Copyright 2019
Tidewater Woodworking GuildSite by President:Jim Francis Vice President: Scott Fell Treasurer:Greg Guertin

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April 2019
April Sawdust Brings May Projects
Web Links At the Meeting Last Meeting Notes Tip of the Month Editors Notes
Product Reviews

What's In The Newsletter

  • President' Comments
  • Upcoming Shows
  • Product Review - Setup Blocks
  • Industry News - the Black & Decker Company
  • National Woodworking Month

From the President

April Greetings!

Good April!  With the speed of a rifle bullet, this month has flown by.  However, catch up work is proceeding at the same pace; slow.  Hope you're able to get in some good shop time.  For this month's program, Ed Bunker is going to turn a carving mallet.  To complement it, everyone is invited to bring in one of your shop made tools (i.e. mallet, router plane, spoke shave) for show/tell.  There are only a few things more personal and a joy to use than a shop made tool.

If you're looking for a day trip this spring, consider Kenmore Plantation and Ferry Farm in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Great history of the Washington family and nice furniture to see and touch.  Especially neat is the clothes press at Kenmore.  Not only doors in front, but also on one side.  Certainly solves access issues.

That's all for now.  Looking forward to seeing everyone at this month's meeting.

Jim Francis

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Upcoming Shows

Down the road this summer is the American Association of Woodturners in Raleigh, NC.  This show, for the turners in the guild will be held July 11 – 14, 2019 in the Raleigh Convention Center.  For more information click on the link  More details to follow in an upcoming newsletter.

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Product Review - Setup Blocks

Several years ago I received my first setup blocks free of charge when I purchased something.  These pieces of brass cut offs served me very well for setting up the height of a table saw blade, dado widths and router bit heights.  They were very easy to use and you did not have to get out the magnifying glass with great light to see the “32nd” marks on the ruler.  They were also less clumsy when trying to hold the router still while positioning a ruler on the router bit and make the three handed adjustment.  I loved the set until one day I discovered that the “1/4” setup block was really not “1/4”.

Last year Infinity Cutting Tools introduced an 8 piece precision setup package shown below.  They were just introducing the product and it was priced right for my budget at $99.90. The 4” long blocks are made up of 1/16", 3/32", 1/8", 3/16", 1/4", 1/2", and 3/4" sizes providing a range of measurement from 1/16" through 1-31/32". Also included is a precision-milled 1-2-3 block to provide additional capacity (1", 2", or 3") for tool setups. Thicknesses are accurate to +/-0.002".  I loved the set and used it for more than a year before being tempted by another manufacturer of setup blocks.

Infinity 8 Piece Precision Setup Blocks

Several months ago I received an e-mail special from a company called Chipsfly.  I had purchased a couple of items from them in the past so I decided to take a look at their setup block offering.  If you look at the photos of the Infinity setup blocks and the setup blocks manufactured by iGaging you will note that they look very similar except for the color of the blocks.  One is black the other is blue.  The package from iGaging is a 15 piece precision set.  The smallest seven bars increase in in size in 1/32” increments from 1/16” to 1/4”. The next four are in 1/16” increments from 5/16” to ½”. You can use any of these along with the 3/4” bar to reach 31/32”. From there, use the 1” by 2” by 3” setup block keep going. You can also gang bars end to end or side by side for longer measurements since each is precisely 3” long and 1/2” thick.

What got my attention besides the price was that the package included two additional bars of 23/32” and 15/32” blocks, the so called 3/4” and 1/2” plywood thickness that used to exist!  There is also a 7/32” block in the set for the traditional 1/4” plywood thickness so that you cover the most common thicknesses of plywood.


The other reason I purchased a second set of setup blocks was the price.  The 15 piece setup block package from iGaging was being offered only through at an incredible price of $59.95!  I have been on iGaging’s web site to try and confirm that they are also offering the setup blocks but I find no mention of them.  If you are interested in looking at this product click on the link

If you have never used setup blocks before I think you will find more uses for them than the table saw, router or band saw.  I just used them for my kitchen cabinet doors and their over lay.  The 1/2” setup block made it a snap for setting the overlay without using my small 6” ruler and trying to read the 1/2” mark when I am looking at a 32nd inch scale.

Gary Stephens

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Industry News - The Black & Decker Company

This month’s industry news will fill in the blanks of the Stanley – Black & Decker Company featured in the last three newsletters.

Before merging with the Stanley Tool Company in 2010 Black & Decker was a giant in the hardware business.  It started out as the Black & Decker Manufacturing Company in 1910 and had more than 22,000 employees and sales of almost $4.5 billion dollars before merging with The Stanley Tool Company.  Over the years it has seen its ups and downs just like the Stanley Tool Company.

Early History

The company was formed by Alonzo G. Decker and S. Duncan Black, two industrial tool designers and engineers.  They formed The Black & Decker Manufacturing Company in September 1910.  The company was formed on a shoestring budget.  With $600 from the sale of Black's second-hand car and a loan of $1,200, they set up a machine shop in a rented warehouse in Baltimore, Maryland.  Black became president of the company.  In their early years they contracted to manufacture industrial products invented and sold by others.  A similar history of the Stanley Tool Company.

