Trade mark from an early catalogue
Joseph Hampton was a maker of lifting jacks, copying presses, ratchet drill braces, carpenters bench screws, flooring cramps, and pipe wrenches etc., at the Kings Hill Works, Wednesbury Staffordshire, in1868. 1)
Joseph Hampton, The Younger, was applying for tool patents on behalf of The Company between 1894 and 1898.2)
The Steel Nut Company was a manufacturer in Franchise Street, Kings Hill, Wednesbury in 1896. 3)
In 1900, Kelly’s Staffordshire lists the The Steel Nut & Joseph Hampton Ltd. Woden Works Franchise Street, Wednesbury, Staffs.
Early 20th Century:In 1914, Whitakers Red Book lists the Tool Department as a speciality of The Company, making vices, cramps and other Joiners and Engineers
The Company also had a Steel Department and Foundry, being well placed and equipped to manufacture all the parts required for the making of hand tools. The hand tool speciality of the Company was a relatively small operation within the overall product range of metal castings, nuts & bolts and related steel products
There is now some excellent information about The Company on various established internet sites and for more details of the history of The Steel Nut & Joseph Hampton Ltd. (SNJH) and The Woden Factory, the reader may to refer to the pages of the following sites:-
1930's 40's and 50's:With The Companys approval as an Air Ministry supplier;
producing finished metal components to Admiralty specifications; iron and non-ferrous metal castings for the Marine Industry; it is likely that it was heavily involved in production for the war effort between 1939 and 1945.
As in the First World War, this could have included munitions. It is likely that hand tool production was restricted to that required by essential users only and pre-war lines were not generally available to tool shops.
After WWII, like other tool manufacturers, The Company struggled
to return to normal production due to labour, fuel and material shortages, among other reasons, as noted in the introduction to the 1946 Interim Catalogue. Similar notes were promulgated by other tool manufacturers in the immediate post war period.
In 1951, with the publication of catalogue 52, The Company announced improved production from its re-built Woden factory.
Woden branded tools were available from tool shops, but The Company did not advertise direct to amateur woodworkers until 1953. Throughout 1953, an advertisement featured the No.189 pattern woodworking vice plus steel sash and T-bar cramps.
A newly introducted line of metal handplanes was advertised from February 1954 and a wider variety of tools from 1955.
1956 saw the introduction of several new lines of joiners cramps and it was about this time that the widest range of tools was on offer. In addition to planes, there were several patterns of sash, veneer and G-cramps; six woodworkers vices; and about a dozen engineers or pipe vices .
Towards the end of the 1950's. and early 60's., new tool patterns were aimed at the DIY market and some were made using die cast alloy.
Despite selling some excellent and competitively priced tool lines, Woden Tools Ltd. was taken over by Record in early 1961.
The parent company (Steel Nut & Joseph Hampton Ltd.), continued with its iron & steel core products business until 1965 when it was acquired by F H Tomkins (Holdings) Ltd.
Plane Making:Hand plane manufacture did not commence until late 1953 or early 1954 after the takeover of W.S Manufacturing of Birmingham around 1952 4)
In the early 1950’s, the British tool making industry continued to be re-generated following the 1939-45 war years. The demand for hand
Export and educational supply contracts were particularly lucrative but,
The takeover of W.S provided The Company with the opportunity to
In the rebuilt Woden factory, SNJH had all the resources – foundry, steel stock, machine shops, testing house etc., to expand and, for their contribution to the war effort, may have had Government assistance to do so.
SNJH took time to tool up for plane manufacture and market products
The first plane for sale, The Woden W78, was first advertised in early
Following the takeover of Woden Tools Ltd., plane assembly and
Trade Mark, 1957
Woden Tools Ltd:
Woden Tools Ltd. was set up in early 1957 6) to manage theRecord acquired Woden Tools Ltd., (Woden) in early 1961.
hand tool speciality of the company, but still traded from Wednesbury.
