Lenox Saw Blade Factory Tour
"Watching all the blades being made in just hours, I marveled at the demand. If all those blades are not bought each day, they start to stack up somewhere!"
Lenox Saw Blade Factory Tour - What a Fantastic Place!
I was invited to do a spectacular factory tour where they make Lenox saw blades of all types. The tour was on September 13, 2018. The full story of my visit is below. Be sure to read it.
I taped three videos while there, two of them side-by-side comparisons of the new jigsaw blades Lenox was debuting at the tour. The videos are all below.
Watching all the blades being made in just hours, I marveled at the demand. If all those blades are not bought each day, they start to stack up somewhere!
Watch this video of some of what I saw. Unfortunately, much of what I saw on the tour was so secret, they don't allow photos or video to be shot. But there's some great stuff in the following video to give you an idea of what it's like in a factory.
Here are some photos you may like:
Full Factory Tour Story
Recently I was invited to tour the Lenox saw blade factory in Springfield, MA. As I drove home from the tour I decided you’d like to know what it’s like to be inside a plant where products come off the line stamped Made in the USA.
Factory tours are often coupled with a new product announcement. Manufacturers are excited to share the news about innovation and feel that if folks like me get to see how things are made that I’ll be more inclined to share the news. Factories, for any number of reasons, are often closed to the general public. This is your chance to experience what I was lucky to see.
Lenox employees have worked for the past two years improving the ubiquitous jigsaw blade. You may own a jigsaw that allows you to cut both straight and curved lines in wood, metal and some other materials. You may also be frustrated like me by blades that dull fast or snap off at the tang up where the blade connects to the saw.
You can kick your frustration to the curb because the new blades I saw solve these problems.
Many factories are filled with the noise of production. Machines can start up without notice, things that look harmless can burn you, and you need to have your head on a swivel to ensure you don’t get hurt. You’re required to wear earplugs, safety glasses and steel-toed boots or covers to protect you from harm.
My first impression of this factory was how big it was. I’m nearly certain they said that it covered 13 acres. The plant employs approximately seven hundred humans and quite a few precision robots that help produce saw blades of unparalleled quality.
I couldn’t help but notice the floor in many parts of the factory was made up of wood blocks that were cut ends of dimensional lumber. The wood was 1 and 1/4-inches thick. It protects saw blades that might somehow touch the floor. The wood is also easier to stand on all day.
It’s important to realize that great products are derived from the hard work of all in the factory including the engineering team that works in the research and development (R&D) department. I toured the R&D section and got to see all sorts of machines that test blades and evaluate blade materials and processes. Tests are run on competitors’ blades as well as the blades Lenox is developing.
The factory floor layout reminded me of a giant real-life child’s maze. There were yellow painted lines on the floors that created corridors of safety where one walked. Some were long, others ended in a work area. Intersections often had overhead LED light fixtures that functioned much like traffic lights you encounter when driving.
Giant racks of raw materials and semi-processed materials were everywhere. Large 3 and 4-foot diameter coils of metal that looked just like reels filled with colored ribbon were everywhere. These thin strips of metal would hours later be transformed into saw blades of all types and sizes. Machines milled stacks of saw blades at once. I couldn’t believe in one eight-hour shift how many blades might be produced!
Rows of heat-treating furnaces extended down below the factory floor. The reels of thin steel bake in these giant sealed chambers for hours on end. The heating and cooling process is very complex and needs to be done with great precision so the steel has a finished quality to hold an edge yet be supple enough so it doesn’t snap under normal use.
Another key point is this factory produces giant blades for industrial users all over the world. Those were being created in parts of the plant far away from where I was. I did get to see one of these giant blades cutting its way through a 12-inch-diameter piece of solid steel in a testing chamber. It was astonishing to see a thin blade saw through a giant piece of metal.
Most of the machines and layout I saw were secret and we were not allowed to take photographs or videos in many parts of the factory. Some machines are made by workers in the factory. The machinery and the way the machines work to make things is often more valuable than a patent that covers the finished product.
One of the new processes I got to see was a micro-peening method that treats the one small edge of a jigsaw blade tang end where the blade is inserted into the jigsaw. Small pieces of ceramic are blasted at the edges of lots of blades at one time. This helps make the steel blade far less susceptible to cracking under tension. When cracks develop at the tang, the blade snaps off and you and I often spew bad language from our mouths.
At the conclusion of the tour, I discovered that Lenox had a surprise gift for you. They want to give you one of these new blades for free. All you have to do is visit the following page of my website for the direct link. You’ll also see many more photos and videos I was allowed to shoot inside the factory. Go to: http://go.askthebuilder.com/lenoxtour