Alloy Artifacts  

Sherman-Klove and S-K Tools

[Logo on Early S-K Chrome Socket]
Logo from An Early S-K Chrome Knurled-Base Socket, ca. 1935.

Table of Contents


Introduction

The Sherman-Klove Company is best known for its S-K Tools division, a well-known manufacturer of automotive hand tools continuing in operation today. This article will cover the time period from the founding of Sherman-Klove in 1914 up through the mid 1960s, with the acquisition by Symington-Wayne.


Company History

For the early history of Sherman-Klove we turn to a timeline history provided by Berland's Tools [External Link], a company with family connections to one of the founders. Sherman-Klove was founded in Chicago by Mason H. Sherman and Noah Grover Klove, initially as a maker of screw-machine products, including cap screws and nuts.

The Berland's article gives the founding date as 1914, but a report from the State of Illinois gives the company's incorporation date as August 31, 1916.

[1916 Notice for Sherman-Klove]
Fig. 1. 1916 Notice for Sherman-Klove. [External Link]

Fig. 1 shows the entry for Sherman-Klove on page 82 of a 1916 Biennial Report from the State of Illinois.

[1917 Ad for Sherman-Klove]
Fig. 2. 1917 Advertisement for Sherman-Klove.

Fig. 2 shows an ad for Sherman-Klove, as published on page 807 [External Link] of the April, 1917 issue of Automobile Trade Directory.

The text notes their products as S.A.E. cap screws, plain nuts, and castle nuts, and also notes their interest in special orders.

After the end of WWI Sherman-Klove continued to specialize in screw-machine products, and likely found a ready market with the fast-growing automotive industry.

[1919 Notice for Sherman-Klove]
Fig. 3. 1919 Notice of Capabilities for Sherman-Klove. [External Link]

Fig. 3 shows a notice describing the production capabilities of the Sherman-Klove factory, as published on page 535 of the September 25, 1919 issue of Iron Age.

The heading suggests that they were especially interested in making automobile accessories, a rapidly growing market at the time.


Departure of Noah G. Klove

By 1924 Noah G. Klove, one of the company's founders, had left the company and was no longer active in its management.

[1924 Notice Regarding Noah G. Klove]
Fig. 4. 1924 Notice Regarding Noah G. Klove. [External Link]

Fig. 4 shows a notice about Noah G. Klove, as published on page 8 of the March, 1924 issue of the Journal of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Although we don't have detailed information on their products, the company probably produced socket blanks and other turned products for various automotive tool makers. An earlier version of the Berland's article (unfortunately no longer available) specifically mentioned that by 1927 Sherman-Klove was making socket wrenches for Hinsdale Manufacturing, and other Chicago-based tool companies such as Duro Metal Products could have been customers as well.

During the 1920s Sherman-Klove is believed to have operated primarily as a contract manufacturer for other companies, and may have been responsible for much of the screw-machine socket production marketed by a number of companies. The 1930 Donnelley's Industrial Directory listed the Sherman-Klove Company under the category "Screw Machine Products" rather than "Tools", and gave their address as 3531 West 47th in Chicago.

The Brazil Stamping Company

By 1928 Sherman-Klove had established a Brazil Stamping Company subsidiary, which presumably would have manufactured tool boxes and other articles made by stamping. The "Brazil" part of the name probably derives from a Brazil Motors vehicle maker in nearby Brazil, Indiana, which at one time had a stamping plant in Chicago. A later catalog for "Brazil Tools" lists the address for the Brazil Stamping Division as 4715 South Central Park Avenue in Chicago.

Several published references to the Brazil Stamping subsidiary from the 1920s or 1930s have been found, but more research is needed in this area.

The Formation of S-K Tools

In 1932 Sherman-Klove formed an S-K Tools division and began offering tools under the S-K brand, using a design with "S-K Tools" in a diamond as a logo. The company filed a trademark application for the S-K diamond logo in 1933, with December of 1932 listed as the first use date, so we can assume that as the starting date for the tools division. The S-K Diamond logo was frequently affixed to socket sets as a decal or metal plate, and an example can be seen on the S-K No. 4168 Socket Set below.

There's an interesting story behind the formation of S-K Tools, as related on the Berland's Tools web site. According to Berland's, the impetus for S-K Tools came from the failure of Hinsdale Manufacturing, a major customer. When Hinsdale closed during the depression, it left S-K with a large inventory of unsold goods, and S-K Tools was formed to handle this inventory. In any event, S-K Tools quickly developed a solid reputation for quality tools, and by the early 1940s had a significant share of the market for sockets. (As a side note, Hinsdale did recover and resumed operations; see our article Hinsdale in Hindsight for more information.)

Brazil Tools

Around the same time that S-K Tools was formed, Sherman-Klove created a parallel brand called "Brazil Tools" to handle contract production.

We rediscovered the existence of this line in 2008 when we acquired a "Brazil Tools" brochure in a box of older literature, which also included a 1939 S-K catalog. Upon comparison of the two catalogs, it became apparent that the two lines of tools were virtually identical. Even the model numbers "matched" in a sense, with the four-digit Brazil Tools numbers being derived by dropping a digit from the corresponding S-K model number.

[1939 Brochure for Brazil Tools]
Fig. 4B. 1939 Brochure for Brazil Tools.

The scan in Fig. 4B shows the front cover of the Brazil Tools brochure, undated but estimated to be from around 1939.

The company name is listed on the front as the "Brazil Stamping Division", with the address given as 4715 South Central Park Avenue in Chicago. This location is about five miles away from the 3531 West 47th Street address for the S-K's main offices.

Although the tools were the same as the S-K counterparts, the Brazil Tools versions were not marked with a company name (unless requested by the customer), making them ideal for contract production. The sockets were marked "Chrome Alloy", effectively making this descriptive term into a brand.

Note that the bottom half of the brochure cover has been printed with the name of the local distributor for Brazil Tools, in this case apparently a local auto parts store.

This shows the other half of the strategy behind the Brazil Tools line — by printing retail-level advertising brochures for the products, any local store could offer Brazil Tools as its own "house brand".

We recently (2022) found listings in a 1940 Gamble's Auto Supply catalog for Tiger Tools Socket Sets that show almost the entire Brazil Tools product line, making it clear that this brand was an important part of S-K's strategy in the 1930s and early 1940s. More information on Brazil Tools can be found in the section on Contract Production.


The Round-Head Ratchet Patent

As part of the development of their line of tools, S-K had their engineer Theodore Rueb work on designs for new ratchet mechanisms. The result of this work was a landmark patent for the first fine-tooth round-head ratchet, issued as patent #1,981,526 in 1934. This ratchet mechanism was a radical improvement for its time, as the fine-tooth action was simple and reliable, and easy to mass-produce as well.

Theodore Rueb went on to develop further improvements to his original design, and S-K used the new mechanism for a very successful line of ratchets, scaled from 1/4-drive up to 3/4-drive. The "round-head" ratchet has remained one of the most popular ratchet styles in the seven decades since S-K's first development, and many modern ratchets are little changed from the earliest design.


Alliance with Lectrolite

In the early 1950s S-K formed an alliance with another tool company, the Lectrolite Corporation of Defiance, Ohio. The two brands were advertised together as S-K/Lectrolite, although the arrangement between the companies appears to have been a cooperative marketing agreement rather than a formal merger. Lectrolite had production capabilities for making drop-forged wrenches and handled that side of the business, while S-K concentrated on sockets and drive tools.


Acquisition by Symington-Wayne Corporation

During the 1960s a wave of mergers and acquisitions swept over the tool industry, probably driven by increased competition and the need for additional investment. In 1962 S-K and Lectrolite were purchased by the Symington-Wayne Corporation, and the tools began to be marked with the "S-K Wayne" trademark by 1964.

After the acquisition both S-K and Lectrolite remained in operation as subsidiaries of Symington-Wayne.

Acquisition of Kraeuter

At some point Symington-Wayne appears to have acquired Kraeuter & Company, an old-line maker of pliers and other tools, although we haven't found any details of the acquisition yet.

By 1964 the S-K Wayne catalog was listing a number of models of pliers, with a cross-reference to the older Kraeuter model numbers.

In 1965 Symington-Wayne introduced Kraeuter brand sockets and drive tools, which based on the similarities in design and construction were produced by the S-K Tools Division.

Acquisition by Dresser Industries

In 1968 Symington-Wayne (along with S-K Wayne and Kraeuter) was acquired by Dresser Industries, a large conglomerate. After the acquisition, S-K became the S-K Wayne Tool Division of Dresser, and Kraeuter became the Kraeuter Tools Division of Dresser.

Note however that a 1969 catalog from Dresser Industries shows an "S-K Tools" marking, so the "S-K Wayne" mark on tools was apparently discontinued under Dresser.

Acquistion by FACOM

In 1985 S-K was purchased by FACOM, a French conglomerate, and operated as a division of that company for a number of years.

More recently, in May of 2005 S-K was purchased by its management and once again operated independently as the S-K Hand Tools Corporation.


Patents

Sherman-Klove: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
1,981,526 T. Rueb12/07/193311/20/1934 Ratchet Wrench (Fine-Tooth Mechanism)
4270 Forged-Handle Ratchet
2,082,356 T. Rueb07/13/193606/01/1937 Ratchet Wrench
2,103,556 T. Rueb03/13/193612/28/1937 Ratchet Wrench
2,174,502 T. Rueb08/18/193709/26/1939 Ratchet Wrench
2,188,846 T. Rueb10/14/193801/30/1940 Ratchet Device
2,232,477 T. Rueb05/15/193902/18/1941 Ratchet Device
S-K 42470 Ratchet
2,327,821 T. Rueb06/12/194208/24/1943 Universal Joint Friction Attachment
2,334,039 T. Rueb01/27/194111/09/1943 Friction Joint
2,977,824 T. Rueb12/08/195804/04/1961 Rotating-head Ratchet Wrench ["Roto-Ratchet"]

Trademarks

In 1933 Sherman-Klove filed a trademark application for a logo showing "S-K Tools" inside a diamond shape, the design used as a decal or metal plate on their socket sets. The filing listed the first use as December of 1932, and the trademark was issued as #318,718 on October 30, 1934.

Sherman-Klove: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
S-K Diamond Logo 318,718 12/01/193210/28/1933 10/30/1934 Sockets and socket wrench sets.
"S-K Diamond" logo.
Serial 343,010. Published 08/21/1934.
S-K 679,222 12/01/193211/24/1958 05/26/1959 Sockets, socket wrench sets, wrenches, other tools.
Published 03/10/1959.
SPASAVER 689,480 09/26/195811/24/1958 12/08/1959 Display boards for wrenches and pliers.
Published 09/22/1959.
Roto-Ratchet 769,473 12/05/196205/06/1963 05/12/1964 Wrenches.
Serial 168,236. Published 02/25/1964.
S-K Wayne 822,615 01/24/196404/07/1965 01/24/1967 Wrenches, pliers, punches, chisels, sockets, other tools.
Serial 216,023. Published 11/08/1966.

Tool Identification


SK-Diamond Logo

[SK-Diamond Logo]
Fig. 4C. SK-Diamond Logo.

