I recently had the VERY good fortune to have an acquaintance “give” me a machinist’s tool chest and tools that were his grandfather’s. He says that his grandfather was a machinist in Detroit, but that is all he knows.
The chest is marked “Pilliod Company, Swanton, Ohio” in gold lettering on the front of the bottom drawer. The chest is oak. The finish appears to be original and is in very good condition. It had a leather handle on top that is almost completely worn away. The chest has 5 drawers of varying sizes with green felt liners, and the entire chest has a removable wooden front with a lock. The lock and key still work. It also sits on a base, but I do not think that the base is original. It appears to be poplar and pine and not oak. A couple of the drawers have some separation/cracking at the joints, but I can fix those fairly easily.
The chest is “full” of L.S. Starrett tools. The tools are in very good condition, but have obviously been well used and taken care of for many years.
My acquaintance says that he was told that the chest dates about 1915, but has no way of knowing.
Does anyone know anything about Pilliod? I looked in the archive for the OldTools mailing list, and an email to the OldTools list in 1998 from Chris Berger had the following information about Pilliod:
“The letterhead contained the following:
THE PILLIOD CABINET COMPANY
Swantown, Ohio 43558
(I tried this phone # for the heck of it and it is no longer in service)
The envelope also was stamped:
THE PILLIOD CABINET COMPANY
Pilliod of Alabama, Inc.
Pilliod of Carolina, Inc.
105 – 117 Woodland Ave.
Not much else about this company seems to have been discussed on OldTools.
If anyone has any other information, please let me know. I will post whatever I find about this company to the blog for others that may be looking for this company in the future.
Thanks for the help!
Above photo is the chest with the front cover open.
Cover closed (lock still works)
Logo on front of bottom drawer
Tools contained in drawer #3
Matt Sanfilippo is the Chief Partnership Officer (CPO) for the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Co-Director of its Engineering Research Accelerator. In this role, Matt coordinates and enables strategic and sponsored research opportunities across the college, and stewards the development of proposals for major research opportunities along strategic themes. Additionally, he enables collaboration among the college's research institute/center executive directors, and industrial and government relations personnel in the pursuit of opportunities with industry, federal and state governments. Before becoming CPO for the College, Matt was the Senior Executive Director for Research Initiatives, the Executive Director of CMU's SII (Smart Infrastructure Institute) and ICES (Institute for Complex Engineered Systems), and Associate Director of PITA (Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance) and RAMP (Research for Advanced Manufacturing in Pennsylvania).
Before CMU, Matt was Managing Director of Applied Technology for Michael Baker Corporation, an engineering and energy services firm. Matt managed Baker's technology division including Geographic Information System (GIS), software and web development, multimedia, virtual reality, visualization, Global Positioning System (GPS), mapping and surveying services. Before joining Baker, Matt was an Innovation Director for Redleaf Group, a Venture Capital/Operating Company focused on information security, supply chain and mobility solutions. While at Redleaf, Matt managed technical due diligence for seed-stage investments and coordinated relationships between Redleaf and their partner companies. Prior to Redleaf, Matt was CIO of GZA GeoEnvironmental Technologies, an infrastructure engineering firm, and operations manager for their Internet start-up that focused on web-technologies for health and safety and manufacturing metrics.
Matt is on the board of Larson Design Group (LDG), past Chairman of the Board for the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, current board member of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF), current Vice President of the Sewickley Heights Gun Club (SHGC) and former member of the Information Sciences and Technology Advisory Board for the Pennsylvania State University Beaver. Matt is also former Vice President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association of Internet Professionals and former Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Baker Combined Charity of Pennsylvania.
Wow! That is quite a nice addition to the shop. A quick search on the manufacturer yielded this:
“In January 1994, LADD acquired the Pilliod Cabinet Co., a High Point-based manufacturer of promotional-priced bedroom and occasional furniture, in a transaction valued at $54 million. The company, which was renamed Pilliod Furniture, Inc. following the acquisition, had annual sales of more than $85 million and factories in Ohio, Alabama, and South Carolina.”
