Power Tools Insider Blog

Part 1: Black & Decker and DeWalt, a Tale of Two Brands

This article is a three part series on the history of Black & Decker, their eventual acquisition of DeWalt, as well as how the company used the premium brand model in the 1980’s to refocus its product strategy. As of 2010, Black & Decker has merged with Stanley Works to form Stanley Black & Decker, Inc.

Black & Decker

Black & Decker has been making power tools for quite a long time. The company, which bears the last names of its founders was created in 1910 by Duncan Black and Alonzo Decker in Baltimore. The two men had $1,200 between the two to start the company ($600 of which was borrowed), which in 2015 would be worth about $30,000.  Duncan and Alonzo who were both in their late 20’s met at the Rowland Telegraph company, where they worked as machinists. By 1912, the company designed its first logo, that would contain the iconic elements of the hexagon, which reflected symbols of the machine tool trade. To this day, it remains a part of today’s modern Black & Decker logo. One of the key drivers of the company would be a focus on innovation. For every tool that already existed, the company founders knew that it could be improved upon by adding new product features, and that it how the very

World's First Portable Electric DrillThe Modern Power Drill is Born

The company for several years dabbled in designing and manufacturing various machines for products like milk bottle caps and candy dipping. It would take several years of innovation before they filed patents for a product that would revolutionize the power tool industry forever. In 1916 a patent was filed for a drill featuring a pistol grip and trigger switch. The world’s first 1/2″ inch portable electric drill would soon be revealed to the world. All drills at the time were stationary in nature, so providing the manufacturing industry with a portable drill that could be moved around proved revolutionary. Word got around, and tradesmen in various industries began demanding the product. Something that could be only achieved with mass production.

Mass Production & Expansion

With the patent approved, and the designs finalized, it was time to move into mass production of the product, so the company opened its first large scale 12,000 foot manufacturing facility in 1917. It was situated in Towson, Maryland, which is just north of Baltimore. The company also manufactured air compressors at this facility. Sales were phenomenal, as the company’s annual sales exceeded $1 million (about $13 million in 2015 funds) by the end of 1919.  Just before the end of the year, the company added another 20,000 square feet to its manufacturing facilities. By 1921, the company started to advertise to the masses, placing ads in various Baltimore area publications. Sales began to soar, and by 1922, the company opened a sales, service and warehouse facility in Canada. With business booming, the corporate headquarters in Towson needed to be upgraded, and the company upgraded to a two storey administration building. The company was a pioneer in employing traveling salespeople and support, and used two buses that traveled the east coast providing training for plant operators in mobile classrooms.

International Expansion

With a solid business model, the roaring 20’s provided fertile grounds for business expansion, and in 1925, the company opened up its first overseas subsidiary in London, United Kingdom. Four years later, in 1929, a location was opened in Sydney Australia. This global expansion would be stopped by the great depression, but would continue after the Second World War.

Great Depression Hits

The 30’s were a tough time for most corporations, and layoffs hit Black & Decker as most other companies. One of the first people to be laid off, was Al Decker, the John Hopkins educated son of the co-founder, Alonzo Decker, who made it very clear that he was not going to play favorites during this tumultuous time. Eventually, a recovering business allowed the company to try to find additional venture capital by going public, and it did so in 1936. With war erupting in Europe in 1939, the company joined other American industries in supporting US troops and allies abroad.

Black & Decker during the WW2 effortThe War Effort & DIY Market

As with most other manufacturers, the company contributed to the US war effort in the early 40’s. The Towson, Maryland plant manufactured fuses, gun shells, and other wartime supplies. Supervisors at the manufacturing facility started to notice that many products started to disappear from inventory. Upon further investigation, it was revealed that Black & Decker employees were taking the tools home in order to work on various home improvement project. Instead of tackling the theft issue head on, the company saw an opportunity emerge, which would form a completely new market segment for the company. This was the birth of the DIY market, and Black & Decker responded by introducing the world’s first portable electric drill for consumers. A home utility line of drills and accessories was also launched in order to meet the emerging needs of consumers tackling home renovation projects on their own. By 1951, the millionth 1/4″ inch drill had come off the assembly line, and this success led the company to add additional products into the home consumer segment. In 1951 president and co-founder S. Duncan Black died at the age of 67. Black was succeeded as president by his partner, Alonzo G. Decker, who also took on the new post of chairman in 1954. Decker died two years later at age 72.

