Please note

Because of the lack of published trowel and masonry tool histories, the information here is based on other sources that may be less reliable and certainly are incomplete. These include eBay and tools that I purchase myself that are the starting points for my research. I will write what I know as I learn it. If what you read here interests you, please check back often and look for revisions and corrections. Scanned catalogs are either mine or by Rose Antique Tools and used with permission, and are on Google Docs as pdf files. A few are links to other websites. Your photos and information are welcome. Please click on any picture to enlarge it. Comments are welcome, but any with links will be deleted as possible spam.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tools for Concrete Formwork and Rebar

Ideal tie wire reel
The Ideal tie wire reel is the most popular tool of its type, and is made by the Ideal Reel Co. of Paducah, KY. It was invented by George E. Beiderwell, who received US Patent 2683000 on 6 July 1954. His application summarized his invention as follows:

This invention relates to reels for dispensing tie wires and it has for its object to provide an improved type of reel adapted for use by either right or left handed persons and from which short sections of tie wire may be dispensed, for the use of workmen employed in fastening together the elongated steel rods or other shapes used as reinforcing for concrete buildings, bridges or other structures.

This YouTube video shows an Ideal reel: Tying Rebar by Kris Charpentier

Old cast iron and steel form tie wedges
The reusable form tie wedge is another tool for concrete formwork. An early form tie wedge was US Patent 1808912, patented 9 June 1931. The wedges can be cast iron or stamped tempered steel.

An early rebar bender is below. All parts were forged steel, it weighed 200 pounds, and it was bolted to a plank or beam.

Acme Bar Bender, 1910
Please contact me with your information and pictures to add to this article.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

History of Crescent Tool Manufacturing Co. of St. Louis

Gazette of the U.S. Patent Office, 1919
Crescent Tool Manufacturing Co., 1002 Cass Ave., St. Louis, MO, made cast iron and steel cement worker's tools beginning around 1919. A 1920 manufacturer's directory lists Crescent as also making carpenter's tools, caulking tools, and edge tools. Frederick William Grundmann patented an edger with an upturned edge, issued 25 Feb. 1919, US Patent 1295735, assigned to Crescent Tool Manufacturing Co. He was a physician with another masonry tool patent and 2 orthopedic brace patents.

Abraham Backus of St. Louis and his son Charles M. Backus of St. Louis and Alton, IL, were early shareholders and executives of Crescent Tool Manufacturing Co., Missouri Pressed Steel Co., and Savidge Tractor Co.

In 1925 the firm reorganized as Crescent Tool & Manufacturing Co., with Dr. F.W. Grundmann (1858-1927) as president and his son Dr. William H. Grundmann (1901-1994) as vice president.

By 1932, Attilio Marcelli (1885-1964) was running the business, after working there as a machinist. Crescent Tool was listed in St. Louis city directories through 1939.

Crescent probably made the Bridge Tool Co. brand sold by Shapleigh Hardware of St. Louis.

Crescent Tool No. 70 edger 
Crescent Tool No. 70 edger

Crescent Tool No. 153 edger

Crescent Tool outside corner tool

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hand Powered Masonry Drills

The early hammer drill to the right was sold in the USA by Orr & Lockett Hardware Co. in 1914. The Rawlplug Mechanical Hammer was patented and sold in the UK and manufactured in the UK and Belgium. Another US maker was the Diamond Expansion Bolt Co. of New York City. Their hammer drill was patented by James T. Hoal on 4 August, 1914, U.S. Patent No. 1106306.
Orr & Lockett hammer drill

Rawlplug Mechanical Hammer
Rawlplug Mechanical Hammer

Diamond drill patent

Diamond Expansion Bolt drill, photo by Martin J. Donnelly Auctions

Sunday, September 11, 2016

History of Orr & Lockett Hardware Co.

Cement and Engineering News, Vol. 18 ,1906
Orr & Lockett Hardware Co. of Chicago, IL, manufactured door and window hardware, knives, and hardware specialties around the turn of the 19th century. Their products included a complete line of cement tools as well as asphalt paving tools, which they advertised to the contractor trade from 1901 to 1906 and possibly longer.

Orr & Lockett was founded in 1872, with offices at 14-16 West State St., and its longstanding president was Oswald Lockett. His sons Harold and Kenneth were active in the business by 1916. When both young men were called to active military duty that year as the nation prepared for the World War, the company decided to liquidate.

Their building hardware was used in structures designed by noted Chicago architects Burnham and Root, including the famous Rookery Building.

Orr & Lockett cast iron groover

The American Artisan, Vol. 72, 1 July 1916

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Goldblatt No Turn Handle

US Patent 2,076,836
An old and very worn plastering trowel found at a flea market, after cleaning, was revealed as a Goldblatt No Turn Handle. Louis I. Goldblatt was granted US Patent 2076836 on 13 April, 1937, for an innovation in plastering trowel handles. His design turned the aluminum handle mount into a fin, cast integral with the rib and post. The wood handle had a slot cut into the top to receive the fin. The patent drawing shows a small wood screw through the end of the fin and into the wood. As manufactured, the wood screw was replaced by a machine screw completely through the wood, countersunk at its end. Lettering cast into the rib on both sides identifies the trowel:



Goldblatt No Turn Handle plastering trowel

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Early Safety Equipment in the Masonry Trades

The Granite Cutters' Journal, 1909
Safety equipment is often an afterthought, but by the late 1800s increasing mechanization in all industries made safety equipment more necessary. Trades which had been performed by households or small groups using hand tools were now done by many people at greater speed with machines. This greatly increased the incidence of injuries and the motivation to reduce them. In the bricklaying, quarrying, stone masonry, tile, and foundry molding trades, common injuries were to eyes, lungs, hands, knees, feet, and from falls. Responding to demand, in the late 1800 businesses began to make safety goggles and dust masks. Later products included knee pads and steel-toed shoes.

A Reference Handbook of the Medical Sciences, 1910
The earliest reference I found to stone cutter's safety goggles is 1886. These safety goggles had lenses made of mica (isinglass), which would not shatter like glass, and 360-degree side shields. Lenses had to be replaced frequently because of scratching. Early safety spectacles had thick glass lenses. Walter King of Julius King Optical Co. of Cleveland, Ohio, developed tempered glass lenses in the 1910s. Other early US safety glasses manufacturers included American Optical, Bausch & Lomb, Duralite, NASO, and Willson.

Early protective gear also included bricklayer's finger tape and leather knee pads, both sold by Goldblatt Tool Co.
King safety glasses

Duralite safety goggles
Goldblatt leather knee pads, felt lined