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Vintage Wood Machining Books

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 12 Apr 2022, 20:38

Post amended to add:

Broom and Wade Woodworking Machinery Catalogue, Circa 1904-05

This is a very unusual one, though I know of BroomWade for their compressors, I’ve never seen a Broom and Wade Woodworking Machine ever before and when I saw this catalogue I was incredibly intrigued by it. It’s a very interesting one, being based in High Wycombe of course meant that they were entertaining the massive furniture industry at the time and the machines in the catalogue reflect that with many being very specialist chair making machines, the chair seat hollower being a favourite of mine out of it. Having found a bit more information online (sources HERE, and HERE), it seems the founder Harry Skeet Broom burned all the drawings and patterns for woodworking machinery in about 1910 after not much success in that line of work and entirely focused on air compressors. I suppose that would make anything to do with Broom & Wade Woodworking Machinery relatively rare having only made machinery for about 12 years before knocking it on the head, it does make you wonder how many copies of such a catalogue even exist, for all I know this could be the only surviving example.

Apologies for the below standard photos, with it being quite old and frail (so are most things at around 116 years of age) I don’t want to force it. I’m unsure of the date for this catalogue but there are dates for testimonials in the back which end about mid-1904 so my guess is that it’s either from late 1904 or 05.

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Cabinetman » 12 Apr 2022, 22:01

They were really involved complicated machines, and considering how few of any one sort might be sold it may be why he gave up on them.
The drive cord/wire? On the seat shaper is really fine and unfortunately reminds me of the old dentists drills aagh!
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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby AndyT » 12 Apr 2022, 23:08

Well, those are interesting! Definitely very specialised, with a tiny market to sell to. They look substantial machines too, even if they idea of a guard seems not to have bothered them too much.

I thought I would look in a book to see if I could find any other machinery from Broom and Wade or other companies in High Wycombe. The book in question is fairly rare, it's "The History of Chairmaking in High Wycombe" by L.J.Mayes, published in 1960. It traces the trade from the classic 'bodger in the woods' through increased mechanisation and consolidation and is an excellent book of its type, and possibly one that you don't have a copy of yet Dan, even though it has some pictures of early woodworking machinery? (And there don't seem to be many of those... ;) )

The captions speak for themselves. I'm afraid I can't make out the maker of the adzing machine, even in the book. The horizontal borer seems to say "Dexter & Co Wycombe" suggesting there was at least one other specialist maker in the town, and Mayes says that most of the machinery shown is by them.

He also notes that "for the first half century of the machine age an operator with all his fingers was a rarity."

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 12 Apr 2022, 23:52

Cabinetman wrote:They were really involved complicated machines, and considering how few of any one sort might be sold it may be why he gave up on them.
The drive cord/wire? On the seat shaper is really fine and unfortunately reminds me of the old dentists drills aagh!


I'm always amazed by just how complicated some machinery was over a hundred years ago, I sometimes wonder if in some cases we've actually regressed rather than progressed. One machine that sticks out to me that I've only read about in books is the Armstrong Dovetailing Machine, as far as I'm aware there are no surviving examples, though several were sold to a box factory in Russia by Jonsered in Sweden apparently.

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AndyT wrote:Well, those are interesting! Definitely very specialised, with a tiny market to sell to. They look substantial machines too, even if they idea of a guard seems not to have bothered them too much.

I thought I would look in a book to see if I could find any other machinery from Broom and Wade or other companies in High Wycombe. The book in question is fairly rare, it's "The History of Chairmaking in High Wycombe" by L.J.Mayes, published in 1960. It traces the trade from the classic 'bodger in the woods' through increased mechanisation and consolidation and is an excellent book of its type, and possibly one that you don't have a copy of yet Dan, even though it has some pictures of early woodworking machinery? (And there don't seem to be many of those... ;) )

The captions speak for themselves. I'm afraid I can't make out the maker of the adzing machine, even in the book. The horizontal borer seems to say "Dexter & Co Wycombe" suggesting there was at least one other specialist maker in the town, and Mayes says that most of the machinery shown is by them.

He also notes that "for the first half century of the machine age an operator with all his fingers was a rarity."


I'll have to keep an eye out for a copy of that Andy, it would go nicely in the overflowing collection! Looking at the adzing machine it seems to end with "-ter & Co" so possibly it is also a Dexter machine? Of which I've also never heard of. I think one of the more prolific suppliers of machines to the furniture industry was probably Rye, quite often you will see their rather obsure machines for sale but unfortunately, they rarely attract much attention due to their specialist nature, a Rye Autoshaper is practically worthless beyond scrap value despite being quite a capable machine in the right circumstances.

