Chapter 1:5 1900 and Before -- Technological Development:The Woodworking Industry's Shift From the Handicraft System to the Factory System

Revised 07-24-2012

Back to Chapter 1

Overview: Woodworking Industries in the Factory System

Judson Mansfield, the author of the 1952 article (full text of Judson Mansfield's text available here) is an engineer (in the woodworking machinery component of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers). Reprinting Mansfield's address below -- given originally before his colleagues at the ASME meetings in 1952 --  gives me the opportunity of capturing an authoritative voice outlining briefly the background on the development of power woodworking machines that, ultimately, became the models developed in the 1920s for the amateur market.

By the mid-1920s, J D Wallace, Boice-Crane, Delta Manufacturing -- and other prominent figures in the ASME who manufactured woodworking machinery -- are developing power tools suitable for the home workshop market. Before the home workshop market came into play for these manufacturers, opportunities for sales of smaller-scaled power woodworking machines existed in the home building industry. See more here.

Initial Development of Power Woodworking Machinery

It is no stretch to consider that the history of woodworking machinery from earliest times until today opens when a pre-historic man first uses a block of wood for a seat. As shown by authorities such as W L Goodman and R A Salaman, its path is long and tortuous. Woodworking skills and hand tool technology developed steadily through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and -- in the 18th-century -- with the cabinetmakers of Europe and Ameirca, these skills reached a peak of perfection.

Woodworking skill and technology develops steadily through the Middle Ages, and finally -- as the Industrial Revolution takes off -- for power woodworking machinery -- achieves a stunning start with the Bentham planer and the Woodworth bandsaw. The upshot, modern industrial woodworking, with its pantheon of power machinery and mass production - is about to travel through still another phase, with the promise today of laser technology applied to the production of wood objects.

For example, page 177 of J H Pollen's 1876 "Furniture and Woodwork" section -- over 40 pages -- of the G Phillips Bevan's British Manufacturing Industries London, E. Stanford, 1876-77. page 177:

The highest efforts of the [British cabinetmaking] trade are concentrated in a few large establishments in London and the great cities, which have their own cabinet makers, carvers, upholsterers, etc., on their premises. In some instances, one piece of furniture may pass through the hands of several branches of the manufacture. ... [M]akers who presented their works in Paris in 1867 ... [include] Collinson and Locke, Grace, Dyer and Watts, Gillow, Herring, Holland, Howard, Hunter, Ingledew, Jackson and Graham, Morant, Trollope, Wertheimer, Wright and Mansfield. The larger of these establishments are supplied with steam machinery, and all the work that can possibly be executed by mechanical agency is prepared by these engines, leaving only the most costly operations to be executed by hand.

Chronology of Woodworking Breakthroughs

See also Chandler Jones' 200 years of Woodworking, a more extensive chronology, including images, photos, and charts:--

  1. 1776—James Watt invented the separate-condenser steam engine, which powered early overhead-belt woodworking plants.
  2. 1790—Sir Samuel Bentham, engineer, English naval architect, invented rotary cutting.
  3. 1799—Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, a royalist refugee from the French revolution, became chief engineer of New York and invented a method of making wooden pulleys for ships by mechanical means.
  4. 1800—Planing machine and circular veneer cutting saw patented in England.
  5. 1808—William Newberry patented the bandsaw, though it was not much used until Swedish steel became available in the 1870's. The bandsaw created a special era in American architecture known as "American Carpenter Renaissance." The age of gingerbread was born.
  6. 1814—Large circular saws introduced in U.S.A.
  7. 1840—First lathe-type veneer cutting machine patented by John Dresser.
  8. 1846—First practical cylinder planing machine built.
  9. 1849—California gold rush stimulated development of special machines to build wagon wheels.
  10. 1860—Circular saw in general use.
  11. 1866—First double end tenoner patented by H. B. Smith Machine Co.
  12. 1869—Completion of first transcontinental railroad and expansion of rail system led to development of railway cutoff saws, multiple-spindle borers, and hollow-chisel mortisers for car building.
  13. 1869—First practical large log band mill built.
  14. 1875—First veneer slicer operating in U.S.A.
  15. 1881—Double surfacer with endless-bed in feed and power-driven top and bottom outfeed rolls patented in U.S.A.
  16. 1885—Band mill with 9-ft. wheels put into service.
  17. 1890—Silicone carbide abrasives first produced experimentally.
  18. 1896—First band mill driven by electricity. It had a 1 4-in. saw, 9-ft. wheels, and a 100-h.p. electric motor.
  19. 1899—George Stetson developed the "Ready Sizer" to meet the demand for surfaced lumber to build flumes for the Alaska gold rush.
  20. 1900—Endless-bed, triple-drum sander patented. 1906—DC motors begin to replace belted drives.
  21. 1907—George Stetson and Harry Ross market their planer-matcher.
  22. 1908---Ball bearings used in woodworking machines.
  23. 1909—Thin high-speed steel knives in round heads replace thick knives in square cutterheads.
  24. 1910--Heyday of wooden automobile frames, using special glue joints and specialized machinery.
  25. 1919—Alternating current motor comes into use. Mounted an the same arbor as a ball-bearing cutterhead, it gave machine designers great flexibility.
  26. 1924—William H. Mason forgets to turn off the press heat at lunch time—discovers hardboard.
  27. 1926—Strauss' patent rights on tungsten carbide cutting tools acquired by Krupp Works of Germany.
  28. 1930—V-belts begin replacing flat belts, permitting more compact designs.
  29. 1930—Laminating industry begins to develop wide market for board products.
  30. 1949—Lee Sherrill and Raymond Pendergast. who founded Timesavers, develop the widebelt sander.
  31. 1950—Nicholson of Seattle and Soderhamn of Sweden invent the ring debarker separately and almost simultaneously.
  32. 1962—Slicing and rotary cutting of thick (1/4 in. and thicker) veneer developed by John Lutz of the Forest Products Laboratory.
  33. 1963—Demonstrations that lasers and water jets can cut wood.
  34. 1963—Feasibility of chipping head rig demonstrated by Peter Koch of the Southern Forest Experiment Station. First commercial model in use a year later.
  35. 1963—Shaping lathe headrig developed by Peter Koch.
  36. 1966—lntroduction of tape controlled routing and shaping machine by Ekstrom Carlson.
  37. 1976Text with strong emphasis—First commercial use of Peter Koch's shaping lathe headrig on hardwoods.
  38. Source: Adapted from Anonymous, "200 Years of Woodworking", Wood and Wood Products 1976
Overview: The Woodworking Industry Shifts From the Handicraft System to the Factory System