Several new lines of tools were introduced around this time,
notably the patented Deacon tail slide sash cramps and two patterns of corner cramp (see diary of events).
Also, from examining many examples of Woden tools, including planes, it is evident that parts started to be sourced from external suppliers. Some tools from other manufacturers appeared in the catalogues, so Woden Tools Ltd. was also acting as a tool factor or distributor.
Plane manufacture continued at Wednesbury until around April 1961, when Woden Tools Ltd., was taken over by C&J Hampton Ltd. (Record), of Sheffield.
Other than for the purposes of removing competition, the circumstances of the takeover are not known at this time. Record were known to be particularly acquisitive during the 1960’s, and other lesser known tool brands were acquired in addition to Woden.
For several years, Woden issued catalogues and price lists which included the line up of planes acquired from SNJH. The catalogues used the same illustrations and were published by the same company which SNJH had used, but following the takeover, planes were assembled using a mixture of original SNJH and Record specified parts.
A letter from Woden dated 11thApril 1961 informed The Trade that production of Woden tools was being switched to Sheffield.
Gradually, all Woden parts were to Record specifications. The planes were sold in the U.K. and abroad until dis-continued around mid. 1965.
Other Woden brand tools continue to be sold until the late 1960's., after which the brand was no longer available. Some former Woden
tools were re-numbered and were sold under the Record brand.
Diary of Events:Whilst the Woden hand plane is the main interest on this site, the manufacture of other excellent Woden hand tools cannot be ignored.
With this in mind, the following diary of events has been compiled,
relating to the manufacture and supply of hand tools throughout the history
of Woden Tools, but concentrating on Post War production.
The diary and the other notes which follow could not have been compiled without reference to the archives at The Hawley Collection in Sheffield.
Thanks to Mr Ken Hawley M.B.E. and his volunteer Staff, for permitting access to these records and permitting some images to be copied.
Other references are noted at the foot of this document.
From 1938 catalogue
Woden tools 1953
From 1938 catalogue
1898 Amalgamation with Joseph Hampton, Toolmaker, of Wednesbury, Staffs.
1914 Specialist Tool Division, making vices, cramps, Joiners and Engineers tools 4)
1920 and 1927 Illustrated catalogues of Engineers and Joiners Tools issued.
1937 GB and USA Patents granted for “Improvements relating to vices”
Woden “Ideal Action” Engineers and Woodworkers vices in production; Stand at British Industries Fair, Birmingham 4).
1938 Ebonising introduced as a protective finished on steel parts.
1939 Supplier to The Admiralty, War Office, Air Ministry and Aviation Industry; Woden Ideal Action and Heavy Steel vices supplied to factories
1946 Hand tool manufacture resumes; Interim Catalogue 51 issued
1951 Re-built Woden Factory in production; Catalogue 52 issued.
1952 Acquires W.S. Manufacturing, Birmingham, maker of hand planes and other tools; Booklet No. 52c issued.
1953 GB Patent granted “Improvements in quick release vices”
Woden Ideal Quick Action Woodworkers vices No’s 189/1/2/3 in production; Booklet 52c re-issued.
1954 Introduces Woden rebate, bench and block planes; Booklet No. 52d issued.
1955 Booklet/Catalogue 52E issued;
1956 Catalogue No. 52E re-issued; No. 126 14 inch G-cramp available; “Tower Jack” and lever available; Catalogue No. 56 issued; Introduces Woden 114 and 115 steel sash cramps with patented Deacon tail slide; New corner cramps C800 and C801 available; Improved range of lifting jacks available;
1957 Forms wholly owned Company, Woden Tools Ltd;
Catalogue No. 57 issued; X251 machine vice introduced; X260 Titan vice introduced; Introduces Woden No. 116 light T-bar cramp with Deacon tail slide, in 7 sizes; Bench holdfast range revised to three sizes and re-numbered X110, X111 and X112, sold with bench collars included; Provisionally patented A120 and A122 Technical Woodworker’s quick action vices Introduced;
Floor cramps geared patterns 142B and 143B dis-continued; Commenced selling some lines of un-catalogued (factored) tools via representatives, WRA Forge Tools- stillsons, wrenches & fencing tools.