I also turned up an EPA report that cited the company for an infraction in 1994 and fined them $17k.
This is probably not the detail you were looking for, but it does show that the company existed as little as 13 years ago.
I USED TO LIVE IN SWANTON OHIO..AND WORKED FOR THEM FOR 17 YEARS…. PILLIOD IS AN OLD FAMILY NAME IN SWANTON AND WAS ONE OF THE BIG EMPLOYERS.
LOCALS USED TO CALL IT THE “BOX COMPANY” DUE TO BOXS THEY MADE, LIKE YOU HAVE, SILVERWARE CHESTS AND BOXS FOR MEDALS DURING THE WAR EFFORT… I WAS TOLD THEY USED TO MAKE KITES AS WELL… THEY ARE LONG GONE…THEY HAD BECOME A POWER HOUSE IN FURNITURE. THROUGH MANY BUY OUTS AND THUS QUESTIONABLE MANAGEMENT, THEY ARE GONE…..MY MOTHER HAD ONE OF THE SILVERWARE BOXS
Thanks for the info!!!
At one time, Pilliod also manufactured a proprietary design of valve gear, called Baker, for steam locomotives. Some of this product would have been shipped to the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima.
Did u ever find anything else about the pillod cabinet company. I have a silverware box with the silver set that was my grandmothers and would love to find out more about it
Hi Betty Jo,
The only other info that I have found is in another post at this link:
I HAVE A WOOD CEDAR HEART. MEASURES APPROX 8 1/2″ X 9″. IT BELONGED TO MY MOM WHO WAS BORN IN 1920, I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE SHE GOT IT. IT HAS BEEN IN THE DRAWER FOR YEARS AND YEARS WITH HER CHROCTED HANKIES IN IT. IT ALSO HAS A HEART SHAPED MIRROR WHEN YOU OPEN IT & A RED SILK LINING.IT IS QUITE LOVELY. THERE IS A LATCH AND LOCK, BUT I HAVEN’T COME ACROSS A KEY YET. I’D LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS ITEM AND WHAT YEAR IT MAY HAVE BEEN MANUFACTURED. IT IS PLAIN TO SEE PILLIOD SWANTON OHIO CIRCLED ON THE BOTTOM.
HELLO MY NAME IS RICHARD J. PILLIOD AND I AM FROM SWANTON OHIO. MY GRANDFATHER WAS THE FOUNDER OF THE PILLIOD CABINET COMPANY IN SWANTON. I HAVE A CASE JUST LIKE THE ONE ABOVE. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS YOU CAN E-MAIL ME AND I WILL TRY TO HELP WITH ANY THING I CAN.
A number of folks have emailed about Pilliod since this post and I will point them in your direction.
my dad dide last year and in the his shed i found a chest just like yours. my mum told me it was her grand farthers he was a toolmacker. the one that i now owne is very baterd on the out side but once undun ant in bad nick. and the tools are ok too. after reading about your chest i took a look at mine and could not see a base or any sine that there was one. but noing what the chest,s jobs were i can see wye it might have been added.
Shaun said sorry about the spelling he is profoundly dyslexic
I have enjoyed hearing stories from a number of people about Pilliod cases.
In some ways, being battered just makes it more personal!
Hello, I also have a older crusty wooden Pilliod Mine has 8 drawers Nice wood box with sticker Anyone know the value in price ? worth ? Im soon to List mine on ebay
Recently retired, I have begun making machinist cabinets. My interests have come from being in the hardware retail buisness for years and also knowing someone who made one of his own, as part of his toolmaker apprenticship in England…years ago.
The skilled apprentices from overseas had to make their own tool cabinets, then make their own tools to put in them…..when they were done after about 3years….they were tool makers with their basic tools….or die makers or what-ever their apprenticship was for. A huge number of then came to the U.S. and Canada…brought their tools with them.
In the States and Canada, there were 50plus companies who made machinist cabinets, under their own names or with other brands on them. E.i. Sears, National…ect. The last domestic surviver appears to be Gerstner..in Dayton (also made National brand).