    More to come on book below:-- have ordered it 7-25-2012, and as time permits will upload passages from it that are of interest to this page

    Publisher's blurb for Google online book: This engaging study addresses the continuing controversy over industrialization, examining different perceptions of factories and factory work. Using varied such primary documents as sermons, medical treatises, fictional and visual representations, Robert Gray investigates the role of language in shaping the debate on factory reform, and relates conflicts over factory legislation to specific towns. The combination of regional, cultural and textual analysis makes this book an original contribution to the study of industrial Britain in the nineteenth century.

    Source: Robert Gray The Factory Question and Industrial England, 1830-1860 Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

In the 19th-century, the woodworking industry shifts from hand tools to machine tools.


The story is complicated, not linear; instead, rather than a trajectory of steady progress, woodworking machinery technology grows in a more irregular forward movement, in fits and starts. As the Industrial Revolution progresses -- my marker is James Watt's steam engine -- ideas abound about how to harness animal, water, steam, and later electrical power to drive machines that would dimension timber, from logs to finished lumber. (Narrative continues below image.)

Nine Major Woodworking Machines

In the 19th-century, major woodworking machines are invented -- prominently featured in the list above the image -- that help woodworking industrialize.

Selected from the above list are nine machines, first, made the milling of timber and dimensioning and shaping of wood more rapid and efficient, but second -- significant in woodworking's homeshop movement -- foretell the major power machinery -- in scaled-down versions, of course -- that amateur woodworkers will have available in the 20th-century:

  1. The Power Planer,
  2. The Bandsaw,
  3. The Circular Saw,
  4. The Jointer,
  5. The Lathe,
  6. The Shaper-Molder,
  7. The Drill Press.
  8. The Scroll Saw
  9. The Fret Saw

Developments occur first in Europe, primarily Britain and France, but -- around 1851, after the Great Exhibition-- start to shift to America.

First, this page looks briefly at the origins of the Cabinetmaker, who had his beginnings as the "carpenter-furniture maker". It was an era of only hand tools, and it is an era that had its beginnings in the Ancient world, and reached its peak in the eighteenth century. For the master cabinetmakers, a lack of power machinery was not an impediment. All prided themselves in their skill in many processes.

The first power woodworking machines are the Hatton and Bentham planers. Bentham, in particular, achieves an atonishing breakthrough with the principle of rotary cutting. While implementing the rotary cutting principle is slow and tortuous -- to make planers out of steel and power them adquately needed time -- but the advance helps change woodworking from a handcraft to an industry.

The Newberry Bandsaw, appearing in 1800, remains not much more than an oddity until better bandsaw blade technology arrive in mid-century. For more click on the link: Bandsaw.

By 1850, woodworking technology's capacity for cutting and shaping wood into previously unseen objects and how it treats its employees soon offends an influential group of social critics. A revolt against mass manufacturing sets in, an aesthetic "push-bacK" of "process versus product, with one of the battle cries, Augustus Welby Norton Pugin's declaration, "Decorate Construction, Don't Construct Decoration". Later, the battle is lead by William Morris. In a much-quoted study, the material culture historian, Polly Anne Earl, argues that, since the mid-19th-century, foreign observers single out woodworking as an area that shows America’s superiority in developing and applying new woodworking machinery. Earl's study is "Craftsmen And Machines: the Nineteenth-Century Furniture Industry” in Ian M G Quimby and Polly Anne Earl, eds., Technological Innovation and the Decorative Arts, Charlottesville, Univ of Virginia Press, 1973, pages 307-329.

Note on Sources: Yeats, John, The Technical History of Commerce London, 1871; Manfred Powis Bale, Woodworking Machinery, Its Rise, Progress, and Construction London: Crosby, Lockwood and Son, 1880 (1894); Robert Grimshaw, Grimshaw on saws: concerning the details of manufacture, setting, swaging ... Morristown, N.J. : Astragal Press, 1991, 1880; Chandler Jones, Bandsaws: Wide Blade and Narrow Blade Types Seattle: Privately Printed, 1992. Judson Mansfield, the author of the 1952 article click here is an engineer (in the woodworking machinery component of the ASME). Mansfield's address -- given originally before his colleagues at the ASME meetings in 1952 --  gives me the opportunity of capturing an authoritative voice outlining briefly the background on the development of power woodworking machines -- between 1850-1950 -- that, ultimately, become the models developed later in the 1920s for the amateur market. To a lesser degree than Mansfield, but useful nonetheless is another, earlier study, in 1929, by by J. D. and Margaret S. Wallace,"From the Master Cabinetmakers to Woodworking Machinery", Chicago, IL, President, J. D. Wallace & Co. member of ASME, at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill; Contributed by the Wood Industries Division and presented at the Annual Meeting, New York, December 2 to U, 1929, of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

By the mid-1920s, J D Wallace, Boice-Crane, Delta Manufacturing -- and other prominent figures in the ASME who manufactured woodworking machinery -- are developing power tools suitable for the home workshop market. Before the home workshop market came into play for these manufacturers, opportunities for sales of smaller-scaled power woodworking machines existed in the home building industry. See more here.

