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 late 1950s, Oster acquired the assets of Wappat Inc., either from saw-maker Simonds Saw & Steel Co. (now Simonds International), or from Cummins-Chicago Corp.
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- 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".
- 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.