“We are seeing some companies
make inroads with well-merchandised,
Asian-imported tools, leveraging rebate
opportunities to ‘big box’ stores. The
price/value relationship between these
products must be considered since
these tools are purchased and privately
labeled, so users don’t know who manufactured the tools, what their quality is,
and how long the tool will last. Trade
professionals are not fooled easily,”
Mark Klein, president, Klein Tools,
said: “My great, great, great, grandfather
founded Klein Tools in 1857 in Chicago.
We have been making hand tools in Amer-
ica ever since, and we are known for our
quality, craftsmanship and durability. We
use a proprietary tool steel and do our
own forging and heat-treating in-house
to ensure we meet our high standards.
Klein Tools has more than 155 years of
experience that won’t be replicated by
others any time soon. Professionals rely
on our products to get their job done. It
is my family’s name on the product, so
when tradespeople pick up a Klein tool,
we don’t want to let them down.”
Technology advances, building code
changes, updated safety laws, asso-
ciation or vendor requirements, new
building material products, application
improvements or multiuse products all
contribute to the creation and advance-
ment of new hand tools and accessories.
Klein Tools products are constantly
reviewed to see how they can be made
more efficient, comfortable or useful.
Examples of recent developments
include fiberglass fishing tools with
a proprietary protective coating to
keep users’ hands free from splinters
when pulling wire; a foam wire-pulling
lubricate alternative to gel and wax
lubricants; development of a demolition screwdriver engineered for prying
and chiseling as well as driving screws;
all-purpose pliers that can strip, cut and
loop 8–16 AWG solid and 10–18 AWG
stranded wire, plus it has screw shearing holes; and cushion grip punchdown
tools incorporating a two-step impact
process that precisely inserts and then
trims off excess wire and has a comfortable screwdriver shape design for
accessing narrow, crowded blocks.
The Changing Hand Tool Market
In 2010, power tool manufacturer Milwaukee introduced a line of manual hand tools for the electrical market, and the offerings of hand tools and testers has rapidly expanded.
More recently, wire and cable manufacturer Southwire
unveiled a line of hand tools for electricians.
Milwaukee has hundreds of products in its hand tool
portfolio, said Tim Albrecht, senior vice president and
general manager, hand tools.
“With a focus on key vertical trades, we set out to
deliver innovative solutions that would make the user’s
job easier regardless of if the tool had a motor or not,” he
said. “Extending to hand tools made sense for us because
our customer uses hand tools every day. With this focus on
innovation rather than ‘me too’ products, we definitely are
seeing the impact on long-established brands.
“With more competitors entering the marketplace,
Milwaukee’s attention to innovation and user productivity
set it apart from others. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking
a tool that has been around for decades and really looking
at how it’s used to make it better. Dedicated to delivering
advanced solutions to increase productivity, this category
will continue to grow and offer innovative products,”
Citing the trend toward multifunction tools, Albrecht
offered the example of Milwaukee’s popular 6-in- 1
combination wire pliers, which enable electricians to carry
fewer tools to the job. He said more job sites than ever
before are requiring insulated tools. He expects this trend
to continue as an added safety measure.
Southwire introduced its line of professional-grade
electricians hand tools in 2013, including pliers, strippers and
screwdrivers as well as a wide array of electrical meters and
testers. In 2014, more than 40 voice/data/video tools and test
instruments were added to the hand tool product line. —J.G.
The Home Depot carries Husky tools,
including utility knives.
GRI F FI N, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City, can be reached at email@example.com.