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Did you ever wonder what happened to a great tool maker Miller Falls?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by elkimmeg, Aug 29, 2007.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    At one point Miller Falls made some of the best carpentry tools. Many of us still have a miller falls hand mitre box or combo square framing square. They made great tools
    Miller Falls was from Western MA. While doing a stet of stairs yesterday I was using combo square, Not thinking too much about till some mentioned where I got that relic.

    I thought it odd and reflected a moment this square is left over from working with my grandfather.

    Many are not old enough to appreciate the true quality put into makeing these tools the same can be said about Stanley of Skill and the real Dewalt.

    So what happened. Little known was Miller Falls made and supplied most carpentry tools sold at Sears up to the mid to late 80's. It was at that point Sears opted to bring in cheaper
    manufacture tools from China .Many of my tools are older and still working taken care of right and repaired my saber saw is an old Craftsman made by miller falls bought in 1972 That tell you just how good these tool are. Because my tools are older and still working none are made in china . I do not have many cheap chinese tools. The ones I may have are limited use ones.
    Not used everyday. I have a 70's Skill saw still working that the ball bearring motor turns well after the trigger is released . Countless homes were framed with this saw. I change a few brushes along the way, but I can pick it up tomorrow and continue using it

    Did you know Stanley in Ct only makes it tape measure there and that 40% of its tools are made in USA in Georgia 60% has be subcontracted to China. . The quality of the tools I have is so far superior than many of todays tools. I have never broken a stanley flat bar. Never stripped a Snapon socket. Even older SK sockets are superior that todays crafsman chinese made sockets. I cheaped out once and bought a cheap 3/4" socket set .The ratchet is stripped out 4 sockets stripped out and cracked. I bought this set in 1988 from Sears. I never paid too much attention till one day I practically broke my hand when the socket stripped out. It was then I saw the words made in China.

    I thought I might explain my adversion to tools made in China. It not like they can't make quality tools but what is happening is build them as cheap as possible. Crafsman tools sockets are now homeowner quality tools. You will not find too many pros purchasing them. When you apply extream pressure the last thing you need is a broken hand..

    I get a kick out of a homeowner telling be about quality of a recently bought tool made in China. If mine weren't made with such superior original quality, I yould be in the market for that tool.

    Again I stick to what is proven to deliver results far more demanding than a home owner driving a few drywall screws. Really A home owner using it a few times is not grounds for comercial usage. I want to know if the tool will stand up to everyday construction usage. Sorry I m not impressed with limited homeowner usage recomdations. Should my saber saw or router quit the next ones will be Bosh. Even Makita is out soursing to China now. Till these tools are time tested and proven I will not be purchasing any Makita tools made in China.
    Call me a snob but you hire me for professional results results you expect to receive, Hard to deliver whan the cutting tool wants to drift. I want a predictiable cutting path I want the feel that allows predictiable results you want professional workmanship. It takes professional tool and professional skills and experience to deliver these results. Cheap ass half ass results I don't think your want to pay me for You want these results you might as well hire illegals to do the work. I will not have party to them Sorry for the rant my tools are not bought at Walmart

    Arrh Miller Falls great tools put too many eggs in the basket with Sears

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  2. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Well I'm going to aproach this one with a little caution Elk...

    Yeah Millers Falls made tools were good quality...They still fetch a pretty penny or two at yard sales and flea markets. They made some fine (power) drills too. I see them from time to time up at 'Rietta Ranch' and want to buy one...if for nothing else to say I own one. Many homes were wired courteousy of the holes drilled by them...

    But Alas...Time marches on.

    I hear you mention "Tools the Pros use" and at every turn you fail to mention one still around but walking on a slippery slope... KLEIN Tools.

    No self respecting electrician would own anything less than at least a couple of tools made by Klein...more than likely their most important tool...Linesman' Pliers.

    At some point the decision was made to start producing the tools and offering them for sale at the big box stores. The level of quality has slipped a bit but...gotta compete in a new economy.

    Buying a screwdriver (now) for $4.00 at Home Depot might sound like a ripoff or a bargain....depends on your perspective. I couldn't do my job with dollar store junk tools. Klein screwdrivers use to cost $7.00 a piece... but they just about lasted forever. In the rare case (if they broke in 'normal' use) you throw it across the counter at the supply house and they gave you a new one. Don't know if HD or Loews' honors that part of Kleins' warranty...but they should.

    All the quality name tools are now producing a lower line geared towards 'weekend warriors'...just look towards RIDGID...there is a fine example.

