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Manufacturers Index - Norton Co.

Norton Co.
Worcester, MA, U.S.A.
Company Website: http://www.nortonabrasives.com/
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Metal Working Machinery

Last Modified: Apr 11 2018 12:03PM by Jeff_Joslin
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Beginning in 1858, Franklin B. Norton operated a pottery shop in Worcester. In the late 1860s or early 1870s they began making grinding wheels made of wood with emery grains glued onto the surface. In 1868 Norton and his partner and cousin, Frederick Hancock, received a patent for a mill for grinding clay to create abrasive grains. In 1873 an employee, Sven Pulson, invented a vitreous wheel that proved to be far superior to the wooden-cored wheels. Norton patented the wheel in 1877 and began manufacturing them in 1879. Hancock retired at that time because he opposed the move. In 1880 Pulson left and his brother-in-law, John Jeppson, took over the manufacture of grinding wheels. In 1885, Norton retired from the business. The rights to the grinding-wheel business were acquired by a new company, Norton Emery Wheel Co., co-founded by John Jeppson, Walter L. Messer, Charles Lucius Allen, Milton Prince Higgins, George I. Alden, Fred H. Daniels, and Horace A. Young. Higgins was company president until his death in 1912, and reportedly designed most of their machinery for making grinding wheels.

In 1893 the company acquired the Grant Corundum Wheel Manufacturing Co. By 1905 the name was Norton Grinding Co., and sometime between 1919 and 1922 the name changed to Norton Co. Under this name the company made bench and pedestal grinders, which is what qualifies them for this list of manufacturers of woodworking machinery (grinders being used by woodworkers to create and sharpen cutters.)

Skipping over many years of history, in 1990 the company was acquired by its current owner, the French conglomerate Saint-Gobain.

Charles H. Norton was an important inventor for this company, although he was unrelated to Franklin B. Norton. From 1886 through 1890 he worked at machine tool maker Brown & Sharpe, where he helped design grinding machines. He left Providence, RI, for Detroit, and became a partner in Leland, Faulconer & Norton Co. In about 1896 he returned to Brown & Sharpe. After designing a cylindrical grinding machine he wanted to design a heavier-duty machine that could take heavier cuts. Unable to convince his superiors at Brown & Sharpe, he joined Norton Emery Wheel Co. where he designed a series of machines that proved to be very useful to the nascent automotive industry.

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