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Manufacturers Index - John Oster Manufacturing Co.

John Oster Manufacturing Co.
Racine, WI; Milwaukee, WI, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery

Last Modified: Oct 22 2019 5:08PM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

This company is better known for their small handheld power tools—jigsaws, drills, circular saws, sanders, hair clippers, blenders, etc.—but they qualify for inclusion in this index of woodworking machinery makers because they also made a lathe/drill press combination machine and a scrollsaw.

This company was founded in 1924 to make a hand-operated hair clipper. After a lengthy period of diversification and expansion, in 1960 Oster became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sunbeam Corp. of Chicago.

In the 1954 Oster acquired the assets of Wappat Inc. from Cummins-Chicago Corp.

Please note that we do not have any information on the many Oster products unrelated to wood- or metal-working, and we do not answer enquiries regarding those products.

Information Sources

  • Their history of making woodworking-related tools and machines is under-documented. During the 1950s they acquired the Wappat line of circular saws; we have seen a Wappat saw labeled as, 'Wappat Incorporated, Pittsburg PA, a division of Simonds Saw and Steel Co.', so it is possible that Oster purchased Wappat from Simonds. The 1960 Cummins (A Division of John Oster Mfg Co) portable electric power tool catalog shows four Maxaw models (a model name for Wappat). Three models (727-01, 737-01 and 757-01) took a 6-3/8" blade. The top model (7800-01) took a 7-1/4" blade.
  • The April 1954 Popular Science carried an advertisement for Cummins-Chicago Corp., 4740 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago. The ad featured hand tools plus the "Cummins do-it Jigsaw". The bottom of the ad noted, "Makers of MAXAWS, MAXDRILLS, BALL-RITE and PERM-ALIGN DRILLS, FIXMASTER KITS, do-it SHOP".
  • From a 1954 issue of Chilton Jewelers' Circular:
    John Oster, Jr., president of the John Ostei Mfg. Co., Racine and Milwaukee, Wis., and Paul Jones, president of the Cummins-Chicago Corp., have announced the purchase of the Cummins portable tool division by the Oster Co.
  • The 1960 Cummins catalog shows John Oster Manufacturing Company plants in Milwaukee WI, Racine WI, New Ulm MN, McMinnville TN and a licensee in Mexico.
  • Allegheny International: A New Global Business Enterprise, by Robert J. Buckley, 1983, has this snippet about John Oster Manufacturing Co.: "...and in 1954 purchased the Cummins Portable Tool Business from the Cummins-Chicago Corporation."