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good info. But, add France to the list. I just acquired a an OXWALL 6 foot folding carpenter's measure the is stamped "MADE IN FRANCE". If anybody out there knows when (date range or anything else) OXWALL outsourced to France, Please let me know. Thanks.

Scott Houston said...

Oxwall was in Oxford, NJ, not PA.

The Duke said...

Thanks. You're right, and I've corrected the info above.

Wall Street Blogger said...

It was down the street from me. A lot of my family worked there when I was a kid - - Uncles, Aunts, Friends, Mom in the 1950's. It burned down 9 years ago - - arson that was never proven, but obvious. The original owner was Bluhm of New York. The screw driver you have pictured would last maybe a summer before another was brought home. To be fair capitalism did not kill this company. Unfortunately, it killed itself with a non quality product. That being said, however, I still remember the sound of the press that stamped the wrenches. It's one of those memories that is golden.

Anonymous said...

Both places in the article and ads all say New Jersey....not sure where u thought they said PA

Anonymous said...

Sorry didn't realize he fixed the article to NJ but the ad said NJ

Bombinjohn said...

I have a 25 piece set that is in a vinyl pouch that says "Owall's Deluxe Tool Kit" Multi Purpose Kit For Home•Auto•Workshop.....the top with the label folds down and the whole thing riolls up to about the size of a red bull can....pretty cool and all the pieces say made in USA on them....which I knew exactly what year they were from if anyone can help! Wish I could post a pic!

Bombinjohn said...

If u click my name u can see a picture of the set if anyone can help!!

Unknown said...

Does anybody knows when was outsource to "Taiwin"(that's how is spelled on my oxwall power action box), thank you.

Anonymous said...

I inherited a pair of Oxwall slip joint pliers from my uncle. Stamped GERMANY and maybe "zone" under that, but too faint to read. Good quality, particularly compared to name brand pliers from big box stores these days. A pair similar to mine for sale on ebay for $15. Thanks to all contributors above for info on Ox wall company, I was just curious.

Unknown said...

I also have a plyer with the name "oxwall tool co." Also stamped, forged and stamped occupied germany. It is a quality piece.

Unknown said...

I am using on home DIY projects a 6' folding carpenter's rule that I recall my dad using when I was a very little boy. I'm 60 years old in a couple of weeks. It has "Made in USA" on it.

Shopdad57 said...

I have a pair of channel lock/ slip lock pliers. It says Oxwall Tool Co. -Forged -Germany British Zone. They're as good as Craftsmen tools of today minus the rubber grips

The Duke said...

In my experience, their German-made products had the highest quality. As for the American and Japanese offerings, not so much.

Regina said...

Thanks for this great post. I was looking for some historical background on a right angle framing ruler made in Japan. I liked it because it has a nicely worn rusty in parts look to it and it's made in Japan (curious about that part). I wanted to know what time period it was produced?
I believe that it's possibly from the 70's?

Chris Maeser said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chase said...

I have a mini 9" torpedo level. Though it's not stamped Oxwall I believe either Oxwall either manufactured it for someone else or whomever overall outsourced to manufactured it for them as it's the spitting image of those found on Etsy with the Oxwall stamp.

In searching about the company I found your blog post. I referred and linked to it my post about refinishing the level.

It's not that it was a bad tool. It's more that they didn't take the time or care to finish it out properly.

Had they done so, it would've been, and viewed as a higher quality tool. At least in regards to the level. It's quality aluminum, a good blank to start with. It's true. They just messed up finishing it out.

And as you can see, for those that case to take a gander. The difference between what they produced, and what could of been wouldn't have taken much on their part.

Here's the link for those that want to see...

https://ccanade.blogspot.com/2019/03/vintage-torpedo-level-refurbished.html

Given the finish I put on it already, this would be a high end mini level even by today's standards.

Thanks for sharing the info on the Oxwall company. It was an interesting read.

I'm sure my viewers that are interested will enjoy it as well.

Cheers...

Mister G said...

Thanks for the comment and the link. You do good work, I'll add the link to the post so its more easily found. Thanks again!