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shop. Why I buy machine shop machines and
hands demonstrate and use them.
Nineteenth_Century-Machine-shop_Harpers weekley 1870s
How he Built it for you today. How you can, use brainpower not
just technology to simply replace skill but to be more
productive, be creative as they were, as they had to be.
Learn how the past gives hints to the future.
Explore all the antique machine tools.
Learn to operate them.
Make something real.
A ‘HOOK-TOOL” (handheld)
SKILL REQUIRED IN THREADING
(turn metal like you would wood with a giant hand held carving tool.)
1896 AMERICAN MACHINIST
The base or bed of an engine, particularly a steamboat
engine, was a “timber”; the long unwieldy “pitmans” were (and still are) made from a
single spar bound with iron; valve and reach-rods,levers, and other minor parts were jobs for
the carpenter and ship builder rather than for him whom we now call machinist.
Running a lathe in those days was not the “cinch” that it afterward became; there were
no slide rests and no feeds to “throw in” so that the lucky operator could start things moving
and then go to sleep on a soap box. Turn- ing was accomplished with the “hook-tool,” two of
which still occupy positions of safety (for the operator) if not of honor, under
the safe in Walter Renton’s office. He calls them his “relics of barbarism.”
The picture of one of these tools that was doing valiant service 60 or 70 years ago appears
on this page in Fig. 1. To use it the lathesman settled the point of the hook into the rough
surface of the T rest, held the long end firmly upon his shoulder with one hand while
with the other hand he tilted the downwardly projecting handle in such a way that the
lip of the tool was moved forward in a direction parallel with the axis of the work.
If the piece being turned was. good homogeneous iron,
little difficulty would be experienced,
With a properly ground lip the tool would
almost feed itself forward until the angle
of presentation became too great; when the
heel or “hook” would have to be moved forward
to get a fresh bite. The long end of the
tool must be held tightly down on the shoulder
so that the workman could at all times feel
the pressure, and woe betide the unlucky wight
who let his attention waver. George Renton
told me a story in which a ma- chinist whom
he called “Charlie” was the hero and this particular
tool the vil- han. It seems that Charlie was
turning a piece of iron in a lathe that
stood before an open window on the Ferry
St. side of the build- ing. Either there
was a seam in the iron, or Charlie for an
instant forgot his re- sponsibilities, for
the end of the tool suddenly flew up and fetched
him a resounding thwack under the ear that nearly
laid him out cold, after which it sailed
merrily ‘out of the window and landed among
some kids that were playing in the street,
scaring them into flight. It took some moments
and much sympathy and ad- vice from his shopmates
to restore Charlie’s equilibrium but when
his head had cleared sufficiently to allow
-to navigate he went out into the street
to retrieve the
Vol. 53, No. 22 1
tool. As he stooped to pick it up a large
lady of Hibes nian extraction appeared suddenly
from behind nearby tree and commenced to
belabor him unmerc fully with a horsehide
strap; calling him between b~ a “dirty spaljeen
that c’uldn’t let the little chil play widout
t’rowin’ t’ings at ‘um.” It required the corn, bined
office and shop forces to effect an armistice.
After a job was roughed out with the hook-tool
latter was ex.i
changed for a 1 o n g-h an d led square-nosed
tool which would be pushed along the
top of the rest
with the hand, reducing the humps to the
diameter of the hollows left by the hook-tool.
Although this finish- ing tool was not quite
so erratic in disposition as its predecessor
it still required a firm hand and a skill born
of long experience to do a creditable job.
Threading was done with two tools made especially for
the purpose. The first was a graver, having
a single sharp point with which the lathesman
would “start” the thread by a dexterous twist
of the wrist, running up a turn or two on
the work. Here, too, only the skill of the
practiced artisan would suffice, for there was
nothing but the movement of his hand guided
by his eye to establish the lead.
When a partial thread of one or two turns
had been cut, the “chaser” was brought into’
service. This would be a tool having several
“teeth” of the exact shape and pitch of the
required thread. The first turn or two cut
by the graver served to start the forward
move- ment of the chaser and it
was up to the workman to continue the same
relative rate of advance as he made pass
after pass over the work until the teeth
of the chaser had gotten suffi- ciently deep
into the metal to guide itself. By the time the
thread had been cut to half its depth the
chaser would of course be guided by its own
accurately pitched teeth, not only in- suring
the regularity of the threads but correct
the slight inaccuracy of the starting threads
cut by the graver. Capscrews, bolts, studs,
etc., were not then available as a commer- cial
product, therefore the
making of these small but
important items was a stock job to be followed
up when- ever work ran slack, or inclement
weather kept the workers indoors.
Blacksmithing was a fine art and not a few
parts came, all finished and ready to take
their place in the machine, from the anvil.
The good machinist was also blacksmith,
carpenter, millwright andY pattern maker; not
infrequently foundryman as well. The broad
axe or the sledge; the plane and the bit-brace,
or the ham-
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2. See it, feel it, Live
Working in a 1850 shop.
the old blacksmith and
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1890-Wodward and Congress.
Bicycles are now-in-abundance-note..rails-horse-drawn trolley.
This is your walk to work in downtown Detroit in 1890.