Wednesday, January 23, 2013

One of my vices is vises: Columbian

Lots of proud owners of these vises on the net, but not a lot of info on the company. I'm not sure if Columbian Vise and Mfg is the same company as the Columbian Hardware Co. which made various tools like clamps, anvils and vises but it seems likely as they were both based in Cleveland. Today Columbian is part of the WMH tool group (Walter Meier Holdings) which includes Jet, Powermatic, Performax, Wilton, Turtle Wax and more.

Update from the Duke;

"In 1970, Ken-Tool became one of the original members of the Cooper Tool Group, along with Crescent hand tools, Weller soldering guns and Lufkin tape measures and rules. In 1971 Ken-Tool began selling these products to the automotive aftermarket as Cooper's only aftermarket distribution arm. As Cooper Industries continued its acquisition activities, the companies it bought were less and less oriented to the automotive aftermarket, and so in the early seventies, the decision was made to sell Ken-Tool. The company was put on the market, and in April 1974, sold to Warren Tool Corporation in Warren, Ohio, a small, privately-owned manufacturer of vises, clamps and heavy striking tools. Under Warren Tool, Ken-Tool quickly dropped the product lines from Cooper and replaced them with those of its new sister divisions, Columbian vises, Warren striking tools, and Hargrave clamps."

I'm assuming that WMH probably bought out Warren?

Update February 19, 2015:  see Wilton History.  According to this official history page, Wilton acquired the Warren Tool Group in the late 1990's. This included the Columbian Vice Company. WMH acquired Wilton in 2002.  In 2014, the Wilton brand was sold to Tenex Capital Management of New York City, changing the name to JPW Industries.
Attached is a photo of a Columbian clamp I picked up recently.  Note how nicely made the butterfly end on the clamp screw is!  Also, a photo of a Columbian pipe-vise in my possession.

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