    Mention the RIDGID name and ask what comes to mind...the average person is gonna say "Ohh That's the company that makes the heavy duty tools at Home Depot..." Now when you hear "Threader Heads/Die holders, Oilers, and Tri-Stands..." you know you are talking with a tradesman...

    It's just part of the bold new world we live in...
  3. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    I'm a little jaded though when it comes to tools. Where I live we still a few companies "holding on". Ever hear of Simond (Saw Company of Fitchburg MA)???

    How about another fine quality name for machinist tools... The L.S. Starrett Company of Athol MA
  4. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    Most of my woodworking tools are from WWII and earlier. They have names on them like Millers Falls, Stanley, Swan, Walker-Turner, etc.

    The hand tools are made well, although there are high end tools (out of my budget) made just as well if not better today. I tend to go for 40s to 50s power tools because I like the weight and the art deco like styling is kind of neat too.
  5. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    I know what you mean. When I bought my house (from an elderly widow...her and her husband bought it in 1946) there were all sorts of old woodworking tools...He worked in a woodshop for most of his life...Not a big surprise for Gardner MA. When cleaning out the basement I found quite the old tool "trunk" filled with old well crafted tools...jack planes, jamb planes...even some tools used for post and beam type work. Needless to say that trunk is still close by the workbench.
  6. tutu_sue

    tutu_sue New Member

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    Thanks to my late dad and my husband's late grandfather, we have an huge array of tools from the 30's through the late 60's. We thought we would never have a use for grandpa's 3 foot long stillson wrench that I can barely lift, but it has been used. I still have all my dad's tools in their original brown kennedy machinest's toolbox. There are a number of Starrets in there. Squares, dividers, micrometer, center punch, rulers, the 12" combination tool (costs $160 today). A very nice Brown & Sharp caliper (now made in China). A nice set of Excel nut drivers and a bunch of Nicholson files. My son will get all these tools some day. We will never part with them, not only for their sentimental value to us, but it would cost a fortune to replace them! Anyone need a 15" long soldering iron? We got one. The cord is covered with woven cloth it looks like. Hubby still uses it once in a while.

    What gets me really riled up these days are companies that have outsourced to China, sell me a lower quality product at the same price as when it was made in the USA. I guess they hope someone like me won't notice.

    This holiday season, I'm letting everyone know they should give my son gifts made in the USA. It's the only way I can have piece of mind because he puts everything in his mouth. I could buy him a set of wooden building blocks made in China for $14.99, but I'm going to buy him the $49 set of hard maple blocks with a food safe finish made in the USA, because there's no way in hell I'm putting the mighty dollar above my son's well being - unlike American companies these days.
  7. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Back in the 80 before power mitei boxxes I was doing a complex multi piece pitcure moldings in this Doctor's house. Well I needed my benchsaw which unfortunately
    I had not loaded into the truck. So T ell the people it will be a couple of hours round trip home to get it. At that point he pipes up then why not use mine its in the cellar?
    he then takes me down the stairs and there were boxes and boxes of tools never taken out but sealed up He tells me his intent was to setup a work shop but never got around to setting or assembling any tools. I tell him no thanks It will be quicker if I go home. He then tells me he is willing to pay me to setup his shop It took 3 days to essemble it all including the benches ans cases Believe me IT looked like the yanke workshop. Every birthday and christmass for years his wife would buy top of the line quality tools Including a cabinate maker Uni saw. I mean at the time there was over 15k in tools in that shop maybe more. Till this day I think the only saw dust that ever hit the floor was from me. did I mention the Vac sawdust extraction system to boot

    What has occured is more homeowners started purchasing pro quality tools. One would think this is a good thing but the opposite occured More demand expanded the market Expanded market lead to how cheap can we make these tools Same As Sears did moving purchasing to China instead of Miller Falls. We have seen where companies will bastardize their name in efforts to appeal to a larger market Think of tools Home Cheap sells Key mentioned Ridgid got into the act expanding from making the best plumbing tools to a power tool line sold at Home Cheapo made in China You can have my 5 galon Ridgid shop vac Burned out in less than one year use. Still got the ealry 80's craftsman working.. At one time Black& Decker built pro quality tools but decided to ditch the pro quality for homeowner grade market. they bought out Dewalt to offer a higher end tool but that too they have cheapened their original tool line as years progressed

    Skill then entered the home owner market cheapened its tools.

    I had the best laugh the other day this guy had a hammer that looked like it belonged in the Jetsons. the ergrometically designed shock resistant handle Man did it feel good and ballanced.

