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mgt3
04-14-2010, 11:25 AM
I read that many, many years ago before the advent and proliferation of powered machines that machinists did their machining by hand, mostly with files. Is there any truth to this? If so are there any books that demonstrate this technique?

Dr Stan
04-14-2010, 11:27 AM
Actually long before the use of files, toolmakers used flint and animal horns to alter the shape of their products. :D

saltmine
04-14-2010, 11:57 AM
Actually, I remember, more times than I care to, whittling a part out of a piece of scrap metal. I used a hack saw a lot, sometimes a cutting torch, and of course, files and sandpaper.

You use what you have.

I recall once being unable to resurface a cylinder head (either nobody wanted to pay for it, or that service was unavailable) The cylinder head was connected to the back of a motorcycle with a rope and dragged down a relatively flat sidewalk. After a few passes, my straight-edge indicated it was flat enough to seal properly. Which it did , for quite a few years.

If you want to see hand made parts, go to the middle east. They actually will hand a "gunsmith" a weapon, and he will dis-assemble it, copy all of the parts, by hand using nothing but broken hack saw blades and old files, out of old truck parts or pieces of bomb casing. Interesting craftsmanship...

Stuart Br
04-14-2010, 12:19 PM
When I was an apprentice, we had to do a lot of bench work with files, before we were allowed anywhere near a machine.
I am sure many out there still have their apprentice pieces tucked away.
I remember in particular, an open ended spanner and the real swine, a "bend bar". This was a 8" x 1.25" x 1" mild steel bar, which we first had to file the ends dead flat and square and then file a different radii on each long corner, 0.05, 0.125, 0.175 and 0.200. This then had a clamping strip on the top, we didn't have to drill the bolt holes manually though:) Filing the ends flat and square was a thankless task, but a good skill to learn. This was designed for bending small pieces of sheet metal. I have never used it for anything other than a paperweight though. I have a number of other items that are still in use from 30 years ago this year.

MichaelP
04-14-2010, 12:23 PM
MGT,

Although you've missed April, 1st for your first post, I enjoyed it anyway.:)

mgt3
04-14-2010, 01:11 PM
MGT,

Although you've missed April, 1st for your first post, I enjoyed it anyway.:)

Well excuse me but I wasn't joking. I read about it and wondered what people could do with files and saws because I never heard of such a thing before.

mgt3
04-14-2010, 01:12 PM
Actually, I remember, more times than I care to, whittling a part out of a piece of scrap metal. I used a hack saw a lot, sometimes a cutting torch, and of course, files and sandpaper.

You use what you have.

I recall once being unable to resurface a cylinder head (either nobody wanted to pay for it, or that service was unavailable) The cylinder head was connected to the back of a motorcycle with a rope and dragged down a relatively flat sidewalk. After a few passes, my straight-edge indicated it was flat enough to seal properly. Which it did , for quite a few years.

If you want to see hand made parts, go to the middle east. They actually will hand a "gunsmith" a weapon, and he will dis-assemble it, copy all of the parts, by hand using nothing but broken hack saw blades and old files, out of old truck parts or pieces of bomb casing. Interesting craftsmanship...

That's really interesting stuff. Do you know of any pictures of hand made stuff?

Your Old Dog
04-14-2010, 04:32 PM
Besides hacksaws and files you have chisels and I can tell you, a lot of work can be done with properly shapped and sharpened chisels.

There was a time when my shop consisted of a drill press and a 2x72" belt grinder. I put out a lot of projects with just that and various hand tools.

Lew Hartswick
04-14-2010, 04:45 PM
UH. MGT3 just how did you think the first machines were made???
:-) ...Lew...

Black_Moons
04-14-2010, 04:57 PM
Something to consider:
High end machines are *STILL* hand scraped for highest accuracy on slideing way surfaces.

