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TM reader Lee writes: “I recently purchased this tool at a junk sale for a few bucks because it looked neat, but I don’t know what it is.  It has the ‘Thor’ logo on it, but no part number.  After some Googling I found out that it was made by the Thor Power Tool Company (by matching the logo to those on Wikipedia), but that’s it.   I can’t find any more information on the tool or the company.  It’s an electric tool that resembles a drill.  When you plug it in and pull the trigger, it sounds like a drill, but instead of a drill bit it’s got what appears to be a miniature torch.  It’s also got three air/gas inlets/outlets.  I have no idea what this tool is.  Can you guys help?”

Well, you Toolmongers identified the last tool we posted like this in less than a day.  Look past the jump for add’l pics.

As promised:


Any ideas?  Let us know in comments. 


34 Responses to Name This Tool

  1. Blind says:

    Looks like a soldering gun

  2. Adrian says:

    I’ll 2nd the “soldering gun”

  3. Bryan says:

    Yup, soldering gun.

  4. SlowJoeCrow says:

    More like a de-soldering gun, with the motor running a vacuum pump. Or alternatively some type of plastic welding or sealing tool.

  5. Blind says:

    I was thinking that the motor was running the fan that was sucking the hot air away from the heating element in the assembly so that the main heating element got nice and hot without the gun itself getting too warm.

    but that made no sense at all. Alternatively, I don’t see a hole in the element for the desoldering, nor do i see a way to remove the removed solder.

    The barbs for air lines confuse me though.

  6. Is there a burr or bit nestled in the tip? I’d guess that the air fittings would be for blowing/sucking away the dust created by grinding or other activity.

  7. phil miller says:

    it is a soldering gun. My dad had one like that.

  8. Steve Keller says:

    Nope, not a soldering gun. Its a tool used in old “Big Iron” mainframe computer days to delete printed circuit connections to a pin on a circuit board. Old IBM 370 days computers had multi-layer circuit boards/backplanes and this tool would allow you to cut a trace on the 1st or 2nd layer. After deleting the trace a wire would be wrapped on the pin then to another to fix or change the circuitry. There was a vacuum to keep debris from falling on other circuitry.

  9. Toolaremia says:

    Not a soldering gun. I’m betting there’s a mixing auger inside that nozzle, and that it’s for some kind of epoxy or other fluid dispensing system.

  10. Toolaremia says:

    Damn. I think Steve Keller has it cold.

  11. Lee says:

    Wow, Steve! Sounds like you may have nailed it!
    Actually, it’s funny that you mention IBM because that’s where I work and it’s where I bought the tool… Rather than pay to have all of their old/obsolete equipment recycled, our IBM site holds a “junk sale” every Wednesday where their employees can go and buy stuff like this at yard sale prices (in addition to this tool, I picked up an oscilloscope a few weeks ago for $30!).

    If any of you want to see the high-resolution versions of these pics for more detail, I’ve got them on my Flickr site:

  12. jbroome says:

    Hotknife for plastics?

  13. Steve, now you’ve got me curious what the cutting tip looks like! I’d imagine it’s not totally unlike an unwrapping tool — a hollow sleeve with some sharpness around the perimeter, like an ultra-narrow hole saw. I would *love* to see a demonstration of how this thing works, a la http://www.circuittechctr.com/guides/guides.shtml for soldering.

  14. false_cause says:

    Is that a reciprocating hot knife?

  15. Lee says:

    I’ve uploaded four more pics of the tip to my Flickr site:





    I just plugged the tool in again, and it’s very slight, but it feels like a vacuum is formed on the brass “T” fitting on the bottom of the unit when you pull the trigger.

  16. Blind says:

    They finally had a oscilloscope at the surplus sale? Damn, I need to start going to it again. I stopped going when I got tired of looking at the same crap every week.

  17. Lee says:

    Yep! They’ve had some pretty good stuff recently. You’re right though… For a while there, it was just the same old stuff every week.

  18. Cameron Russ says:

    It is a hot knife. Pull the trigger and the blade on the end heats up, letting you slice through plastic mesh or sheet and seal the edge at the same time. I have used on of these many times.

  19. Max S. says:

    I second that hot knife answer from Cameron.

  20. whimsy says:

    I’ll second the hot knife answer as well. I have seen it being used many times in nautical shops etc. for cutting polyester / ‘plastic’ rope: you can cut to length and melt the ends to keep them fron fraying at the same time. Pretty cool purchase therefore, especially since it seems to be a nice old, dependable model (check out that over the top heavy build: a modern one would be a flimsy glue gun-like thingy, right?).