DeWalt Acquisition

DeWalt logo 1960'sAfter the war, Black and Decker continued its global expansion in Australia, South Africa, Spain, Mexico and Canada, and one of the growth strategies for the company was the acquisition of smaller market players. By the late 60’s about 43% of revenue generated by Black & Decker worldwide came from operations outside of the domestic US market. In 1960 Black & Decker purchased DeWalt of Lancaster, Pennsylvania from American Machine & Foundry Co., Inc. DeWalt was known and well respected in the industry. They built high quality radial arm saws and other stationary woodworking equipment. In fact, they were one of the first companies to patent the radial arm saw. DeWalt at the time had a sales presence in the US and Canadian markets, but it’s sales strategy was focused on larger stationary tools that were almost never used by your average consumer.

Product Strategy Shift

In 1961, Black & Decker introduced the world’s first cordless electric drill. By the 70’s Black & Decker had an impressive array of portable power tools, both corded and cordless that could be used by the average homeowner. However, a fundamental marketing shift would occur over the next decade that led Black & Decker to change the positioning of both its own set of portable power tools, as well as the tools of its subsidiaries, such as DeWalt.

In our next part we will explore the history of DeWalt. Stay Tuned!

Sources

  1. Black & Decker Milestones
  2. Black & Decker South Africa
  3. Innovation’s Missing Link: The Secret to Effortlessly Overcoming (Google Books)
  4. Alonzo G. Decker Jr., 94; Engineer, Power Tool Innovator
  5. DeWalt Company Information
  6. DeWalt Radial Saw Patent Information

One very sexy power tool music video

Have you ever heard of Benny Benassi? I didn’t think so. The Italian DJ is most famous for his 2002 summer club hit “Satisfaction”. The song peaked in the UK charts at #2, and was used in several commercials throughout the world. It has also made appearances in movies, TV shows and video games.

Sex Sells Power Tools

Ok, so why in the world would we write about this? Because the video has power tools of course. Almost everything from belt sanders to saws. And did we mention it also has some scantily clad women who are working these power tools like there’s no tomorrow? Bouncing, pounding, slapping, cracking, this video has it all. So let’s do an analysis, from the viewpoint of a professional power tool review website.

Bosch 2-Speed Battery Drill

Let’s start off with our first power tool, a 2-speed battery operated drill. This compact model features impact resistant casing, and is light and easy to use. Judging from the screen capture it seems to be a Bosch drill. We are not sure if it’s 12V or 18V, but doing a quick Google search, the Bosch Green PSR-18-VE-1BAT 18 Volt Cordless Combi Drill seems like a good candidate. Keep in mind, this video was shot in 2003, and in Europe. This “green” line of Bosch power tools is primarily aimed at the DIY market. Nothing fancy here, carry on!

bosh_2_speed_battery_drill

Masonry (Rotary Hammer) Drilling

We are unsure of this Rotary Hammer Drill model. The other model is very sweaty and oily. Back to the hammer drill. Seems to feature the basics, such as an adjustable depth stop. Judging from the handle, it looks like it’s a Milwaukee. It’s not the Milwaukee Kango 500S SDS-MAX Chiselling Hammer Drill, but it’s fairly close. If you’re going to be drilling or chipping away stone, please wear gloves.

A Masonry (Rotary Hammer) Drill with a Sexy Girl

Stripping wood(y) with a belt sander

For various health reasons, I hope she’s not stripping pressure treated wood. It looks like the video editor got some power tool terms mixed up, because “join-ery”, is mostly a term associated with power jointers, not belt sanders. That being said, we agree that domestic or professional “joint-ery” would leave a lot of people very high.

