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Manufacturers Index - Henry Power Tools Ltd.
Last Modified: May 16 2016 11:51AM by Jeff_Joslin
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In 1940 an enterprising pattern-maker, William Joseph Henry, started a manufacturing plant in a small garage in his backyard. The firm produced one product—bench vises—which were in high demand by the armed services. Crafttools Ltd. was created. Over the next 4 years the business grew and by 1944 Craftools was manufacturing arbor presses, buffers, grinders and their line of vises. They supplied all the vise equipment used by the Canadian mobile army workshop trucks in England, Italy, Russia, China and India. They also made their vises for air force repair shops, army training schools and naval yards. In 1944 they built a foundry to produce their own castings. By 1949 Craftools was the largest supplier of vises in Canada.

In 1945 Mr. Henry formed a second company called Henry Power Tools Limited. The purpose was to leverage their craftsmen, foundry and casting expertise into a line of woodworking machinery. Mr. Henry oversaw the engineering specifications for the whole “Craftmaster” line, which included bandsaws, jointers, lathes and other machinery.

Their quality reputation grew and in 1947 Henry Power Tools expanded to respond to increased US and world demand. They expanded into the US as well as India, Australia, South Africa, and many countries in Africa. By this time it was the largest manufacturing firm of its kind in Canada.

In 1947 Mr. Henry died at the age of 44. His widow, Mrs. Viola Henry was active in the business and continued to run it along with the General Manager, John Gilchrist.

In 1951 Mrs. Henry sold her position in the two companies to a group of local Londoners headed by Mr. Gilchrist, who became the President of both firms. Under his guidance the two companies continued to expand.

In 1953 both firms were sold to the EX-CELL-O Corporation of Canada Ltd. a subsidiary of EX-CELL-O Machine Tools Inc. of the US (makers of tooling for the automotive industry). At the same time the power tools line was sold to machinery distributor Strongridge Ltd. of London.

Before 1953, Henry Power Tools's Craftmaster line was sold by Porter-Cable, badged with the Craftmaster and Porter-Cable names. It appears that that OEM arrangement ceased when Strongridge bought Henry. Foster Manufacturing Co. also put their name on Henry tools, including the tablesaw shown on the cover of an undated catalog.

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