The scan in Fig. 4C shows the SK-Diamond logo as it was presented for trademark 318,718.


Manufacturing Dates

Older S-K tools were generally not marked with an explicit manufacturing date. Thus any estimate of production dates must be made based on other factors, such as marking styles, patents, or construction details.

The list below provides guidelines that may help estimate manufacturing dates for some tools.


References and Resources

The photographs and observations of particular tools are based on items in the Alloy Artifacts collection.

Information on the early history of Sherman-Klove and S-K Tools was obtained from Berland's Tools [External Link], a company with connections to the Sherman family.


Catalog Coverage

The table below summarizes our catalog resources for S-K and related brands.

Title Year Notes
    S-K Tools (1938):
S-K Tools / Tool and Tackle Boxes 1938 No copyright, dated February 15, 1938. 24 pages.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.
Offset box wrenches illustrated with plain shanks.
Lists 33xxx chrome-vanadium offset box wrenches in long/short styles.
Lists 401xx sockets with "S-K Chrome" marking.
Lists 41353 and 41653 flex handles with 1/2 square end broach.
Lists 4070R 1/2-drive reversible ratchet with forged handle.
Lists round-head ratchets 45170 (3/8) and 42470 (1/2).
Round-head ratchets with round handle.
Lists work benches, tool chests, and tackle boxes on pages 13-18.
Lists carbon-steel "Carb-O-Mang" socket sets on page 22-24.
    S-K Socket Wrench Sets and Parts (1939):
S-K Socket Wrench Sets and Parts 1939 No copyright, dated January 15, 1939. Dealer net prices. 20 pages.
Offset box wrenches illustrated with plain shanks.
Lists 33xxx chrome-vanadium offset box wrenches in long/short styles.
Lists 401xx sockets with "S-K Chrome" marking.
Lists 41353 and 41653 flex handles with 1/2 square end broach.
Lists 4070R 1/2-drive reversible ratchet with forged handle.
Lists round-head ratchets 45170, 42470, and 47170.
Round-head ratchets with round handle.
Lists No. 4000 Socketchest 71-piece socket set at $39.93.
    Brazil Tools Mechanics' Tools (1939?):
Brazil Tools Mechanics' Tools 1939? No copyright, undated. Fold-out brochure.
Acquired in same box with 1939 S-K catalog.
Shows parallel line of "Chrome Alloy" tools.
Price basis not stated, but seems to be dealer net.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.
Lists 4070 1/2-drive reversible ratchet with forged handle.
Lists round-head ratchets 4570 and 4770.
Round-head ratchets with drop-forged construction.
Lists No. 600 Socketchest 71-piece socket set at $39.98.
    S-K Socket Wrench Sets and Parts (1940):
S-K Socket Wrench Sets and Parts 1940 No copyright, dated February 15, 1940. Dealer net prices. 20 pages.
Offset box wrenches illustrated with plain shanks.
Lists 33xxx chrome alloy offset box wrenches in long/short styles.
Lists 401xx sockets with "S-K Chrome" marking.
Lists 41353 and 41653 flex handles with 1/2 square end broach.
Lists 4070R 1/2-drive reversible ratchet with forged handle.
Lists round-head ratchets 40970, 45170, 42470, and 47170.
Round-head ratchets with round handle.
Lists No. 4000 Socketchest 71-piece socket set at $38.93.
    S-K Socket Wrench Sets and Parts (1941):
S-K Socket Sets and Parts 1941 No copyright, dated May 15, 1941. List prices. 20 pages.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.
Offset box wrenches illustrated with paneled shanks.
Lists 33xxx chrome alloy offset box wrenches in long/short styles.
Lists 401xx sockets with "S-K Chrome" marking.
Lists 4070R 1/2-drive reversible ratchet with forged handle.
Lists round-head ratchets 40970, 45170, 42470, and 47170.
Round-head ratchets with round handle.
    S-K War Issue (1943):
S-K War Issue 1943 No copyright, dated 1943. 28 pages.
Wartime catalog, numerous items suspended.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.
No mention of alloy steel.
Lists 401xx sockets with "S-K" marking.
Lists round-head ratchets 40970, 45170, 42470, and 47170.
Round-head ratchets with round handle.
    S-K No. 649 (1949):
S-K No. 649 1949 No copyright, date inferred from catalog number. 20 pages.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.
Offset box wrenches illustrated with paneled shanks.
Lists 33xxx offset box wrenches in long/short styles, no mention of alloy.
Lists 408xx 1/2-drive deep sockets with cross-bar hole illustrated.
Lists only round-head ratchets 40970, 45170, 42470, and 47170.
Round-head ratchets with round handle.
    S-K Socket Wrench Sets and Parts (1950):
S-K Socket Sets and Parts 1950 Fold-out brochure B-850, date inferred from number. 8 pages.
Net prices to mechanics.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.
    S-K Socket Wrench Sets and Parts (1953):
S-K Socket Sets and Parts 1953 Fold-out brochure.
Net prices to mechanics.
    S-K No. 1053 (1953):
S-K No. 1053 1953 No copyright, date inferred from catalog number. 26 pages.
Includes Canadian mechanic's net price list dated March 15, 1956.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.
Offset box wrenches illustrated with paneled shanks.
Lists 33xxx offset box wrenches in long/short styles, no mention of alloy.
Lists 408xx 1/2-drive deep sockets without cross-bar hole.
Lists only round-head ratchets 40970, 45170, 42470, and 47170.
Round-head ratchets with round handle.
Lists 41653 flex handle with 1/2 square end broach, 9/16 cross-bar hole.
    S-K/Lectrolite Socket Sets and Parts (1957):
S-K/Lectrolite Socket Sets and Parts 1957  
    S-K/Lectrolite No. 958 (1958):
S-K/Lectrolite No. 958 1958 Date inferred from catalog number.
    S-K/Lectrolite No. 361 (1961, Full):
S-K/Lectrolite No. 361 1961 No copyright, date inferred from catalog number. 28 pages.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.
Lists "Groove Joint" tongue-and-groove pliers in sizes 10 and 12 inch.
Lists carbon steel wrench sets in open-end, combination, and box-end styles.
    S-K/Lectrolite Hand Tool Catalog (1963):
S-K/Lectrolite Hand Tool Catalog 1963 Fold-out brochure.
Subsidiaries of Symington-Wayne Corp.
    S-K Wayne No. 164 (1964, Full):
S-K Wayne No. 164 1964 No copyright, date inferred from catalog number. 32 pages.
Subsidiary of Symington Wayne Corporation.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.
Lists "Tongue 'N Groove" pliers in sizes 10 and 16 inches.
Lists pliers referencing old Kraeuter model numbers.
Lists carbon steel wrench sets in open-end, combination, and box-end styles.
    S-K Tools No. 91509 (1969, Full):
S-K Tools No. 91509 1969 Copyright 1969, dated October 1, 1969. 48 pages.
Division of Dresser Industries.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.
Lists "Tongue 'N Groove" pliers in sizes 6.5, 10 and 16 inches.
Lists wide slection of slip-joint and fixed-pivot pliers.
Lists carbon steel wrench sets in open-end, combination, and box-end styles.

Early Tools

The earliest tools offered under the S-K brand were sets of sockets and drive tools. According to the brief history outlined above, these sets would have been based on inventory originally intended for contract production; but in any event, the S-K sets were similar to those offered by Hinsdale, Duro Metal Products, Indestro, and other makers. (Examples on this site include the Durobilt Socket Set or Indestro No. 1536 Socket Set.)

The early S-K socket sets are now less commonly found, but we've been able to acquire one example for display. In addition, a very similar early socket set marked under S-K's obscure Brazil Tools brand is shown in a later figure as the Brazil Tools Early Socket Set.


1/2-Hex Drive Sockets and Tools

In its very early years S-K produced sockets and tools using the 1/2-hex drive size.


105 1/2-Hex Drive Ratchet with Drive Plug

[S-K 105 1/2-Hex Drive Ratchet and Drive Plug]
Fig. 5. S-K 105 1/2-Hex Drive Ratchet and Drive Plug, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1932-1934.

Fig. 5 shows an early 1/2-hex drive S-K 105 ratchet with a drive plug, marked only with the S-K logo and model.

The overall length is 7.0 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The drive plug doubles as a screwdriver bit, a common feature of early hex-drive socket sets.


No. 115 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set

[S-K 115 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 6. S-K No. 115 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set, ca. 1932-1934.

Fig. 6 shows an early S-K No. 115 1/2-hex drive socket set in its cardboard box, consisting of a 6 inch Ell handle and six double-hex sockets from 7/16 to 3/4.

The socket sizes are, from the right, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16, and 3/4. The sockets are marked only with the fractional size.

The tools and sockets are finished with cadmium plating.

[Top Cover of S-K 115 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 7. Top Cover of S-K No. 115 1/2-Hex Socket Set, ca. 1932-1934.

Fig. 7 shows the top cover of the S-K No. 115 socket set. The label is printed with "No. 115" and "7 Piece Socket Wrench Set", with "Manufactured by The Sherman Klove Company" and "Chicago, U.S.A." at the bottom.


1/2-Hex Drive 6 Inch Ell Handle from No. 115 Set

[S-K 1/2-Hex Drive 6 Inch Ell Handle]
Fig. 8. S-K 1/2-Hex Drive 6 Inch Ell Handle, ca. 1932-1934.

Fig. 8 shows the unmarked 6 inch Ell handle from the S-K No. 115 set.

The overall length is 6.6 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


1/2-Hex Drive 3/4 Socket from No. 115 Set

[S-K 1/2-Hex Drive 3/4 Socket]
Fig. 9. S-K 1/2-Hex Drive 3/4 Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1932-1934.

Fig. 9 shows the 1/2-hex drive 3/4 double-hex socket from the S-K No. 115 set, stamped with the fractional size on the side.

The finish is cadmium plating.


1/2 (Square) Drive Sockets and Tools

S-K's early production also included 1/2 square drive socket sets, and we have a fine example of one of these sets to display in a later figure. First though we'll look at some of the drive tools and accessories from the set.


Early 1/2-Drive Ratchet Handle

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive Ratchet Handle]
Fig. 10. S-K Early 1/2-Drive Ratchet Handle, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1932.

Fig. 10 shows the 1/2-drive ratchet handle from the early S-K socket set. The ratchet is unmarked, but the set was clearly identified by the S-K decal on the inside cover.

The overall length is 9.6 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The ratchet mechanism here is basically identical to that used by the Hinsdale H-1 Ratchet, but has been updated with a round knurled handle. The ratchet is covered by patent #1,650,085, issued to J.W. McDonough in 1926 with assignment to Hinsdale Manufacturing.


Early 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle with Drive Plug]
Fig. 11. S-K Early 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle with Drive Plug, ca. 1932.

Fig. 11 shows the unmarked 1/2-drive sliding Tee handle from the early S-K set.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The Tee handle is actually composed of three separate parts, as the sliding head can be removed from the handle bar, which has a stop-ball on only one end. The drive plug shown here works with the ratchet handle as well.


