Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Wappat Electric Handsaw by Simonds

Advertisement in "The Carpenter" Feb. 1930
In 1928 Simonds purchased an innovative power tool manufacturer from Fred W. Wappat of Pittsburgh, PA. Wappat's original business was Wappat Gear Works, and he added circular saws and other power tools of his own designs. The saws were worm-drive and included patented features such as a telescoping guard. While expensive, they were a favorite for heavy construction and cutting concrete paving and pipe.

Simonds' entry into power tools followed the discontinuation of hand saw manufacturing in 1926. A 1930 advertisement described "a high grade line of electric drills, electric handsaws, electric bench grinders, electric mortisers and electric planes..." Simonds operated this subsidiary as Wappat Inc. until 1941, when Mr. Wappat bought the business back. He ran it as Fred W. Wappat Inc. of Mayville, NY, and sold the business in 1950 to Cummins-Chicago Corp. That firm continued to make Wappat-designed tools until they sold their tool line in 1954 to John Oster Manufacturing Co.
Harrisburg "Evening News" 3 Nov 1930

Fred W. Wappat's U.S. patents
Web page of the New York Wappat family
"Pacific Construction" 15 Mar. 1939

Monday, May 8, 2017

The First Seventy-Five Years of Simonds

A scan of Simonds's official history, titled Seventy-five Years of Business Progress and Industrial Advance 1832-1907, is on The book includes this photograph of the Simonds workforce in 1850. When this was taken, photography was in its infancy and most images were formal portraits. Very few photographs this early showed people in their working clothes with their tools, as this one does. The picture is also remarkable because the names of most of the men are given. The 1850 US Census shows some of  these skilled craftsmen. Click on pictures to enlarge them. 

1850 US Census, Fitchburg, MA

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Simonds Windowless Plant

The current Simonds factory in Fitchburg was a revolutionary design incorporating many innovative features. The genesis of the plan was the Simonds ideal of high product quality. As he told it to Popular Mechanics in late 1930, general manager Gifford Kingsbury Simonds (1881-1941) began to plan new facilities 2 years earlier. Simonds realized that for optimal efficiency and high quality work, the workers should have perfect working conditions. He considered lighting, temperature, dust control, and noise abatement. The typical factory of the day was lit with side windows, supplemented by skylights and electric lighting. Windows were opened in the summer, and winter heat was from the production processes or a central steam boiler. Power was a combination of steam, electric, and water. Noisy machinery was in a separate building, and office personnel were in another building.

Simonds windowless plant, Fitchburg
Simonds chose the ideal contractor, Austin Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Austin was the nation’s first large design-build company, including architectural, engineering, and construction in their services. Gifford Simonds and Austin Co. designed a plant lit entirely with electric lighting, with no windows to create shadows or to allow noise to escape, central heating and air conditioning, combination acoustical and thermal insulation, fans to remove dust, large clear spans under a welded steel roof, and even a catwalk for tours over the production floor. Gifford Simonds publicized the project widely, giving interviews to various trade publications and featuring the plant design in Simonds advertising. His shorthand phrase for the innovative design was "windowless plant."

The old Simonds saw works was in the center of Fitchburg, on Main Street a few blocks from downtown. The site of the new plant was on the south edge of town, and had been the Boston & Maine Railroad’s car shops and Simonds file works, traditional brick buildings lit by rows of large windows. The old buildings were demolished and tracks pulled up to create a large site. Construction began in 1930, with a cornerstone ceremony 20 Dec. 1930. Lumber Trade Journal, 15 Jan. 1931 announced, "Witnessed by a gathering of over 500 spectators, including municipal officials and industrial leaders, the cornerstone of the first windowless factory—the ultra-modern plant of the Simonds Saw & Steel Company, was laid at Fitchburg...."
Simonds file works, B&M RR car shops, early 1900s
Construction was expected to be complete in mid-1931, which proved to be very optimistic. In June, 1931, Gifford Simonds was still tinkering with the details, including interior paint colors. "An orange has good reflection value and also the brightness and lift so requisite in a windowless plant." Then, due to the worsening Great Depression, the decision was made at the end of July 1931 to delay the move. The uncompleted work included concrete footings and wiring for machinery and interior painting. The Fitchburg Sentinel said, "Stopping Work Temporarily on New Simonds Plant" on 30 July 1931, but the pause lasted 7 years. Simonds apparently remained profitable, because Gifford Simonds had a new 33-foot yacht delivered in 1935

On Saturday, 2 July 1938, the Fitchburg Sentinel finally announced, "Simonds Co. Starts to Consolidate Factories." Even this task was not completed quickly, because followup articles state that operations began the next year. The Paper Mill and Wood Pulp News said in 1939, "Preliminary to its official opening about March 15, the windowless, single floor plant of the Simonds Saw and Steel Company was inspected here today by publishers representing the leading industrial publications."