  21. Bob says:

    Many years ago, I had and used a hand tool with a tip just like that one to cut the inner traces on IBM 370 backplanes. I was told at the time there was a power tool to do the job but had never seen one. Last week I came across one that had been converted into a kids ray-gun and went off googleing for more info and came across this posting. Here is a link to what information I have collected so far. Including what I found here and elsewhere.
    or http://tinyurl.com/3ex3yh

    This tool is missing th rubber hose that connected the pump to the tip.

  22. Kevin M. Lomas says:

    It is a soldering iron. I have used them in the navy, stationed aboard several ships and working in tool issue as an electrician.

  23. miller white says:

    no that aint no solderin gun, thats a wood burnin no gas havin apparatus

  24. Don Boroughs says:

    I was looking for info on a power drill my dad (who used to run a power tool repair business) gave me years ago and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found this “Name This Tool” post. What I have is a Thor 1/4″ compact drill that has “Code: E 110″ (the model no., I guess) on the specifications plate on top. From the rear of the drill up to the front-most point of the trigger it looks exactly like the tool pictured here. The drill measures ~6-1/4″ from the rear to the end of the chuck and ~5-5/8” from the bottom of the grip to the top. I still use it although it needs a new set of brushes.
    I posted some photos of it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/donboroughs/ .

  25. Mike Walton says:

    Don, it seems we both had similar situations. My dad gave me one just like yours except the gray paint was worn badly. It is at least 20 years old and still works well. It’s a single speed, no reverse but plenty powerful. You might try an electric motor repair shop for brushes. I’ll bypass the sending photos part since except for the serial numbers the two are the same.
    Small world huh?
    I guess THOR made several devices based on the same base unit… It would be interesting to see if there are more out there.

  26. Ed Bloomfield says:

    Came on line to look for brushes for my Thor drill Code E110. Let me know if you know a source. I tok over use of the drill in 1978 and have used it since. Small, powerful and reliable. The serial number is 9582-unreadable numbers. Thanks.

  27. Phil says:

    Thor made a tool based on their compact 1/4 inch drill that was used for wire wrapping. this tool may be a variation of that tool. I have a Thor 1/4 compact drill sililar to the one pictured and another one modified for driving screws. My Dad worked for Thor in the 50’s and 60’s and I collect old Thor tools and historical information about the company

  28. Charlie says:

    I am an OLD IBMer and I used one of these for years to delete wiring patterns (nets) on circuit boards in mainframes as part of engineering changes to make circuit improvements. Of course I then had to rewire them in their new configuration using wire and wrap tools.

  29. Vecs says:

    Hey Phil.I was looking for info on a Thor wire wrapping tool.I doubt this one works but if you want it you can have it (free).Its a 115 v model. I am i in Uk.Dont know where you are but noticed these were made in USA Aurora.Ill. (it says so on it). Also its code is E101.

  30. David says:

    I used to work at Thor Power Tool Company 1968- 1980, just before it went under as a division of the old Stewart Warner company which also went bankrupt.

    Some of the earlier commentor were correct. This was a circuit deletion built by IBM based on our compact permanent magnet model 1/4 drill model E110, we built the base for this tool and also a wirewrapping tool (e101) based on the same tool Due to the state of the art (at the time) motor being very compact and reliable it was ideal for the cramped spaces in the computers of the time

  31. Billy Joe Tom Bob says:

    That there is one of them Ray-Guns. I seen some of them Martian fellers prowling around the woods out back of the shed a few months ago and they was a carrying em. The ones they had didn’t have no electrical plug end cord on em though, but I seen one of them there Martian fellers vaporize a raccoon with it.

  32. Arnold Schwartz says:

    I have a Thor 1/4″ compact electric hand drill, code E100. I purchased mine at a swap meet for a reasonable price. It needed a new AC cord and new brushes. I used a grounded Computer AC cord and a grommet with a 1/4″ inside clearance for the center hole. I mounted the grommet at the base of the plastic handle. I purchased a 5mm X 5mm set of brushes from a seller in China thru e-bay. I used a flat mill fill on the replacement brushes until they fit in the brushes receptacle on the hand drill. My Thor hand drill now works flawlessly!

    • Arnold H. Schwartz says:

      I now own 3 of these 1960s Thor compact drills. One is a pre production E100 that does not have a label on it’s top and it uses only one diode, as does my second E100 model. My newest model is an E110 which was made in the late 1960s and has a full wave bridge rectifier. I have replaced the brushes, ac cord, cord strain relief, chuck key and chuck key holder on all three of my hand drills. All these replacement parts I found on E-bay. I used a cotton polishing wheel and brown polishing compound to bring the lusture to near new condition on all 3 of my hand drills.

  33. william b noble says:

    I too have one of these Thor drills with the circuit board medication bit – under the flashlight mount (I don’t have the flashlight) is an air pump to blow chips away from the drill. works well, not sure I’ll keep it though

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