Milwaukee Ultra Fine Finish Blades: A History of Milwaukee’s Finishing Blade Products
The history of Milwaukee finishing blades goes back to 1887 when John G. Mertz started manufacturing miter saw blades at his shop in Chicago. By 1900, Mertz was making over $1 million dollars annually from his business venture.
However, the company went bankrupt in 1904 due to the Great Depression and Mertz lost everything including all of his patents.
In 1908, John H. Browning purchased Mertz’ assets and continued to manufacture miter saw blades until 1929 when he sold the company to a group of investors led by Henry J. Kaiser.
Kaiser had been selling other products under the brand name “Krause” since 1907 but decided to rebrand Krause as “Kaiser” after purchasing it from Kaiser Machine & Foundry Company (now known as Kremers Metal Works). Kaiser then changed the name to “Kaiser Mfg.” in 1930.
By 1934, Kaiser MFG. had become part of the Singer Manufacturing Corporation which became one of the largest manufacturers of woodworking tools in America. During World War II, Singer manufactured many items for the U.S.
government such as aircraft parts and machine tools used by shipbuilders and others involved with military production during WWII. The quality of their woodworking tools diminished as a result and after the war ended, most of their manufacturing equipment went to the government for disposal. As a result of this, the craftsmanship of Singer’s blades declined greatly.
In 1948, following the war, the Irwin Corporation purchased Singer and its subsidiaries, which included Kaiser Mfg. While Irwin continued to manufacture blades under the “Kaiser” brand name, it focused more on its “Irwin” brand and eventually sold the “Kaiser” trademark in 1967.
The Irwin Corporation, which became the Irwin Industrial Tool Company in 1965, was later acquired by Black & Decker in 1980. By the mid-eighties, Black & Decker launched an initiative to consolidate operations and manufacturing was moved from the U.S.
to low-wage countries such as Mexico and Thailand. This caused the loss of hundreds of American jobs and lowered the quality of their tools as well.
In 1986, the Irwin Industrial Tool Company sold the “Kaiser” trademark to the Keen Kutter Corporation which had manufactured saw blades and other woodworking tools for over a century. They continued to sell blades under the “Kaiser” brand until 2005. “Keen Kutter”, however, was acquired by “Lenox Tools” in 1997 and Lenox Tools was later acquired by Warren Osborne, the owner of “Disaster Preparedness Supplies.”
In 2003, Osborne sold the “Keen Kutter” trademark along with the “Kaiser” line of blades to a group of investors who started the “North American Saw Company.” In 2006, North American Saw was acquired by “Jobsite”, which is based out of Canada.
In late 2011, at the NAHAD (National Hardware Show and Tool exhibition), Glaser Industries launched and began selling their own line of finishing blades under the “Glaser” brand name.
Around the same time, a small group of woodworkers began forming an alliance because they were unhappy with the quality of blades that were currently available and decided to create one that was better. This group of woodworkers included cabinet makers, a finish carpenter, a tool & die maker and a mechanical engineer. Together, they decided it would be best to design and manufacture blades in the U.S.
rather than importing them from overseas. After two years of research, product testing and iteration, they launched the “Glaser” line of blades in 2012. Glaser quickly rose to prominence in the woodworking industry and by early 2015 had overtaken all other blades in sales.
There are many different types of blades designed for different uses. A blade may be labeled based upon its intended use, tooth shape, or number of teeth. There is no industry standard for labeling saw blades.
The most common types of blade labels include:
Other types of blade labels include:
The most common types of tooth shapes are:
Other types of tooth shapes include:
The number of teeth on a blade may vary greatly. The most common number of teeth on a blade intended for the general public are:
Some blades have as few as 10 teeth or as many as 32, although those are rarer.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Skate blade sharpening system with protective covers (RK Layton Jr, DA Beaudet, ID Goryachev – US Patent 9,114,498, 2015 – Google Patents)
- Saw blade with sanding surface (GE Young, PC Geisinger – US Patent 5,704,828, 1998 – Google Patents)
- Saw blade with abrasive surface (DA Perrey – US Patent 6,945,850, 2005 – Google Patents)
- Skate sharpening machine (RM Babcock – US Patent 3,988,124, 1976 – Google Patents)
- Advanced Self-Healing Polymer Composites for Wind Turbine Blades (AK Koralagundi Matt – 2016 – search.proquest.com)
- Saw blade with sanding surface (GE Young, PC Geisinger – US Patent 5,529,528, 1996 – Google Patents)
- Profits and Patriotism: Milwaukee Industry in World War II (J Gurda – The Wisconsin Magazine of History, 1994 – JSTOR)
- Circus entertains with saws, blades (D Valenziano – 2003 – core.ac.uk)