The Cabinetmaker Has His Beginnings as the "Carpenter-Furniture Maker

chippendale ribband-back chair

Image adapted from Chandler Jones: In the image above -- a black-and-white extract from a larger Pieter Brueghel painting -- we see, most prominently, two men are using a frame saw in the operation know as the "over and under" sawing system. Still other men do a variety of woodworking, with Adzes, Chisels, Drills, etc. This scene shows Saw Horses, but Pit-Sawing was another common way of dimensioning timber into rough boards. In pit-sawing, log was at ground level and the bottom sawyer stood in a pit below. During the early years of the America's country's this practice was still followed.

In the medieval era, because the furniture is crude and very simple, this system makes more sense than it would today: plain benches and stools, tables, chests, and beds are perhaps the only furniture, even in the homes of the nobles. Those are the days when bathtubs are unknown -- remember even soap has to wait until the 18th-century! When floors are covered with rushes; when all the scraps from a meal at the table are thrown to the dogs under the table. In peasants' homes -- really crude "huts" -- manners are even cruder and pieces of furniture fewer than in the homes of the aristocracy.

In time, carpenters began, more and more, to add embellishments to their work. In the thirteenth century, when Gothic architecture is introduced into Britain, ornamenting furniture with carvings follows. (Styles of architecture and furniture have always been close, a theme that I hope to pursue in the future.)

Furniture production becomes more elaborate, the craft evolves -- from the hands of carpenters the trade passes to more specialized workmen, the first the joiners, then cabinetmakers. The 18th-century stands as the zenith of individuality in the art of furniture making. See the contributions of Daniel Marot and Jacques-Andre Roubo. Never before, nor since, has Europe or North America produced -- at one time -- the likes of the great European cabinetmakers.

Only Hand Tools

At the time, tools employed in furniture making are hand tools. Under Chippendale the beautiful decoration of chair backs and legs is done with the carver's Chisel. During the Heppelwhite period, Grooving and Reeding Planes came into use. The legs of chairs, if not left quite plain and square, or simply turned, were ornamented by the use of these planes. Sheraton, in his drawing book, mentions the Center Bit, the Sash Saw, and the Plane. An experienced craftsman, in his book he inserts helpful information about tools.

Veneering, Marquetry, Inlaying

chippendale riband-back chair

Several styles of veneer applications exist. Chippendale’s “ribband” back chair -- graceful in outline in spite of the necessity of making the seat wide enough to accommodate the hoop-skirt of his day -- exhibits a beautiful outline, a sense of the fitness of the object to its purpose. Always the “thoroughly honest constructionist and [himself] an excellent wood carver”, a talent that allows Chippendale to need not “resort to applique and inlay for ornamentation, but with a true carver’s eye saw in the actual material before him both the form and the ornament he desired.” To prevent his work from cracking, Chippendale “used a three-ply veneer even where the simplest fret was to be carved".

Source of quote above: Mildred Stapley, “The Origin and Development of Furniture”, American Architect and Architecture 98 August, 1910, page 79


For the master cabinetmakers, their lack of power machinery is not an impediment. All took pride in being eminently skilled in many processes. Carving, turning, guilding, lacquering, veneering, painting, japanning, inlaying, marquetry, and fretting were used during the eighteenth century.

Initial Development of Power Woodworking Machinery

The first Power Woodworking Machines: Planers

With the Bentham planer and the Woodworth bandsaw, innovation in woodworking technolgy achieved a stunning start. Progress in perfecting the products of this technolgy -- planers, jointers, circular saws, bandsaws, routers, lathes -- has continued unabated for two centuries. The upshot -- modern industrial woodworking, with its pantheon of power machinery and mass production that cuts and shapes wood with extraordinary ease and perfection -- is about to travel through still another phase, with the promise today of laser technology applied to the production of wood objects.

The "tragic moment" in woodworking -- truly, a great cultural loss -- is the passing of the great English cabinetmakers:

... [I]n England in 1718, most woodworking was purely manual. Machines were not used because they had not been invented. Mass production, industrialism, and capitalistic organization were unknown. The prevalent form of industrial organization was the guild, wherein master worked with his men; and men, in due time, all became masters.

J. D. Wallace, "From the Master Cabinetmakers to Woodworking Machinery", presented at the Annual Meeting, New York, December,1929, of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

(The "tragic moment" -- as a phrase lamenting the demise of the great cabinetmakers -- is employed by the famous manufacturer of power woodworking machinery, J D Wallace.)

The early furniture industry gives us ample evidence about the dates of the introduction of power woodworking machinery. Usually period for the introduction of power-mechanized processes is the 1830s and 1840s, with the appearance of the pillar and scroll style.

[need images]

And often the pillar and scroll style -- sometimes called "Greek Revival" -- is linked with the adoption of the band saw, which Robert Bishop says is in common use by 1840.

Sources: Celia Jackson Otto, "Pillar and Scroll: Greek Revival Furniture of the 1830s," Antiques31, no. 5 May 1962, pages 504-507; Robert Bishop, Centuries and Styles of the American Chair 1640-1970 New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1972, pages 313 and 315. (The American source for pillar and scroll designs is John Hall, the Cabinetmaker's Assistant Baltimore: by the author, 1840. The link leads to an excellent online -- openlibrary -- version of Hall's designs.) The material culture scholar, Thomas H. Ormsbee, sets the end of the era of handwork at 1850. Click here for online biographical study by Ormsbee of Early American Furniture Makers. However, hand work continues up to the end of the century and later.

