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About Rennie Tools

Rennie Tool Co Limited was estabished in 1929 by John Barrack Rennie.

We are manufacturers of tungsten carbide tipped and HSS cutting tools. A large part of our business now involves the distribution of indexable insert, solid carbide and HSS tooling for leading brand names such as Ceratizit, Sumitomo, Iscar, Kennametal/Stellram, Sandvik, Dormer, Guhring and many more. We also distribute Castrol, SAR and Optimum (Monroe) lubricants and greases and a large range of tool steels including silver steel and Ground Flat Stock/Gauge Plate.

For a description of our full range of products and services please visit our SERVICES page.


Rennie Tool Company was established in 1929 by John Barrack Rennie in a terraced house in Brasenose Street, Manchester. The neighbours and subsequently Manchester City Council objected to the noise generated in a residential terrace so John bought a large Victorian house on Upper Brook Street and built a wooden shed in the extensive garden to continue tool production.

At this point in time most most cutting tools were manufactured in solid high speed steel. John developed a process whereby a high speed steel tip could be welded on to a steel shank and hardened at the same time. This was very cost effective. Edgar Allen, a Sheffield steel manufacturer, provided funding that allowed Rennie's to erect a small factory in the garden and buy machinery. This allowed the company to produce significant quantities of tipped tools.

John produced a tool chart consisting of approximately 100 tool shapes, 20 shank sizes and 4 grades of HSS. This chart formed the basis of all cutting tool shapes. British Standard BS1296 is based on these original shapes.

During the 1930's flash butt welding was developed. As larger pieces of HSS were required and separate heat treatment was required this was more expensive than the furnace tip welding technique. Post war the tables were turned and flash butt welding became the preferred method.

From 1936 the build up to war resulted in a large increase in production. The war years saw 24/7 manufacturing and factory extensions irrespective of Council objections. Inadequate production levels could lead to Government sequestration of your factory.

Postwar the development of more powerful machinery and ongoing improvements in tungsten carbide led to carbide tooling overtaking HSS as the tool material of choice.

During the 1950's an association was formed by the 8 UK carbide manufacturers, effectively a cartel. They fixed prices and would only sell to companies abiding by their price structure. Even enquiries for special tools had to be submitted to the Association for them to price. Rennie Tool Co began to purchase carbide from the continent hence were able to reduce prices and improve market share. Summoned to a meeting at the Association headquarters in Coventry John Rennie ( son of the founder ) and a fellow director, Bob Gibson,  were threatened with expulsion and withdrawal of tip supplies. The meeting ended abruptly when John and Bob told the Association their tips were no longer required. Chased into the car park by a sales director they were assured tip supply would continue and the cartel was broken.

During the war oil was not available for the factory furnaces so tar oil was substituted. This had to be kept at 40 degrees Centigrade. This was actually extremely good for the tip welding process as it produced a very smoky reducing flame ideal for the welding /hardening process. Smoke abatement legislation in the 1950's meant that reversion to oil was necessary. This meant tipped tool production was more difficult with higher scrap rates. Reluctantly flash butt welding machinery was purchased and tip welded tool production was rapidly replaced.

By the 1960's carbide tool production far outstripped HSS tooling and it had to be recognised that indexable insert tooling was the future. Rennie's used Cutanit tips on our brazed tools and began selling Cutanit inserts in the late 1960's. To further develop indexable tooling sales Peter Fitton, a senior technical sales engineer from Cutanit ( Ceratizit ) joined Rennie Tool in the early 1980's. This helped develop the wide range of indexable tooling available from us today.

We formed a close relationship during the 1990s with Castrol and from there developed a comprehensive offering of lubricants and greases and our own technical support services.

The purchase, in 2010, of Hope Valley Tool Steels, gave us the capability to stock and supply a wide range of tool steels including ground flat stock ( gauge plate ) and silve rsteel.

The fourth generation of John Rennies' has recently been responsible for bringing us into the 21st century with the development of ebay sales and the launch of a new interactive selling website - launched on 11th January 2017.

Established in 1929 as a manufacturer of HSS & tungsten carbide lathe tools. We now supply a full range of engineers cutting tools, lubricants & tool steels.

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