Very few power tool manufacturers in business today can match the reputation for quality, reliability and innovative design that Delta Machinery brings to the trade. For nearly 100 years, Delta has been making power tools for the serious woodworker – whether professional or hobbyist. The company has earned its status as one of the most trusted power tool brands in the world by delivering high-quality products that stand the test of time.
What began as a garage-based operation manufacturing tools to make woodworking easier, has evolved into one of the largest and most respected brands in the industry. Still specializing in power tools for the avid woodworker, Delta has also evolved into a trusted brand for contractors and tradesmen in other industries as well. From humble beginnings, Delta Machinery continues to meet the demands of serious professionals by delivering the best value in high-end shop tools anywhere
Begun in Milwaukee in 1919 by Herbert Tautz, a German immigrant, the company was originally called Delta Specialty Company. Tautz initially made small hand tools for wood carving and turning. His initial success was a result of quality craftsmanship, and he soon began making larger, powered equipment. He invented the first scroll saw and later, the first powered compound miter saw. In 1928, he created a combination shop tool called the “HandiShop”, which combined a lathe, a disk sander and a scroll saw into one standing unit. It sold at a considerable price for the time, yet was extremely popular.
Throughout the period that we know of as the Great Depression, Delta Specialty Company thrived as an innovative and reliable brand. The company soon began specializing in band saws, designing first a 12-inch, and then a 14-inch model. But its greatest success to date was the development in 1937 of the UniSaw, a 10-inch tilting arbor saw. It remains one of the most functional and collectible shop tools ever made.
Delta also found a way to connect with the company’s target market – namely serious woodworkers – by designing and publishing the first industry journals called the DeltaGram. In these publications, project plans and techniques were discussed in great detail. The DeltaGram monthly mailers were sent out to subscribers for more than 4 decades, and even today are the source for many published woodworking plans in magazines and trade journals.
The Next Phase
In 1945, Rockwell Manufacturing purchased the company, then known as Delta Machinery. It became a part of the Rockwell Corporation, called the “Delta Power Tool Division.” Due in part to the infusion of capital, Delta began a new growth phase by acquiring other companies. In 1948 they took over Red Star Products of Ohio and gained a radial arm saw product line. They also bought companies that made jointers, shapers, drill presses and other floor-based machines. By the 1960s, Delta was the dominant producer of stationary power tools and equipment.
In the mid-1960s, the focus of the company turned to more portable and job-site specific tools. Another invention attributed to Delta is the world’s first motorized miter saw, brought to market in 1966. This led the way to other bench-top style machines and a whole new market for the company. Unfortunately for the brand, the innovations seemed to dry up in the 1970s and Delta was sold to Pentair in 1981.
Pentair decided to re-brand the company using its original name – Delta Machinery. They also decided to focus on creating a complete line of bench-top tools designed for the consumer market. These were intended to be more affordable and lighter-duty drill presses, grinders and band saws which still had the same quality construction that Delta was famous for. This focus continued through the 1990s, and helped to solidify the Delta brand as a manufacturer of serious home workshop and job-site tools.
Evolution of the Brand
During the 2000s, innovation returned to Delta’s product design. The company moved its headquarters and manufacturing to Jackson, Tennessee and built a massive distribution center there. With this new facility the company was re-energized, and launched more than 20 new products in 2001. The industry trade publications rewarded Delta with accolades and new product awards, calling the company the leader in quality woodworking equipment.
In 2005 the Delta brand, along with sister company Porter-Cable, was sold to Black & Decker. This new partnership gave the company increased manufacturing and distribution capacity, while giving its new parent company a premium lineup of professional grade tools. For its part, Black & Decker made sure that the quality that Delta was famous for remained a top priority.
Today, Delta continues to make some of the best power tools and professional workshop machinery in the industry. They have reintroduced the UniSaw, with more features and accessories than ever before. They also continue to make drill presses for serious professionals, including the Delta 18-900L.
In 2011, Delta Machinery was sold to a company that manufactures many other power tool brands such as Ryobi, Milwaukee and Ridgid. The company was renamed Delta Power Equipment Corporation, and its manufacturing and distribution operations were moved to Anderson, South Carolina. The transfer of The Delta brand has not affected its innovation or high standards for quality, however. In fact, recent independent reviews of Delta products have shown the same commitment to excellence that has made the company famous for nearly 100 years.
Few brands have stood the test of time as well as Delta has. Many woodworkers and builders have been using the same Delta power tools for their entire lives. If Herbert Tautz was around today to see the advances in innovative design that his company has developed he would be proud, but perhaps not surprised. The commitment to quality has been there from the beginning – and it remains a part of the Delta brand and culture today.