[need more background on this -- what about "cottage industry" furniture makers? That is, shops operated by one or two men?] Indeed, furniture historians -- as one group of scholars -- conclude that "by 1840, with a rapidly expanding market, there had been a definite change from individual assembly of furniture to the mass production of parts, which were shaped with the aid of lathes and scroll saws powered by steam-driven machines.".; Sources: Much of the following adapted from J. D. Wallace and Margaret S. Wallace, "From the Master Cabinetmakers to Woodworking Machinery", Contributed by the Wood Industries Division and presented at the Annual Meeting, New York, December 2 to U, 1929, of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, CHICAGO, ILL. and Herman Hjorth. The Wallaces gave their conference address in 1929, and Hjorth presents his details about Bentham in his classic 1937 book on maintaining woodworking machinery. My hunch is that either Wallace and Hjorth knew each other, or that what the Wallaces said about Bentham became common knowledge in high woodworking circles, details of which, when writing his textbook, Hjorth added for the benefit of his students. "From the Master Cabinetmakers to Woodworking Machinery", by J. D. and Margaret S. Wallace, Chicago, IL, President, J. D. Wallace & Co. member of ASME, at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill; Contributed by the Wood Industries Division and presented at the Annual Meeting, New York, December 2 to U, 1929, of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; Herman Hjorth, Machine Woodworking Peroria, IL: Bruce Publishing, 1937.) rj decristoforo jigs and fixtures bible. First Power Woodworking Machines: The Hatton and Bentham Planers Driven by either water or steam power, woodworking machinery appeared in England, in the late seventeenth century. In 1663, an unnamed "Dutchman" erected the first sawmill near London, but not until the eighteenth century did the tecnology for power woodworking machinery become viable. As the Wallaces note,

These were all wind-power mills with jigsaws, until, in the year 1777, one Samuel Miller patented a sawmill using a circular blade.[link to planer] Up to that time inventive progress in woodworking machinery was comparatively slow, but at the end of the eighteenth century there arose a remarkable man, Sir Samuel Bentham, who within a few years, invented and patented almost every known variety of woodworking machine.
Two years later -- while on his Russian "tour" for the English Navy -- Bentham directed the construction of the first-known planing machine, out of wood. This is, evidently, the first recorded attempt toward actually creating a planer that was operational. [Have yet to find an image -- moreover, the details given by the Wallaces, while appearing sound, are both sketchy and undocumented] In 1776, in England, ? Hatton patented a planer, "almost too crude to be considered", but a beginning, nonetheless. Hatton planer Upon returning to England in 1791, Bentham was promoted to the brigadier-general rank, a post that included the position, inspector-general of the Naval Works of England. Here, in a peculiar circumstance, he teamed with his more famous brother, the political economist, Jeremy Bentham, at the time in charge several industrial prisons. Jeremy Bentham's challenge: engage these prison "felons". i.e., criminals, in "profitable work". Finding that they were not inclined to doing handwork in wood, but, following the ingenious industrious of his brother, Samuel, Bentham struck on the idea of the convicts operating woodworking machines: "perhaps they might be able to run a simple machine". And this is where Samuel Bentham's genius holds sway: Samuel Bentham created several different woodworking machines for use in these prisons: planers, jointers, shapers, molders, and matchers. He also invented veneer-cutting machinery, segment circular saws, tenon cutters, boring machines, and sharpening machines. (Jeremy Bentham's home -- at Queen's Square Place, Westminster, now a part of London -- was in the 1790s first lacation for the manufacture of woodcutting machines. This Bentham factory produced machines for planing, molding, rebating, grooving, mortising, sawing-in coarse and fine woods in curved, winding, and transverse directions-and shaping wood in all sorts of complicated forms. They even made a machine which could make a highly finished window sash, and another which could make an ornamental carriage wheel, both items finished except for assembling.)

Bentham was awarded his first recorded patent in 1791, for a planing machine. As detailed by the Wallaces, in principle, this device was a large Handplane, fitted with elaborate devices for moving the knife backward and forward over the stock. Bentham described the essence of the invention as a "method of planing divesting the operation of skill previously necessary, and a reduction of brute force employed." According to the Wallaces,

No drawings are included with Bentham's inventions for his stated reason that "they tend to confine the attention to a particular mode, whereas words cover the construction in a general way." It is interesting to note that the British Patent Office of that day sanctioned the omission of drawings.