Pilliod Cabinet was diversified enough to survive the depression apparently. Today they are alot rarer than other quality built cabinets. Like many companies, back when, alot of production was sold on a regional basis. In Ohio alone there were 5-6 companies making machinist cabinets. But then again, the Great Lakes region had alot of skilled people working in the war plants, and they must have bought alot of cabinets to keep their tools in.(didn’t make their own)
Who-ever put the raised base on your cabinet should get an award. Most older cabinets have the bottom dammaged from moisture or oil and the bottom off the back of the case is almost always water damaged and de-laminted if it is veneered.
The felt mildewed…E.I. tools rusted.
Looking at the precission tools that are in it and it’s general shape…..I’d keep it all intact and put silica gel packets in all the drawers to protect all of it from moisture and don’t put it in the basement.
Thanks for the info! Very interesting. I find myself becoming more and more interested in old machinist cases, and your post is helpful.
I THINK I have one of your grandfather’s chests. I attempted to join this forum but apparently the software is not working.
I would certainly like your opinion of my machinist’s chest, which has no markings.
Interestingly, it belonged to a tool and die maker in Detroit and was full of Starrett stuff, plus a lot of true American cutters.
I will check back here in a few days to see if you or anyone else can provide a method to contact you via e-mail.
I too have a Pilliod chest. It was my Dad’s. He passed away last year. It was his Father’s. At least I think it was. His Father worked for Walter Kidde and he assembled smoke and fire detectors and not sure what else. So, possibly he used it there? Not sure? It is in very bad condition. The drawers (lined with felt) are mildewed. I wanted to clean it up. Not sure how to go about it. I was thinking of using lemon oil on the wood. Not sure what to do to clean the felt.
Hi, Richard from Gordon Haines in St. George, UT. I found a Pillard box in my aunt’s condo when clearing it out after moving her to assisted living. If you would like to have it and the contents, I’d be glad to ship it to you for the cost of shipping.
It is like the one pictured at the website below. It is filled with many files, monocles, and tweezers and a square labeled “A. D. Paterson.” The wood and felt are in good condition but there is an area on the top which has damaged finish. The mirror is intact but darkened.Key is missing. Leather handle is cracked.
Hello Richard, do you have any info about a rare (at least I have never found another like or even seen a picture of another.
It has 8 drawers in the main chest not the usual seven, as well as the top opens and has a pedestal it sits on with a large drawer also ( 9 drawers plus the top opens any idea?
It was my grandfathers left to me he used it during the Great Depression and told stories about going from shop to shop to shop looking for work tools in hand. Any info would be great! Regards Anthony
Hello Richard, It is truly a joy when the descendants of an old, out of business company take the time to pass along information about the history. I too am a passionate collector of the old wooden machinist chest; Pilliod, Gerstner, Union, et.al.
I have two questions:1) What time period did The Pilliod Company manufacture the chest? 2) Are there any old or new decals available that were present on the bottom drawer?
hi rose..did he ever tell you how much the heart shape box was worth and the year it was made,,,i have one also…found it at goodwill store..3 bucks
I have a 6 drawer Pilliod tool chest like the one pictured above, but with slightly different drawer configuration. It belonged to my grandfather who was a tool and die maker for all the car companies in Detriot, between 1915 and 1960. I would like to determine the year it was made. Any ideas on how to date the toolbox,?
Just a brief history….The PILLIOD LUMBER COMPANY was est. by T.J. PILLIOD in 1896 in Swanson Ohio. The name later changed to PILLIOD CABINET COMPANY.
I have an 8 drawer like Pilliod configured 2upper left, 3upper right, and 3 long bottom. Measures20 wide, 12 1/4 height, and 9 1/4 deep. I was fortunate as the original owner etched in it “new June 11 1915” Sure would like a new Pilliod decal as mine is also worn.
“The Pilliod Company” however was a distinctly different company than “Pilliod Cabinet Company”. Both were in close proximity to each other. “The Pilliod company” was also known locally as “Pilliod Machine”. http://www.railarchive.net/bakervalve/