Early 1/2-Drive 18 Inch Speeder

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive 18 Inch Speeder]
Fig. 12. S-K Early 1/2-Drive 18 Inch Speeder, ca. 1932.

Fig. 12 shows the unmarked 1/2-drive 18 inch speeder from the early S-K set.

The overall length is 18.5 inches, and the throw is 4.0 inches. The finish is cadmium plating.


Early 1/2-Drive Valve Grinding Adapter

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive Valve Grinding Adapter]
Fig. 13. S-K Early 1/2-Drive Valve Grinding Adapter, ca. 1932.

Fig. 13 shows a 1/2-drive valve grinding adapter from the early S-K set, consisting of a sheet metal drive adapter holding a metal plate with tabs of various spacing.

The overall length is 2.2 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

In operation, the metal plate would be positioned to use the tabs with the appropriate spacing for a particular valve.

Other examples of valve grinding attachments include the Blackhawk T-11 Valve Grinding Adapter and Indestro 642 Valve Grinding Adapter.


Early 1/2-Drive 12-Point Sockets

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive 12-Point Sockets]
Fig. 14. S-K Early 1/2-Drive 12-Point Sockets, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1932.

Fig. 14 shows a group of three 1/2-drive 12-point sockets from the Early S-K Socket Set. The sockets are stamped with the fractional size flanked by a dot on each side, but without a company or brand marking.

The socket sizes are, from the left, 15/16, 31/32, and 1 inch. The finish is cadmium plating.


Early 1/2-Drive Double-Square Sockets

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive Double-Square Sockets]
Fig. 15. S-K Early 1/2-Drive Double-Square Sockets, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1932.

Fig. 15 shows a group of three 1/2-drive double-square sockets from the Early S-K Socket Set. The sockets are stamped with the fractional size flanked by a dot on each side, but without a company or brand marking.

The socket sizes are, from the left, 5/8, 11/16, and 3/4. The finish is cadmium plating.


Early S-K 1/2-Drive Socket Set

Now that we've seen some of the tools from the early set, this next figure shows the entire socket set in its metal case.

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 16. S-K Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1932.

Fig. 16 shows an early S-K 1/2-drive socket set in a metal case, consisting of a speeder, ratchet handle, sliding Tee handle, 20 double-hex sockets, seven square sockets, and several miscellaneous tools.

None of the tools in the set are marked with a company name, leaving the chipped decal on the inside lid as the only identification for the set. All of the tools are finished with cadmium plating.

The double-hex sockets are stored in the bay at the upper right. The socket sizes are, in the front row from left to right, 5/16, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, and 5/8. Continuing in the middle row from right to left, the sizes are 21/32, 11/16, 3/4, 25/32, 13/16, 7/8, and 15/16, and in the back row from left to right, 31/32, 1 inch, 1-1/16, 1-3/16, and 1-1/4. The sockets are marked only with the fractional size.

The double-square sockets in the upper left bay have sizes 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, and 9/16 in the front from right to left, with 5/8, 11/16, and 3/4 in the back from left to right. As with other sockets, the double-square sockets are marked only with the fractional size.

The miscellaneous tools in the set include a drive plug for use with both the ratchet and sliding Tee handle, a screwdriver bit, and a valve-grinding attachment. In addition, the set as acquired included a spark-plug socket with a handle bar, although these tools may not have been part of the original contents.

Currently we don't have a catalog reference for this set and so are unsure of the original specifications, but the set as shown is believed to be nearly complete. The 11/16 socket was missing when the set was acquired and has been replaced with the correct part from another set. In addition, it's possible that the set was supposed to include a 1-1/8 socket, as it's somewhat unusual to have a set with a 1-3/16 size without the 1-1/8 size.

[Decal from S-K Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 17. Decal from S-K Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1932.

Fig. 17 shows a close-up of the decal on the top lid of the early socket set. Although badly chipped, the upper part can be read as "S-K Tools", with "The Sherman-Klove Co." and "Chicago, U.S.A." in the lower section.

The metal case for the set measures 19.5 inches wide by 5.9 inches deep by 1.7 inches high.

The case has some interesting construction details that could have helped keep the cost low. In particular, the hinges for the lid have been formed from the case parts themselves, by rolling two tabs on the upper lid and punching two channels at the back of the lower case. In addition, the lower case has rolled edges at the top, providing increased stiffness with the use of lighter gauge metal.

Similar construction details have been observed in the metal cases from early Hinsdale Manufacturing socket sets, which is not surprising given Sherman-Klove's role as a contract maker for Hinsdale.


Alloy Steel Sockets and Drive Tools

The S-K line of knurled-base sockets was introduced in the early to mid-1930s and was part of a very successful line of tools, allowing S-K to control a significant share of the socket market by the early 1940s. The sockets combined a number of desirable features, including strong construction, tapered walls to reach tight places, and an attractive appearance with contrasting polished and matte chrome.

S-K produced this line of sockets in three drive sizes, 1/4-, 1/2-, and 3/4-drive. Sockets with 3/8-drive were also available, but for some reason were not made in the knurled-base design. Socket broachings were 12-point and 8-point, with certain sizes offered in 6-point and 4-point instead.

The knurled-base sockets remained in production for a surprisingly long time — until some time in the mid-1960s, as we will see shortly. Along the way there were a number of minor changes to the markings and engineering details, but each generation retained the same basic appearance and form.

The sections below will cover these changes in chronological order, though the exact dates are somewhat uncertain.

1/2-Drive Socket Tools

We will begin the discussion with the 1/2-drive line of sockets, as these were the most popular and are more readily available.


Early S-K Chrome 401xx Series Sockets

[Early S-K Chrome 401xx Series Sockets]
Fig. 18. Early S-K Chrome 401xx Series 1/2-Drive Sockets, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 18 shows a group of the earliest generation of S-K 1/2-drive knurled-base sockets, marked "S-K Chrome" and with the fractional sizes, but without model numbers. The socket sizes are, from the left, 7/16, 1/2, 21/32, 11/16, 3/4, and 1-3/16.

The highly polished chrome finish of the upper part contrasts nicely with the matte finish of the knurled base section, giving the sockets their distinctive appearance.

The sockets were constructed using a cold-broach process and have a machined recess below the broach area. This was the common practice for making sockets in the early 1930s, but surprisingly S-K continued to use cold-broached construction even after most of the industry had moved to hot-broaching. Apparently S-K had perfected their methods and felt confident in continuing this way despite the prevailing opinion to the contrary.


Early S-K Chrome No. 4237 1/2-Drive Socket Set

[S-K No. 4237 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 19. S-K No. 4237 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 19 shows an early S-K No. 4237 1/2-drive socket set, consisting of a model 40253 flex-head breaker bar, a cross-bar, and ten "S-K Chrome" sockets in the 401xx series.

The socket models and sizes are, from right to left, 40114 (7/16), 40116 (1/2), 40118 (9/16), 40120 (5/8), 40121 (21/32), 40122 (11/16), 40124 (3/4), 40126 (13/16), 40128 (7/8), and 40130 (15/16). (These model numbers aren't marked on the sockets, but are listed in the catalogs.) All of the sockets are marked "S-K Chrome" with the fractional size, except that the 5/8 socket is marked with only the size.


40253 1/2-Drive Flex Handle

[S-K 40253 1/2-Drive Flex Handle]
Fig. 20. S-K 40253 1/2-Drive Flex Handle, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 20 shows the 1/2-drive S-K 40253 flex-head handle from the No. 4237 set, marked with the S-K Diamond logo and a model number.

The overall length is 15.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The knurled handle is drilled for a cross-bar with a relatively small 3/8 diameter, sufficient only for lightweight turning.


40170 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet

[S-K 40170 1/2-Drive Forged Ratchet]
Fig. 21. S-K 40170 1/2-Drive Forged Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 21 shows an early 1/2-drive S-K 40170 ratchet, marked with the S-K Diamond logo forged into the handle, with "Drop Forged" on the back side.

The overall length is 9.3 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The model 40170 ratchet was an early and relatively primitive ratchet, and was probably first offered in the early 1930s, possibly before S-K introduced its alloy-steel socket line.

The ratchet remained available at least through 1939, but was not included in any of the standard socket sets in the 1939 catalog.


[Brazil Tools] Chrome Alloy 4070 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Reversible Ratchet

[Brazil Tools Chrome Alloy 4070 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet]
Fig. 22. [Brazil Tools] Chrome Alloy 4070 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet, with Inset for Edge View, ca. Mid to Late 1930s.

Fig. 22 shows a 1/2-drive [Brazil Tools] 4070 reversible ratchet with a forged body, stamped with the "Chrome Alloy" brand commonly used for S-K's contract production.

The overall length is 10.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The four-digit 4070 model number and "Chrome Alloy" marking indicate that this ratchet was sold through Brazil Tools, S-K's subsidiary for contract production. However, the 4070 ratchet was unusual in that it was also listed in the S-K catalogs (usually as the 4070R), as S-K needed a forged-body reversible ratchet to round out its line.

The model 4070 ratchet was a ruggedly made tool with a number of commendable features, including a relatively fine 28-tooth movement, low backdrag, and a soft-acting back side switch free of spastic movement during operation.

Had it not been for the introduction of S-K's hugely successful 42470 (and related) round-head ratchets, the model 4070 might have become quite popular and sold in large quantities. However, as it turned out this model was soon superseded by the 42470 Round-Head Ratchet, which incorporated the popular new fine-tooth mechanism.


S-K Chrome 40809 Drag-Link Socket

By 1939 the S-K catalog was listing individual model numbers for the knurled-base sockets, and the illustrations show that they retained the "S-K Chrome" logo. The model numbers (for the 1/2-drive shallow sockets) were assigned as "401xx", where "xx" is the socket size in 32nds. The addition of model numbers represents the second generation of the knurled-base socket series.

[S-K Chrome 40809 1/2-Drive Drag Link Driver]
Fig. 23. S-K Chrome 40809 1/2-Drive Drag Link Driver, ca. 1939.

Fig. 23 shows an early 1/2-drive S-K 40809 drag link driver, marked "S-K Chrome" with the model number.

The finely-detailed knurling and highly polished faces of the draglink blade show the high quality of production for this series.


S-K 401xx Series Sockets

By the mid 1940s the "S-K Chrome" marking had been replaced with a simple "S-K", plus the model number and fractional size. This change represents the third generation of the knurled-base socket series.

[S-K 401xx 1/2-Drive Sockets]
Fig. 24. S-K 401xx 1/2-Drive Sockets, ca. mid 1940s.

Fig. 24 shows a partial set 1/2-drive S-K 401xx series sockets, each marked "S-K" with the model number. (The model numbers are mostly visible on the larger sockets.)

The socket models and sizes are, in the bottom row left to right, 40118 (9/16), 40119 (19/32), 40120 (5/8), 40122 (11/16), 40125 (25/32), 40126 (13/16), and 40128 (7/8). The top row sockets are, left to right, 40130 (15/16), 40131 (31/32), 40132 (1 Inch), 40134 (1-1/16), and 40136 (1-1/8).