Mode of Operation of Bentham Planer

In the Bentham planer, the Knife is as wide as the stock to be planed; the board is laid on a bench longer than itself; "cheeks" extend down over the sides of the knives; and the ends of the plane are rounded to rise up on the board. As the cut starts, a movable weight presses down at the plane's front end, then -- as the stroke is finishes -- shifts to the rear. Next, for the return stroke, the knife is raised. A compound bench to support warped boards at the middle and two sides, and multiple bits to take successive cuts with one pass, are proposed. The suggested power: "wind, water, steam, or animals. This planer, which elaborates on Hatton's ideas, predicts Bentham's development of other woodworking machines. comprising British Patent No. 1950, issued in the year 1793. Pew men have had the honor to cover their chosen industry so thoroughly with patents as did Bentham with this single application. In one all-inclusive document he originated, with broad claims, practically every woodworking machine and process that is in use today. The eleven sections of the patent, each describing a machine or process in general terms and without drawings, are worthy of detailed mention. Principle of Rotary Cutting Changed Woodworking From a Handcraft to an Industry Historically, according to Herman Hjorth (in Machine Woodworking Peroria, IL: Bruce Publishing, 1937), Bentham Changed Woodworking From a Handcraft to an Industry. The most important of these was the principle of rotary cutting, which is used in all modern planers, jointers, shapers, molders, and matchers. He also invented veneer-cutting machinery, segment circular saws, tenon cutters, boring machines, and sharpening machines. Bentham even suggested tilting the table or saw and fences for ripping and crosscutting. Bentham may, therefore, rightfully be called "the father of woodworking machinery." The frames of the machines were heavy timbers bolted together, and only the cutters and bearings made of metal. Not until about sixty years later, Hjorth rightly notes, were woodworking machines made entirely of metal. Chandler Jones' Milestone 7: The Planer and the Moulder:
  1. In 1802, the Bramah planer in England used a face-milling cutter to thickness and straighten lumber which was carriage-fed. In 1834, Thomas Daniels patented an improved carriage-fed machine to do the same job. Many of these machines were sold in the period before the American Civil War. One of the Daniels machines is preserved at the Smithsonian Institute.
  2. One of the first manufacturers of roll-fed planers in America was Baxter D. Whitney. His company specialized in single and double surfacers, and left the planer-matcher business to others. He thus escaped the wrath of the huge planer-matcher monopoly which prevailed in America from 1836 to 1856.
  3. In addition to planers with rotating cutters, Whitney also made a fixed knife planer in 1857, as well as a power-fed scraping machine. Rotary planing at that time was still pretty crude, tending to leave irregular, scalloped surfaces. Fixed knife planing or a scraper solved the problem.
  4. William Woodworth patented his machine for rotary planing of lumber on four sides in 1836. He and his partners built these machines, and sold them to operators who were set up in franchised territories. Franchisees charged $7 per thousand for custom planing, $3 of which went to the patent holders. This generated a huge profit and a war chest to intimidate anyone who might build or operate a machine designed for rotary planing of S4S lumber. Because of litigation costs, operators quickly settled and complied with patent-holder terms. When Congress extended the patent protection to 1856, there was a huge outcry, and well-founded allegations of bribery. This is described in detail in the book, "Planers, Matchers and Moulders in America, 1800 to 1985."
  5. A number of fixed knife planers came on the market and they did circumvent the patent, but they were so tedious to set up and operate that most lumbermen surrendered to the Woodworth group. Immediately after the expiration of the patent, the patent holders disbanded and companies such as S.A. Woods, Fay & Egan, American and Berlin (P.B. Yates) then enjoyed good sales of their planer-matchers.
  6. Apparently the Woodworth group did not choose to challenge manufacturers of moulders, which were primarily doing smaller detail work. But new moulders were being aggressively designed and sold by the above-mentioned planer manufacturers plus others, as described in the Centennial issue of W&WP.
The Newberry Bandsaw Thus in one stroke did Bentham blanket the woodworking industries, leaving unmentioned only the scroll bandsaw, which was invented in 1808 by another Englishman, William Newberry. It is worthy of note, however, that the bandsaw did not come into general use for nearly fifty years, when in 1855 M. Perin, of Paris, France, exhibited at the French International Exhibition a bandsaw with greatly improved blades, capable of delivering a reasonable amount of service before breakage. By this time none of the great cabinetmakers were living. They made their beautiful furniture during the eighteenth cen­tury, before power woodworking machinery was known or used. Even when Bentham made his machines it is probable that they were not much used by cabinetmakers, for they were rough, heavy machines, more suitable for cutting ship timbers than fine pieces of furniture. It must be remembered that Sir Samuel Bentham was a naval engineer, not a cabinetmaker. There is no record that any of the great cabinetmakers ever invented or made power woodworking machinery, though many of them as Chippendale and Heppelwhite, were practical craftsmen. During the seventeenth century the use of hand woodworking tools had reached the zenith of development. Along background of experience enabled men to wield their hand tools with the skill of the artist, and to produce works of art in wood. The care expended on.eacb piece was necessarily great, because it was done all by hand. Each article was executed as an individual work, not as one of a thousand similar pieces. If the cabinetmakers had employed the crude machines at their disposal toward the end of the century they probably would have produced crude, unbeautiful furniture, for men were not yet masters of the new machines. As it was, the quiet atmosphere of preindustrialized cabinet-making gave time and opportunity for the painstaking labor of a master designer and craftsman who took personal pride in his work; whereas now much of the furniture is made by hired laborers who are not intelligently interested in the artistry of their product. While in the old days beautiful furniture was handmade, rare, and available only for the few, today mass production has changed matters entirely. Beautiful furniture now is ma-chine made-with greater precision, uniformity, and strength than the best of the old cabinetmakers could attain; it is abun­dant, and available to the great majority of people. Of the two eras, the old and the new, there are few of this generation who will hesitate, even though they may regret the passing of the old cabinetmakers, to choose modern industrial methods as best. In America, in the first half of the nineteenth century America, the registration of patents for power woodworking machinery woodworking machinery were registered at a frequent pace.

By 1850, the American woodworking machinery industry was the envy of the world. As evidence, I am reprinting fragments from published hearings of investigations conducted by British Parliamentary committees in the 1850s:

In 1850, Joseph Whitworth -- a noted nineteenth-century British machine tool builder -- toured some American industrial areas. What impressed him was America's shift toward labor saving machinery, especially woodworking machinery.

The Jointer

A tool for flattening lumber, for squaring sides and edges of boards. According to the Oxford English Dictionary , as a term. "jointer" -- spelled then, joynter -- dates back to 1687, but it refers to the jointer Hand Plane. Evidently when the mechanical jointer appeared, it was labeled "jointer" because of the resemblance to the function of the jointer hand plane. Evidently an alternative to the jointer is bench jointer and hand planer.

1683 etc [Joseph] Moxon ... Moxon's Mechanick Exercises, or the Doctrine of Handy-Works," published in London, in monthly parts. Vol. 1. contains, "Smithing, Joinery, Carpentry, Turning, Brichlayery, and Mechanick Dyalling," Vol. II., "Handy- Works applied to the Art of Printing." [ (1683-4). 1703. Reprint. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970; available on DVD from The Toolemera Press ]

1872 John Richards Wood-Working Machinery< 147 The first and leading tools are bench planes, a set of which should consist of one 26-inch jointer...; one 24-inch jointer...;one 22-inch foreplane [etc.].