Belt Sander Sexy Girl

Grinding with an angle grinder

Apparently all the only feature of the angle grinder is a sliding trigger. At least the model seems to be handling the tool correctly, and has the necessary safety equipment in place.

Angle Grinder Sexy Girl

Heavy Duty Breaking

Ok, this is not really a power tool, but an air tool. And the CFM rating on it is 37. For what seems to be such a large tool, it’s a rather low rating. At most it’s a 30 lb. pavement breaker.

Heavy Duty Breaker Sexy Girl

Dual Action Saw

At 120V, 50Watts is around 4 Amps. The tungsten carbide blade, should handle timber from your garden. Ok, you must have a really large garden.

Dual Action Saw Sexy Girl

Orbital Sander

This model has us worried.  Wood dust is a proven carcinogen, and she has her tongue stuck out like she’s just had some KFC. She should also be wearing a NIOSH approved mask, as we do not believe the minimal dust claim!

Orbital Sander Sexy Girl

Manual Saw

So, she just stripped the wood, and now it’s time to cut it. A power saw would have been a much better choice. This manual saw features an EASI-GRIP™ handle. We tried doing a search for this product and found nothing.  The closest thing we found are these Mini Easi Grip Scissors from Amazon.com.

Manual Saw Sexy Girl

Power Breaker

Want to compact a trench? Look no further. This is the professional model’s choice, and the heavy duty breaker and rotary hammer drill (now it’s in yellow?) make their appearance again.

Power Breaker Sexy Girls

 

Special Deals on all Heavy Tools

This seems to be the end of the power tool commercial. Apparently you get full warranty, and three service calls per year.  With this model, you get a hard hat, and poly grip gloves. Almost sounds like the stuff you’d find on the website of an escort agency. Apparently the clay spade for the breaker, and the bolsters must be purchased separately.  Oh, there’s always a catch!

Power Tools Specials Sexy Girl

 

Power Tools Sexy Girls

Watch Benny Benassi – Satisfaction

Our descriptions, can only go this far. Watch the video in full below. Leave your comments below!

We’re now on Twitter and Facebook!

PowerToolsInsider.com is now on Twitter and Facebook. These two platforms offer an excellent way of staying in touch with us, by having reviews posted right to your news feeds. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook, to be informed of all the latest power tool reviews. Spread and share your love for Power Tools Insider through these social media platforms.

Ryobi and Ridgid – Separated at Birth?

Both Ryobi and Ridgid make some really good power tools. Ryobi is targeted towards the DIY market, while Ridgid is aimed more at the professional user. However, there more in common to these two tool lines than you might think.

If you’ve ever looked at Ryobi or Ridgid power tools, you may have noticed some similarities in the design. In some cases, the similarities are exact. For example, the “No Hand Here” on the compound mitre saws for both power tool lines is exactly the same!

The reason behind this, is because both Ryobi and Ridgid are manufactured by the same Hong Kong based company, Techtronic Industries Company Limited (or TTI). TTI is an Original Equipment Manufacturer behind such brands as Milwaukee, Craftsman, AEG (AEG is basically, Ridgid in Europe).

How to Choose a Cordless Power Drill

A cordless power drill is a useful tool to have around the house. Whether you’re doing simple tasks like assembling new furniture, hanging up picture frames, paintings or mirrors, or doing your own DIY renovation, there’s a right type of cordless power drill for each of these jobs, or even better yet, one that will cover them all.

Determine the Usage

What will you be using your cordless drill for? For most people, a cordless drill can serve many useful functions around the house. A good quality drill for this type of work will cost anywhere from $50 to $100. If you’re more serious, and are into DIY renovation, expect to spend a bit more. If you have a house that has a brick or stone exterior, consider a hammer drill option. With the right set of bits, a hammer drill will allow you to drill into those hard surfaces with a hammering action. You will not be able to drill into concrete or other similar hard surfaces without a hammer drill.

