Vintage Greenlee® Woodworker Heads to National Museum of Industrial History

May 24, 2021
Greenlee, part of Emerson’s professional tools portfolio, celebrated its history and industry-leading tool innovation on May 24 when a vintage 1910 Greenlee Variety Woodworker machine makes a stop at its Rockford headquarters. The machine will then be delivered to the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem, Penn., a Smithsonian affiliate, to be displayed in a permanent collection of historic American machinery.

Greenlee employees will be able to view the machine and hear from Steven Williams, restorer of the machine that was designed to do a number of woodworking tasks, including surfacing, planing, boring and grooving. Barclay Olson, former president of Greenlee, and Lloyd Everard, vice president of human resources for Emerson’s professional tools business, will also speak during the event. Funding for the restoration project was provided in part by Emerson’s Charitable Trust.

“Greenlee has a long legacy of bringing innovative problem-solving products like the Variety Woodworker to consumers,” said Everard. “We are excited to see, in-person, an early innovation that is one of the last of its kind. We’re honored that it will be on display at the National Museum of Industrial History.”

The restored Woodworker was originally purchased from Greenlee in 1922 by the Anaconda Copper Company of Great Falls, Montana. It was then bought in 1979 by an individual who kept it unopened in their cabinet shop until Williams purchased it in 2018. Williams, who owns a wood shop in Kalispell, Mont., spent the last few years bringing it back to its original glory, connecting with the National Museum of Industrial History on their interest and now delivering it to the museum for display.

Greenlee history is rooted in woodworking. In 1862, the Greenlee brothers started the company as a cooperage with a focus on problem solving for customer applications. The company’s first great invention, the hollow chisel mortiser, revolutionized the process of making mortise and tenon joints in woodworking around the world. The Woodworker was later introduced in 1910.

Today, Greenlee continues to bring the same level of innovation and focus on delivering problem solving tools to the electrical and utility trades. It has more than 300 tools in its current portfolio and is recognized as a leading manufacturer of innovative job site solutions that range from hand tools and knockouts to benders and testing equipment.