In the early 1920's, Raymond DeWalt worked as the supervisor for a sawmill and small construction company that made a variety of products out of wood. As times were tough, the mill couldn't afford to take on more help to handle the workload, and as such, Mr. DeWalt needed to devise ways to make his men more productive. To that end, he designed a number of specialty tools to handle specific woodworking tasks in the mill.
One of his innovations was a special yoke onto which he mounted an electric motor-powered saw, which was in turn mounted into a standard arm. This yoke and saw could be raised, lowered, angled, tilted, and slid back and forth, becoming the world's first radial-arm saw. The saw was such a success that it made one man in his sawmill as productive as four were before.
In 1924, based on the success of his new invention, he formed the DeWalt Products Company in Leola, Pennsylvania, with the purpose of marketing his radial-arm saw, which he dubbed the DeWalt "Wonder-Worker."
For the next 25 years, DeWalt offered the Wonder-Worker, while developing other innovations. In 1949, however, the company was purchased by the American Machine and Foundry Co., Inc, more commonly known as AMF (the same company that was famous at various times for their bowling equipment, and for owning Harley-Davidson motorcycles for a brief period). In 1960, AMF sold their DeWalt division to Black & Decker, a relationship that still exists to this day.
The rights to the original Wonder-Worker changed hands a couple of times, and is now offered by the Original Saw Company, of Britt, Iowa.
DeWalt Power Tools:
DeWalt specializes in tools that they design for the "professional" user, allowing tools for the DIY and consumer market to be offered under the Black & Decker nameplate. in recent years, DeWalt appears to be focused on battery operated power tools, such as cordless drills, circular saws, reciprocating saws and more.
They have also expanded their lines of pneumatic tools and compressors, while maintaining an impressive lineup of corded portable power tools and certain small woodworking machines such as compound miter saws and portable table saws.
One focus of DeWalt that I find particularly refreshing is how they ask their users and readers to submit ideas for product enhancements and innovations on their website. For all of you woodworkers and inventors who have an idea for a better woodworking mousetrap, so to speak, here's your chance to get your idea in front of people who know the market, and can evaluate and tell you whether your idea has merit. Visit the DeWalt Invention Submission page for more information.