Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hack jobs: Ultra 33 hacksaw, Roanne, France

I picked up this hacksaw frame recently, not because I needed another one, but because I seldom encounter tools made in France.  It has a die-cast handle that incorporates the nubs for holding one end of the blade, not the greatest design because if they break off, the tool is fubar.  A better feature is that the handle can be pulled off of the rectangular-section frame, which doubles as a magazine for holding additional blades.

The Ultra tool company was founded in 1923 by Pierre Démurger.  Their first HSS hacksaw blade, the "Ultra Record", was produced in 1935.  Over the following decades they expanded into jigsaw blades, hole saws and band saw blades.  At their height in 1975, they employed almost 700 people.  From there, it was a slow slide downhill.  Beginning in the early 2000's, they went through four bankruptcy proceedings.  The first was in 2004 when they were bought by Auvegne Diam Group, becoming Ultra Diam.  Four years later, again in bankruptcy, they were rescued by the German group, Döring-Guheman, becoming Ultra Nova SAS,  but retaining only 83 of their employees. By 2013, bankruptcy again occurred when an Indian-based company, Trident Tools Ltd., stepped in to re-float the company under the new name of Ultra Tools Magicut.  With a decline in the French market and stiff competition from China, Germany and abroad, the company's financial problems persisted and resulted in the further loss of half of the already reduced workforce. The fourth and final bankruptcy declaration occurred early in 2015.  The company was finally shut down in October, bringing to an ignominious end the last French manufacturer of steel-cutting blades.

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