In 1916 Black and Decker began to design and manufacture their own electric-powered tools. At that time German-made electric tools that were available were heavy and difficult to operate and not very commercially successful. Black & Decker designed a universal motor--the first for electric-tool use which employed either alternating or direct current, and a trigger switch modeled after the mechanism in the Colt revolver. The first tool incorporating these innovative elements was a 1/2-inch portable drill with the innovative "pistol grip and trigger switch" that have remained standard for electric drills ever since. The drill was comparatively light at 21 1/2 pounds, and it was considered inexpensive at $230.

In 1917 the company was awarded the patent for the pistol grip and trigger switch.  They also built a manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Towson, MD (Baltimore, MD area).  By 1918 their sales were greater than $1 million dollars!  Right after WWI they introduced the 1” drill, a grinder and a powered screwdriver.

During the second half of the 1920’s the company expanded its US operations through strategic acquisitions.  They bought the Marschke Manufacturing Company in 1926.  Marschke manufactured grinders.  In 1928 they purchased the Van Dorn Electric Tool Company of Cleveland, OH.  In 1929 they purchased the Fleming Machine Company of Worcester, MA

During the Great Depression the company experienced great difficulties.  They had huge layoffs including Alonzo Decker’s (one of the founders) son.  They came very close to bankruptcy but they did have great employee loyalty.  Some workers continued to work for the company even though they were not paid.  Large capital influx from outside investors kept B&D in the black.  They sold the Marschke Manufacturing Company in 1932.  Despite all of the problems B&D continued to manufacture and develop new products.  In 1930 and 1931 the firm marketed a portable circular saw, an adjustable-clutch electric screwdriver, and a new, streamlined housing for its drills.

A line of power tools using the new induction motors, the High Cycle line, was introduced in 1935. As the decade ended there was a cascade of new B&D products, including an electric hammer, an industrial vacuum cleaner, a portable metal cutter, a portable trim saw, and the Shorty series of drills.

In 1942 the Black & Decker Post-War Planning Committee was established. This group developed plans for Black & Decker to manufacture power tools for Do-It-Yourselfers and homeowners. The committee believed B&D could provide cheaper tools using new, less-expensive plastic housings to tap this unexplored market.

In 1946 The Black & Decker Manufacturing Company introduced the world's first power tools for the consumer market, the inexpensive Home Utility line of 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch drills and accessories. In the first five years, one million 1/4-inch drills were produced. This success led to the addition of other products to the Home Utility line. A set of circular saws was introduced in 1949, and a finishing sander and jigsaw in 1953. Black & Decker also continued to market new tools for professional users, including an impact socket wrench in 1949 and two heavy-duty routers 1957.

In 1960 Black & Decker purchased DeWalt of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, makers of radial arm saws and other woodworking equipment. An improved line of radial arm saws was introduced in 1966.

Black & Decker also entered the lawn and garden field in the late 1950's with the introduction of electric lawn edgers and hedge trimmers.  The first electric lawnmowers were unveiled in 1966, and a cordless model went into production three years later.

Black & Decker tools were very successful during the 1960’s & 1970’s and this was accomplished by cutting costs and improved manufacturing processes.  The cost of B&D's 1/4-inch drill was reduced in increments from $15.98 in 1963 to $7.99 in 1970.  The Workmate portable worktable and accessories, first marketed in England in 1973, became very successful and popular around the world.

During the late 70’s and early 80’s Black & Decker moved into the small appliance market.  In 1978 they introduced the Dustbuster cordless vacuum cleaner followed by the SpotLiter rechargeable light plus other cordless appliances.  In 1984 they purchased the small appliance operations of the General Electric Company (GE).  This gave them irons, toaster ovens, portable mixers, coffee makers and hairdryers (not much tool stuff but it did not cost them shelf space on the tool side, only the appliance side)

During the late 80’s and early 90’s Black & Decker continued to purchase other manufacturing companies in an attempt to gain greater market share.  These highly leveraged purchased continued to burden Black & Decker.  In the early 90’s debt stood at $3.2 billion and the company needed to shed some of the companies it had purchased during the boom years.  Then the Great Recession hit hard, especially in the housing industry.  This reduced the demand for power tool for both the professional and the Do-It-Yourselfer.  At one point in time B&D's net margin was less than one-half percent and the following year they posted a loss.

The turnaround of Black & Decker began in 1992 with the relaunch of the DeWalt line of high end power tools.  The DeWalt line of power tools is highly valued by contractors.  This relaunch allowed them to compete with Makita tools even though the DeWalt line of power tools was slightly more expensive.  At the same time Black & Decker offered a line of power tools aimed at the Do-It-Yourselfer but at a lower cost.

Restructuring continued into the late 90’s.  In 1997 they had to recall 224,000 under the cabinet SpaceMaker toasters and pay a large fine to Consumer Product Safety Commission for failing to report the toaster problem promptly.  Black & Decker sold three of its least profitable businesses and closed several manufacturing operations around the world.  These divestments enabled Black & Decker to refocus on its core power tools and hardware lines, particularly the DeWalt line, which was now generating nearly $1 billion in annual revenues.  In 2004 the company purchased Pentair, Inc. Tool Group.  This acquisition gave them the Porter-Cable line of power tools, the Delta woodworking machinery along with other tool related products.

In 2010 Black & Decker merged with the Stanley Tool Company.  This created a diversified gigantic company with core sales in tools, hardware, small appliances and lawn and garden products.  Now you know the rest of the story.

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National Woodworking Month


National Woodworking Month® is observed during the month of April. It has been observed as the National Woodworking Month since April 1990.  Drop hints to your sufficient other that you need some new tools for the shop!

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