Note that these sockets include three of the less common sizes, 19/32, 25/32, and 31/32; a fourth size, 21/32, may have been available at this time as well. According to the S-K catalogs, the availability of certain sizes changed over the years. For example, the 1939 catalog offered all of the 19/32, 21/32, 25/32, and 31/32 sizes, but a 1957 catalog shows that the 21/32 and 31/32 sizes had been discontinued by then.

The approximate date for the change to the S-K logo can be inferred from the existence of certain unplated sockets bearing the new logo.

[S-K Unplated Sockets]
Fig. 25. Knurled-Base Sockets With "S-K" Logo and Unplated Finish, ca. 1944-1945.

Fig. 25 shows several knurled-base sockets marked with the new "S-K" logo, but with a plain steel finish instead of the expected polished chrome plating. Chrome finishes were known to have been discontinued during the 1944-1945 war years, due to government mandated rationing, so these unplated sockets were likely made during that time frame. This would place the transition to the S-K logo some time around 1944 or prior.


S-K B40826 1/2-Drive 13/16 "Buick Special" Deep Socket

By the late 1930s S-K was offering deep sockets with extra-thin walls for Buick spark-plug service. These "Buick Special" models were available in a 13/16 or 7/8 size, and the model numbers carried a "B" prefix to distinguish them from the standard 408xx sockets. The catalog noted that the sockets were not guaranteed, due to the extra-thin walls.

[S-K B40826 1/2-Drive Buick 13/16 Deep Socket]
Fig. 26. S-K B40836 1/2-Drive Buick Deep Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 26 shows a 1/2-drive S-K B40826 13/16 deep socket for Buick spark-plugs, marked "S-K" above the knurled band. The socket is equipped with a cross-bar hole, a standard feature for the earlier spark-plug sockets.

The overall height is 3.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished upper walls.


[Brazil Tools] 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet

This next figure shows one of the round-head fine-tooth ratchets produced by S-K, marked with the earliest of their several patents on ratchet mechanisms.

[Brazil Tools 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet]
Fig. 27. [Brazil Tools] 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet, with Inset for Back Side, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 27 shows a 1/2-drive model 4270 ratchet, stamped "Chrome Alloy" and "Pat. No. 1981526" on the front panel.

The overall length is 10.2 inches.

Although not marked with the S-K name, the ratchet can be readily identified as S-K production by the patent #1,981,526, assigned to the Sherman-Klove Company.

In addition, the distinctive forged handle is identical to the later S-K Model 42470 Ratchet shown below.

The four-digit 4270 model number indicates that the ratchet was contract production sold through the Brazil Tools line. (The 4270 model is derived from the standard S-K 42470 model number.) This in turn explains the absence of an S-K marking.

The inset shows the back side with two "T" letters stamped on the raised panel. These appear to be factory markings, as some chrome appears in the bottom of one, and the handle is too hard to be stamped by casual methods. We at first thought the ratchet might be production for Thorsen Tools, who were known to use a "TT" mark. But with the recent (2022) discovery that Brazil Tools supplied socket tools for the Gamble Stores "Tiger Tools" brand, we think it's likely that the "T T" marking is an abbreviation for "Tiger Tools". (See the Tiger Tools Socket Sets for more information.)

The ratchet is extremely well made, with the heavy forged handle hardened to the point that a file will barely touch it. The 50-tooth ratchet mechanism uses a pivoting pawl with three teeth on each side, providing a fine action without sacrificing strength.

The most notable detail for this particular tool is the patent #1,981,526, which was issued in 1934 as the earliest of a number of ratchet patents developed by S-K. This design was the first fine-tooth reversible ratchet on the market, or at least the first one to reach a wide market.

S-K's tool engineer T. Rueb went on to make a number of improvements to this basic design, and eventually received at least seven ratchet-related patents for S-K; clearly the company had made ratchet development a priority during this period! Most of the ratchets of this model (and other drive sizes) found today will be marked with the later patent #2,232,477 issued in 1941.


42470 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet

Our next example shows a later 1/2-drive S-K model 42470 ratchet, a familiar and well-known model, but in an unusual configuration with the flat forged handle seen in the previous figure.

[S-K 42470 1/2-Drive Ratchet With Forged Handle]
Fig. 28. S-K Model 42470 1/2-Drive Ratchet with Unusual Forged Handle, ca. 1941-1945.

Fig. 28 shows an S-K model 42470 ratchet, marked with the S-K-Diamond logo and "Pat. No. 2232477" on a raised and polished panel. The forged body is hardened everywhere and is unplated, but with a polished head and panel.

The overall length is 10.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The model 42470 ratchet was first introduced in the mid to late 1930s and enjoyed a long and successful product life, with production continuing into the S-K Wayne period. The first ratchets were produced under patent #1,981,526, while later models used the improved mechanism in patent #2,232,477. This patent was issued in 1941 to T. Rueb and assigned to Sherman-Klove.

Based on the second-generation patent and plain steel finish, we can estimate the manufacturing date as some time during 1941-1945, when wartime shortages of chromium forced manufacturers to forego the chrome plated finishes.

This particular tool presents a bit of a mystery though, as according to the S-K catalogs, the model 42470 was available only with a round shank and knurled handle. The flat forged handle of this tool matches that of the earlier model 4270 ratchet shown above, and also resembles their model 4070R reversible ratchet. Although these observations might suggest that this tool was an early prototype, the second-generation patent number wasn't issued until 1941, well after the 42470 models with knurled handles were available.

Our hypothesis is that the flat forged handles were normally reserved for Brazil Tools contract production, but during wartime production with quotas to meet, S-K may have run out of round-shank bodies and so used the flat forged body to make its standard 42470 model ratchet.


42470 1/2-Drive Round-Head Ratchet

[S-K 42470 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 29. S-K Model 42470 1/2-Drive Ratchet, ca. Mid to Late 1940s.

Fig. 29 shows an S-K model 42470 1/2-drive ratchet, with the conventional knurled handle.

The shank is stamped with the S-K-Diamond logo and "Pat. No. 2232477".

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is polished chrome.

The second-generation patent and chrome finish suggest production in the post-war period.


No. 4168 1/2-Drive Socket Set

[S-K No. 4168 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 30. S-K No. 4168 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 30 shows an S-K No. 4168 1/2-drive socket set, consisting of a model 42470 ratchet, a 41653 flex handle with a cross-bar, and 14 sockets in the 401xx series.

The socket models and sizes are, from the left, 40114 (7/16), 40116 (1/2), 40118 (9/16), 40119 (19/32), 40120 (5/8), 40121 (21/32), 40122 (11/16), 40124 (3/4), 40126 (13/16), 40128 (7/8), 40130 (15/16), 40132 (1 inch), 40134 (1-1/16), and 40136 (1-1/8).

All of the sockets are marked "S-K" with the model number, except for the 21/32 socket, an older "S-K Chrome" socket without a model number marking.

The 401xx series sockets have the distinctive knurled base and tapered upper walls illustrated in previous figures, and all have plain walls in the drive end.

The No. 4168 socket set was first offered in 1939 as an upgraded No. 4167 set, with the addition of the 42470 ratchet. This particular example was built up from a period toolbox based on the catalog description. However, it's possible that at some point the 21/32 socket in the set might have been replaced by a more current 25/32 size. (At the present time we don't have an S-K catalog for the mid 1940s period.)


40152 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[S-K 40152 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 31. S-K 40152 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle, with Inset for Marking Detail.

Fig. 31 shows a 1/2-drive S-K 40152 sliding Tee handle, stamped with the S-K-Diamond logo and model number.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the bar diameter is 0.56 (9/16) inches. The finish is chrome plating.


41653 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[S-K 41653 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 32. S-K 41653 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. Late 1950s.

Fig. 32 shows a 1/2-drive S-K 41653 flex-head handle, stamped with the S-K-Diamond logo and model number.

The overall length is 17.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This is a later version of the 41653 breaker bar with the handle drilled for a 7/16 diameter cross-bar, smaller than the 9/16 bars used with earlier tools. The handle is still equipped with a 1/2-drive broached end, allowing the flex handle to be used as an extension.


Fourth Generation Sockets with Drive End Recesses

For the fourth generation of the knurled-base sockets, S-K made an improvement to retain the sockets more securely on the drive. This was done by the addition of recessed grooves to the socket drive end, in line with the common practice of the industry. A brief background of the drive end recesses may be helpful here.

The earliest sockets were made with smooth walls in the drive end, relying on friction with the detent ball to retain the socket on the drive stud. Socket manufacturers had known from early on that adding a small recess to the drive walls would hold the sockets more securely, but adding such recesses would have required an awkward and time-consuming machining operation. (Readers interested in more background on the subject of socket drive recesses may want to read the patent #6,390,929 document, as it offers an excellent review of the prior art.)

However, as manufacturing processes were improved, various makers started adding drive-end recesses. Some of the earliest examples date to the mid 1930s on the 1/2-drive deep sockets made by New Britain, which were sold under their own brands and as the Craftsman "BE" line. Deep sockets made by Williams in the 1930s (e.g. model SD-1228) also have drive-end recesses.

Duro/Indestro appears to have begun adding the drive recesses to their sockets by 1944, based on the likely dates of the "D-I" sockets. (See our article Duro and Indestro Tool Identification for more information.) Snap-on introduced the drive-end recesses around 1950, replacing their older practice of drilling a hole in one drive wall.

At some point S-K began adding the drive end recesses as well, and although the exact date is unknown, it's probably reasonable to assume that the drive recesses were available by around 1955.

[S-K Sockets with Drive Recesses]
Fig. 33. Fourth Generation Knurled-Base Sockets With Drive Recesses, ca. 1955.

Fig. 33 shows a selection of the S-K's fourth-generation knurled-base sockets with the drive recesses.

The sizes are, from the left in the bottom row, 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 3/4, and 13/16; in the top row, 15/16, 1", 1-1/8, and 1-1/4. All of these are 12-point sockets.

[Close-Up Showing Drive End Recess]
Fig. 34. Close-Up of Socket Showing Drive End Recess.

Fig. 34 shows a somewhat odd photograph of the drive end of a socket, with back lighting to illuminate the oval-shaped drive recess. All four of the drive walls have such a recess.

One other minor change to the socket specifications occurred around this same time. In 1958 S-K changed the broaching for the three smallest 1/2-drive sizes, 7/16, 1/2, and 9/16, from 12-point to 6-point. The model numbers weren't updated for this change, so for example a 40114 socket could have either 12-point or 6-point broaching, depending on when it was made.

The date for this change was determined by consulting catalogs; an S-K/Lectrolite booklet from 1957 lists 12-point sockets in those sizes, but a 1958 catalog shows them in 6-point.


No. 4810 1/2-Drive Deep Socket Set

[S-K No. 4810 1/2-Drive Deep Socket Set]
Fig. 35. S-K No. 4810 1/2-Drive Deep Socket Set, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1946-1952.

Fig. 35 shows a 1/2-drive S-K No. 4810 socket set, a collection of nine 408xx-series deep sockets in a metal box. The set model number is given by a faded sticker on the side (see inset), and the 1939 S-K catalog lists a very similar No. 4808 set of eight deep sockets.

