The Art of Tooling: Jack’s Story

Posted on: December 21, 2020

Jack Downs is our Lead Tooler at Wilson’s flagship facility in St. Louis, MO. Jack first began working on tooling nearly 30 years ago when he experienced a workplace injury at a previous employer, and he found he had a natural ability for tool finishing. Jack joined the Wilson team in November 1997 and has been a key member of our tooling department ever since.

While most of our tool sharpening and finishing is now done with automation by machine, people like Jack are still essential to maintaining the quality of our tooling.

Jack’s day starts early; he arrives at the plant by 6:30 am. After finding out his priorities for the shift, he lines up the dies that need his skillful attention and then gets to work at his scope. Jack is able to refine the edges of tools to make them hit hard or hit light depending on the application—and his work is consistently accurate to .0003 of an inch. 

“It’s an art,” Jack said about his role. “There aren’t many people who can do this work with speed and quality. I take a lot of pride in it.”

Jack has witnessed the growth of the company from a mom-and-pop shop into the industry leader it is today. “I have always been impressed to see the owners coming out onto the floor helping different departments,” he said. “Then seeing us doing more with testing dies, chroming dies…we are doing great stuff in the industry.”

Even after so many years of sitting at the scope every day, Jack still has a deep passion for what he does. He has had perfect attendance for twenty of his years at Wilson, and he displays a tremendous example of dedication and craftsmanship for the team members he works with. 

Jack attributes his excellent hand-eye coordination partially to his proficiency in playing the drums. In his spare time, he enjoys camping and bass fishing at Lake of the Ozarks and Table Rock Lake, in addition to volunteering with Amvets.

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