Crescent Wrench in the Works: Karl Peterson's Innovative Tool Design

Tool Design Takes the U.S. by Storm


| August 2006



Karl Peterson, who founded the Crescent Tool Co. in 1907, Jamestown, N.Y., is considered the creator of what is today known as the Crescent® wrench. A Swedish emigrant, he collaborated with another Swede in the tool design, which initially proved complicated to produce. Emil Johnsson, a Crescent plant superintendent, overcame that challenge by creating a machine designed to cut precise slots in the wrenches.

When the first Crescent wrenches were produced in the U.S., the innovative design was an immediate success. Many competitors tried to duplicate the Crescent wrench. Even the patented slotcutting machine invented by Johnsson was a target for imitators. A Canadian company, then immune from U.S. patent regulations, went so far as to build a slot-cutting machine. Wrench blanks were shipped from the U.S. to be slotted in Canada, and then returned to the U.S. for assembly. Sub-sequent legal action slowed such activity.

Like the Bahco Group, Peterson at Crescent Tool insisted on top quality production. Both companies remain in business today.