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Manufacturers Index - Hamilton Tool Co.
Last Modified: Nov 19 2018 10:52AM by Jeff_Joslin
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History of Hamilton Tool Co. is a bit confusing because there was more than one company by that name. Our interest is in the one established in 1926, which made made a sensitive drilling machine, a machine specialized for drilling small holes at high speed, and with a delicate touch so that the operator could avoid breaking the tiny drill bits.

In 1892 Adolph Muehmatt of Cincinnati, Ohio, who had emigrated from Switzerland only the year before, began manufacturing engravers' supplies. He soon began manufacturing a clever ball vise of his own design. A 1922 ad claims that he had been manufacturing sensitive drilling machines since 1892 but we have found no independent corroboration of that claim. However, in 1920 he introduced an improved sensitive drilling machine, for which a patent was issued in 1924. This drill was quite successful for Mr. Muehlmatt.

Meanwhile, in 1922-3 Oscar E. Schlichter, of Hamilton, Ohio, had patented a meat and vegetable slicer similar in design to the ubiquitous hand-cranked meat grinder that clamped to the edge of a table or counter. In 1926 he established a new company, the Hamilton Tool Co., to manufacture his slicer and make dies and tooling for the regional market. He obtained permission from the receivers of the recently bankrupted Hamilton Machine Tool Co. to use the similar name. In any event, Schlichter's new company seems to have done quite well and developed a diverse product line.

In 1937 Muehlmatt died. The assets of his business were acquired by Hamilton Tool Co., which organized it as the A. Muehlmatt Division of Hamilton Tool Co., and continued manufacture of his line of drill presses. They improved upon Meuehlmatt's design in Frederick Schlichter's patent of 1942 which added variable speed control. We have reports of engine lathes and larger upright drills bearing the Hamilton Tool Co. name. We suspect that these products were from the Hamilton Machine Tool Co., which was for a time known as the Hamilton Tool Co. (not to mention that people are often not careful to accurately transcribe makers' names).

After the war the Hamilton Tool Co.'s Muehlmatt Division continued to manufacture the sensitive drill but the focus of the rest of the company shifted to products for the printing and graphic-arts industries. In 1960 Muehlmatt Division obtained a patent for a set of improvements to the 1942 patent, aimed at improving drilling accuracy and making the machine easier to build and maintain.

At some point, likely in the early 1960s, the drilling machine—and perhaps the entire Muehlmatt Division—became, in whole or in part, the Precision Drilling Machine Co. of Yadkinville, North Carolina. By the 1980s the drilling machine was being manufactured by REBB Industries of Yadkinville, which, as of last report, was still able to provide some parts and service for these sensitive drilling machines.

Information Sources

  • 1875-6 Boyd's Combined Business Directory, under Tool Makers: "Hamilton Tool Co., Caroline op. G. W. R." This business of the same name is unrelated.
  • June 1913 Machinery. "Universal Ball Vise: Adolph Muehlmatt, Cincinnati, Ohio. The 'Rex' universal ball vise, as it is known, is mounted on a turntable revolving on a ball bearing. If desired, this bearing may be removed and the turntable locked to the base. The vise may be tilted to any desired angle In the ring pad upon which It rests, and the turntable, with the jaws, may be revolved to bring the work into the most convenient position for the mechanic."
  • 1920 trademark registration #15096 of the "A. M." name for a sensitive drilling machine, to Adolph Muehlmatt.
  • 1922 ads and article in The Iron Age, Machinery, and American Machinist.
  • 1934 trade catalogs from Adolph Muehlmatt on Maximus and Maxi-Jr. Sensitive Drilling Machines, Maxi-Jr.-E. Super Sensitive Drilling Machines, and Sensitive Tapping Machine.
  • 2015 book, Hamilton's Industrial Heritage, by Richard N. Piland. "The Hamilton Tool Company began in 1926, after receivers of the bankrupt Hamilton Machine Tool Company agreed to allow the use of a similar name for the new business. The company, organized by Oscar E. Schlichter, designed and manufactured tools, dies, and jigs at its plan on B. Street. In 1940, the firm bought the Miami Valley Knitting Mill property at Ninth and Hanover Streets. After World War II, the company shifted to making printing and collating equipment, graphic-arts products, and printing presses, and it had great success. This 1963 aerial photograph of the factory shows several expansions and additions. In 1986, the company merged with the Stevens Graphic Corporation and moved from Hamilton within a few years."
  • A web search turned up a genealogy site that shows Adolph Muehlmatt arriving in New York from Switzerland on 16 June 1881, and settling in Newport, Kentucky. He was 24 years old at the time.
  • We learned of this maker in an owwm.org Shop forum posting by Ray Muno. Ray's drill is labeled, "Sensitive Drilling Machines / Sensitive Tapping Machines / Established 1892 / A. Muehlmatt Division of / The Hamilton Tool Co. / Hamilton, Ohio, U.S.A." The machine also has a tag from the U. S. War Dept., Chicago Ordnance District".
  • American Lathe Builders: 1810-1910 by Kenneth L. Cope, 2001 page 71