February 17, 2015


This site covers saws and other tools made by E. C. Atkins & Co., a major American saw and tool manufacturer in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1952 it was purchased by Borg-Warner Corporation. The Indianapolis factory was closed in 1960-61 and its operations relocated to Greenville, Mississippi. Nicholson File Co. bought the Atkins Division of Borg Warner in 1966. Atkins had 14 major product lines which Nicholson consolidated or eliminated. Nicholson produced some saws under the Nicholson name before ceasing hand saw production.

The Atkins factory was located on S. Illinois St. at W. South St. in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, the Atkins saw works was located downtown in a prime redevelopment area near Lucas Oil Stadium, and no known remains of the factory exist today.

If you are looking for guidance on the models of Atkins and Sheffield hand saws, please see the catalog links on the right. Sheffield was Atkins' lower-priced brand name. I am adding scanned catalogs as I get them (last updated Jan. 2022).

1923 catalog
Following are articles on the company:
Historic Indianapolis.com
Vintage Machinery.org
Atkins saws for sale
Selling Atkins Saws, 1908
Youtube tribute and history

Following is a partial list of Atkins catalogs (most titles are similar so I am giving the basics):
1900 Price Current (pocket size)
1902 Supply Edition
1903 Price Current (pocket size)
1904 Hardware Edition
1906 Hardware Edition
1910 No. 10 (machinery emphasis)
1911 No. 11 Hardware Edition
1914 (not numbered)
1914 No. B2, Braces
1917 No. 17A
1919 No. 18
1921 Supplement to No. 18
1923 No. 19
1928 No. 20
1931 No. 21
1935 No. 21
1937 No. 21
1941 No. 22
1950 No. 23 (printed in separate sections in color, see below)
1959 No. 25 Hardware Catalog

Atkins produced many other smaller promotional and educational publications (these are the full titles):
Atkins Band Saws (Catalog No. 23 1950)
Atkins Drag Saw Book
Atkins Grinding Wheels and Grinders
Atkins Hack Saw Book
Atkins Hand Saws (Catalog No. 23 1950)
Atkins Inserted Tooth Circular Saws (Catalog No. 23 1950)
Atkins Machine Knives (Catalog No. 23 1950)
Atkins Mill Saws (16-page pamphlet)
Atkins Mill Saws (Catalog No. 23 1950)
Atkins Narrow Band Saws (Catalog No. 23 1950)
Atkins Saws in the Shop
Atkins Segment Ground Cross-Cut Saws
Atkins Pruning Saws (Catalog No. 23 1950)
Atkins Saw Book for Home Craftsmen
Atkins Saw Fitting Tools
Atkins Saws in the Home
Atkins Saws in the Shop: Metal Cutting Saws
Atkins Saws on the Farm
Atkins Sheffield Work-at-Home Saws and Knives for the... Home Workshop
Atkins Silver Steel Cross Cut Saws
Atkins Silver Steel Hacksaw Blades
Atkins Silver Steel Saws Dado Heads, Groovers, Cutters
Atkins Silver Steel Segment Ground Crosscut Saws, Eastern Patterns
Atkins Solid Tooth Circular Saws (Catalog No. 23 1950)
Atkins Time Book
Atkins Tools for the Filing Room
Atkins Trowel Book
Care of Narrow Band and Small Circular Saws
Complete Sharpening Instructions for Your Atkins B-W Saw Chain
Pruning and Pruning Saws
Saws in the Filing Room
Saw Sense (introduced in 1906)
Text Book of Silver Steel Atkins Saws: How to Care for and Use Them for Manual Training Schools
The Atkins Saw Book for Home Craftsmen
The How-To Do-It Book for Home Workshops

January 29, 2015

E. C. Atkins Patent One Man Crosscut Handle

This cast iron and wood handle was patented by Atkins in 1875. The example photographed was for sale in Kentucky in late 2014.

Atkins No. 53 and No. 65 Hand Saws

The 1937 catalog describes the Nos. 53 and 65 as very good quality saws suitable for everyday work, identical except for the style of blade. However, they were priced exactly the same in 1937, $3.71 wholesale, as the cheaper-looking Nos. 51 and 72. Today we would call this a lack of product differentiation, and it may have created an impression that the No. 53 and 65's features were more cosmetic, which is not true. This pair featured taper grinding followed by a high polish and ribbon grinding along the back. The handles were apple wood, ergonomically shaped, and beginning in the early teens were embossed with a distinctive floral design (bottom photo). By 1937 Atkins was using a chip-carved wheat design for the Nos. 53 and 65.      

Atkins No. 53 and No. 65 saws in 1937
Atkins No. 53 with embossed handle

January 27, 2015

Atkins No. 400 and No. 401 Hand Saws

The Nos. 400 and 401 were Atkins' finest saws, and the only ones made with rosewood handles. They had more taper grind and more polished blades than Atkins' next-best saws. The Nos. 400 and 401 were priced 63% higher in 1937 than the mid-priced Nos. 51 and 53. No other Atkins saws had tropical wood handles. 1950 is last year for which I found Atkins No. 400 advertisements.  

Atkins' finest saws, the No. 400 and No. 401, in 1937

Atkins 400, 1927 advertisement (inside front cover)

E. C. Atkins & Co. Location

Here is a period artist's rendition of the Atkins saw works and the location today. The 1907 view is looking towards the southeast, with S. Illinois St. on the left and W. South St. on the right. On the right are stack of lumber behind the handle mill and kiln. The main part of the works was bounded by W. South St. on the north, W. Henry St. on the south, S. Capitol Ave. on the west, and S. Illinois St. on the east.

Hyman's Handbook of Indianapolis, 1907
Bing Maps

Indianapolis maps 1898-1941