Holding Strong Since 1941
The legend of Wilton begins in 1941, when Hugh W. Vogl, a Czech immigrant, founded the vise manufacturing company naming it after the cross street where the original company building was located: Wilton Avenue and Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago, IL.
Vogl designed a 4” vise with a unique patented bullet design known at the time
as the 40S Machinist Vise. The fine
threaded spindle accurately fit in a horizontal anchored, unbreakable malleable
nut. This created an even, central pull,
which eliminated dead motion and unnatural strain on the nut. The thread on this vise was completely
enclosed keeping it clean from contaminates and well lubricated for years of
smooth operation. The steel key built
into the base of the main body guides the movable jaw in a precisely broached
keyway which is machined to .002” tolerances which eliminates wear and
preventing side twist regardless of pressure exerted.
1941 through 1945, the new Wilton 40S machinist vise was manufactured in Chicago
and sold solely to the US Government.
Most vises were used in munitions factories or in manufacturing of
equipment used during WWII.
the war ended, the government dumped their surplus of tools and equipment into
the marketplace at huge discounts.
Because Wilton vises were only sold to the government, and did not have
a distribution network in place, the surplus of vises now flooded the
marketplace from the government, and nearly forced Wilton out of business.
Vogl, together with his son Alex who began working with his father in 1951, set
out to build a solid distribution network.
They decided to start with the automotive supply distribution network
which was on the post war rise. Simultaneously, they decided it was time to
expand the Wilton product line. In 1950,
the 540 light-duty carriage clamps and 900 series heavy-duty machinist clamps
were added to the line. These clamps
were tested to deliver the maximum possible strength for each once of weight
with a body made of refined malleable pearlitic castings with tensile strength
ranging as high as 80,000 lbs psi. With
spindles machined from high quality cold rolled steel stock and fitted with
generously proportioned handles all sizes were equipped with modern precision
cut acme threads.
Wilton Tool Manufacturing stayed at
the Chicago location until 1957 when they transitioned to the suburban Schiller
Park, Illinois on Irving Park Rd just
west of River Rd. The vises were cast with either the Chicago or Schiller Park
locations which is one way to best determine production date and location of
the vise stamped with month/year on the keyway.
in 1952, with the assistance of Bill Ferrick and Charles Vogl grandson of the
original owner, Wilton branched out into the industrial distribution
network. By 1960, Wilton had become the
recognized and accepted brand name in the marketplace, and by 1965 Wilton had
become the preferred vise brand sold in the industrial market.
the late 1950’s, Wilton added the POW-R-ARM work positioners to their product
line. This was a modern method to
position bench work and speed up assembly lines. The Wilton Pow-R-Arm held the assembly or
work piece permitting the operator to have both hands free helping the operator
to not only work faster but with greater accuracy and without exertion. The work positioners were available in either
mechanical or hydraulic versions in multiple sizes and with several accessory
attachments for all types of manufacturing operations. In the 1960, Wilton continued the expansion
efforts adding hydraulic clamps and milling machine vises.
1970’s Wilton had discovered the retail market needed a quality vise line and
opened an additional manufacturing facility in Winchester, TN for production of
smaller less expensive vise to meet the
needs of the hobbist and DIYer.
Simultaneously in the Winchester facility, Wilton began manufacturing a
metalworking machinery line. The first products in this category were drill
presses and bandsaws.
In the effort to continue the takeover of the retail vise market, Wilton acquired the Warren Tool Group in late 1990’s. With facilities now in three states across the country, Wilton had managed to corner the entire vise market. The Columbian Vise, manufactured in Cleveland, OH was the other "Made In USA" vise and was included in the Warren Tool Company merger.
2002, the Wilton Tool Company and it's recent merger company, Warren Tool were
acquired by WMH Tool Group (Walter Meier Holding Company AG).
manufacturing of the Wilton industrial vises was moved from Schiller Park to
Carpentersville IL where they are still manufactured today. Wilton brand products were brought into a
family of quality brands recently acquired by WMH Tool Group. Those brands
included JET Woodworking and Metalworking and Powermatic Woodworking which
became a new house of brands.
2008, Walter Meier brands, JET, Powermatic and Wilton consolidated and
relocated their offices to Lavergne TN outside of Nashville from Elgin, IL. They continued to grow and survive through a very
difficult financial environment.
2014, Tenex Capital Management New York
City, NY acquired the JET, POWERMATIC AND WILTON brands from Walter Meier and
changed the company name to JPW Industries where they continue to grow and
outperform their competition with innovative, quality products and
all the changes, over 73 years, the
original bullet vise designed in 1941 by Hugh Vogl is still the largest selling
industrial vise in the marketplace. That's the meaning of Holding Strong Since