And hand scraping is still generaly how you restore ways.

lynnl
04-14-2010, 07:00 PM
"Machining by hand...", now that there's an oxymoron for sure.

x39
04-14-2010, 07:49 PM
mgt3, prior to the advent of actual "machinists", the majority of metal shaping was done by blacksmiths. A skilled smith can create many tools and get a part very close to finished by heating and beating. There are few limits on what a man who is skilled with hand tools can accomplish, after all, machinery was developed for the purpose of expediting operations that were previously accomplished by hand. In terms of human history, the machinist is a relative newcomer to the trades.

mgt3
04-14-2010, 08:56 PM
Thanks for all of the replies guys. This is very interesting. Could someone theoretically make a gear by hand?

deltaenterprizes
04-14-2010, 09:02 PM
The finely crafted dueling pistols used in the 1600s were made with only files,saws and drills.

gvasale
04-14-2010, 09:03 PM
I'm going to bet there was a S**tload of casting made which were then fitted with files and other tools till it was close enough. I think there is still a lot of unknown things relating to "machinery" before 1800. Even makes you wonder how cannons were made. We do know they were cast.

oldtiffie
04-14-2010, 09:11 PM
Thanks for all of the replies guys. This is very interesting. Could someone theoretically make a gear by hand?

I cann't see why not.

These might have been.
http://www.google.com.au/#hl=en&source=hp&q=wood+gears&meta=&aq=1&aqi=g10&aql=&oq=wood+gear&gs_rfai=&fp=18a51b3ed23f0245

jime
04-14-2010, 09:36 PM
An English toolmaker I once knew told me his apprentice graduation project was to make a punch and die using only a band saw and file. I forgot the thickness of the stock it was required to punch, but I know it was thin enough that the clearance was pretty tight.

Don Young
04-14-2010, 09:38 PM
Thanks for all of the replies guys. This is very interesting. Could someone theoretically make a gear by hand?
I am pretty sure that clock gears were cut by hand for a long time and I think some hobbyists still do. I think you can get a kit to build a complete clock out of wood.

Even files can be hand made, of course. People have been using tools to build more tools for ages.

x39
04-14-2010, 09:53 PM
I think you can get a kit to build a complete clock out of wood.
I had a friend about twenty five years ago who was a retired toolmaker. He built a clock out of wood, and it kept pretty good time. I learned a lot from him.

Mark K
04-14-2010, 10:12 PM
The Greek Antikythera mechanism is c2000 years old, full of gears, likely used to model planetary motions.

Gears, screw threads all used to be hand made. Hand forging was often a lead-in process before cutting tools were used, as in early gunmaking practice. Even in the last century, there were craftsmen who hand made fine double shotgun standing breeches using just saws, drills, chisels and files.

Mark

gregl
04-14-2010, 10:33 PM
Lindsay Publications has some reprints titled Echoes from the Oil Country which are tales of shop work done in the late 1800s. Frequently the author tells of using chisels to cut keyways and using other hand tools for fitting parts.

Also I believe that watchmakers do not use cross slides on their lathes, just a tool rest similar to that on a wood lathe and hand-held cutting tools.

David Powell
04-14-2010, 10:34 PM
Well, my gear wasn't quite all by hand, let me tell the story--- I needed a large gearwheel for the final drive of my 2" Scale model steam roller, didnt have any money to buy, nor really the knowledge and equipment to make one. I had a gear to copy that belonged to my lathe. One day, visiting a friend I saw a giant washer hanging as a weight on his power hacksaw. I cadged it from him. To my delight it was exactly the same outside size as the gear I had to copy. I bolted the two together, drilled a 1/16" hole at the bottom of each tooth, nestling the drill in the teeth on the borrowed gear. Then I made two hacksaw cuts for each tooth ( 70 tooth 10 dp gears), thus getting rough teeth. I then bought two triangular files and filed for two weeks every evening,daughter then 2 yrs old " helped". I then made an adjustable frame with bearings so I could mesh my gear with a good small one, and filed again until the pair would turn smoothly as a pair at approximately the proper depth. I fitted a centre to the washer and fitted it to the roller. The roller, much rebuilt, is still regularly run at steam events, often driven by my daughter. The gear still looks pretty good to me. The roller has been running for over 30 yrs. Hope this is an encouragement. David Powell.

JoeCB
04-14-2010, 10:41 PM
My late father, a skilled Tool&Die maker that learned his trade at the old Henry Ford Trade School used to say the given enough time, determination, files and hack saw blades there was nothing that couldn't be made by hand.