The socket models and sizes are, from the left, 40818 (9/16), 40820 (5/8), 40822 (11/16), 40824 (3/4), 40826 (13/16), 40828 (7/8), 40830 (15/16), 40832 (1 Inch), and 40836 (1-1/8).

The sockets all have a cross-bar hole for use with the Ell handle included in the set. At the time, deep sockets were intended primarily for spark-plug removal and were usually provided with a hole for use with a cross-bar.

The S-K 1/2-drive deep sockets probably went through the same generational changes as the shallow sockets. In particular, later versions of the deep sockets dropped the cross-bar hole and added drive-end recesses. Although the relative timing of these changes is not known, the 1953 catalog illustration shows that the cross-bar holes had disappeared by that time.


4V118 1/2-Drive 9/16 Specialty Socket

[S-K 4V118 1/2-Drive 9/16 Specialty Socket]
Fig. 36. S-K 4V118 1/2-Drive 9/16 Specialty Socket, with Inset for Broaching.

Fig. 36 shows a 1/2-drive S-K 4V118 specialty socket with a 9/16 hex opening, designed for accessing Ford (or other) connecting rod bolts. The socket is stamped "S-K" with the model number and fractional size, with a "Not Guaranteed" warning just above the knurled band.

The finish is chrome plating with polished upper walls.

This socket is designed with extra-thin walls due to limited space for the connecting rod nuts.


Fifth Generation Sockets: S-K Wayne Logo, From 1964

The last generation of the knurled-base socket series was introduced in 1964 with the change to the S-K Wayne brand. The Symington-Wayne Corporation had purchased S-K Tools in 1962, and in 1964 registered the S-K Wayne trademark and began using it on the tools. The knurled-base sockets were discontinued shortly after this, and were replaced by a new design with hot-broached construction and a fully polished finish.

[S-K Wayne 15/16 Socket]
Fig. 37. S-K Wayne 15/16 Socket, ca. 1964.

Fig. 37 shows an S-K Wayne 15/16 socket in the knurled-base style, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the base.

The S-K Wayne marking on the tools was relatively short-lived, as a 1969 catalog issued by Dresser shows the use of the mark "S-K Tools". This allows us to estimate the manufacturing date for the S-K Wayne mark as 1964-1969.


3/8-Drive Socket Tools

Currently we have only a limited selection of S-K's 3/8-drive tools, but hope to expand this section as time permits.


45170 3/8-Drive Ratchet

The fine-tooth ratchet mechanisms were also available in other drive sizes, as our next example illustrates.

[S-K Model 45170 Ratchet]
Fig. 38. S-K Model 45170 3/8-Drive Ratchet with Early Patent, ca. 1934 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 38 shows a 3/8-drive S-K model 45170 ratchet, stamped with the S-K-Diamond logo and "Pat. No. 1981526" on the shank.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the finish is polished chrome.

The model 45170 was a popular and familiar tool, and this particular tool uses the early patent #1,981,526 mechanism, with a 40-tooth ratchet gear. Even after 70 years the ratchet mechanism operates smoothly and shifts easily, a testament to the high quality production that went into these early S-K tools.


[Brazil Tools] Artisan 4570 3/8-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet

This next figure shows a 3/8-drive ratchet from the Brazil Tools line, produced for the Gamble's Artisan brand. More information can be found in the section on Gambles Stores.

[Artisan Model 4570 3/8-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet]
Fig. 38B. Artisan Model 4570 3/8-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet, with Insets for Back and Edge View, ca. 1941-1945.

Fig. 38B shows a 3/8-drive Artisan 4570 ratchet with a forged handle, stamped with the Artisan brand on the raised panel, with the model number and "Pat. No. 2232477" on the back side.

The overall length is 6.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This ratchet can be readily identified as S-K production by the patent #2,232,477, assigned to the Sherman-Klove Company. In addition, the distinctive forged handle is similar to the S-K Model 42470 Ratchet shown in another figure.

The plain steel finish suggests production during the 1941-1945 wartime years.

The four-digit model number shows that this ratchet was sold through Brazil Tools, with the number derived from the standard S-K 45170 number.


3/4-Drive Socket Tools

In the mid 1930s S-K began offering a line of 3/4-drive tools, with sockets similar in design to the 1/2-drive knurled-base sockets. These tools were selected by Sears Roebuck as their heavy-duty socket line.


Early S-K Chrome [47148] 3/4-Drive 1-1/2 Double-Hex Socket

[S-K 47170 3/4-Drive 1-1/2 Socket]
Fig. 39. S-K Model 47170 3/4-Drive 1-1/2 Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. Mid to Late 1930s.

Fig. 39 shows an early 3/4-drive S-K [47148] 1-1/2 double-hex socket, stamped with the fractional size and "S-K Chrome" above the knurled band, but without a model number.

The finish is chrome plating.


47170 3/4-Drive Ratchet

[S-K 47170 3/4-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 40. S-K 47170 3/4-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1941-1942.

Fig. 40 shows a 3/4-drive model 47170 ratchet, marked with the S-K-Diamond logo and a "Pat. Pend." notation. The overall length is 18.2 inches.

The ratchet was disassembled for cleaning and to check the mechanism, which is the improved design covered by S-K's patent #2,232,477. The finish is cadmium plating, which together with the patent pending status suggests a manufacturing date in 1941 or 1942.

The relatively large diameter of the head allows space for 70 teeth in the ratchet gear, which is complemented by a pawl having four teeth on each side. This combination gives the ratchet both great strength and an extremely fine action, especially for such a heavy-duty tool.

These ratchets must have been a cause of great excitement when they were introduced in the mid 1930s, as other heavy-duty ratchets of the time had only very coarse actions. At least one major customer was very impressed: Sears Roebuck chose S-K to supply its Craftsman 3/4-drive tools and sockets, even after the contract for the other drive sizes had gone to New Britain Machine. The Craftsman catalogs show that S-K continued to supply the 3/4-drive tools at least until 1949.

Examples of S-K 3/4-drive tools made for Craftsman can be seen in a later section on Contract Production for Craftsman.


Box-End Wrenches

Sherman-Klove was known primarily as a maker of screw-machine products and probably had only limited (if any) drop-forging capabilities. Tools such as wrenches were normally produced by drop-forging, so it's not surprising that S-K initially offered only a limited selection of wrenches.

[1941 Catalog Listing of S-K Offset Box Wrenches]
Fig. 41A. 1941 Catalog Listing of S-K Offset Box Wrenches.

The 1941 S-K catalog offered two series of wrench models, both of the offset double-box style: the 335xx series of short offset wrenches, and the 330xx series of long offset wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 41A shows the listing for offset box wrenches, as published on page 3 of the 1941 S-K "Socket Sets and Parts" catalog.

The catalog description for these wrenches notes the use of chrome alloy steel, and the illustration shows the wrenches with raised oval panels.

A second series of wrenches was available in cadmium plating at slightly lower prices, with model numbers in a parallel 43xxx series.

[1938 Catalog Illustration of S-K Offset Box Wrenches]
Fig. 41B. 1938 Catalog Illustration of S-K Offset Box Wrenches.

Our earliest reference for the S-K box wrenches is the 1938 catalog, which offered the same models and sizes as noted above, but with a couple of interesting differences: (1) the wrenches are noted as being made of chrome vanadium steel, rather than the chrome alloy noted in 1941, and (2) the illustration shows the wrenches with plain oval shanks, without the raised panels shown in 1941.

The scan in Fig. 41B shows the illustration for the long offset box wrenches, as published on page 2 of the 1938 S-K catalog. The wrench models offered in 1938 were substantially the same as the 1941 catalog listing.

Note the plain oval shanks, without the raised oval panel seen in the 1941 illustration.

Additional catalog review reveals that the steel specification for the box wrenches changed to "Chrome Alloy" in 1940, but the illustration didn't show paneled shanks until 1941.

At the beginning of this section we noted that S-K didn't have facilities for drop-forging, and presumably would have needed to have the box wrenches made as contract production. That immediately raises the question of which company actually made the wrenches.

When we started this article (many years ago!) we assumed that Lectrolite would have made the box wrenches for S-K, in light of their well-known collaboration during the 1950s. However, as we gathered examples of Lectrolite's early production, it became apparent that their production through the mid 1940s was quite rough in terms of fit and finish, and that none of the early Lectrolite wrenches matched the observed style of the S-K box wrenches. This seemed to rule out Lectrolite as the production partner, at least for the mid 1930s to mid 1940s period.

So the question of which company actually made the wrenches is open again, and of course when it comes to a question about contract production, Duro/Indestro and Vlchek are always the usual suspects. Both companies were highly capable and eager to supply contract production.

Fortunately there were enough differences in the production characteristics of the two companies that it's usually easy to distinguish their production. In the 1930s and early 1940s Duro/Indestro preferred to work with chrome-vanadium steel, while Vlchek almost always used chrome-molybdenum steel.

Duro produced wrenches with oval shanks in the mid 1930s, but by the late 1930s was making wrenches with dart-like "streamlined" raised panels. Vlchek's wrenches in the mid 1930s had round shanks, but production from the late 1930s to mid 1940s had flat shanks with raised oval panels.

From these considerations we can see that based on the steel specification and catalog illustrations, Duro/Indestro would have been the more likely partner from the mid 1930s to 1940, and Vlchek would have matched more closely from 1941 onward. The change in the steel specification to "Chrome Alloy" in 1940 opened the door for Vlchek's chrome-moly steel, and the illustration changed to paneled shanks the next year.

As it turns out, all but one of our S-K wrenches at this time can be identified as Vlchek production, with some from the earlier "WBA" series and others from the "WBH" series. In the following figures we have added links to show a corresponding Vlchek example where possible.

We do have one example of Duro/Indestro production for S-K, which can be seen as the S-K 33020 Offset Box-End Wrench in a figure below.

But What About Lectrolite?

By sometime around 1947 Vlchek switched to making its "WBH" series wrenches with a flat shank instead of the raised panels. Since S-K is known to have continued offering wrenches with raised panels into the 1950s, this indicates that there must have been another change in S-K's production partner.

By the late 1940s Lectrolite had refined its production to the point where it could offer wrenches with polished faces and chrome-plated finishes. One of its new products was a "B" series of offset box wrenches, and as the reader can see in the Lectrolite B-2628 Offset Box Wrench, these are dead ringers for the Vlchek "WBH" series. The resemblance to the "WBH" wrenches is so close that they must have been intentional copies.

So did Lectrolite make the copies first and then offer them to S-K to win more business, or did S-K ask Lectrolite to copy the wrenches so it could keep the paneled design? Either way Lectrolite ended up producing wrenches for S-K, and by the mid 1950s the companies were jointly marketing tools as S-K/Lectrolite.

And we can now see that the best answer to "Which company made S-K's wrenches?" is probably "All of the above."


Long Offset Box Wrenches

The 330xx series of long offset wrenches were available in six sizes, 33012 (3/8x7/16), 33016 (1/2x9/16), 33020 (5/8x11/16), 33024 (3/4x25/32), 33026 (13/16x7/8), and 33030 (15/16x1).


