UPRIGHTS SET THE PACE IN ’88
The full-size floor care industry had its best year ever last year, with shipments exceeding 10 million units for the time. Although sticks declined slightly, canisters were up 4.3 percent, and uprights–which make up the bulk of the market–shot up 13.5 percent.
Although precise statistics aren’t available, the market for handheld vacs is estimated at 7.5 million units this year, up from 7 million units in 1987. And though usually considered more of a hardware than a houseware product, wet/dry utility vacuums are also an important part of the floor care picture. Shipments were about 1.8 million last year, with the industry poised to surpass the 2 million unit mark this year.
The tempo has definitely been turned up in the once sluggish floor care industry. The big players like Hoover, Eureka and Regina have been branching out into what had been their rivals’ exclusive territories. And lightweight convertibles like Singer’s Simon are defying the old categorizations, while broadening the full-size category. (more…)
Regina adds to upright line
Steps up with Housekeeper Plus at $100-$150
Building on the success of its low-priced Housekeeper upright vacuum cleaner line, Regina Company has unveiled Housekeeper Plus, a three-model line that should sell for $100 to $150.
Regina, long the leader in stick vacs, made its initial venture into uprights last fall with the Housekeeper, a sleekly styled line whose three models sold for $59.99 to $79.99 (after a $7 rebate).
“We’re really excited about Housekeeper Plus,’ said Jim Flynn, vice president of marketing at Regina. “It’s the perfect vacuum cleaner, really. It cleans on and above the floor, it’s powerful and it cleans all types of surfaces. All the attachments travel with you as you go–and it’s affordable.’
“We’ve been very successful with Housekeeper at the low end,’ said Flynn. “That product proved you could clean floors and above the floors with one vac at a very reasonable price. Now we’re going to translate that success to the mid-price range. The new three-model line builds upon the success of the base line, but has to deliver performance and features to justify the higher price.’
As Regina strengthens its upright line, it’s also taking aim at Hoover, the industry leader that Flynn castigates for what he sees as a lack of innovation. “By the end of ’88 we’ll be number two in total vacs, and probably number one in uprights. I expect Hoover to respond to Housekeeper sometime in the next five years.’ (more…)
NEW YORK–In a dramatic move designed to maintain its lead in the industry, The Hoover Co. has introduced Dimension, a state-of-the-art canister vac line that features electronic technology designed for total user control.
Hoover CEO Merle Rawson led up to the introduction of the line at a press conference here by saying that “we had record sales domestically in 1984 which generated record profits here and abroad, and in turn increased our market share. But what’s more important is this year and the rest of the decade and beyond.”
What the Dimension line will do for Hoover this year is plunge the company deeper into the electronic arena, with top-of-the-line Models S3283 and S3281, which feature LED display monitors for variable speed setting, airflow and a full-bag indicator.
The Silver Sand/Midnight Gray S3283 and the Slate Green S3281 also feature a 4.3 peak HP motor, which makes them the most powerful canister unit on the market. A remote control center is located in the handle, which contains an on-off switch, a neon ready light and variable speed control. The canister’s control bar activates the cleaner’s power and the rewind feature for the 22-foot cord.
Other features include inside tool storage, power nozzle, Quadraflex agitation, a built-in carrying handle, a double-walled insulated casing, all steel wands, a wide angle headlight, and edge cleaning brushes on both sides of the nozzle. Dimension also features a low profile design for cleaning in and under furniture. (more…)
Combination square: it’s often relegated to the back of the toolbox, but the 7″ combination square has loads of uses around the old house
A combination square is the kind of tool most people own because they needed it once, or thought they should get one, but that otherwise sits in the toolbox (for a long time) until a need comes up. But I’m not most people–and I’ve found so many uses for this indispensable and inexpensive little tool that it’s earned promotion from the toolbox to my tool belt.
A combination square is the marriage of a ruler and a square. The ruler slides through the body of the square, making it easier to accurately measure hard-to-measure items like the bends in sheet metal or the inside and outside diameter of a pipe. The square comes into play for anything from marking a board for a cut to calibrating tools to cut plumb and square.
How to Use It
Because the combination square has a ruler on it, you might assume that its primary function is to take measurements. But I find it most useful for replicating measurements and making accurate layout marks. For example, instead of measuring a dozen times around a door for a casing, I set the square to my measurement and run it around the door, holding a pencil to the nose of the blade in the groove that runs down the center. I can count on the measurement being absolutely accurate all the way around the door or window–unlike taking such a small measurement with a tape measure, which isn’t easy to get right once, and is even tougher to get right a dozen times.