Choose a Reputable Brand

There are a lot of cheap no-name power tool brands out there, that quite frankly don’t live up to the quality and performance of more reputable established power tool brands. Do yourself a favour, and don’t buy the cheap stuff. Well known power tool brands are the names you’ve already probably come across, such as DeWalt, Makita, Bosch, Ridgid or Ryobi. Each of these companies make drills that is suitable for an occasional user, as well as the professional contractor.

Leave the Gimmicks Out

We’ve seen many cordless drills that come with a lot of bells and whistles such as built in levels, fancy LED lights, digital battery displays and many other useless gimmicks that don’t add any usefulness to the drill itself. Often times, drills that contain these features, fall short in many other areas, so leave the gimmicks out, but keep the LED.

More Voltage Means More Power, But at a Heavy Price

Voltage determines the power of a drill. Cordless drills can vary from 6V all the way to 36V, and even higher.  Keep in mind that, the higher the voltage the more powerful a drill will be. This fact however has some drawbacks, because higher voltage drills weigh more.

In theory, a 12V drill will deliver less power in the form of torque, than its 18V counterpart. Also, lower voltage typically means a smaller battery, and hence, lower run time. But, voltage isn’t everything, and we refer to “Choose a Reputable Brand” for the explanation.

There are many low end drills with high voltage ratings that get outperformed by drills with a lower voltage rating. Typically, the outperformers, are the cordless drills that are manufactured by the more known manufacturers. So choose a brand name.

If you’re comparing apples to oranges (or Hitachi to Ridgid if you want to go by colour), you will have to look at detailed drill specifications in order to make an assessment on which cordless drill is better.  For general work around the house, select a drill between 12V and 14V. More serious DIY work would require something more powerful, between 18V to 20V.

Torque, Torque and more Torque

Don’t skimp out on torque. For everyday (or every other week) home use, you should get a drill with at least more than 200 in/lbs of torque. Higher torque ratings means that the drill won’t have any issues when drilling into harder materials. Most cordless drills will also come with an adjustable torque setting, so you will be able to set how much torque you’re applying when performing drilling or driving tasks. Usually better drills have more torque settings, but you should look at drills that have at least more than 15 settings.

Adjustable Speed Settings for Various Applications

You should look for a drill that has more than a single speed setting. For example, lower speeds (around 300 RPM), are good for precise driving, while higher speeds (600 RPM+), are good for drilling. Higher end drills will usually have three speed settings. Almost all cordless drills are reversible, allowing you to drive forwards or backwards, and most will alow you to further control the drill speed with a variable speed trigger.

What’s the size Chuck?

The chuck is the part of the drill that holds the drill bit. Typically, chuck sizes are ⅜” or ½” inch. If you’re not going to be doing heavy DIY work, choose a ⅜” chuck size. Larger chuck sizes are more common on higher end more expensive drills, and will allow you to use large drill bits for various applications. Almost all cordless drills come with a keyless chuck. This allows you to secure the drill bit by simply twisting the chuck with your hand.

Runtime, NiCad or Li-Ion?

Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries will offer a longer runtime than NiCad batteries. However, the latter costs much less. There’s still a lot of quality drills that still use NiCad batteries. The DeWalt 725KA Cordless Hammer Drill is one such example. It comes with NiCad batteries, however you have the option of upgrading to Li-Ion batteries in the future. Li-Ion batteries will be the dominant battery in three to four years. Most drills that you buy in a set, will come with at least two batteries (don’t bother will less), and a charger. Some will even include bits, but the good drills rarely do.

Concluding Remarks

In summary, choose a brand name, determine the usage, don’t worry about the bells and whistles, and get a drill with a lot of torque. If you follow these simple rules, the drill you get will serve you for many years.