If you want to see an amazing demonstration of "made by hand" get a copy of the video " The gunsmith of williamsburg" this video narated by Walter Kronkite takes you step by step thru the process of making a fine flint lock rifle. The master gunsmith Wallace Gusler, hand forges the barrel, drills, rifles. Forges the lock parts, sand casts the brass furniture, carves the stock, hand mills the bullet mold ... the whole thing soup to nuts... BY HAND.

http://www.armoryhill.com/review_gusler.html

And oh ya' back to my dad... many of the old time really skilled tool makers here in the US learned their trade overseas, Germany, England, Scotland. Dad used to call a big 14 or 16 inch flat bastard hand file a "German Planer"

Joe B

x39
04-14-2010, 11:08 PM
Dad used to call a big 14 or 16 inch flat bastard hand file a "German Planer"
LOL! Reminds me of I guy I worked with who referred to files as "North Carolina milling machines".

Gary Reif
04-14-2010, 11:15 PM
I cranked the blower for my grandfathers forge many times. Watched him sharpen plow shares an other tillage blades by hammering them out. Cut steel with a chisel after heating it and forming it into tools and other implement parts. Watched him put holes through steel with a punch after heating it red hot ,didn't need no drill. Watched him cut keyways with a chisel he made to the width he needed. Wish I would have paid more attention and learned more.
Gary

Scishopguy
04-14-2010, 11:23 PM
When I worked in the Tool and Die trade back in the early 70's, their was an incredible amount of file work involved in finishing the die cavities and spotting in parts with files, oil stones, and emory cloth. Sometimes a group of us would sit for days draw filing the contours of a die cavity until our fingers were raw from pushing the files. It has only been since computers evolved into something more user friendly than the old mainframes that machine operations have become precise enough to eliminate a lot of the hand work...but not all. If you look in the old machinist text books from the early to mid part of the last century you will see a lot of emphasis placed on using a cold chisel and hammer to take a surface of a plate down evenly and with control. Those hand skills used to be a common thread in the machine trades.

dp
04-15-2010, 12:00 AM
Someone on this list or in the antiques and history forum at PM took a tour of an old but restored to museum quality plant back east somewhere. The photos he provided showed careful hand finishing work on huge connection and valving rods, bolt heads, gears, and such. The filleting was fitted perfectly. I'd bet a lot of metal working students earned their callouses on that stuff.

That forum at PM is a treasure of cool old stuff:

http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/antique-machinery-history/

precisionmetal
04-15-2010, 04:31 AM
I read that many, many years ago before the advent and proliferation of powered machines that machinists did their machining by hand, mostly with files. Is there any truth to this? If so are there any books that demonstrate this technique?

mgt,

Even after the advent of powered machines, things were done this way (though mainly for instructional reasons). My Dad did his apprenticeship in Switzerland just after the war, and at the trade school he attended, the primary job of the first year students was making "blanks" of material for the more advanced classes. .... out of old railroad track... using a hacksaw and a file. The end result had to be square, flat, and on size.

My Dad is now 83 years old, and still damn good with a hacksaw and a file. :)

PM

toolmaker76
04-15-2010, 06:28 AM
I served my apprenticeship in the 70's- a LOT more handwork than now. I still joke with some of the younger guys that I didn't work with flint tools- but worked with some of the older fellows who had!

Complex die trim profiles were surface ground as much as possible- then finished by hand filing (or using a band file or a jack file). One of the things that surprised me about working with the Japanese was the amount of hand work they did! The reasoning- without the hand skills, a shop would have to have machinery available to each worker! By using a great amount of hand work then you only have to have a few mills, lathes, etc. available to a greater number of workers. They are amazingly fast at it, too!

Incidentally, I have made the comment about toolmakers being the actual world's oldest profession- someone had to make the tools, jewelry, etc. that was used in trade of the ladies' goods! Or at least it would be the second oldest profession (given the motivation of the oldest)!

murph64
04-15-2010, 08:36 AM
If you want to see hand made parts, go to the middle east. They actually will hand a "gunsmith" a weapon, and he will dis-assemble it, copy all of the parts, by hand using nothing but broken hack saw blades and old files, out of old truck parts or pieces of bomb casing. Interesting craftsmanship...