Simonds plant interior, file production line, 1939 
Despite the delay in opening the Simonds plant, Austin Co. adopted the design in the 1930s, making its key features standard for factory and warehouse structures. The windowless design with clear spans was ideal for World War II production, particularly aircraft. Two examples were the Consolidated Vultee bomber plant at Fort Worth, TX and another for Douglas at Tulsa, OK. While Simonds’ promotion of their windowless plant had slowed while the project was dormant, it resumed when the plant opened. Numerous mentions of  "Simonds Famous Windowless Plant" appeared in advertisements and articles in the 1940s and 1950s.

Simonds plant layout

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Simonds Saw Production Dates

Collectors want to know, "When was my item made?" We don't have any Simonds press releases to tell us when Simonds started and stopped producing hand saws, back saws, and crosscut saws. There is agreement that Simonds halted hand and back saw manufacturing in 1926, but the other dates are unclear. As the list of known Simonds catalogs shows, there are gaps in the early and late years, which would allow us to establish beginning and ending dates.
Paris 1900 Grand Prix stamps, including hand saws
Hand and back saws were made from 1900 to the end of 1926.

Simonds hand saw ad, Oct. 1926
Hand saws discontinued in 1926

Simonds made crosscut saws from before 1882 to about 1970. Simonds' crescent grind crosscut saw patent was issued 26 Dec. 1882. Crosscut saws are listed as a Simonds product in the 1895 Fitchburg Atlas. They are in all catalogs through 1946 and in the 1946 reissue of How to File a Cross-cut Saw. Simonds Catalog W-100, copyright 1963 and reprinted to 1969, has 1 and 2-man crosscut saws. Additionally, a member of the Facebook group Saw Filers - Buy/Sell/trade - Tips/Tricks/Restore has a 1970 letter from Simonds announcing they had discontinued crosscuts at that time.

Please contact me via email at View my complete profile if you have corrections or information to add. Photos of the 1900 stamps and 1926 notice are from a collector in Australia - thank you!
Carpentry & Building, Feb. 1883

Simonds 5-foot 2-man crosscut

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Simonds Catalogs and Other Publications

This is a partial list of Simonds catalogs, pamphlets, and other publications. These are ones I have researched on WorthPoint, eBay, Amazon Books, and elsewhere. It appears that Simonds may have issued catalogs yearly in the early 1900s, but some years are more common than others. Simonds also published catalogs of their files, and Heller files after 1955. See my other site American Made Files.

Items in bold I have bought, scanned, and uploaded to

1889 Price List of the Simonds Saws and Knives
1893 Price List of the Simonds Saws and Knives
1901 Simonds Saws & Knives, 64 pages
1903 Simonds Saws & Knives, 126 pages
1904 Simonds Saws & Knives, 80 pages (only 1 page of hand saws)
1904 Hardware Edition (includes hand saws)
1905 Simonds Saws & Knives, 271 pages
1907 Seventy-five Years (company history)
1909 Simonds Price List, 325 pages
1909 Simonds Saws & Knives, pages unknown
1910 Simonds Saws & Knives, 165 pages
1912 Simonds Saws & Knives, 174 pages
1914 Simonds Saws & Knives, Pacific Coast Edition, 172 pages
1915 Simonds Saws Knives Files Steel, 160 pages
1916 Simonds Saws Knives Files Steel, 180 pages
1918 Simonds Saws Knives Files Steel No. 18, Pacific Coast Edition, 162 pages
1919 Simonds Saws & Knives No. 19, 195 pages (reprinted in 1994)
1923 Simonds Saws Knives Files Steel No. 23, 191 pages
1923 Simonds Saws Knives Files Steel, Pacific Coast Edition
1927 Simonds Saws Knives Files Steel No. 27, 168 pages
1935 Simonds Saws Knives Files Steel No. 35
1937 Simonds Saws Knives Files Steel, Pacific Coast Edition, 200 pages
1938 Simonds Saws Knives Files Steel Catalog No. 38, 151 pages
1940 Simonds Saws Knives Files Steel No. 40, Pacific Coast Edition, 188 pages
1942 Simonds Saws Knives Files Hack Saws Shear Blades Steel Specialties, 155 pages
1946 Simonds Saws Knives Files Hack Saws Shear Blades Steel Specialties No. 46, 168 pages
1952 Simonds Si-Clone Saws (small circular saws)
1954 Simonds Metal Cutting Tools
1955 Simonds Saws Knives Files Shears Cutters
1963 Simonds Metal Cutting Tools Catalog M-100
1963 Simonds Wood Cutting Tools Catalog W-100, reprinted through 1969