In a similar vein, something I think would be an interesting read but I can't find a full copy of for free online (I am unfortunately not a university student!) is "The Mechanisation of Architectural Woodwork in Britain from the Late-Eighteenth to the Early-Twentieth Century, and its Practical, Social and Aesthetic implications" by Hentie Louw (who also has a couple of other journals that seem like they would be of interest, such as the one on Sash Windows).
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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 02 May 2022, 00:23

Post amended to add:

The Woodworking Shaper, The Spindle Moulder by C.V. Christie, 1952

A big thank you to my friend John-Henry (@jhbigleyfurniture) for donating this to the cause, it's a reasonably rare book being of Australian origin and I’ve been after a copy for a couple of years now so it’s great to finally have one in hand! The rumours about this being an immensely detailed book on the subject are true, with some very interesting/dangerous practices and machinery I haven’t seen before.

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby kirkpoore1 » 02 May 2022, 06:05

AndyT wrote:More good stuff.

I've been trying to think of any other place where the same scale of work is done, to need a mortiser on that scale.

The Canal and River Trust still have one other similar workshop in the Midlands, at Bradley, near Bilston.

But I don't know of any more large scale timber work of this sort being done anywhere. And if the machines last 90+ years, demand is definitely going to be on the low side... Is there any contemporary maker offering kit like that? The world must need at least one, but if other countries are like the UK it's possible that they have all closed down.


Andy:

Mortisers of that size were used by railroad car manufacturers. The early 20th century Greenlee catalogs make some incidental mentions of this. I would expect that Pickles exported them to places like Australia and India which had to build their own rail cars even if locomotives were imported.

I’ve never seen an American hollow chisel/chain combo mortiser. A North American factory would have enough space for two machines if it needed both. I have seen them with attached drills but those were the old style reciprocating solid chisel mortisers.

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby AndyT » 02 May 2022, 08:04

Thanks Kirk.
It's easy to forget how much timber there used to be in railway rolling stock.
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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 02 May 2022, 18:17

kirkpoore1 wrote:Andy:

Mortisers of that size were used by railroad car manufacturers. The early 20th century Greenlee catalogs make some incidental mentions of this. I would expect that Pickles exported them to places like Australia and India which had to build their own rail cars even if locomotives were imported.

I’ve never seen an American hollow chisel/chain combo mortiser. A North American factory would have enough space for two machines if it needed both. I have seen them with attached drills but those were the old style reciprocating solid chisel mortisers.

Kirk


AndyT wrote:Thanks Kirk.
It's easy to forget how much timber there used to be in railway rolling stock.


Supposedly from what I've been told, this 60" Bentel and Margedant surface planer/thicknesser was for planing the framework of rail cars to an even thickness throughout.

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby AndyT » 02 May 2022, 20:10

Cor!
Good job they're both wearing proper protective headgear!
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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 20 Aug 2022, 17:36

Post amended to add:

Getting The Most Out Of Your Circular Saw And Jointer by the Delta Manufacturing Company, 1937

I picked this up on a whim because it’s a fairly rare booklet in Britain, it wasn’t too expensive and I hadn’t bought a wood machining book in a while (It’s getting much harder to find stuff I don’t already have :( ), American texts tend to be a bit bare of information but I was pleasantly surprised by this small booklet which is clearly marketed towards the hobbyist of the time. It’s quite detailed and shows very good illustrations and photographs, the practices shown themselves are interesting and quite dangerous so I don’t think you’d never be able to print something like this now detailing how to cut curves, do spiralled work, and make coves using your table saw. I particularly like the design of the taper ripping gadget in the final couple of pages, simple yet effective!

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 18 Nov 2022, 19:53

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The “Mermaid” Saw and Cutter Manual by Spear and Jackson

Picked up this very rare little pocketbook, I’ve never seen another before and I have no idea when it was actually published, though there are some identical illustrations in Stafford Ransome’s “Cutters and Cutter Blocks” from 1927 so it’s likely from around that period. It is essentially a "Saw Doctors Handbook" and covers a surprising range of subjects in quite a large amount of detail for a small book, from reciprocating frame saws to circular saws to bandsaws to cutters!

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 27 Nov 2022, 15:08

Danckeart Woodworking Machinery Catalogue, Circa 1930s-40s

Not sure when this small catalogue was published but at a guess I would say 1930s or 1940s. It is quite easily the smallest catalogue I own at 6” tall and 5” wide, unfortunately it isn’t complete as pages 6 through 27 are missing. It is unbelievably fragile, an accidental sneeze would destroy it.

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 26 Aug 2023, 11:40

Cooksley Woodworking Machinery Catalogue, Circa 1940s/50s.