Impact Drivers vs Regular Drills

Impact Drivers vs Regular Drills

Back in the day, I utilized my trusty 18-Volt DeWalt XRP drill for most of my jobs that involved driving screws, into wood, metal, or even concrete. Then I discovered the impact driver, and haven’t really looked back. Although both of the tools are relatively good at driving screws into various materials, each tool has its unique set of abilities. When discussing impact drivers and drills, I will be specifically looking at the cordless models.

Main differences between an Impact Driver and Regular Drill

As an example, let’s say we want to drive many two inch #8 size screws into a 2×4. A cordless drill will deliver consistent torque when driving in the screw, no matter how deep the screw has been driven into the 2×4. In order to consistently drive in many screws into a piece of wood, you will have to apply force upon the drill so that the drill bit doesn’t slip, and strip the screw head. If you’re driving many screws, all day long, an impact driver may be the better choice.

Driving Many Screws? Use An Impact Driver

So driving a large amount of screws into wood for example, is a much better job for an impact driver. Once the impact driver meets resistance from the screw as a result of being driven into the wood, it will apply torque in the form of rapid high impact blows. So near the end of the drilling cycle, the impact driver will make hammer drill like noise when driving in the screw.

There are several advantages of this process. First, the impact blows help drive in the screw into the wood. The second advantage is that the drill bit, has a much smaller chance of stripping, because the screw is being driven by a combination of rotation plus blows. There is also a lesser chance of the screw head being stripped, because of this stop and go action.

Impact Drivers have more Torque

Impact Drivers typically have two to three times the amount of torque of a regular drill. This torque is mainly seen at the latter stages of the driving process, where the blowing action of the impact driver is much more evident. For example, if we look at the DeWalt Model DC725KA Cordless Hammer Drill which has 410 UWO (Unit Watts Out) – translates into approximately 450 in-lbs torque. Compare that to the DeWalt DC825 which has 1,330 in-lbs of torque, we can see that the impact driver has significantly more driving power.

Driving Tapcons? Use an Impact Driver …

Impact drivers are great for driving in tapcon concrete screws into brick or concrete, especially when using a nutsetter. It would be actually very difficult to achieve that task using a regular drill. Though, you will need to use the drill in order to create a pilot hole for the tapcon screw, so that’s why any serious professional should have both tools in his toolbox.

What the Impact Driver Can Do

  • Impact drivers are typically smaller than regular drills, so they’re good for tight spaces
  • Virtually any kind of screw driving application.
  • Great at driving Tapcon hex heads into masonry
  • Can be also used to apply nuts to bolts – ie; Automotive Tire Work

What the Impact Driver Can’t Do

  • Impact drivers have typically one speed setting. On most impact drivers, you can however control the speed by pressing the trigger at various rates. However, most drills have superior speed settings.
  • Impact drivers are not hammer drills. So if you want to drill a pilot hole into concrete or other masonry such as brick, you will have to use a drill with a hammer action, or even better yet, a rotary hammer drill.

In Conclusion

The Impact Driver is a must have in your tool arsenal. If you have been using a regular cordless drill for driving screws, you would probably have had a much easier time in driving those screws using an impact driver. Recently power tool manufacturers have introduced portable impact drivers which are much smaller than traditional impact drivers, yet provide a greater amount of torque than a traditional drill, showing that the evolution of the impact driver continues, and will continue into the future!

Welcome to the Power Tools Insider Blog!

We have launched Power Tools Insider, and along with it, our blog where we hope to write the latest information on new and upcoming power tool products, insider news, as well as write posts on DIY renovation tips.  We will be providing insights on many known brands, such as DeWalt, Ridgid, Milwaukee,  Bosch, Ryobi, Makita, Hitachi as well as some lesser recognized brands that offer a good value for the DIY consumer as well as contractor! Our website will not be limited exclusively to power tools, as we will also review power tool accessories such as drill bits, and  other related products. Bookmark this page, share it via social media, and check back often.