There's a guy that posts on Pirate4x4 from Pakistan, he posts pics of stuff like fenders and hard tops being made with hammers, chisels and the occasional OA torch.

http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showpost.php?p=8203040&postcount=1

oldtiffie
04-15-2010, 08:55 AM
Seems so.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpURk1E3Q9c

http://www.google.com.au/#hl=en&q=making+guns+in+pakistan+%2B+pics&meta=&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=making+guns+in+pakistan+%2B+pics&gs_rfai=&fp=18a51b3ed23f0245

http://www.google.com.au/#hl=en&source=hp&q=buying+guns+in+pakistan&meta=&aq=4m&aqi=g-m5g-ms1&aql=&oq=guns+in+pakistan&gs_rfai=&fp=18a51b3ed23f0245

mayfieldtm
04-15-2010, 09:22 AM
As a young Boy, I marveled at the story of my Great Grandfather the Black Smith, volunteering to repair a Crack in the Towns Church Bell.
Simple matter of hacksawing a kerf up the Crack.
But first... Had to make the Hacksaw blades.

Tom M.

oil mac
04-15-2010, 06:45 PM
Many of these old hand craft skills are nowadays considered "old Hat" & not worthy of consideration, Frequently one comes across a situation where someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to do the simplest of jobs using a machine tool, &overlooked the fact, that for this particular task, using a machine, was the most inappropriate way forward, They should have thought outside the box, and did the job, using chisels & files
This happened to me a few months ago, The church, has a collection box, for money for flowers &magazines, It is set into the wall, The front of it is like a post box, made of 9/16" thick boiler plate, about 8"x5" with two slots to feed the coins down into an internal box divided down the middle to seperate the distinct collection monies This box stops a nefarious individual from creeping in during the church service & helping himself
In the original manufacturing ,someone had used a horizontal milling machine, and cujt slots from front half way & from the back, It looked horrible big gashes all over the place, On the remedial work, your truly, made up a nice front plate of brass strip, with slots of the appropriate length &widthslot drilled & filed nice and square on the sides
The bodged up boiler plate effort needed the slots to be opened up, trued and the bottom of the slots formed with a slope, to allow the coins to fall away, This task was simplicity, mark off the back, & cutting the slope with a small chisel was fast & childs play, then forming the slope nicely with a thin mill file , I ended up with a nice tailor made slot , using no machine tool work at all with no fuss or bother, To begin with, had the slot been chain drilled &chipped out using a tiny cross cut chisel, It would have been a nicer and easier expedited job of work
Many of the old engine fitters, could do work of breath taking accuracy on cast iron machine components using only chisels files &scrapers
This approach was even in the 1950/s, through to the 60/s endemic on certain components in the Clyde area, Even in the beginning of the machine manufacturing processes, on the making of the castings, the foreman ,on a rush job, would frequently ask me to put say, 1/2" or 5/8" on a mould face to give extra machining to suite a particular job, The mould at the relevant area, sometimes over a fair surface area, I had to carve away, accurately to give this extra allowance, & it had to be smooth & true This was achieved using the moulders equivelant of the engineers chisel and file , the moulders trowel & sharp cleaner.
As Nevile Shute in has book Trustee from The Toolroom, said a craftsman can make for a few pence something a bloody fool will take a pound for

Weston Bye
04-15-2010, 08:09 PM
A passage from Trustee from the Toolroom:


