If you’ve ever worked extensively with power tools, chances are you are somewhat familiar with the Porter-Cable name. Even if you’ve never used one of their tools, you probably at least know they make power tools. Porter-Cable is a name that has been associated with power tools for a century and, despite many ups and downs, still remains a strong player in the market.
The Old Days
Porter-Cable is primarily known for:
- Creating the first portable belt sander
- Creating the first helical-drive circular saw
- Creating the first portable band saw
While this much is true, there is of course more to the story. Porter-Cable got its start in 1906 when F.E. Cable and G.G. Porter and R.E. Porter started a tool shop and jogging machine shop out of a garage in Syracuse, New York. They had to make a substantial investment for the time ($2,300), but in the end it was worth it. They had enough success that in a few years they were able to delve into power tools and created their own line of power lathes. Just a few years later in 1917 they bought their own plant in Syracuse.
In 1926, Art Emmons, Porter-Cable’s Chief Engineer, created the portable electric belt sander. It was called the Take-About Sander, and with this Porter-Cable began to carve out their own niche in the form of portable power tools. A few short years later, the same engineer created the helical-drive circular saw – his design is still the most used design in circular saws used to this very day.
The Inevitable Buyout
Things continued apace until the company was sold in 1960 to Rockwell International, a huge American industrial conglomerate. Rockwell got rid of the Porter-Cable name and moved the headquarters to Jackson, Tennessee. They also created a line of low-end power tools solely to compete with Black and Decker. Unfortunately, these tools had many problems and ultimately the brand image was damaged.
In 1981, Pentair, Inc. (a company mostly focused on water technologies such as pumps, etc.) acquired the power tool group of Rockwell International, i.e. Porter-Cable and Delta Machinery. Pentair quickly reinstated the Porter-Cable name and focused on creating top-of-the-line power tools for professionals. A few years later, they created the electric random orbital sander, the very first of its kind. It was a boom time for the company, during which they saw a huge expansion in distribution and sales. Porter-Cable even had a collection of materials put in the Smithsonian Institution in 1996.
In 2000, Porter-Cable was formally consolidated with Delta Machinery. Both were part of the Pentair family, so it was a natural choice. About this time, Pentair also bought out DeVilbiss Air Power Company and began releasing air tools, compressors, pressure washers, and generators under the Porter-Cable name.
In 2005, everything came full circle, as longtime rival Black and Decker acquired Porter-Cable as part of Pentair Tools Group.
As you can see, Porter-Cable has had its trials and tribulations, but the traditional of quality has returned time and time again. People these days know that if they are looking for wood routers for sale or any kind of power tools, they can look to Porter-Cable. This company makes great tools of any stripe, whether it be a router table or circular saw.
About the Author: Mike Rocha is an engineer from Florida with a passion for woodworking. As an engineer and hobbyist woodworker, he uses wood routers regularly and recognizes the ingenuity and versatility that they represent. Being an electrical engineer who designs and develops medical imaging systems, Mike appreciates more than most the ingenious simplicity of these tools. Check out his website if you are looking for a router table or wood routers for sale.
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