1958 Catalogue No. 58 issued;
Further GB800885 patent granted “Improvements in or relating to vices” (for A120/A122); Introduces pushpin I (X170); No. 95 machine vice dis-continued.
1959 No 189 woodworkers vice discontinued.
1960 Catalogue No. 60 issued;
X180 QUIKSAW introduced; Larger sized pushpin II (X171) introduced; Introduces Woden wallplugs in a range of sizes
(Z106 to Z114); A120 and A122 woodworkers vices dis-continued and replaced with the A130 rapid action Woodworker’s vice incorporating the American Wilton patent, (GB819506);
1961 X190 dowelling Jig introduced; X172 Tack introduced;
Woden Tools Ltd. Taken over by C &JHampton Ltd. (Record
Tools) of Sheffield 7); Catalogue No.60 re-issued.
1962 Catalogue Cat.30 issued.
1964 Catalogue Cat.30 re- issued;
A130 rapid action woodworkers vice re-designated X130;
Introduces Z300 corrucut, a patented (GB937955) rebating
and grooving attachment for power drills.
1966 Catalogue Cat.31 issued, no hand planes listed.
1967 Catalogue Cat.31 re-issued.
1968 Catalogues WF.1 (thrice) and W1 issued.
1969 (01 September) Last known reference to Woden Tools
in price list HPL15 (Cats. 31 and W1).
CATALOGUES AND PRICE LISTS:The earliest known Woden catalogue is in the Hawley
Collection at Sheffield. 8)
“Illustrated Catalogue of Engineers and Joiners Tools” 1920.
The format of the catalogues varied over time from hard
to soft backed. In addition, a number of small pictorial covered
pocket catalogues (Abridged Lists), were issued for distribution
by national tool dealers, for example Buck & Hickman Ltd.
A list of the known published catalogues is as follows:-
1920 Illustrated Catalogue of Engineers and Joiners Tools,
black hardback, 43 pages;
1922 Illustrated Catalogue of Engineers and Joiners Tools -
available as a small booklet in landscape format with a buff
cover, 43 pages. This is the earliest known soft cover catalogue.
1927 Illustrated Catalogue of Engineers and Joiners Tools,
black hardback, 77 pages;
1938 (September) Abridged List No. 51, grey, green and blue
soft cover, 48 pages;
Later post war Woden Tools catalogues were hard-backed A5 sized
books, either black or blue covered, with a price list contained
in a pocket at the back,.
1946 Interim Catalogue No. 51, black, 77 pages;
1951 Catalogue No. 52, dark blue cover, 66 pages;
After 1951, Engineers and Joiners tools were presented in small
brown or light blue card backed booklets (catalogues) as follows:-
1951 Abridged Pocket List No. 51, grey, green and blue cover;
1952 Booklet 52c, about 8 x 5 inches, brown cover, 50 pages;
1953 Booklet 52c re-issued, blue cover, 50 pages;
1954 Booklet 52d, same size as 52c, blue cover; 52 pages.
(The first catalogue to include hand planes);
1955 Booklet 52E, as 52d., blue cover;
1956 (before 23rd April), Catalogue No. 52E* re-issued, blue cover ;
Catalogue No. 56, blue cover, 60 pages;
1957 Catalogue No. 57, blue cover, 60 pages;
1958 Catalogue No. 58, blue cover;
1960 Catalogue No. 60, blue cover;
(The last original SNJH/Woden Tools catalogue), 60 pages.
Note: SNJH catalogues were only dated by the year.
Price lists have specific dates (see below).
