How Klein Tools Packs 150 Years of Blacksmithing Know-How Into Every Pair of Pliers

In 1857, a telegraph lineman walked into the shop of a Chicago blacksmith with a conundrum: the jaw on one half of his pliers broke while on the job, and he needed a replacement. The German-born blacksmith—more familiar with wrought-iron work for hinges and locks—forged him a new part anyway, riveted the old half, and sent him on his way. A few weeks later, the same lineman returned, asking the blacksmith to forge the other half, which also broke. The blacksmith Mathias Klein agreed, and when he mated the two halves together, he forged the very first Klein tool. It wouldn’t be the last. Some 166 years later, U.S.-based Klein Tools is one of the best-known tool companies in the world and is still a family-owned business.