TOOL HISTORY - SK Tools
Originally founded in 1921 as the Sherman-Klove Company, S-K Tools has a long proud history of manufacturing high quality industrial tools. Mason H. Sherman and Roger Klove were the original founders but the Company has had many owners since. The Company was located in Chicago until recently.
Although its initial origination was during the World War I era making mortar housings, they quickly moved toward making tools for other companies such as Hinsdale during the 1920s after the war effort. However the depression era hit the company hard in the 1930s. Mason Sherman's son, William S. Sherman (W.S.), joined the company in 1927 becoming a major player in the Company.
They were making socket wrenches for the Hinsdale Company but that company folded during the Great Depression and Sherman-Klove was stocked with their unsold socket wrenches. After some tool design changes, Sherman-Klove also changed their name to S-K Tools during this period.
Their flagship ratchet design came from an engineer by the name of Theodore Rueb in 1933, approved in 1934. It is commonly known as the "round-head" ratchet. They produced 1/4" to 3/4" drive ratchets in this style. The round-head ratchet has an easy to use thumb-selector in order to switch directions of the ratcheting mechanism. By the 1940s, S-K was also making these tools for some of Craftsman's products. The round-head ratchets are still one of the most popular ratchet styles on the market today.
Sometime in the 1950s, S-K "partnered" with the Lectrolyte Corporation of Defiance, Ohio, for improved manufacturing processes.
Then in 1962, both S-K and Lectrolyte were purchased by Symington-Wayne and became S-K Wayne. These were some of S-K's best quality tool years in my opinion.
However, in 1968 S-K Wayne was purchased by Dresser Industries as part of the merger between Wayne Oil and Tank Company and Dresser Industries. Dresser Industries made many changes to S-K's tools including dropping the cross-hatch pattern from their sockets in order to 'modernize' them.
In 1985, a French company by the name of Facom Tools purchased S-K Tools and once again new management took over. Under Facom management, S-K produced quality tools as they did in the past. Some changes were made such as the old green hard-handled screwdrivers were dropped from production and replaced with Facom's screwdrivers. The fine-tooth ratchet went from 36-tooth to 60 and 72-tooth ratchets with the palm drive ratchet. Today, the preferred fine-tooth ratchet is the 60-tooth ratchet, for just six degrees of ratchet handle swing.
When Facom Tools was bought out by Stanley Tools in 2005, S-K's management was allowed to buy S-K and they once again became independent of outside ownership.
Then in June, 2010, the S-K Tool company declared bankruptcy. And then Ideal Industries purchased the name and toolings. Ideal has placed the new S-K Tool Company in Sycamore, Illinois, after building a new facility there. Ideal Industries also plans to utilize one of their divisions, Western Forge (est 1964), for manufacturing some of S-K's tools. It sounds like a good long-lasting and prosperous arrangement.
S-K Tools will continue to be made in the USA for the time being.