33012 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[S-K 33012 3/8x7/16 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 42A. S-K 33012 3/8x7/16 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Edge View and Back Side Detail, ca. Mid 1940s.

Fig. 42A shows an S-K 33012 3/8x7/16 offset box wrench, stamped "S-K" with the fractional sizes on the raised oval panel, with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the back panel.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished panels and ends.

The shank is also marked with a forged-in number "1", visible at the right of the front panel.

The wrench closely resembles the Vlchek "WBH" series wrenches, which were produced from the mid 1940s into the 1950s, but with paneled shanks only until around 1947. Currently we don't have a corresponding Vlchek model with a paneled shank.


33020 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrenches

[S-K 33020 5/8x11/16 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 42B. S-K 33020 5/8x11/16 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Back Side and Edge View, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 42B shows an early S-K 33020 5/8x11/16 offset box wrench with "streamlined" panels, stamped with the model number and "Chrome Vanadium Steel" on the front panel, with the "SK" diamond logo and the fractional sizes on the back panel.

The overall length is 9.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, with losses due to wear.

The streamlined raised panels and "Chrome Vanadium Steel" marking are characteristics of Duro/Indestro production in the late 1930s and early 1940s.


[S-K 33020 5/8x11/16 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 42BB. S-K 33020 5/8x11/16 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Edge View and Back Side Detail, ca. Mid 1940s.

Fig. 42BB shows a somewhat later S-K 33020 5/8x11/16 offset box wrench, stamped "S-K" with the fractional sizes on the raised oval panel, with the model number and fractional sizes on the back panel.

The overall length is 9.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished panels and ends.

The shank is also marked with a forged-in number "3", visible at the right of the front panel.

The markings on this example are a bit different from the other wrenches here, as the back panel repeats the fractional sizes and omits the usual "Made in U.S.A." marking.

The wrench closely resembles the Vlchek "WBH" series wrenches, which were produced from the mid 1940s into the 1950s, but with paneled shanks only until around 1947. The corresponding model can be seen as the Vlcheck WBH2022 Offset Box Wrench.


33024 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench

[S-K 33024 3/4x25/32 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 43. S-K 33024 3/4x25/32 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Edge View and Back Side Detail, ca. Early to Mid 1940s.

Fig. 43 shows an S-K 33024 3/4x25/32 offset box wrench, stamped "S-K" with the fractional sizes on the raised oval panel, with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the back panel.

The overall length is 11.1 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished panels and ends.

The shank is also marked with a forged-in number "4", visible at the right of the front panel.

The wrench closely resembles the Vlchek "WBA" series wrenches, which were produced from the late 1930s through mid 1940s. The corresponding model can be seen as the Vlcheck WBA2425 Offset Box Wrench.


33030 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench

[S-K 33030 15/16x1 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 44. S-K 33030 15/16x1 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Back Side Detail, ca. Early to Mid 1940s.

Fig. 44 shows an S-K 33030 15/16x1 offset box wrench, stamped "S-K" with the fractional sizes on the raised oval panel, with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the back side panel.

The overall length is 14.5 inches. The original finish was chrome plating, but on this example most has been lost due to wear.

The shank is also marked with a forged-in number "2", visible at the right of the front panel.

The wrench closely resembles the Vlchek "WBA" series wrenches, which were produced from the late 1930s through mid 1940s. The corresponding model can be seen as the Vlcheck WBA3032 Offset Box Wrench.


Short Offset Box Wrenches

The 335xx series of short offset wrenches were available in three sizes, 33512 (3/8x7/16), 33516 (1/2x9/16), and 33520 (5/8x11/16).


33516 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[S-K 33516 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 45. S-K 33516 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Edge View and Back Side Detail, ca. Early to Mid 1940s.

Fig. 45 shows an S-K 33516 1/2x9/16 short offset box wrench, stamped "S-K" with the fractional sizes on the raised oval panel, with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the back panel.

The overall length is 5.7 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The shank has a forged-in number "2" visible to the right of the front panel.

This wrench shows production characteristics consistent with Vlchek, but currently we don't have any Vlchek examples in this short deep offset style. Presumably this would have been the evolution of the WB-series short deep offset wrenches to the paneled shank style, but we don't have a Vlchek catalog from the early 1940s to verify the models.


33520 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrenches

The next two figures show examples of the 33520 short offset box wrench, with differences in the offset design.

[S-K 33520 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 46. S-K 33520 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Edge View and Back Side Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 46 shows an S-K 33520 5/8x11/16 short offset box wrench with raised oval panels, stamped with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the raised panel, with "S-K" and the fractional sizes on the back panel.

The overall length is 6.5 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The shank has a forged-in number "3" visible to the right of the back panel.

The cadmium finish suggests production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.


[S-K 33520 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 47. S-K 33520 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Edge View and Back Side Detail, ca. Mid 1940s.

Fig. 47 shows another S-K 33520 5/8x11/16 short offset box wrench with raised oval panels, stamped with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the raised panel, with "S-K" and the fractional sizes on the back panel.

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The shank has a forged-in number "3" visible to the right of the panel.

Note that this example has a much flatter offset than the previous figure.

The wrench closely resembles the Vlchek "WBC" series wrenches, which were produced with paneled shanks from the late 1930s through mid 1940s. The corresponding model can be seen as the Vlcheck WBC2022 Offset Box Wrench.


The Lectrolite Connection

As we saw earlier in the section on Box Wrenches, S-K's use of contract production for its wrenches may have served as an introduction to the Lectrolite Corporation, a tool company based in Defiance, Ohio. By the mid 1950s the companies were jointly marketing their products as S-K/Lectrolite, with S-K supplying the sockets and drive tools, and Lectrolite providing wrenches, pliers, and other forged tools.


S-K Lectrolite O-1214 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench

[S-K Lectrolite O-1214 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 48. S-K Lectrolite O-1214 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Back Side, ca. 1953 to Early 1960s.

Fig. 48 shows an S-K Lectrolite O-1214 3/8x7/16 open-end wrench with raised oval panels, stamped "S-K Lectrolite" with the fractional sizes on the front panel, with "Alloy" and "Forged in U.S.A." on the back side panel.

The overall length is 4.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


S-K Lectrolite O-2526 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench

[S-K Lectrolite O-2526 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 49. S-K Lectrolite O-2526 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Back Side, ca. 1953 to Early 1960s.

Fig. 49 shows an S-K Lectrolite O-2526 25/32x13/16 open-end wrench with raised oval panels, stamped "S-K Lectrolite" with the fractional sizes on the front panel, with "Alloy" and "Forged in U.S.A." on the back side panel.

The overall length is 8.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, with extensive losses due to rust.


Contract Production

In its early years Sherman-Klove was almost exclusively a contract manufacturer, and in later years continued to offer contract production for various customers. Sears Roebuck was probably their most important customer, with S-K supplying the 3/4-drive Craftsman line from the mid 1930s through the 1940s.

From the early 1930s through the mid 1940s (or later) most of S-K's contract production was handled through a second line called Brazil Tools, and we'll begin with a look at Brazil Tools.


Brazil Tools and Chrome Alloy

As we noted earlier in this article, in 2008 we rediscovered an interesting fragment of early Sherman-Klove history that appears to have been virtually forgotten today. During the 1930s Sherman-Klove established a parallel line of tools under "Brazil Tools" brand, with nearly the full line of socket tools available under the alternate label. The Brazil Tools pieces were essentially identical to the corresponding S-K tools, except that the standard "S-K" or "S-K Chrome" markings were replaced with "Chrome Alloy" or just a model number.

The existence of this alternate line was discovered accidentally in a cache of catalogs and advertising literature from the 1930s and 1940s. Included among the numerous items were an S-K catalog from 1939 and an advertising brochure from a previously unknown name, Brazil Tools.

Upon examination it became apparent that the Brazil Tools items were identical to their S-K counterparts, as the engraved illustrations in the two catalogs were identical, and the catalog descriptions matched word for word. Even the model numbers matched in one sense, as the Brazil Tools numbers were derived by removing one digit from the corresponding S-K number. For example, an S-K 41653 flex-head handle was listed as a Brazil Tools 4653 handle with the same specifications.

The Brazil Tools brochure was printed without copyright and undated, but is probably from around the same time as the 1939 S-K catalog. (Originally we thought that the brochure might be a bit earlier than the catalog, but more recent information places it around the same time.)

Since the Brazil Tools pieces carried only generic markings of "Chrome Alloy" or a model number, with nothing to reveal the manufacturer, this product line would have greatly simplified contract production, especially for smaller customers. We think that this is the key to understanding how Brazil Tools fit into S-K's contract production strategy — with a stock of generic tools at hand, filling a customer's order for socket sets could have been as easy as slapping a decal on the lid.

Contents of the Brazil Tools Brochure

An earlier figure showed the front cover of the Brazil Tools brochure, printed so that it folds open to reveal information printed on both sides.

The contents of the brochure include many of the same items listed in the S-K catalogs of the time, including sockets and drive tools in 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4-drive, a selection of socket sets, and toolboxes of various sizes.

In the next several sections we'll highlight some of the tools listed in the brochure.

Reversible Ratchets

The brochure offered reversible ratchets for drive sizes 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4, with the illustration showing the 4070 1/2-drive forged body ratchet, and the text description noting that the ratchets were drop-forged. The listing included round-head ratchet models 4570 (3/8) and 4770 (3/4), corresponding to the S-K 45170 and 47170 models, respectively, but for some reason did not list a 4270 1/2-drive ratchet corresponding to the S-K 42470 model.

If we look at the collected examples of Brazil Tools ratchets in this article, we have two 4270 models (see this and this) and one 4570 model, and all of them have a distinctive forged body with a flat handle. This suggests that Brazil Tools intended to supply only forged body ratchets, rather than the ratchets with round knurled handles offered by S-K. One possible reason could be that the forged bodies offered flat surfaces that were easier to stamp with customer markings.

Since it's obvious that the 4270 models eventually became available, this suggests that the 4270 ratchets were not yet ready when the brochure was printed, and so the older 4070 ratchet was listed instead.


Chrome Alloy 1/2-Drive and 3/4-Drive Sockets

[1939 Catalog Listing for Chrome Alloy Sockets]
Fig. 51. 1939 Catalog Listing for Chrome Alloy Sockets.

The scan in Fig. 51 shows the listing for 1/2-drive and 3/4-drive "Chrome Alloy" sockets, as published in the Brazil Tools brochure from around 1939.

As can be seen in the illustration, the Chrome Alloy sockets are similar to but slightly different from the standard S-K 1/2-drive sockets. In the Brazil Tools sockets, the band of cross-hatched knurling extends all the way to the base, instead of forming a narrow ring of knurling. (Compare this illustration with the S-K Chrome Sockets shown previously.) In addition, the base appears to have slightly tapered walls.

The illustrated socket is placed next to the table for 1/2-drive models, but we're not sure whether the 3/4-drive Chrome Alloy sockets had this same design. (We've never seen a 3/4-drive Chrome Alloy socket to verify the design.)

