Skowhegan Wooden Rule Company History

Long Ago and Far Away

The history of hardwood rule manufacturing at Skowhegan Wooden Rule Co., Inc. began long before 1999. It all started in 1869, when E.T. Lufkin founded the E. T. Lufkin Board and Log Rule Company in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1883, the Lufkin Company moved to Saginaw, Michigan.

During the decades that followed, Lufkin expanded their original line of hardwood rules, adding steel and woven measuring tapes, various metal and wooden folding rules, dial indicators, and electronic measuring equipment to their catalog. Soon, they became the largest manufacturer of linear measuring devices in the world. 

The Move to Maine

In 1951, Lufkin decided to locate operations near the best sources of raw materials for their products. So they purchased the Anson Stick Company in North Anson, Maine. The hard maple harvested in Maine’s northern forests was considered superior and by the mid-1960s, Lufkin had consolidated all wooden rule manufacturing operations there.

In 1967, Cooper Industries purchased the Lufkin Company and added it to the Cooper Hand Tools Division. Cooper sold folding wooden rules as mass market items but viewed the original E.T. Lufkin product line of flatwood rules, lip rules, and “L” squares as industrial items and offered them through their catalogue only to industrial distributors and users.

By 1998, Cooper had moved the printing, assembly and packaging of folding rules to its main facility in Apex, North Carolina. Lack of broad market exposure and industry shifts gradually reduced the demand for flatwood rules, lip rules, and “L” squares. At that point, Cooper sold the Anson plant and discontinued Lufkin’s original lines. 

An antique map of Skowhegan, Maine

The Meisner Family Era Begins

We, the Meisner family, purchased the Anson plant from Cooper Industries in 1999, primarily to obtain the sawmill and kilns to produce wood for other manufacturing facilities in Maine. Included in the sale was all of the equipment and the process instructions required to produce the discontinued Lufkin products.

The Meisner Family photo

On the day the sale was finalized and in the weeks that followed, a number of distributors and industrial customers contacted us. They asked that we continue to manufacture flatwood rules, lip rules, and “L” squares. Demand appeared small but consistent. We decided to gradually rebuild rule manufacturing and the Skowhegan Wooden Rule Co. Inc., was formed to promote and market these products.

Since 1999 we have been able to re-employ some of the skilled local workers who had spent generations crafting these products. We have completely rebuilt and refined the rule manufacturing process. We have not, however, relaxed any of the standards that made E.T. Lufkin’s original rules so desirable. The maple is still the finest quality produced in Maine’s western mountains; each piece is still hand selected and inspected.

The rule tips, lips, fittings, and fasteners are still all solid brass and the graduations, numbers, and markings are engraved into the wood (not printed on it) and blackened by hand to last a lifetime. Finally, each rule is carefully finished to bring out the beauty and personality of the wood.

We think E.T. Lufkin would be proud. 

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