1961 Catalogue No. 60, blue cover, 60 pages;
SNJH catalogue used by Record (Woden) with red lettered
new address label on the front, later replaced by Cat. 30;
1962 Catalogue No. 30 issued,
yellow and black cover, 59 pages;
1964 (pre 24/07/64) Catalogue No. 30 re- issued;
1966 (May) Catalogue No. 31 issued;
yellow and black cover, no hand planes listed, 47 pages;
1967 Catalogue Cat.31 (1967 Ed.) re-issued, 47 pages;
From 1968, in common with Record, Woden catalogues
and price lists were printed in a loose leaf A4 sized format
1968 (Jan) Catalogue W1, Woden and Fabrex Tools, 4 pages;
(April & June) WF.1 Woden and Fabrex Tools;
Catalogue WF.1, Woden and Fabrex (11/68), 4 pages.
Catalogues from April 1961 were issued by Woden Tools Ltd., Sheffield.
All Woden Catalogues before 1968 were printed by Joseph Wones Ltd.,
Revised brand mark and colours on 1968 catalogues
From 1954 to 1961, pre-takeover by Record, the range of tools offered did not vary significantly. The Diary of Events attempts to note the introduction of new tools and innovations in chronological order.
Price lists were prefixed with “H” (Home Trade) or “E” (Export, Net) followed by
a number in consecutive order. Spare Parts Lists (S.P.L.) being published
from time to time.
Price lists known to have been published viz.
Date Price List Refers to catalogue number/(notes):
16th September 1948 E.T.L.3
29/1/1951 H.P.L.1 52
22/10/1951 H.P.L.2 (Revised) 52
23 May 1955 HPL4A 52,52C and 52D
23 May 1955 H.P.L. 5A 52, 52c, 52d and 52E
(change of telephone number plus price revisions)
23rd April 1956 H.P.L. 6A 52, 52C, 52D and 52E
S.P.L. 6A (probably the last SNJH price lists)
1st FEB 1957 HPL7 (probably the first Woden Tools Ltd.
price list; included factored lines for the first time).
14th July 1957 H.P.L.8 (Plane price increases)
08 April 1959 HPL 9
30th June 1960 H.P.L.10 and
12th April 1961 HPL11 All previous catalogues
1st May 1961 EPL11
2nd March 1964 HPL12
9th March 1964 EPL12
18th April 1966 HPL13
2nd May 1966 EPL13
1st March 1968 HPL14 and
November 1968 WF1/PL68 WF.1
1st September 1969 HPL15 Cat. 31 and W1
Nb. Booklet and Catalogue have the same meaning.
Price lists from 12th April 1961 were issued by Woden Tools Ltd., Sheffield.
Other Record export documents/price lists in The Hawley Collection:
1962 EPL (Italian) (Lists full range of Woden planes)
02/1963 EPL (German) (Lists full range of Woden planes)
05/1967 EPL (German) (Only lists X260 Titan Vice;
X251 Drill Vice; M130/1/2/3 Engineers
Vices; X180 Quicksaw and 2300 Corrucut).
1968 EPL (Italian) (Only lists M130/1/2/3 Vices).
1968 EPL (Portuguese) (Lists NO Woden tools).
1968 EPL (Finnish) (Lists NO Woden tools).
1968 (cat. 3/68) W1 (Dutch) Same as W1 above
01/09/1969 Record Export List XNP12 (Lists NO Woden tools).
In addition to the manufacturers catalogues and price lists, which were primarily for the benefit of tool dealers, Woden tools were advertised in woodworking periodicals such as ‘The Woodworker’. The tools were also catalogued by large tool dealers such as S Tyzack and
Parry's Ltd., who also advertised in ‘The Woodworker’. Most National Association of Tool Dealers (N.A.T.D.) member catalogues listed the planes and other Woden tools.