Some other Simonds informational and promotional publications:
1948 Simonds wall calendar

1909-? Simonds Guide for Millmen, 1920 on Google Books, March-April 1922
1911, 1914, 1924 Simonds Guide for Carpenters
1915 The Professor and the Saw: A Little Story for Those Who Like to Use Tools
1916 How To File a Hand Saw
1918, 1925, 1945 The Circular Saw: A Guide Book (on
1921 The Band Saw: A Guide Book, 63 pages (on
1922? Instructions for the Use of Simonds Precision Cross-cut Saw Tools, No. 342
1923 The Cross-Cut Saw
1923 Saws Knives and Files for Metal and Woodworking Shops
1925 Hacksaw-ology
1925 The Circular Saw: A Guide Book
1927, 1936 Methods of Cutting Metal
1928, 1946, 1950, other years File Facts
1940 Care and Use of Circular Saws in Woodworking Plants
1941 & 1946 How to File a Cross-cut Saw
1942 Metal Cutting Methods
1945? How We Fit Into the Fighting Picture
1946 Facts for Millmen
1947 Manual of Wood Cutting Tools
1950 The Wide Band Saw: A Guide Book for Filers, Sawyers and Millwrights
1957 125 Years of Growth 1832-1957
1961 Care and Use of Circular Saws in Woodworking Plants
1962 You and your job with Simonds Saw and Steel Co.
Facts for Mechanics about Hacksaw Blades, Metal Bandsaw Blades and Files
The Circular Saw, a Guide Book for Filers, Sawyers and Woodworkers

Other Simonds promotional items include calendars, pocket notebooks, thermometers, tie clasps, pocket diaries, playing cards, postcards, bookmarks, log calculating scales, and more. 

Simonds Corporate Names

1832-1851 J. T. Farwell & Company, a partnership of Abel Simonds and J.T. Farwell.

1851-1864 Abel Simonds manufacturing under his own name.

1864-1868 Simonds Brothers & Co., Simonds family ownership and management.

1868-1922 Simonds Manufacturing Co., Simonds family ownership and management.

1922-1965 Simonds Saw and Steel Co., Simonds family ownership and management.

1965-1988 Simonds Saw and Steel Division, when the Simonds family sold their shares in 1965 to publicly traded Wallace-Murray Corp. In 1980 Household International Inc. acquired Wallace-Murray Corp., making Simonds Saw and Steel a small part of a large, diverse, and unwieldy conglomerate.
1981 article: Household Finance's Strategy Questioned

1988-2003 Simonds Industries Inc., after senior management along with Greylock Management Co. bought the company in 1988 and returned it to private ownership.

2003-present Simonds International Corp., renamed when Simonds acquired the International Knife & Saw group of companies.
Bloomberg profile: Simonds International Corp.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Simonds 1912 catalog
The primary purpose of this site is to post links to scans of Simonds catalogs and other promotional items. Founded in 1834, Simonds is one of America’s oldest tool makers, with an unmatched standard of high quality over the 180-plus years it has been in business.

There is a fine site by Brian Welch with Simonds history and Simonds hand and backsaw models. It changed web addresses in 2018:

Simonds Homepage and History

We will not repeat the valuable information that his site presents. This site will be a digital library of Simonds publications covering all their tools including files and saws of all types. We will also have basic facts to help understand the publications, like company names used through the years.

Please note that many of these printed items were copyrighted by Simonds. They are presented here as digital references for tool users and collectors, and to promote Simonds products. They are not intended as reprints or to be sold. Some were uploaded to the Internet Archive ( and others to Google Docs.

Here are Simonds publications I have scanned and uploaded to

Another of my sites, American Made Files, has Simonds and Heller file catalogs.

There are several Simonds publications on Google Books.
Simonds plants in 1912 catalog