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  • Writer's pictureSusanne Nordman

A Look Back at Magna-Lock and Brown & Sharpe Collaborations

Updated: May 7

Magna-Lock workholding products have strategically collaborated with many machine tool manufacturers in their near seventy-five-year existence. These collaborations have proven time and again that the parings have leveraged synergies while making a competitive edge for both parties.

By pairing Magna-Lock workholding with complementary products from Brown & Sharpe, thousands of machinists have come to know the quality and reliability of both Magna-Lock and Brown & Sharpe branded products.

Although Brown & Sharpe established themselves in the machine tool industry in the 1800’s, they are credited with innovating many machine tools and even machinery including grinders, turret lathes, and horizontal milling machines. Their name has been known as an industry standard for over a century and is well justified by their brand name awareness among machinists and machinery operators yet today.

the shop tool manual Brown & Sharpe catalog

The Brown & Sharpe manual, like the one pictured, was the go-to for selecting quality workholding, machine tools, and machinery prior to the advancement of the internet and online ordering. The catalogs were valued by business owners, machine tool distributors and operators to obtain the best of the best in machine tools.

In the early 2000’s, Brown & Sharpe fell to demise and the company’s assets, intellectual property, trademarks, etc. were acquired by other companies. The brand name of machine tools is still sought after in used machinery sales and liquidations though, and many machinists still use their products today.

Brown & Sharpe milling machines, grinders, and lathes are still in use today. Owners and operators of this quality equipment still seek repair and remanufacture services and OEM spare parts of their trusted Brown & Sharpe machines. And while Magna-Lock workholding was supplied with many newly manufactured Brown & Sharpe machines from the 1940’s to the early 2000’s, few know all the history of the Brown & Sharpe and Magna-Lock collaborations.

In 1981, Brown & Sharpe sold the proprietary rights, including all engineering documents, of their Micro-Mesh and Uni-Mesh Permanent Magnetic Chuck lines to Hitachi Magna-Lock Corporation. At that time the Micro-Mesh and Uni-Mesh chucks joined the other workholding products in the Magna-Lock brand.

Mattison Machine Works building

When Hitachi sold Magna-Lock to Mattison Machine Works in 1985, it is believed that the permanent chuck lines spent a few months at their Rockford, Illinois location before moving back to Big Rapids, Michigan with Bruce Cocklin, a former Hitachi employee. It is rumored that Bruce had a work agreement with Mattison to train their employees on the Magna-Lock products in exchange for the lifting magnets and permanent chuck product lines when his service was done.

After fulfilling his agreement, Cocklin moved back to Michigan with the agreed upon product lines and formed the company Magnetic Specialties Corporation. He manufactured and provided OEM services for MagnaLift and Power-Grip lift magnets and the Micro-Mesh and Uni-Mesh permanent chucks until July 2010.

At that time, Bruce sold his company’s assets and intellectual property to Magna-Lock USA, Inc. which is now Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. We are your OEM for Brown & Sharpe Micro-Mesh and Uni-Mesh Permanent Magnetic Chucks, many of which were supplied on new Brown & Sharpe machines at one time. But the collaboration story doesn’t end there.

serial number log from Magna-Lock USA
Magna-Lock Serial Number Logs Showing Orders, circa 1964

Not only were Magna-Lock permanent magnetic chucks sold on Brown & Sharpe machines, some included Magna-Lock electromagnetic chucks with controllers instead of permanent magnets. The archives of Magna-Lock contain many serial number books that list page after page of chucks manufactured and sold to Brown & Sharpe to be supplied with their milling machines, grinders, and lathes.

But, still again, taking a look back at Magna-Lock and Brown & Sharpe collaborations in the 1960's and 1970's, it does not end with chucks. Magna-Lock Magna-Vises, Magna-Knees, Magna-Bloks, parallels and v-blocks were all at one time, made by Magna-Lock and this is supported by engineering documents in our archive.

Brown & Sharpe Orders 51 paid of Magna-Vises
Order Log Showing 51 pairs of Magna-Vises Sold to Brown & Sharpe
Stacks of Magna-Lock Magna-Vise Sets Ready to Ship

The history of Magna-Lock products succeeding with Brown & Sharpe products is extensive and confirms the level of quality that stands behind the design and manufacture of each of the brands. When looking for OEM parts or remanufacture services of Magna-Lock workholding on Brown & Sharpe machines, turn to Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. We are the OEM manufacturer of that workholding and look forward to doing business with you.


Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. is a Rockford, Ill. manufacturing company and is the OEM for Magna-Lock USA workholding, MagnaLift & Power-Grip lift magnets, and Arter Precision Grinding Machines as well providing surface grinding services. They are located at 5015 28th Ave. in Rockford, Ill. with a phone number of 815-962-8700. Check out more at

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