Jointers.It being next to impossible to joint the edges of wood perfectly by hand tools, for gluing, such work is usually done by machinery, both by reason of the greater perfection of surface and on account of the decreased cost. The stroke jointer is a very simple machine which, while taking up a good deal of room, is not very heavy, and is very simple in operation.

The Circular saw

The Shaper-Molder

The Lathe

The Drill Press

click here for link to glossary entry on Drill Press

Advances in Drill Presses in 19th Century

Two authorities of the nineteenth century offer distillations, if you will, of advances in the technology of drill presses, after electrification. Keep in mind though, AC power and individual motors for each machine did not occur until early in the twentieth century. So, realistically the tools they describe -- the examples for the nineteenth century below -- are driven with Line-Shafts and Pulleys,, Line-Shaft being a term defined here.

In the meantime, for a resounding conviction about the centrality of the drill press in today's woodshop, check out R J DeCristoforo, below.

The chief qualifications essential to a drilling machine which is to be used for miscellaneous work are as follows : First, it must be capable of being readily connected with the shafting by which the driving power is transmitted to the various parts of a workshop, and in such a manner that the speed of the drill can be varied; secondly, it must be provided with an efficient and variable 'feed motion ;' and, thirdly, it must have a perfectly firm `table' for the reception of small articles, which must offer as little obstruction as possible to large ones. Stability and strength of framing are of course most important qualities for all machine tools, though they are not invariably to be found in the frames of drilling machines. Source: C P B Shelley Workshop Appliances 1873

DRILLING-MACHINE A machine carrying a rotating tool and a means for chucking the object to be bored. These machines differ greatly in size and appearance, in the mode of presenting the tool, presenting and chucking the work. The larger machines are frequently known as boring-machines ... Drill-press. 1. A drilling-machine in which a screw is made to feed the drill to its work. In the illustation, the press is shown in elevation and vertical section. It has feet for bench work, and a sling and adjustable sockets when used for tapping papes. 2. A drilling-machine of large size. Source: Edward Henry Knight, Knight's American Mechanical Dictionary: A Description of Tools, Instruments ... 1876, Volume 1, page 751 knight's_drill_press_1

Historically, as noted above, drill presses date back to the mid-1800s, and at that time are called "drilling machines": -- I am using text and images adapted from C P B Shelley's Workshop Appliances 1873 -- see both Shelley and Knight's American Mechanical Dictionary: A Description of Tools, Instruments ... 1876, Volume , page 751

knights_drill_press_4 Knight shows two more models, each of which -- a radial drill "machine" and a horizontal drill "machine" -- has its equivalent today.
glossary - circular saw The Scroll Saw rj decristoforo jigs and fixtures bible on the The Scroll Saw more to come When the scroll saw was first introduced, many woodworkers were disinterested because they viewed it as something for crafts or jigsaw puzzles. The origin of the scroll saw began centuries ago with treadle-powered machines made with wooden components.

The same concept was used in sawmills that had a huge reciprocating saw blade to cut rough stock to size. The small units we now use were made possible by the advent of fine-toothed scrolling blades and compact electric motors.

My first powered scroll saw was my sister's treadle-type sewing machine that I had modified by installing a fractional horsepower motor. This happened because an employee of the Bosch Manufacturing Company thought of replacing the needle on his wife's sewing machine with a small blade. I tested and adopted the idea. Now we might smile at the concept, but I did OK with it for quite a while.

Modern machines have eclipsed their ancestors' reputation for cutting gingerbread and become an important woodworking machine. They can handle stock up to 2" thick with the table at 90°. And it is adept at "pad sawing," which allows you to layer multiple pieces and cut them all at once.

Chapter 3 of Thomas A Kinney's The Carriage Trade: Making Horse Drawn Vehicles in America gives an account of the application of new power machinery in a manufacturing setting. [more to come]

source: Robeert Grimshaw Grimshaw On Saws
The History, Development, Action, Classification,
And Comparison Of Saws Of All Kinds
by Robert Grimshaw, 1882

...While it was evident that the British technology of metalworking was superior to the American, the American woodworking technology, in testimony before a British Parliamentary Committee, in Whitworth's view, was superior. In those districts of the United States of America that the Committee have visited the working of wood by machinery in almost every branch of industry, is all but universal...

Source: Joseph Whitworth, Special Report (1853)

Two years later, in 1854, another British engineer, John Anderson, led another group of people dispatched by another Parliamentary Committee, also charged with investigating the American woodworking machinery industry. The second group visited many of the same establishments visited by Whitworth. Impressed, Anderson's report included descriptions of woodworking machines and their operations.

...In no branch of the manufacture does the application of labour-saving machinery produce by simple means more important results than in the working of wood....

Source: Report of the Committee on the Machinery of the United States of America (1854)
Now, Fast Forward to the 1920s: Writing in Mechanical Engineering in 1920, Thomas Perry, manager of a Michigan veneer works, noted, Woodworking, one of the oldest civilized trades, is now one of the largest industries in the United States. It is doubtful whether any group of modern manufactures gives evidence of less scientific knowledge of its products.

Source: Thomas Perry, "The Engineer and the Woodworking Industry: A Great Industry in Which There Exists an Urgent Need of Engineering Skill," Mechanical Engineering 42 1920, page 448.