    So I asked him how much it cost? the answer floored me $150. The joke part of this is unless it is attaccher to an electrical cord or air hose almost nobody has real hand tools skills anymore?

    I could out nail this guy with the cheapest Chinese made hammer. The only thing he uses it for is to beat things into place to puematic nail them $150 to beat things in place?
    I keep using My 25 year old Plumb hammer thank you But it sure looked cool I must say on the nice designer apron the guy looked the part of a carpenter The only dead giveaway
    was everything looked brand new. In this case the tools did not give instant skills but he looked good .
    Me, I used to drag my new aprons in the dirt and dust so they looked used
    never wanted the rookie look
  8. Gunner

    Gunner New Member

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    round and round we go... :-S
  9. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Wait tilll CCM is owned by the Chinese If they don't already own it.. I like our neighbors to the north. once played at the old maple leaf garden.

    Most of my college teamates were from the North.
  10. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I did buy some new tools, just arrived yesterday.

    I picked up a Dewalt angle grinder and a Porter Cable router. The router will replace a cheapie Craftsman I broke when the collet decided not to give back my bit.

    The angle grinder is for some stove pipe shortening and whatever else I can think of using it for.

    Matt
  11. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Porter cable is another fine quality tool or it use to be in the past.

    EVer use Fein tools Very expensive but superb quality
    I have their multi Tool detailed sander this is one of my great tool finds. Everbody that has seen what this tool will do , goes out and purchases one.
    Right now I have the round fine tooth blade on it. It cuts the finest line imaginable. Instead of stripping the yinyl sidding ,
    I was able to use this tool and cut in in place run j channel and be done This saved easilly 4 hours work.

    I also use it to make mid cuts in trim boards I replace the ability to make accurate plunge cuts.

    This tool is always packed in the truck when doing finish work.

    Goggle up Fien multi tool and see what this amazing tool can do. It is much more than a detailed sander
  12. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    It's all about the money when it comes to cheap tools, mass marketing. Anyone who has used a tool to make a living knows the value of a good tool. Whether that person is a carpenter, plumber, electrician, or in my case a former auto technician is of no consequence. The decision to purcase tools for me is largely based upon how often I will use the tool. While I have some nice carpentry tools (including some miller falls gear) my woodshop is no match for my autoshop. I feel for most people there would be no advantage to purchase snap-on tools UNLESS you were making your living using them. Crapsman would work just fine for probably 95% of weekend auto techs out there. The other 5% would probably supplement with just a few pro tools to do very specific jobs.

    The same formula could be applied to my weekend warrior work. I think about the little wet tile saw I purchased for $40 last year to do the tile work for my hearth project. It hooks up to a garden hose and has a 4" wet diamond blade. Cuts through tile like butter as long as you let the blade do the work. I looked at renting a nice tile saw, but that would have cost me $60 bucks with blade rental not to mention having to lift the dam thing in and out of my truck and a trip back to town to return it. I digress...

    Point being that if I were doing tile work all day every day or if I were filthy rich, I'd for sure purchase a powerful wet saw and all the other gear associated with that line of work. However, being a weekend warrior the $40 tile saw, a sponge, and a bucket to mix the mortar and grout is all I used for my project.

    I'm cracking up at Elks story about setting up someones shop. I would never in a million years allow anyone to set up my shop for me. That's the same kind of guy who buys books on subjects he never reads, but puts them on the shelf to make himself look good.

    -Kevin
  13. My_3_Girls

    My_3_Girls Member

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    I've always been accused of being an argumentative type, so here it goes......(disclaimer: this is not a personal attack, merely a look from a different angle).....

    Elk,
    -Is it just China you are opposed to, or any imports???? I'm on the Fein website and here's what it says; "With manufacturing facilities in Germany, FEIN has subsidiaries in Switzerland, Great Britain, France, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and many other countries. "

    I think it gets back to the old adage of 'you get what you pay for'... you pay $400 for a multi tool, I'd expect it to work forever too! Wrench hit on it already. Don't rent for $60 when you can complete the project with a $40 purchase. I bought a $3 import socket set so I could change a battery in my car to avoid paying a $5 core charge and a trip back to the store. As far as the 1970's Skil saw, yup, you are correct, they don't make them like that any more, they are lighter, more ergonomicly designed, and typically disposable, and they only cost about $30, or in Massachusetts terms, about 5 packs of cigs. I would venture a guess that the 70's Skil saw you purchased new in the 70's was a bit more than 5 packs of smokes.
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