Friday, November 20, 2015

Vanished tool makers: C. Drew & Co., Kingston, Massachusetts

Above, a straight caulking (or calking) iron made by this company.  In the days of wooden ships, all joints had to be caulked by pounding oakum (a mixture of hemp and tar) or cotton into the seams between the planks in the hull and decking. A caulking iron and mallet were used for this job. These tools were sold in a multifarious range of sizes and shapes, to reflect the sizes and types of joints to be caulked and the individual preferences of the shipbuilders who used them.  

C. Drew & Co. was founded in 1837 or 1838 as a manufacturer of augers and ship chandlery. Eventually, the firm's products included ship augers, calking irons & mallets, hawsing irons and beetles, reaming irons, marlin spikes, sailmakers' prickers, coppering hammers & punches, cape, cold and box chisels, coopers tools, scrapers and even masonry tools.  Caulking irons were made on light triphammers which resulted in metallurgical changes which gave the tools extraordinary toughness and resilience.  Drew continued to use this process long after their competitors had switched to drop hammers which, while cheaper to use, sacrificed the quality produced by the triphammers.  

In the 1950's, they offered other products like nail pullers:
The Family Handyman, May 1955

The company was sold to the Kingston Tool Company in 1970, but the factory burned down shortly thereafter.

For more information, visit the C. DREW & Co. Tool Collectors Homepage (which reports that the company stayed in business at the same location until 1980).

No comments: