More recently, I found one of their taps:
They also made vices in Canada. Below, one of mine:
The Henry L. Hanson Company was initially housed in a five-storey building at 25 Union Street in Worcester. Built in 1879 by a wealthy merchant, Stephen Salisbury, it was first used by the Porter Last Company before being occupied by Hanson. For 50 years, Hanson made taps and dies there that gained world-wide fame for their quality. They eventually made a variety of hand and power tool accessories under names such as "Handy" as well as "Ace" and sold these through retail hardware outlets, mass merchants, and automotive and industrial channels. In 1975, the company moved to a modern facility in the same city. At some point, the company became a part of the Irwin tool empire (now a part of Newell Rubbermaid), where the name is still used as a brand. Unfortunately, according to comments I've read on various web forums, the taps and dies under this brand name are now made in China and are considered to be of very poor quality.
The city of Worcester was once a huge manufacturing centre, especially after 1828 with the completion of the Blackstone Canal which linked the city to Providence. The Boston-Worcester railway, established in 1835, also helped build the city's fortunes. At its height, local companies made machine tools, wire products, power looms, ice skates, and corsets. However, its industrial decline began after World War II. The space race provided a brief respite, as the rocket pioneer Robert Goddard was a native and obtained his post-secondary education in the city's universities. During the Apollo moon landing in 1969, the David Clark Company of Worcester designed the "Snoopy cap", the communications carrier assembly, that transmitted Neil Armstrong's famous first words from the moon. Other local companies also made the legs of the Apollo 11 Lunar Excursion Module, forgings for the spacecraft, and superinsulation and ceramic coating for the rocket nozzles.
Worcester is now strenuously attempting to re-invent itself. Today, the old Hanson factory is the home of Max Silverman's Toolhouse restaurant, where you can enjoy a meal in the presence of some of the original Hanson machinery!
Update, Nov 2020; A reader sends in pictures of his made in USA Henry Hanson Ace tap and die set, still in regular use.
What a great piece of history! I checked on this company because I was in the garage and had a drill gauge in my hand and noticed the brand name so I had to do a bit of research out of curiosity. I'm glad I did!
Wanted you to realize that the "Hanson" taps and dies are made in Gorham Maine , USA. I have represented Hanson for many years. They were purchased by the original IRWIN company out of Wilmington Ohio and then they were purchased by the American Tool Company out of DeWitt Nebraska (VISE-GRIP Tools) and then they were purchased by Newell Rubbermaid. Although many of the tools are now imported the taps and dies continue to be made in the U.S.A.
I have a solid wood display case with several unused bits in it. I got it when Maddux Hardware, one of the old-time country hardware stores, closed down in Cookeville, Tennessee.
I just picked up a complete Handy Tap & Die Set that was sitting atop a tool box at my local dump. The have a no picking policy, but when I saw it complete, it found its way into myn truck when no one was looking. There were two full size tool boxes sitting there. I can only imagine what other trasures may have been in them.
I shudder to think of all of the good tools that are still being consigned to landfill sites. I've saved a few myself from this fate.
I worked at the Hanson factory when it was located across from the old Warner & Swasey Grinding Machine Division factory. I was attending Worcester State College and worked there until I graduated in 1979, just before they moved their operations to Maine. As I recall, this was their way of busting the union as we were members of the United Steelworkers of America (I still have my union card as a memento). That aside, I still have fond memories of working there as they paid well and took pride in their products. By the way, they also made tools under the Blue Point label which were sold by Mac Tools mostly to mechanics.
I'm eighty-five and many years ago -- I don't recall exactly when -- I bought a set of Hanson's drill bits, sizes 1/16 to 1/4. The case says S-113 HIGH SPEED STEEL DRILL SET/ FULL JOBBERS LENGTH. And then in smaller capital letters it says Henry L. Hanson Company, Inc./ Worcester Mass., USA. The 5/64 and 3/32 eventually snapped, and today I bought a couple of replacements. But I didn't like the look of them so I went online and arrived here to learn the sad news that the Hanson Company has disappeared. However, I find solace in the fact that this website exists and that some people -- I suspect a lot, actually -- appreciate well made tools. I have a couple of wood vices and block planes made of wood that I keep on a display shelf, truly beautiful objects. Gene, upstate New York
I have a full set of ace # 606 l had for years they are great.
I went to this site
I picked up a Henry Hanson Industrial high speed steel. drill bit still in the package just wondered how good of bit it is .But found out no how good by reading all the comments
I found a small vice today in Creemore Ont. at an antique store I thought it was so cool to see Henry L Hanson of Canada Lt googled the name and brought me here
The vice from Creemore is very similar to the one shown above except it has screw holes in base instead of clamp
Can you send a picture? I'll add it to the post. Thanks! email@example.com
I also worked at Hanson's from 1975-1979. It was located on Higgins Rd. Warner&Swasey was located on Brooks St.in the Greendale section of Worcester,Ma.It was a union shop with good wages for the time.I ran a set of German made Hurtline thread grinding machines.
Thanks for the note, hopefully we can get a conversation going among the alumni!
My brother-in-law was cleaning out his garage a few years ago and gave me a small vice, and it turns out it's this Henry Hanson Canada model. It's in pretty good shape. A bit of rust and some gouges from a wayward grinder perhaps. The jaws fit together perfectly and there's no slop in the screw movement.
Any idea when these were made?
Could you send a picture to Gerald@vanwyngaarden.ca? I'll add it to the post. Thanks!
I inherited a small stockpile of my grandfather-in-law's tools recently. I've been going through them sorting, cleaning and appreciating.
The quality of old school tools is awesome. Especially the ones stamped made in USA! There's wrenches, sockets, files, punches, etc that've seen enough hours of service to wear out my tools a couple times over.
Tonight I came across an Ace No. 100RS micrometer in almost new condition in the original box. I thought it was a box of crayons at first glance. I search and found this site. Enjoyed reading all the comments by others so much it seemed wrong to leave without sharing too.
Handling and using the tools of an elder who's passed can be a powerful experience. My wife's grandpa was a good man. I was fortunate to know him and become family. His tools tell the story of his life as a tradesman. He had a range of skills that's rare today. Skills he learned in the process of doing work that had to be done whether you knew how it not. He grew up farming/ranching in the west. At age he soldiered with the Army in the occupation of Japan. He always farmed as a family thing but was always employed too. He drove rigs, turned wrenches, welded & fabricated and so on. I admired his work ethic and ingenuity. Hope to channel some of that as his tools are put to purpose in my work.
I hope you see this one day, it's only been a year since you made the reply. But I hope to talk to you one day soon, I have something in my possession I feel you would appreciate! Clevelandscott48@Gmail.com
I just came into possession of some old Hanson USA made tools. Thanks for the time and effort put forth to maintain the information on this site!
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