The Armstrong Bros. Tool Co. was founded in 1890 by four brothers, the sons of a Scottish immigrant black-smith. Initially the company manufactured and distributed bicycle parts, together with tools and equipment that were used in the manufacture and repair of bicycles.
In 1895, as part of their manufacturing program, the brothers introduced lathe tool holders. By 1900 this product appeared to have such promise and the bicycle parts business had become so unprofitable that the distributing portion of the business was closed out and the company began to devote full time to manufacturing. So it was that the company’s foundation was built upon the tool holder. These holders replaced the heavy, individually forged cutting tools that until then had been necessary for lathe work. With the Armstrong system, a forged permanent shank was used with various shapes of small, interchangeable cutting tools. As advertised, the Armstrong system did indeed save “all forging and 70% of grinding,” and by the mid 1900’s the use of forged cutting tools in machine shops was virtually unheard of, replaced instead by the Armstrong System of Tool Holders. The company’s first manufacturing facilities were located in a wooden structure built across the back of two of the brothers’ adjoining yards on Edgewood Ave. in Chicago, Ill. During the same time a store was maintained in downtown Chicago.
In 1900, when the decision was made to devote full time to manufacturing, the store was closed and manufacturing operations were moved to a new plant at 617 Austin Ave. On April Fools’ Day in 1902, the Austin Ave. plant burned to the ground. But the company salvaged and re-conditioned its inventory, rebuilt the plant (doubling the floor space) and continued to grow.
In 1905, needing still more space, property was purchased at 317 N. Francisco Ave., Chicago, and a 100,000 square foot, 3-story brick factory was built. At that time, the company was still involved only in the manufacture of tool holders and related machine tool accessory items.
In 1909, with the building of a forge shop, Armstrong began their own forging operation and
introduced a line of drop forged wrenches. From its modest beginning selling bicycle parts, the company had now launched into a line expansion that has continued through the years. Today the line includes nearly 5000 items of mechanic’s tools, pipe and tubing tools, machine shop accessories, and cutting tools. The company remained on Francisco Ave. until 1948, at which time it moved to its present headquarters at 5200 W. Armstrong Ave. on Chicago’s northwest side, a plant covering about 216,000 square feet. A second manufacturing facility was built in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and began operations in 1974. Fayetteville boasts one of the most modern drop forge shops in the World, plus heat treating and various specialized machining equipment.
In December, 1994, after 105 years of private ownership by the Armstrong family, the company was acquired by the Danaher Corporation. Danaher’s family of brands includes Allen and K-D Hand Tools, Allen Hex Keys, Holo-Krome Fasteners, Jacobs Chucks, Matco Hand Tools, and JS Technology Torque Tools, among others.
The Danaher Commitment to continuous improvement will ensure the strict adherence to the high standards of quality, delivery and cost upon which Armstrong was founded.
Armstrong Tools are still, and will continue to be, made in America. They are designed and manufactured for professional tool users and, from our very beginning, we have refused to compromise our quality.
It has been gratifying that over the years increasing numbers of people throughout the world, recognizing this tradition of excellence and its inherent value, have come to specify and demand Armstrong Tools.