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Title: Skil  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Robert Bosch GmbH, Team Giant-Alpecin, Telex Communications, Mafell, Bosch Rexroth
Collection: Power Tool Manufacturers
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Skil jigsaw
Skil cordless drill

SKIL Power Tools is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Robert Bosch GmbH and is a leader in portable electric power tools and accessories serving the do-it-yourself consumer and professional construction markets.

SKIL can trace its heritage to the invention of the circular saw by Edmond Michele in 1924, which led to the development of the SKILSAW circular saw Model 77 in 1937. Now referred to as “the saw that built America,” the Model 77 set the industry standard for handheld worm-drive circular saws which remains in production almost unchanged today.[1] In an example of a genericized trademark, portable circular saws are often still called Skilsaws or Skil saws.

Skil products include circular saws, cordless drill/drivers, cordless screw drivers, cordless tackers, cordless sealant guns, belt sanders, random orbit sanders, multi-sanders, angle grinders, hammers, drills, mixers, jig saws, lasers and measuring tools, reciprocating saws, routers, and planers.


  • History 1
    • Skilsaw Model 77 Invented 1.1
    • World War II 1.2
    • Post World War II 1.3
    • 1979 to present 1.4
  • References 2
  • External links 3


In the early 1920s, Edmond Michel, a French immigrant in New Orleans with a penchant for tinkering and inventing, watched a group of farmers hack away at sugar cane with large machetes. After observing the painstaking labor the workers went through, Michel began experimenting with how to mechanize the Machete. In 1923, Michel created a motorized machete, which had a 6 in. saw-blade mounted on carved wooden frame and powered with a motor taken from malted milk mixer – the first electric handsaw.[2]

After reading about Michel’s new invention, Joseph Sullivan, a Minneapolis land developer, set out to find the New Orleans inventor. After deciding to go into business together, Michel and Sullivan moved to Chicago and opened the Michel Electric Handsaw Co. in 1924.[3]

After forming the company, six production models were made at $1000 each. Michel went to the new Atlantic City's Million Dollar Boardwalk to demonstrate the new tools, where the first portable electric “Skilsaw” was purchased for $160 by the Piers’ developer.[4]

In 1926, the Skil brand name was born after Michel left the company to pursue other ventures, and Sullivan changed the company name to Skilsaw, Inc.

Skilsaw Model 77 Invented

After surviving the Great Depression, Skil continued making improvements to its saw. During the 1930s, Skil released the Model E Skilsaw, the first generation saw with a worm drive. In 1937, Edward Sterba perfected the Model E and built the first Model 77 with a 7 ¼” blade, considered the “workhorse on building sites.”[5] The model 77 celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2012.

World War II

During World War II, Skil developed the PS-12 circular saw for military applications by mounting an air-driven Thor motor on a 12" worm-driven saw for use in several types of construction. Manufactured in camouflage colors, with saw blade painted black and the body a greenish color, the saw worked just about everywhere, including underwater to cut piles or timbers. The Navy had Skil put this tool into a special camouflage box coated and sealed with plastic. When they were unable to get into a landing area, the unit would be dumped overboard and floated or drug in for use on aircraft landing areas.[6]

Post World War II

After the end of World War II, Skil began expanding into international markets by opening a distribution and service center in Toronto, CA in 1946. After selling directly to customers for 25 years, since the company’s inception, Skil entered the wholesale business and began distributing its products through hardware distributors.

In the 1950s, the company changed its name to the Skil Corporation. Skilsaw remained the brand name used for the company's products. European sales followed a few years later, by which time Skil had entered the consumer market. By 1959 it had a full and successful range of DIY tools.

Skil's European factory was built in 1961 in the Dutch town of Breda, followed soon after by an electric motor plant at Eindhoven, Netherlands. After successfully entering the European market, by the end of 1961 Skil had opened additional offices in Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Denmark and Germany.

From the 1970s onwards, Skil constructed a network of factories, service centers and sales offices all around the world, its name becoming synonymous with power tools. Skil still has its European head office in Breda. All manufacturing of power tools for the European market is outsourced, mainly in China. Pre-development, Logisitics, Sales, Marketing and Finance are among the activities of the Dutch head office.

1979 to present

Emerson Electric acquired Skil Corporation in 1979. Under new ownership, Skil continued growth. In 1982, the company embarked on a program to become the most successful power tool company in America by investing heavily in new manufacturing and quality-control systems. By 1988, the company had achieved its goal.[7]

In 1991, the Emerson Electric Company and Robert Bosch GmbH entered into a joint venture by combining their power tool subsidiaries.[8] In 1992, the new venture came to fruition as S-B Power Tool Co. After four years of the partnership, Robert Bosch GmbH took over complete ownership of Skil.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Frechette, Leon A. "The Great Divide." Accessed: 2013-01-22. (Archived by WebCite® at
  3. ^ "IEN 75th Anniversary Perspective & Timeline: Skil Power Tools." Accessed: 2013-01-22. (Archived by WebCite® at [2]]
  4. ^ Herbst, Chris. “Birth of a Saw.” Popular Science. August 1961, pg. 6. Accessed through Google Books on 2013-01-22
  5. ^ McInnis, Raymond. "The Evolution of Portable Motor-Driven Saws" Accessed 2013-02-22. Archived at
  6. ^ Frechette, Leon A. "The Great Divide." Accessed: 2013-01-22. (Archived by WebCite® at
  7. ^ “Skil, the power tool company.” Chilton’s Hardware Age. May 1988: page 58 (Accessed online through on August 2, 2012 (Subscription required))
  8. ^ “COMPANY NEWS; Emerson, Bosch Combining Units.” New York Times 13 Nov. 1991. (Accessed online through on August 2, 2012 (Subscription required))

External links

  • Official website
  • Skil tool store (Dutch)
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