Note: In this and later pages of this study, the terms SNJH/Woden and Record-Woden are used to differentiate between ownership and manufacture of Woden Tools Ltd. - SNJH/Woden (WW) up to April 1961, and Record-Woden (RW), from 11th April 1961.
Around 1956, WW introduced several additional lines and its catalogue of Joiners and Engineering tools extended to 60 pages. Early in 1957, a new company, Woden Tools Ltd., was set up to manage the tool making part (formerly the ‘Speciality’) of the parent company.
This could have been because the tool making operation had grown and was successful. Indeed, Representatives promoting tools were employed in sales operations. Or, it could have been that it was an accounting move and Woden Tools Ltd. would be expected to be successful, stand alone and be profitable. Some tool manufacture was outsourced, noted by re-numbering of existing entries and new entries given an “X” or “V” prefix. Outsourcing also applied to plane parts such as bodies and frogs, noted by the change/inclusion
of casting marks and numbers.
At about this time, newly introduced Woden tools appeared to have a Do-it-Yourself (D.I.Y.) theme, in keeping with the public hobby, gaining in momentum. Around 1959, Woden Tools published an informatory leaflet “Equip your Workshop with Woden Tools”, reference 590.
This 12-page leaflet showed the range of (woodworking) tools available to craftsmen and home enthusiasts.
A later 31-page publication (publication 600 from around 1960) entitled “Building up a Woden Workshop”, expanded this theme. Written with the help of notable woodworking writer Mr Charles Hayward, this publication included reproductions of woodworking joints from “The Woodworker Workshop Folder” and the use of Woden tools for cramping, dowelling etc.
RW continued with this theme post April 1961 with publication 600/2 and the revised instructions included with tools displayed other examples of Woden branded tools.
Above, back of tool instructions c.1963
Left, extract from "Building up a Woden Workshop"
publication 600/2 c.1962
Predominant colours found in catalogues and tool instructions
As mentioned earlier, the circumstances of the Record takeover are not known at this time. Woden made very good quality tools and were
in competition with Record for most patterns. Both brands were in the shadow of Stanley, the market leader, particularly with regard to planes. In January 1959, Record introduced the 0778 rebate plane, similar but not an exact copy of the Woden W78, which was not patented - (the W78 being an improved W.S A78). Woden also made a wide range of engineers and woodworkers vices, sash and G-cramps, in direct competition with Record and other Sheffield companies. In taking over Woden, Record removed the only competition for its 0778 plane which went on to outsell its own 078 and Stanley 78 planes and also to become the dominant supplier of vices and cramps. They also acquired other patented lines such as Wilton patented quick action vice and the Deacon tail slide sash cramps.
These excellent cramps continued to be sold into the late 1960's.
A question might be asked “Why would a large plane manufacturer like Record, with a comprehensive line up, continue to make and sell the Woden brand which it had just acquired”? One explanation could be that the brand had a strong export market which Record was keen to continue. Evidence of post 1961 Woden plane manufacture and Record literature indicates that the majority of these examples were sent overseas. To date, only a few examples have been found in the United Kingdom.
Fabrex Tools was a Record acquired budget or D.I.Y. Brand, but they did not make planes. Perhaps Record viewed the Woden Brand as complementary to Fabrex, separate from its established Brand.
We are still working on the RW period (1961 to end of production) and will update and/or include new information as it is acquired.
Please see the 'About Us' page and get in touch if you can help.
1). Kelly’s Staffordshire, 1868, Mr L. Harrison, England;
2). Espace.net Online patents database;
3). Kelly’s Staffordshire, 1896, Mr L. Harrison, England;
4). Grace’s Guide
5). Woden Trade Mark Tools, catalogues & booklets No. 51 to 60., dated 1946 to 1960;
6). Price List HPL7, dated 1st February 1957;
7). Letter from Woden Tools Ltd. to Tool Dealers, dated 11th April 1961; a copy is in the Hawley Collection;
8). From research so far with reference to archives in the Hawley Collection.