I was wondering about the quality of Rockwell tools. As most of us have
seen, the Rockwell name has been around for a long time. I have never bought
a Rockwell tool till now (just received their version of the Fein
Multimaster from Amazon) and it seems to be OK. Are Rockwell tools actually
made by the Rockwell corp, or did they just sell the Rockwell name to some
schlock tool manufacturer??? Thanks, Mark
First of all, Rockwell bought Delta about 40 years ago. I understand that
the heirs of the originators of Delta had to sell the business to be able to
pay the inheritance tax.
Then, when Rockwell decided to leave the power tool business, they sold the
power tool business to Pentair. Rockwell left because an aerospace company
has no idea about running a business with the general public as purchasers.
Pentair split the business into Porter-Cable and Delta.
When Pentair had to sell both of them, Black & Decker stepped up. Now,
Delta is the fixed power tool division but Porter-Cable is a portable power
tool division. Hence DeWalt and P-C compete with each other, but both are
moving their manufacturing as far away from the US as possible.
"A tool maker called Positec Group conducted some market research and,
not surprisingly, found that the name Rockwell had a strong positive
association among tradesmen and woodworkers. Positec bought the name,
and has recently released a new full line of tools that includes drills,
sanders, saws, grinders, routers even a little oscillating saw meant to
compete with the Fein Multimaster. "
If I remember correctly, Rockwell was a respected manufacturer of small
power tools (50 or more years ago). It has bought Porter Cable along the
Then North American Aviation purchased Rockwell for some reason (becoming
North American - Rockwell). As time went by, the Rockwell part failed to
meet the bean counters expections and became surplus to their needs.
Hence, North American - Rockwell sold the tools division to Pentair.
Pentair moved the portable power tools into the resurected Porter-Cable
division. The remaining power tools moved into the resurrected Delta
Pentair still could not make money with this arrangement, and they sold both
to Black & Decker.
Sometime recently, somebody bought the name "Rockwell" to be used on
imported power tools. These tools have no relationship to the Rockwell from
days gone by.
At least, this is what I remember about this saga.
I think there's an actual corporate time line at the P-C web site.
The above was more or less as I recall it altho I think there are some
details a little different from what I remember but given the number of
changes and time span involved, that's to be expected... :)
The big points were--
Rockwell bought Delta in 1945
Delta bought out Walker-Turner in 1956
Porter-Cable was also acquired by Rockwell in 1961
Pentair acquired both in 1981
The prose at the two links casts all the warts in the fairest possible
light, of course, but the chronology is there... :)
This is a great article and explains a lot about my tools, which I
bought from the original owner. His wife bought them for his birthday
in the very early 50's, 1954 is my guess. My lathe is a Rockwell
Homecraft, Drill press is a Craftsman King Seeley, and the rest are
Rockwell Delta. I'm pretty certain all these were purchased from the
same place on the same day, and it had to be a Rockwell/Delta Machinery
place. I can say this about all of the tools, they are pushing 60 years
old, are still in near perfect shape, are a pleasure to use. They even
have all the original motors and only the table saw had motor work so far.
When I bought these in 1975 I recall going to Rockwell machinery, which
was located in Pgh Pa, and getting some accessories. After the clerk
found out what I had, he advised the tools had changed greatly, and for
the worse. He pointed out the 14" band saw which was on display was a
piece of shit. I said it looked similar... he showed me all sorts of
things that were NOT the same. For example, the old ones had large
heavy duty handles to adjust the table, the support post for the blade
guide was an octagon instead of a round bar so you could adjust the
height even when running, no problem and it always stays in line. Stuff
like that which makes you wonder why anyone would change stuff like this
for the worse? Save a few pennies here and there, and eventually go out
of business, the American dream...
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Got my first look at them at McCoy's in Bastrop, TX the other day ...
was not impressed. Unfortunately for Chinese companies such as this who
look to capitalize on old respected names (AKA, playing cheap
psychological tricks on gullible consumers), some of us have been around
long enough to remember why they were originally respected.
I have some older Porter Cable, B&D and a Delta Unisaw that were
manufactured here and will outlive me. The only tool I will still buy
is Milwaukee..Please don't tell me they have sold. The Chineee like to
use old names like Ridgid etc etc...
I will admit to buying cases of Makita drills and screw guns for
business use simply because the brushes were so accessable without
opening the tool plus they are a quality tool. Grinders etc didn't
conform to standard shaft sizes.
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