This week’s “three for the week”

For the last few weeks I have been featuring three products each week you might want to know about the next time you are in the market for American made apparel, shoes, appliances, etc.  This week I have three American made tools that are just aching to find their way into your toolbox.

Johnson Levels

Like so many great American firms making products in this country, Johnson Level is a family firm and its located in the Great State of Wisconsin.  Wisconsin has one of the best manufacturing bases in the country; twice the percentage of citizens of the Badger State are employed in manufacturing than the national average.  Johnson Level got its start in 1947 when George and Lawrence Johnson opened a woodworking shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin called Johnson Products Company, Inc.  They produced their first level when Skill Craft asked the Johnsons to make a miniature working level as part of a child’s toolbox.  After a brief stay in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, Johnson Products moved to its current location in Mequon, Wisconsin, just north of Milwaukee.  By that time, George’s two sons, Bill and Bob, had joined the family business, which was renamed to its current name of Johnson Level & Tool Mfg. Co., Inc.

Johnson Level makes levels, lasers for surveying, optical instruments for surveying, measuring instruments and squares.  My two favorite Johnson Level products are their 9″ Magnetic Glo-View® Heavy Duty Aluminum Torpedo Level and their post level.

The 9″ Magnetic Glo-View® Heavy Duty Aluminum Torpedo Level has a patented Glo-View® vial that makes reading the vial easier when the light is getting a bit scarce at the end of the day.  Johnson’s Torpedo Level has magnets that hold to ferrous metal surfaces and has three vials: plumb, level, and 45°.  There is a top-read window for easy viewing.

If you have ever tried building a fence, you know Johnson Level post levels are an essential tool.  You dig your post holes, position your post in the hole and then strap your Johnson post level onto your post.  The tough acrylic vials allow you to read plumb and level simultaneously.  Once you have the post plumb and level, you stake it and then you are ready to pour your concrete.  The next time you need a level, a tape measure or a combination square, think Johnson Level!

Pratt-Read Tools

Ya gotta love a firm that has been making tools in Connecticut since 1798.  Pratt-Read got started making parts for pianos, but now makes amazing screwdrivers and other tools; Pratt-Read produces over 20 million screwdrivers annually.  Pratt-Read produces its own handles and blades and then assembles them into the finished screwdriver.  Pratt-Read handles are made from Cellulose Acetate, a renewable natural resource derived from wood pulp. Cellulose Acetate is tough and resistant to chemicals and is not a petroleum-based product.   All Pratt-Read screwdriver blades are made from Nickel-Chromium-Molybdenum Alloy Steel. Each tip is specially heat-treated to produce maximum strength and durability.  My favorite Pratt-Read product is the PRQ Quick Driver Interchangeable blade system.

Check your local hardware store for these fine tools made by members of our extended American family.  When you grab your toolbox filled with American made tools you will know that you will get the job done right, and also provide a job for someone in our nation.  Who can complain about that?


About John Briggs

I live in Seattle and love telling stories about Americans, the places where they work and the things that they make. I have just published a book, Simply American, encouraging Americans to purchase American made products; the book can be ordered at
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