What ever happened to tool sets?

Once upon a time, companies like Stanley sold tool sets in the form of “tool cabinets” containing everything needed for the woodworking shop. Then they stopped. It is hard to understand exactly why. The rise of powertools?

Here is a toolkit offered by German company Ulmia in the 1930s.


Ironically, Ulmia still offers a series of tool cabinets, with a similar assortment of tools. The saws have been replaced by a single Japanese Dozuki saw, and there no longer seems to be a drill brace, but other than that, they are very similar. Emmerich also offers a cabinet:


But no such sets exist in North America – why? Cost? Lack of interest? Or do we tend to buy more of our tools piece-by-piece? Maybe the lack of bespoke toolmakers in Europe makes tool sets more popular?



2 thoughts on “What ever happened to tool sets?

  1. rene. says:

    Question is: Do the German companies really make money with their cabinets? How many of them do they sell – and to whom?
    Asking them seems to make no sense, probably marketing-shaped answers will be the result.
    And so (marketing-friendly) it is with presenting such a tool cabinet: Showing in terms like “Look, we’ve got them all. – All the tools you need.” on one quick view. Might be there to suggest competence and confindence and tradition.
    On the other hand, the apprenticeship to become a woodworker/cabinet maker (Tischler) is deeply set in a school-like-system with the guilds in the background. So it might be interesting for “woodworking schools” (and probably early public school education) to buy such a set of all trades, having in mind to buy everything needed for (first steps in) woodworking.

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