It’s nice to finally pick up a Cooksley catalogue as one has evaded me for a long while. Wadkin gets a lot of attention, but I personally believe that Cooksley were as good if not a better manufacturer of machinery in some cases.

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby RogerS » 26 Aug 2023, 12:46

Many thanks, Dan, for a fascinating thread.

I think your signature line should read 'Son of Scrit' :)
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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby SamQ aka Ah! Q! » 03 Sep 2023, 11:34

I think your signature line should read 'Son of Scrit' :)


Defanintootly. That erudite man is sorely missed by us what prefer 'heavy iron'.
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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 03 Sep 2023, 11:50

"Unlike lizards, we can't regrow digits" -Scrit :D
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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 03 Jan 2024, 00:53

Post amended to add:

Danckeart Woodworking Machinery Catalogue, Circa 1900

This is quite an unusual catalogue and a difficult one to date, I would say it’s definitely before electric motors became common as it appears there was no options for it, but the art style of the catalogue is almost Art-Deco which would suggest early twentieth century. Even more unusually the catalogue is printed in Portuguese, obviously for the Madeiras market. The photographs from inside the factory are very interesting to see, very much a quintessential industrial revolution factory, it must’ve been a horrendously loud environment to work in when all the line shafts were turning. One of the prettier catalogues I’ve bought and one of my more shrewd investments, a whole £0.99 on eBay!

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Cabinetman » 03 Jan 2024, 05:17

Thanks Dan, another slice of history that I didn’t know much about (nothing new there then) I find it so incredible that each new generation has to bring out a range of equipment, yet some of the equipment of the preceding generation was far more complex much larger heavier and no doubt more dangerous.
And very nearly every single bit of it has long ago gone to the scrap yard. All very sad.
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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby AndyT » 03 Jan 2024, 08:53

Wow! Good spot indeed. At least the catalogue is now in a place where it will be appreciated, even if all the machines have gone for scrap, as Ian said.
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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 18 Feb 2024, 12:48

Post amended to add:

Greenlee Woodworking Machinery Pocket Catalogue, 1925.

With so much of Britain’s machine woodworking heritage disappearing to adorn the shelves of collectors in North America, I will admit it does feel nice to find the occasional piece of American machine woodworking heritage here. It’s an unusual thing to find here as I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any Greenlee machines in Britain, so I presume this must’ve been brought here by a collector in the past. Greenlee were a very interesting company that mostly specialised in morticing machines and were credited for patenting the first Hollow Mortice Chisel along with the inventor, Adolf Hawkinson. They also produced specialist equipment for the railcar industry back when the bodies were made of large sections solid timber.

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Cabinetman » 18 Feb 2024, 15:11

So inventive, I’m trying to imagine the R and R costs back then to produce machines like those with a relatively small market.
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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 18 Feb 2024, 15:53

It wasn’t such a small market back then, if anything it was one of the biggest industries in the world because everything was made from wood, not plastic. This is evident with the big British manufacturers like Wadkin and Robinson who back in their hey-day had offices and showrooms on the most expensive streets in London, you wouldn’t see that today!

Although the joinery market was indeed smaller in the United States compared to Britain because they industrialised housing early on, it wasn’t like here where it was largely artisanal woodwork, especially to service older buildings. In the United States they had massive factories producing joinery for far cheaper than anyone else could so nobody really bothered investing in starting small workshops that were ubiquitous here, hence why lighter industrial woodworking machinery like our Multico’s, Startrite’s, Wadkin Bursgreen’s, etc... is relatively rare out there.
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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Cabinetman » 18 Feb 2024, 17:34

That explains a lot, some massive what they call jointers on Marketplace, and the thicknessers seem to be in the 16” range. Would you like me to collect pics of the more esoteric old US stuff?
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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby Trevanion » 24 Feb 2024, 12:08

Post amended to add:

White Woodworking Machinery “The White Line” Catalogue, 1950.

White of Paisley was a relatively obscure manufacturer of woodworking machinery, though not for lack of quality as White machines are regarded amongst the best ever made, even considered better than Wadkin by some. A very innovative company in their time who had excellent engineers in-house, they patented what could possibly be the first vertical panel/wall saw in 1937, 24 years before Ludwig Striebig patented his own vertical panel saw and claimed to be the first.

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Re: Vintage Wood Machining Books

Postby AJB Temple » 24 Feb 2024, 15:23

Such a brilliant thread. Craftsmen must have had a different attitude in the days of these huge and somewhat risky looking machines. The picture of the enormous White Line band saw with the huge spoked upper wheel puzzles me a bit as there doesn't seem to be enough room for a wheel below unless there was a pit in the ground.
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