When I do use the combination square to measure something, it’s in one of those oddball scenarios where no other tool will do, like marking cabinet drawers so the drill holes for hardware are in the same place on every drawer. This is all but impossible with a tape measure because you can’t accurately hook the tape and transfer the measurement around various panel profiles. The combination square is also the best tool I know for laying out cutouts for electrical devices when installing wood paneling. Not only can you use it to get the measurement from the wall, but you can use the same tool to mark square lines on the panel to be installed. Ditto for pipe penetrations like you’d find in a bathroom remodel–I can measure to the center of a stubbed-out pipe more accurately with a combination square than any other tool I have. (more…)
Files and rasps: these age-old hand tools are still relevant, but getting the most from them means using the right one for the job
If you could rummage through your grandfather’s toolbox, you’d probably find, among the hammers, planes, and chisels, an assortment of files and rasps.
Files–bars of steel into which a series of angled, shallow grooves have been cut–are still fairly popular on the shelves of home centers and hardware stores. Although they’re useful at shaping wood, where they really excel is at shaping metal.
Less familiar to most do-it-yourselfers are rasps. Rasps are like files in many ways, but are specifically designed to shape wood. Rather than rows of shallow cutting edges, their surfaces are covered with hundreds of tiny teeth. In good condition, they can remove wood quickly without excessive clogging.
How to Use Them
Hardened steel files are excellent at sharpening a wide variety of tools, such as axes, paint scrapers, masonry chisels, and drawknives. They also can be used to widen holes drilled in metal or wood, as well as to de-burr holes and the cut edges of sheet metal.
Like files, rasps are available in a variety of shapes, and they’re graded on a scale of one to 15–the higher the grade, the smoother the surface they create. Rasps are particularly useful when shaping irregular forms; you can use them to chamfer beams or columns, shape repaired brackets and corbels, bullnose stair tread edges, or even to shape furniture legs.
Using a rasp or file is a two-handed process. Your dominant hand grasps the handle, while the other hand guides the end, applying light pressure during the push stroke. With a few exceptions, the cutting edges of rasps and files are designed to cut on the push stroke. When you draw back on the tool, remove your downward pressure, returning it on the push stroke. Keeping the pressure equal as you “saw” back and forth will almost always dull the edges of your rasp or file. (more…)
Sometimes an old trick comes in handy when we’re building structures for a model railroad. Reader Dave Klein sent in this reminder about how useful a homemade bench hook can be to help cut a variety of thin strip materials.
I’ve built a number of “tools” during my years in the hobby, but this simple bench hook has proven to be one of the most useful. My original version was built years ago as the first project I made in a woodshop class.
I actually have several different sizes of bench hooks for different jobs. Each one consists of three parts: a piece of plywood for the base and two cleats that I fasten with glue and nails or screws in a Z pattern. The lower cleat is a piece of dimensional wood like a 1 x 1 or 1 x 2 so it’ll withstand the pressure applied against it. The upper cleat is attached at the opposite top end of the base to serve as a stop for any strip material being cut with a razor saw or a back saw.
The drawing above shows the details of a small bench hook I made for use with my fine-tooth razor saw. By using hardwood for the upper cleat I can hold strips against it without cutting into the block so the end stays nice and square.
The wider bench stop in the photo is marked in 1″ increments to measure parts of several different sizes. I centered the top cleat so there’s room for anyone to make square cuts against it. As a left-handed modeler, I work at the near end and my right-handed friends can make their cuts at the opposite end.
I also have a bench hook fitted with a spring wooden clothespin that I’ve secured to the top cleat with a single pan head wood screw. It’s a snug fit, but the clothespin is still movable so I can align and hold items being soldered or glued. (more…)
Hand-tool manufacturer Channellock’s history dates back to 1886 when George DeArment started the Meadville, Pa.-based company.
More than 125 years later, the now fifth-generation company continues to thrive thanks to a commitment to excellence in both the product it makes in its U.S.-based plants and the people it employs.
Channellock recently hosted its 2014 Fiercely Made in Meadville media event at company headquarters. Media members were given a thorough education on Channellock’s history and the great lengths it goes to make quality hand tools. Channellock manufacturers hand tools such as pliers, nippers, wrenches, screwdrivers and nut drivers. The company is known for its trademark blue handles. Attendees were shown how the blue handles are applied.
Channellock is now led by President and CEO Bill DeArment and his two sons. Jon DeArment is vice president of manufacturing and engineering, while Ryan DeArment is vice president of sales and marketing. Bill DeArment’s daughter, Joanie, also works for the company. Channellock has a roster of 360 full-time employees. “This only happens here because we have good people,” Bill DeArment said. “If we don’t have good people, none of us would be here.”
Media members were given a tour of the company’s two Meadville manufacturing plants and were shown how a tool is made from the beginning die-cast to it being put in the carton for shipping.
Channellock has four key guiding principles it stresses throughout the organization–principles that date back to founder George DeArment:
* Good management is never far from the factory floor.
* People count more than machines.
* Bigger does not always mean better.
* Dedication to excellence is the surest way to surmount adversity and to prosper. (more…)