Another mechanical engineer, B. A. Parks, echoed this sentiment a year later:

The woodworking industry is one of the oldest industries extant, and yet it has shown the least development and has been the slowest to adopt modern principles of manufacturing of any industry of which the writer has knowledge. Source: B. A. Parks, "Engineering in Furniture Factories," Mechanical Engineering43 (1921), page 85.
[Working on this part -- 4-11-08 ] Other engineers reiterated the beliefs of both Perry and Parks that American wood-working was devoid of scientific engineering knowledge.

To rectify this problem, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers established in 1925 a Wood Industries Division, organized to bring woodworking up to par with other production industries, to focus mechanical engineers' attention on all aspects of woodworking technology. Source: Thomas D. Perry, "The Wood Industries", Mechanical Engineering, 50 (1930), p.434. Between 1919 and 1925, when the Wood Industries Division was created, ASME published many papers concerning woodworking under the name of the Forest Products Section.] These sharply contrasting views of American woodworking technology, expressed some seventy years apart, demand explanation. Were the assessments of the British visitors of the 1850s accurate, and if so, how can one explain the absolute or relative decline of American woodworking after the 1850s? Could one argue that the British were too sanguine or that the mechanical engineers of the 20th century were too caught up in the rhetoric and ideology of efficiency and the movement to eliminate waste? Unfortunately, despite its importance in the history of American technology, indeed in the history of American material culture, the mechanized woodworking machine industry has received but scant attention. Accepting the Whitworth and Anderson reports at face value, Nathan Rosenberg has left us with the notion that America's rich endowment of timber helps to explain its "rise to woodworking leadership" in the period 1800-1850.[left off here] What happened Next, in the Woodworking Technology, in the Interval Between 1850 and 1950 is Filled In by Judson Mansfield Impact of Machines: The Revolt Against Mass Manufacture Tools, removed from the hand of the craftsman, and guided instead by a mechanism with a fixed motion, ceases to be a "tool" in the old sense. The modern machine is threefold: it consists (1) of the power (motor) mechanism, (2) the power transmitting mechanism, and (3) the cutting-edge or working mechanism. Such machinery makes possible the use of greater motive force, and greater accuracy in its operation. (Please see my discussion of woodworking's cutting edge) With power machines, precision and accuracy are the rule. Even when/if the expert cabinetmaker, working with hand tools, has a steady hand, variation in results is inevitable. With machines, with few exceptions, uniformity prevails. For some though, the accuracy achieved by machines robs the cabinetmaker of his creative artistry. The striving for elegance inspired a certain amount of fakery. Veneers covered up cheap woods, and both the carving and inlays that embellished low-priced stylish furniture were poorly executed. While this concept originated as a critque in architecture, as machines were introduced into  woodworking -- giving furniture designers and machine operators a much enlarged capacity to cut and shape workpieces that combine into furniture -- somes designers and furniture manufacturers were open to excesses, and "pulled all stops" in an attempt to over-embellish furniture with decoration, the phrase was quickly appropriated by such critics of the Victorian era as John Ruskin and William Morris. The contributions to the Arts and Crafts movement of Ruskin and Morris are detailed here This architectural "battle of the styles" -- it raged for two generations -- had its counterpart in the decora­tive arts as well. American manufacturers who  decorated their Renais­sance revival pieces with trophy swags, acanthus-leaf drawer handles, scrollwork, and medallions pur­chased from independent "ornament factories," which were equipped with special carving ma­chines to turn out such decorative elements quickly and cheaply. Later, when Renaissance revival furniture gave way to Eastlake-influenced styles, ornament factories began to sell new types of applied decora­tion in frieze and panel shapes, which afforded mock carved-in-the-wood sincerity to mass-pro­duced furniture. Source: Mary Jean Smith Madigan, "The Influence of Charles Locke Eastlake on American Furniture Manufacture, 1870-1890," Winterthur Portfolio 10 1975, page 2, 17.) Sources for Application of Machine Technology in American Furniture Industry:Polly Anne Earl, "Craftsmen And Machines: The Nineteenth-Century Furniture Industry" in Ian M G Quimby, and Polly Anne Earl, eds., Technological Innovation and the Decorative Arts Charlottesville, University of Virginia Press, 1973, pages 307-329; Michael Ettema, "Technological Innovation and Design Economics in Furniture Manufacture" Winterthur Portfolio 16 1981, pages 197-223; Kenneth L Ames, "Battle of the Sideboards"Winterthur Portfolio 9 1974, pages 1-27; Edward S. Cooke, Jr., "The Study of American Furniture from the Perspective of the Maker",  in Gerald W R Ward, ed., Perspectives on American Furniture, New York: Norton, pages 113-126; Kimp, Harry, "Modern Method of Manufacturing Classical Furniture," Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers 50 (1930), 5-9;Joel Lefever, "They Make Furniture with Machinery", in Christian G Carron, ed., I>Grand Rapids Furniture: The Story of America's Furniture City Grand Rapids: Public Museum of Grand Rapids, 1998, pages 32-41.

2 Gun-making in Gardone - The Craft System

3 The English System of Manufacture

4 The American System of Manufacture

5 The Taylor System

Sources: Nathan Rosenberg, ed., The American System of Manufactures: The Report of the Committee on the Machinery of the United States 1855, and the Special Reports of George Wallis and Joseph Whitworth, 1854 Edinburgh: University Press, 1969), pages 27, 58, 167, 169-71, 344, 346; Berry TracyNineteenth-Century America: Furniture and Other Decorative Arts New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1971, page xiv; Thomas H. Ormsbee, Early American Furniture Makers: A Social and Biographical Study New York: Tudor, 1930, page 89. Celia Jackson Otto, "Pillar and Scroll: Greek Revival Furniture of the 1830s," Antiques 81, no. 5 (May 1962): 507; Robert Bishop, Centuries and Styles of the American Chair 1640-1970 New York: Dutton, 1972, pages 313-315 -- unfortunately, this digitized book is in the so-called google edition, "snippet" version, meaning "no views" ]

The Revolt: The Aesthetic "Push-BacK" Driven by a new-found capacity of woodworking machines to quickly and accurately cut and shape wood in ways difficult and time-consuming for human hands, the opposition coalesced. Two Englishmen, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-50) and John Ruskin (1819-1900),  pressed for revival of the "honest" principles of Gothic design and architectural construction.