These sockets (and the ratchets noted above) are the only tools that show any significant difference (except for markings) between the two brands.

It's likely that S-K chose to make their Brazil Tools sockets slightly different, in order to avoid a dead giveaway on the manufacturer. The standard S-K sockets have a very distinctive design that would have been immediately recognized.

The discovery of this listing cleared up a long-standing mystery regarding the origin of these Chrome Alloy sockets. Sockets of this style had been found from time to time, and although the resemblance to the standard S-K sockets is obvious, the manufacturer had been somewhat uncertain.

The next two figures will show examples of Chrome Alloy sockets, as collected "in the wild".


[Brazil Tools] Chrome Alloy [4034] 1/2-Drive Socket

[Chrome Alloy 4034 1/2-Drive 1-1/16 Socket]
Fig. 52. Chrome Alloy [4034] 1/2-Drive 1-1/16 Socket, with Inset for Broaching.

Fig. 52 shows a 1/2-drive Chrome Alloy [4034] 1-1/16 socket, marked "Chrome Alloy" with the fractional size.

The socket is not marked with a model number, but was identified as number 4034 by the Brazil Tools brochure.

The inset at the right shows the interior of the socket, with the broached area undercut to allow removal of the chips.


[Brazil Tools] Chrome Alloy [40xx] 1/2-Drive Sockets

[Chrome Alloy 40xx 1/2-Drive Sockets]
Fig. 52B. Chrome Alloy [40xx] 1/2-Drive Sockets, with Inset for Broaching.

Fig. 52B shows a group of four 1/2-drive Chrome Alloy sockets, each marked "Chrome Alloy" with the fractional size, but without a model number. The sockets closely match the illustration in the Brazil Tools brochure.

The sizes are, from the left, 1/2 [4016], 9/16 [4018], 5/8 [4020], and 11/16 [4022], with the model numbers from the brochure given in brackets.


Box-End Wrenches

Box-end wrenches were not listed in the brochure, but were included as part of the No. 600 set noted below.

However, we have seen examples of offset box-end wrenches with four-digit model numbers based on the S-K numbers, so these tools were apparently marked for and sold through Brazil Tools.


No. 600 Socketchest

As we noted earlier, the Brazil Tools brochure included a full line of socket tools in 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4 drive, as well as a selection of socket sets and tool boxes. This next figure shows the listing for the largest of the tool sets.

[1939 Brochure Listing for No. 600 Socketchest]
Fig. 53. 1939 Brochure Listing for No. 600 Socketchest.

The largest set in the brochure was the No. 600 Socketchest, a 71-piece collection of 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4-drive socket tools, along with a selection of short and long offset box-end wrenches.

The composite scan in Fig. 53 shows the listing for the No. 600 Socketchest, as published in the Brazil Tools brochure from around 1939.

The illustration shows the tools furnished with a large chest with two drawers.

The price was noted as $39.98 at the bottom.


Brazil Tools Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set

Somewhat after discovering the Brazil Tools brochure, we were able to acquire an even earlier example of the Brazil Tools production, a socket set matching S-K's production from the early 1930s. Based on this example, we now believe that the use of the Brazil Tools brand probably began around the same time (i.e. 1932) as the first use of the S-K brand.

[Brazil Tools Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 54. Brazil Tools Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. Early 1930s.

Fig. 54 shows an early Brazil Tools 1/2-drive socket set, consisting of a sliding Tee handle, two double-male extensions, and double-hex sockets in sizes ranging from 7/16 to 7/8. The tools are unmarked except for the sizes on the sockets, and the set was identified only by the fragile decal on the inside of the cover.

The socket set as acquired included the nine sockets shown, with sizes (from the left) 7/8, 13/16, 3/4, 21/32, 5/8, 19/32, 9/16, 1/2, and 7/16.

The original set probably included the two additional sizes 25/32 and 11/16, to fill in the gaps left in the row of sockets. The sockets are marked only with the fractional sizes, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The sockets and drive tools in this set are basically identical to the corresponding pieces tools in an Early S-K Socket Set from around 1932. See for example the S-K Sliding Tee Handle from the early S-K set.


[Decal from Brazil Tools Socket Set]
Fig. 55. Decal from Brazil Tools Socket Set, ca. Early 1930s.

Fig. 55 shows a close-up of the decal on the inside cover of the Brazil Tools set. Although the decal is badly chipped, the "Brazil" across the top can be recognized, and the "To" of "Tools" is still intact. The lines below have a partial "Chicago" and "Ill.", followed by "Made in U.S.A." in the border of the triangle.

In addition to the markings, the overall design with its two nested inverted triangles matches the logo on the front of the Brazil Tools brochure.

The fragile state of the decal shows one reason why Brazil Tools socket sets are rarely found, or at least rarely recognized. Since the decal provides the only positive identification, the set is just a few chips away from becoming just another early tool set of anonymous origin.


Brazil Tools Early 1/2-Drive Socket

[Brazil Tools Early 1/2-Drive Socket]
Fig. 56. Brazil Tools Early 1/2-Drive 13/16 Socket, ca. Early 1930s.

Fig. 56 shows an example of the sockets in the Brazil Tools set, a 1/2-drive 13/16 12-point socket marked only with the fractional size.

The finish is cadmium plating.

The inset shows the interior of the socket, illustrating the cold-broached construction. Although difficult to see in the photograph, the socket has a bored recess below the broached area.

This socket is basically identical to the Early S-K Sockets shown in an earlier figure, which are believed to date from around 1932. The S-K sockets are also unmarked except for the size, but several construction and marking details help to distinguish these sockets from other similar makes. In particular, the sockets are turned to give the upper walls a slight taper, and the sockets have a flat base with no indentations around the drive opening. Another detail to note is that the size marking has a small dot (or dimple) on each side. Finally, the band of cross-hatched knurling around the base is flush with the surface, rather than raised or depressed.


Fulton

Fulton was a well-known brand used by Sears Roebuck for "economy" or "value" tools from the early 1900s through at least the 1940s. This brand was listed extensively in the Sears catalogs from 1908 (or earlier) onward. More information on Fulton can be found in the section on the Fulton Tool Company in our article on early Craftsman tools.

After the introduction of their Craftsman brand, Sears continued to use Fulton as an alternate economy brand. In the 1930s Sears offered economy grade socket sets under the Fulton brand, and these sets have been identified as production by S-K Tools.


Fulton 1/2-Drive 13-Piece Socket Set

[Fulton 1/2-Drive 13-Piece Socket Set]
Fig. 57. Fulton 1/2-Drive 13-Piece Socket Set, ca. Early to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 57 shows a Fulton 1/2-drive 13-piece socket set in a metal box with a sliding cover. The set consists of a sliding Tee handle, a drive plug, an extension, and ten sockets ranging from 7/16 up to 7/8 in size. The tools are unmarked except for the socket sizes, and the only marking on the set is a decal showing "Fulton" and "Value Leader" on the top of the cover.

The socket sizes are, from left to right, 7/8, 13/16, 3/4, 11/16, 21/32, 5/8, 19/32, 9/16, 1/2, and 7/16.

The sockets are marked with the fractional size, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The tools and sockets in this set are basically identical to the tools in early S-K and Brazil Tools sets. (The set as acquired was missing the handle bar and drive plug, and these were borrowed from an early S-K set for the photograph.)

This set is also listed in as the Fulton 1/2-Drive 13-Piece Socket Set in our article on early Craftsman tools.


Fulton 1/2-Drive 9 Inch Extension from 13-Piece Set

[Fulton 1/2-Drive 9 Inch Extension]
Fig. 58. Fulton 1/2-Drive 9 Inch Extension, ca. Early to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 58 shows the 1/2-drive 9 inch extension from the Fulton 13-piece socket set. The extension has two bands of decorative cross-hatched knurling, but is otherwise unmarked.

The overall length is 9.2 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


Fulton 1/2-Drive 7/8 Socket

[Fulton 1/2-Drive 7/8 Socket]
Fig. 59. Fulton 1/2-Drive 7/8 Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. Early to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 59 shows an example of the sockets in the Fulton socket set, a 1/2-drive 7/8 double-hex socket, stamped with the fractional size. The base of the socket has a band of decorative cross-hatched knurling.

The finish is cadmium plating.

A comparison of this socket with the Brazil Tools Socket illustrated above shows identical design and construction features.


Sears Craftsman

In the mid 1930s Sears selected S-K's line of 3/4-drive sockets and drive tools for their Craftsman brand, and these tools were offered in the Craftsman catalogs as early as 1935. The identification of S-K as the manufacturer was made by the close resemblance of the ratchet and sockets to the S-K models, and by examination of the patent number (issued to S-K) in a photograph of a Craftsman 3/4-drive ratchet.

Production for Craftsman continued into the mid to late 1940s, as some examples are known to be marked with the "=Craftsman=" logo of this era.

The tools made for Craftsman were typically marked with a K-Circle manufacturing code consisting of a "K" inside a circle, although some were marked with a "BM" code instead. The "BM" code is believed to stand for "Brazil Manufacturing", a reference to S-K's Brazil Stamping Division. (See the section on Brazil Tools for more information.)

Additional examples of S-K 3/4-drive tools made for Craftsman can be seen in the section on Craftsman 3/4-Drive Tools in our article on early Craftsman tools.


Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-Drive 1-1/4 Double-Hex Socket

[Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-1/4 Socket]
Fig. 60. Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-Drive 1-1/4 Socket with Knurled Base, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1938 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 60 shows a 3/4-drive Craftsman 1-1/4 double-hex socket, stamped with the Craftsman block logo and a K-Circle manufacturer's code.

The finish is chrome plating.

The right inset shows the interior of the socket. Note the cold-broached construction with a relieved area below the broaching, to allow for chip removal.

The socket has tapered and polished upper walls and a band of finely cross-hatched knurling around the base, a design easily recognized as S-K production. An example of a similar S-K socket can be seen as the S-K [47148] 3/4-Drive Socket.


Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-Drive 1-5/16 Double-Hex Socket

[Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-5/16 Socket]
Fig. 61. Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-5/16 Socket with Knurled Base, ca. 1938 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 61 shows an example of the Craftsman 3/4-drive sockets made by S-K. The close similarity to the 1/2-drive knurled sockets is apparent from the photograph, and the socket construction matches as well. Note the K-Circle manufacturer code used to identify S-K production.


Craftsman "BM" 3/4-Drive 1-1/8 Double-Hex Socket

[Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-1/8 Double-Hex Socket]
Fig. 62. Craftsman "BM" 3/4-Drive 1-1/8 Double-Hex Socket with Knurled Base, ca. 1938 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 62 shows a 3/4-drive Craftsman 1-1/8 double-hex socket, stamped with the Craftsman underline logo and a "BM" manufacturer's code (see lower composite inset).

The finish is chrome plating.

The right inset shows the interior of the socket. Note the cold-broached construction with a relieved area below the broaching, to allow for chip removal.

The socket has tapered and polished upper walls and a band of finely cross-hatched knurling around the base, a design easily recognized as S-K production. An example of a similar S-K socket can be seen as the S-K [47148] 3/4-Drive Socket.


Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-Drive Fine-Tooth Ratchet

[Craftsman K-Circle 3/4-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 63. Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. Mid to Late 1940s.

Fig. 63 shows a Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-drive fine-tooth ratchet, stamped with "Pat. No. 2188846" and the Craftsman double-line logo, with a "K-Circle" manufacturer's code at the right.

The overall length is 17.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The patent notice cites patent #2,188,846, filed by T. Rueb in 1938 and issued in 1940, with assignment to the Sherman-Klove Company.

The Craftsman double-line logo and chrome-plated finish on this ratchet suggest production in the mid to late 1940s.

An example of this model marked with the S-K brand can be seen as the S-K 47170 3/4-Drive Ratchet.


Craftsman "BM" 3/4-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[Craftsman BM 3/4-Drive Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 64. Craftsman "BM" 3/4-Drive Sliding Tee Handle, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1938 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 64 shows a 3/4-drive Craftsman "BM" sliding Tee handle, stamped with the Craftsman underline logo and a "BM" manufacturer's code on the sliding head.

The overall length is 18.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The sliding head is fitted with two friction balls on the drive stud, plus an interior ball to hold the head in place along the bar.


Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-Drive Flex Head Handle

The initial 3/4-drive Craftsman tools included only a ratchet and sliding Tee handle as drive tools, but by the mid to late 1940s S-K was also supplying 3/4-drive flex head handles for the Craftsman line. One of our readers has reported a 3/4-drive flex handle with the "=Craftsman=" logo and a K-Circle manufacturer's code.

We don't have an example of these 3/4-drive flex handles in the collection here, but wanted to confirm the existence of this tool.


Craftsman "K-Circle" 1/2-Drive Universal

Although S-K's production for the Craftsman line consisted primarily of 3/4-drive tools, at least one example of a 1/2-drive Craftsman tool made by S-K is known. Early Craftsman 1/2-drive socket sets did not include a universal joint, but at some point Sears began offering a universal joint as a separate tool, as seen in the next figure.

[Craftsman K-Circle 1/2-Drive Universal]
Fig. 65. Craftsman K-Circle 1/2-Drive Universal, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. Mid to Late 1930s.

Fig. 65 shows a Craftsman "K-Circle" 1/2-drive universal, stamped with "Craftsman" in block letters, and with a K-Circle manufacturer's code.

The overall length is 2.3 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This is currently the only 1/2-drive Craftsman tool known from S-K Tools. If any of our readers have seen other examples of 1/2-drive tools with the K-Circle (or "BM") marking, please let us know via email.


Gamble Stores

Gamble-Skogmo, Incorporated operated a chain of Gamble Stores and published mail-order catalogs, typically as the Gamble's Auto Supply & Tool Catalog. The stores and catalogs offered a wide selection of tools, and in the 1940s the socket sets were easily recognized as S-K production.

Gamble's used the brands Tiger Tools and Artisan for its mechanic's tools.


Tiger Tools Socket Sets

The 1940 Gamble's Auto Supply & Tool Catalog was published in April of 1940 and has extensive listings for "Tiger Tools" sockets and drive tools on pages 45-47. The illustrations show socket sets and tools matching the "Chrome Alloy" examples shown earlier from Brazil Tools.

Currently we don't have a Tiger Tools socket set to display, but have added these catalog listings to show the different models that were available.

[1940 Catalog Listing for Tiger Tools Socket Sets]
Fig. 66. 1940 Catalog Listing for Tiger Tools Socket Sets.

The first page of the listings has "Tiger Tools Are Fully Guaranteed" prominently displayed at the top.

The scan in Fig. 66 shows a listing for two Tiger Tools socket sets, as published on page 45 of the 1940 Gamble's Auto Supply catalog.

The "71-Piece Mechanics' Tool Chest" at the top has an extensive collection of sockets and drive tools in 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4-drive, plus a selection of box-end wrenches.

A comparison with the Brazil Tools No. 600 Socketchest shown earlier reveals that these are the same set, and even the prices are virtually the same!

One detail to note in the illustration for the 71-piece set is that the 3/8-drive round-head ratchet is shown with a flat forged handle. This style is not shown in the S-K catalogs, but an example can be seen as the Artisan 4570 3/8-Drive Ratchet.

The set at the bottom is a "23-Piece Chrome Socket Set" in 1/2-drive, with an illustration showing seven drive tools and 16 sockets.

A careful examination of the lower illustration shows that the sockets in the bottom set match the "Chrome Alloy" Sockets shown in a previous figure.

[1940 Catalog Listing for Chrome Alloy Socket Sets]
Fig. 67A. 1940 Catalog Listing for Chrome Alloy Socket Sets.

The second page of the listings has two sets noted as "Chrome Alloy", plus a "Tiger Super Strength" set and a "Tiger Midget" set.

The scan in Fig. 67A shows a listing for "Chrome Alloy" and "Tiger" socket sets, as published on page 46 of the 1940 Gamble's Auto Supply catalog.

The set at the top is a "12 Piece Chrome Alloy 1/2 Drive Socket Set", consisting of a flex handle, cross-bar, and 12 sockets.

The set at the middle left is listed as a "17 Piece Chrome Alloy Socket Set" and consisted of 3/8-drive tools, including a round-headed ratchet.

The lid of the case has a sticker showing the "Tiger Tools" logo, seen as a close-up in Fig. 67B below.

[1940 Catalog Listing for Chrome Alloy Socket Sets]
Fig. 67B. Close-Up of "Tiger Tools" Logo.
[1940 Catalog Listing for Chrome Alloy Sockets]
Fig. 68. 1940 Catalog Listing for Chrome Alloy Sockets.

The third page of the listings has "Chrome Alloy Sockets" displayed at the top, with tables of individual sockets below.

The scan in Fig. 68 shows the listing for "Chrome Alloy Sockets", as published on page 47 of the 1940 Gamble's Auto Supply catalog.

The tables include 1/2-drive standard, 1/2-drive spark-plug, 3/8-drive standard, 3/8-drive extra deep, and 3/8-drive universal sockets. The table at the top right shows 3/4-drive sockets available on special order, in sizes from 15/16 to 2 inches.

Note that the tables of sockets refer to them as "Tiger Chrome Alloy" sockets, and a careful look at the illustration shows the sockets marked "Chrome Alloy", with a wide knurled band at the base. The sockets in the illustration match the "Chrome Alloy" Sockets shown in a previous figure.

The lower part of the page shows four carbon-steel socket sets, and the illustrations of the sockets closely resemble the Early Brazil Tools Socket shown in a previous figure.

In summary, these listings from the Gamble's catalog show how S-K used its Brazil Tools second line to supply "Chrome Alloy" sockets and drive tools to the Gamble Stores chain. We hope these listings will assist our readers in identifying any Tiger Tools socket sets they may find.


[Brazil Tools] Tiger Tools 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet

Although we don't have a Tiger Tools socket set to display, this next figure shows a round-head ratchet that was probably made for the Tiger Tools brand.

[Tiger Tools 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet]
Fig. 68B. Tiger Tools 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet, with Inset for Back Side, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 68B shows a 1/2-drive model 4270 ratchet, stamped "Chrome Alloy" and "Pat. No. 1981526" on the front panel, with "T T" on the back panel.

The overall length is 10.2 inches.

Although not marked with the S-K name, the ratchet can be readily identified as S-K production by the patent #1,981,526, assigned to the Sherman-Klove Company.

In addition, the distinctive forged handle is identical to a later S-K Model 42470 Ratchet shown in a previous figure.

The four-digit 4270 model number indicates that the ratchet was contract production sold through the Brazil Tools line. (The 4270 model is derived from the standard S-K 42470 model number.)

The attribution to the Tiger Tools brand is based on the "T T" marking on the back panel, which appears to be a factory marking. With the recent (2022) discovery that Brazil Tools supplied socket tools for the Gamble Stores "Tiger Tools" brand, we think it's likely that the "T T" marking is an abbreviation for "Tiger Tools".


Artisan 1/2-Drive 16-Piece Socket Set

The next several figures show examples of S-K production for the Artisan brand.

[Artisan 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 69. Artisan 1/2-Drive 16-Piece Socket Set, ca. Mid 1940s.

Fig. 69 shows a 1/2-drive Artisan socket set in a metal case, consisting of a ratchet, flex handle, extension, and 13 sockets ranging in size from 7/16 up to 1-1/8.

The reader will immediately recognize this as an S-K set, and in fact no attempt has been made to disguise the maker, with all of the tools (except the ratchet) bearing standard S-K markings.

The flex handle is an S-K model 41653, and the 10 inch extension is an S-K model 40162. The distinctive forged-handle model 4270 ratchet was produced for the Brazil Tools line from the late 1930s through at least the mid 1940s, although this style is not documented in the S-K catalogs. The set is missing the cross-bar for the flex handle.

The sockets in the set all have the distinctive knurled base and tapered upper walls of the S-K 401xx model series. The models and sizes are, from the left, 40114 (7/16), 40116 (1/2), 40118 (9/16), 40119 (19/32), 40120 (5/8), 40122 (11/16), 40124 (3/4), 40126 (13/16), 40128 (7/8), 40130 (15/16), 40132 (1 inch), 40134 (1-1/16), and 40136 (1-1/8).

Currently we don't have a catalog description for this set, so the original contents are a bit uncertain. The set is very similar to the S-K No. 4168 Socket Set shown in an earlier figure.


[Brazil Tools] Artisan 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet

[Artisan Model 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet]
Fig. 70. Artisan Model 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet, with Insets for Edge View and Back Side Detail, ca. Mid 1940s.

Fig. 70 shows the 1/2-drive Artisan 4270 ratchet from the above set, marked with the Artisan brand on the raised panel, and with the model number and "Pat. No. 2232477" on the back side.

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This ratchet can be readily identified as S-K production by the patent #2,232,477, assigned to the Sherman-Klove Company.

In addition, the distinctive forged handle is nearly identical to the S-K Model 42470 Ratchet shown in an earlier figure.

The second-generation patent and chrome finish suggest a manufacturing date in the mid 1940s.

The four-digit model number shows that the ratchet was sold through Brazil Tools, with the number derived from the standard S-K 42470 number.


[Brazil Tools] Artisan 4570 3/8-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet

S-K also produced 3/8-drive tools for the Artisan brand, as the next figure illustrates.

[Artisan Model 4570 3/8-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet]
Fig. 71. Artisan Model 4570 3/8-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet, with Insets for Back and Edge View, ca. 1941-1945.

Fig. 71 shows a 3/8-drive Artisan 4570 ratchet with a forged handle, stamped with the Artisan brand on the raised panel, with the model number and "Pat. No. 2232477" on the back side.

The overall length is 6.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This ratchet can be readily identified as S-K production by the patent #2,232,477, assigned to the Sherman-Klove Company. In addition, the distinctive forged handle is similar to the S-K Model 42470 Ratchet shown in another figure.

The plain steel finish suggests production during the 1941-1945 wartime years.

The four-digit model number shows that the ratchet was sold through Brazil Tools, with the number derived from the standard S-K 45170 number.


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