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HQ 966118

September 11, 2003

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 966118 KBR


TARIFF NO.: 7326.20.00

Mr. Tom Paciaffi
Vice President, Coronet Brokers Corporation JFK International Airport, Cargo Building 80 Jamaica , NY 11430-0764

RE: Reconsideration of PD C87444; Steel Paint Roller Frame

Dear Mr. Paciaffi:

This is in reference to a classification ruling issued to you on behalf of Zomax Industries by the Port Director, U.S. Customs Service, Houston, PD C87444, on May 29, 1998. That ruling concerned the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of a steel paint roller frame. We have reviewed PD C87444 and determined that the classification is incorrect.

Pursuant to section 625(c)(1), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057), a notice was published on July 9, 2003, Vol. 37, No. 28 of the Customs Bulletin, proposing to revoke PD C87444. One comment was received in response to this notice. That comment is discussed in the LAW AND ANALYSIS section of this ruling.


PD C87444 concerned Zomax item number 5794, a 3 inch steel paint roller frame with a plastic handle. Its shank is constructed from heavy duty, quarter-inch wire. The hollow end of the plastic handle is threading to facilitate the use of an extension pole.

In PD C87444, Customs determined that the steel paint roller frame was classified in subheading 8205.59.55, HTSUS, as other iron or steel handtools not elsewhere specified or included. We have reviewed that ruling and determined that the classification is incorrect. This ruling sets forth the correct classification.


Is a steel paint roller frame properly classified under the HTSUS as a handtool or as an article of iron or steel?


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). Under GRI 1, merchandise is classifiable according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied.

In interpreting the headings and subheadings, Customs looks to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN). Although not legally binding, they provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. It is Customs practice to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the ENs when interpreting the HTSUS. See T.D. 89-90, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

7326 Other articles of iron or steel:

7326.20.00 Articles of iron or steel wire

7326.90 Other:



7326.90.85 Other

8205 Handtools (including glass cutters) not elsewhere specified or included; blow torches and similar self-contained torches; vises, clamps and the like, other than accessories for and parts of machine tools; anvils; portable forges; hand- or pedal-operated grinding wheels with frameworks; base metal parts thereof:

Other handtools (including glass cutters) and parts thereof:

8205.59 Other:



Of iron or steel:


Parts and accessories suitable for use solely or principally with the machines of headings 8456 to 8465, including work or tool holders, self-opening dieheads, dividing heads and other special attachments for machine tools; tool holders for any type of tool for working in the hand:

Tool holders and self-opening dieheads:


The article at issue is a 3 inch paint roller frame made from ¼ inch wire with a plastic handle. To be used, a consumer must purchase separately a paint roller cover. Once the cover is slipped over the wire end of the paint roller frame, it is dipped into paint (or similar substance) and rolled onto the surface to be treated. It is the cover that applies the paint to the surface.

One comment was received in response to the notice. The commenter disagrees with the proposed classification of the paint roller frame, stating that paint roller frames are specifically provided for in subheading 7326.90.8575, HTSUS. We first note that this office typically classifies only to the eight-digit level. Classifications to the ten-digit level are for statistical purposes only and the last two digits do not determine the actual classification. Pub. L. 100-48, Title I, § 1204(a), August 23, 1988, 102 Stat. 1148. Second, pursuant to GRI 1, classification is determined according to the terms of the headings (four-digit level) and any relative section or chapter notes. In the instant case, Customs must determine the correct four, six and eight-digit classification, in that order; we cannot look first to the ten-digit classification, ignoring whether the article satisfies the prior classification steps.

Hand tools, included in heading 8205, HTSUS, are not defined in the HTSUS or ENs. Courts have defined hand tool as “any tool which is held and operated by the unaided hands; e.g., a chisel, plane or saw.” Western Oilfields Supply Co. v. United States, 296 F. Supp. 330, 62 Cust. Ct. 182 (1969); Hollywood Accessories, Division of Allen Electronics & Equipment Co. v. United States, 282 F. Supp. 499, 60 Cust. Ct. 360 (1968); F.B. Vandegrift & Co., Inc. v. United States, 65 Cust. Ct. 260 (1970).

The Chapter Notes for Chapter 82 state that, with certain exceptions, “this chapter covers only articles with a blade, working edge, working surface or other working part of: (a) Base metal .” The court in Continental Arms Corp.; Gehrig, Hoban & Co., Inc. v. United States, 65 Cust. Ct. 80, 82 (1970), defined “working part” as:

“working part” of a hand tool is that part which performs work on an external object.

Some light is shed on the meaning of “working part” by the associated words, “blade, working edge, working surface,” all of which perform work in relation to a workpiece.

Additionally, we have considered the various tools provided for eo nomine in [the subpart], particularly the following hand tools : Hammers, sledges, crowbars, track tools, wedges, drilling tools, threading tools, tapping tools, chisels, gimlets, gouges, planes, pencil sharpeners, lead and crayon pointers, and screwdrivers. The foregoing tools all do some form of work vis-à-vis an object external to the tool.

We therefore think that Congress used the term “working part” in the sense urged by defendant, viz., that part of the tool which does work in relation to a workpiece or object external to the tool.

In the instant case, the paint roller frame is not the “working part” as defined above. The textile paint roller cover is the component that actually deposits the paint onto the surface. EN 82.05 provides: “Tools containing metal but with working parts of rubber, leather, felt, etc. are classified according to the constituent materials.” Since the “working part” is textile and not base metal, this would remove the article from chapter 82, and pursuant to the ENs, it would be classified according to the component part, in this case steel wire.

Under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), the predecessor of the HTSUS, Customs ruled that paint roller frames were classified as articles of iron or steel. HQ 074347 (September 28, 1984). This ruling found that the textile roller cover is the “part which imparts the paint roller with its most important characteristic, the ability to deposit paint onto a wall.” The textile roller cover “is the most significant in the overall functioning of the item and therefore is strong support for the notion that the roller frame is merely a part and not a substantially complete paint roller.” Customs has held that when the handle and cover are imported together, they are considered a “paint roller” and are specifically provided for in subheading 9603.40.20, HTSUS. NY J80036 (January 21, 2003), (stating that NY I82307 (November 29, 2002) included both the handle and cover although the case only described the cover). See also NY I80287 (April 8, 2002). NY J80036 held that when the handle and roller cover are imported separately, neither piece contained the essential character of the complete article. Therefore, the paint roller covers when imported separately were classifiable as textile articles in subheading 6307.90.98, HTSUS; and the handle when imported separately was classified as articles of iron or steel wire in subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS.

Based on the above analysis, we find that the paint roller frame is not a “working part” of a hand tool and should be classified according to its component parts, steel wire. Therefore, we find that the paint roller frame is classified under subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS, as an article of iron or steel wire.


The paint roller frame is classified under subheading 7326.20.00, HTSUS, as an article of iron or steel wire.


PD C87444 dated May 29, 1998, is revoked.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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