Pugin and Ruskin were opposed to the English classicists, who favored a style of architecture influenced by Renaissance forms.  This architectural "battle of the styles," which raged for two generations, had its counterpart in the decorative arts as well. At midcentury, manufacturers of furniture in both England and America relied heavily for inspiration on design elements of the Renaissance and rococo periods. The state of common manufacture was exemplified by a number of tastelessly florid and ostentatious pieces displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1850 in London's Crystal Palace. Reacting to these misapplications of a foreign design aesthetic, reformers such as William Morris (1834-96) championed a return to the principles of English medieval craftsmanship in furniture and other decorative arts. In 1861 Morris and a group of friends including Philip Webb, Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, P. P. Marshall, and C. J. Faulkner founded a decorating firm that turned out an "artistic" line of handcrafted furniture, stained glass, and tapestries inspired by medieval sources. The two Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company entries in the 1862 International Exhibition at South Kensington encouraged a trend for medieval furniture design, which was also expressed in the work of William Burges (1827-81) and Bruce Talbert (1838-81). In 1867, Talbert, a Scottish architect who designed furniture for Gillow and Company, Manchester, published hirty plates of furniture designs in his Gothic Forms Applied to Furniture, Metal Work, and Decoration for Domestic Purposes. This book -- well received on both sides of the Atlantic -- was reprinted twice in America, in 1873 and i877. Source: Bruce Talbert, Gothic Forms Applied to Furniture, Metal Work, and Decoration for Domestic Purposes (1867; reprint ed., Boston: J. R. Osgood & Co., 1873; Google Print indicates not available online, snippet only) The clamor over Gothic revivalism and the art movement, as well as the awakening spirit of reform in English domestic manufacture, influenced the thought and writings of Charles Locke Eastlake. Born March 11, 1836, at Plymouth, Devonshire, to a family prominent in English art circles, East lake was well prepared for his later role as an arbiter of taste. He was guided and educated by his uncle, Sir Charles Lock East lake, president of the Royal Academy, who was keeper and later director of the National Gallery. A talented draftsman, the young East lake was trained as an architect, although he never executed a building. As a young man he traveled extensively on the Continent and wrote articles on architecture and art for popular journals. During his later tenure as secretary of the Royal Institute of British Architects (1855-78), East lake published his two best-known works, Hints on Household Taste (1868) and A History of the Gothic Revival (1872). Through the influence of his aunt, Lady Elizabeth Rugby East lake, the widow of Sir Charles, he was appointed in 1878 to the keeper ship of the National Gallery. There, East lake classified the enormous painting collections and introduced needed conservation measures. He retired in 1898 to a life of simple domestic pleasures at his Terra Cottage in Bayswater, where he died in 1906.4 A revisionist view is offered by David Pye, an English historian of design. Pye proposes a somewhat different viewpoint. He defines craftsmanship as "workmanship using any kind of technique or apparatus, in which the quality of the result is not predetermined, but depends on the judge­ment, dexterity, and care which the maker exercises as heworks." Source: David Pye, The Nature and Art of Workmanship (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1968), p. 4.] This definition liberates the idea of craftsmanship from the strictures of historical time and economic organization and focuses on the central problem of process.

To Pye, craftsmanship, whether hand or machine processes are involved, is the "workmanship of risk" and its antithesis, automation, is the "workmanship of certainty." Yet from the beginning of productive work, men have sought to introduce elements of certainty in their techniques. For instance, printing, as Pye points out, is a process whose results are at least partially predetermined. In a similar manner the Adze is a hand tool that is "partly self-jigging" because each stroke follows the plane of the previous stroke. Any Die or Jig or Pattern used in a woodworking operation is, for Pye, an example of development toward a workmanship of certainty, and dies, jigs, and patterns were used from very early times in all kinds of decorative arts processes. Process vs Product: Decorate Construction, Don't Construct Decoration Sorting out the origins of the phrase, "Decorate Construction, Don't Construct Decoration, is an example of scholarly archaeology: Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin's The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture , 1841, page 1; other sources: "Construct Decoration, don't Decorate Construction", John Freeman Crosby, The Forgotten Rebel, page 40; Patrick R. M. Conner, "Pugin and Ruskin", Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 41 1978, pages 344-350.

Sources for Application of Machine Technology in American Furniture Industry: Polly Anne Earl, "Craftsmen And Machines: The Nineteenth-Century Furniture Industry" in Ian M G Quimby, and Polly Anne Earl, eds., Technological Innovation and the Decorative ArtsCharlottesville, University of Virginia Press, 1973, pages 307-329; Michael Ettema, "Technological Innovation and Design Economics in Furniture Manufacture" Winterthur Portfolio16 1981, pages 197-223; Kenneth L Ames, "Battle of the Sideboards" Winterthur Portfolio 9 1974, pages 1-27; Edward S. Cooke, Jr., "The Study of American Furniture from the Perspective of the Maker",  in Gerald W R Ward, ed., Perspectives on American Furniture, New York: Norton, pages 113-126; Kimp, Harry, "Modern Method of Manufacturing Classical Furniture," Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers 50 (1930), 5-9;Joel Lefever, "They Make Furniture with Machinery", in Christian G Carron, ed., Grand Rapids Furniture: The Story of America's Furniture City Grand Rapids: Public Museum of Grand Rapids, 1998, pages 32-41.

history of Stanley Tools