...'All right, we'll go down and make a blue egg.'
He took her by the hand and they went together down the steep wooden stairs into the front basement room that was his clean workshop. He pulled out the high stool that he sometimes sat upon before the bench and sat her up upon it so that she could see everything that he was doing at the three-and-a-half-inch lathe, and began a running commentary on his operations. He picked a three-inch end of inch diameter steel rod out of the scrap box, put it in the three-jaw chuck, started the lathe, and chamfered the end to forty-five degrees. A lifetime of such work had made him very quick; in a minute he was working with a hand scraper on a rest turning the end of the steel to form the large end of the egg, talking to the little girl all the time. Three emery sticks of successive fineness followed the scraper, and the large end was finished. He brought forward the parting tool and parted off the piece one and a half inches long down to a diameter of about a quarter of an inch, and chamfered the small end shape roughly by the careful manipulation of a knife tool in the four-tool post. Then came careful work again with the hand scraper, then the final parting off. He gave the warm, nearly finished egg to the little girl to hold while he found a one-inch-bore copper collar and put it in the chuck. Then he put the egg in it, small end outwards, and pinched it up, using the tailstock centre to set it roughly true, started the lathe again, and went to work very gently with the hand scraper and the emery sticks till he had it finished to his satisfaction. Then he took it from the lathe, gave it a final burnish on a rouge polishing mop at the tool grinder, and gave it to her to hold, a new, silvery, shiny egg. It had taken him less than twenty minutes to make.

Mcgyver
04-15-2010, 10:13 PM
I bolted the two together, drilled a 1/16" hole at the bottom of each tooth, nestling the drill in the teeth on the borrowed gear. Then I made two hacksaw cuts for each tooth ( 70 tooth 10 dp gears), thus getting rough teeth. I then bought two triangular files and filed for two weeks every evening,daughter then 2 yrs old " helped".

Hi David, we've got to get you a digital camera! great story.

I heard one a few weeks ago from an old boy from when he was an apprentice in Hungary I think. A crankshaft with journals needing to be reduced from 9" OD to 8 was too big for any machine so they sent it to apprentices shop and they filed the journals. File a perfect flat one side so it measures 8.5 to other side. index 180 file the other side flat so the two planes are perfectly 8" apart all over. keep doing this over and over and eventually the facets became so small they finished the job with sheets of emery wrapped around the journal and rotated by a long cord wrapped around the emery and going out either side, sort of like a capstan on a grinder table

took them three months....I bet those boys could file flat.

mgt, i think the surprise to your post is that machining by hand hasn't ever stopped; a skilled workshop guy still knows how to run a file or hacksaw etc....having the machines doesn't mean you don't need the benchcraft

J Tiers
04-15-2010, 11:29 PM
mgt, i think the surprise to your post is that machining by hand hasn't ever stopped; a skilled workshop guy still knows how to run a file or hacksaw etc....having the machines doesn't mean you don't need the benchcraft

i've done enough hand work to appreciate machinery......

I still won't buy a chopsaw for wood, if I need it cut, out comes a sharp backsaw..... I got no time to set up that chopsaw, nor room for it. But if I had a lot to do at one time, you bet.

Abner
04-16-2010, 08:18 AM
Surfacing a block by dragging it on concrete? Now that I have never thought of but brings a smile to my face. What grit?

Scishopguy
04-16-2010, 08:16 PM
Not my intention to hijack this thread but just add one thing. Sometimes we had to rework an old die set for a quickie test die and that involved a lot of hole plugging. The old way we were taught was to thread the hole to the next size and use about a 75% thread. Then we would double nut a piece of all thread and bottom it out in the hole, pulling on the wrench until the stud deformed slightly ( all thread is pretty soft ). Then you would cut it off with a hack saw about a quarter inch above the surface and begin to hammer it down with the round surface of the biggest ball peen hammer you had. It would mushroom out until it was nearly flat and then you had to flat file it until it dissappeared. Many a misslocated hole was fixed in this fashion and to my knowlege, none ever came loose, even when a hole was drilled and tapped into the plug.

toolmaker76
04-16-2010, 08:58 PM
Surfacing a block by dragging it on concrete? Now that I have never thought of but brings a smile to my face. What grit?

We had a job in a month or so ago where that was suggested- we had to make a large awkward surface flat. It was set up in a mill, but I still think that would have been the best solution!

Plugged many a hole using the method described! Using good file/ stoning skills,
the "mistake" could just disappear!

jugs
04-17-2010, 02:53 AM
"Machining by hand...", now that there's an oxymoron for sure.

Oxymoron = an idiot using a gas axe :rolleyes:

derekm
04-17-2010, 04:58 AM
But do we really have the patience now to learn how to do these manual skill properly.
I once spent six weeks (6 days a week 10 hours a day) just hacksawing 150mm x 50mm folded galvaniised steel (2mm thick) channel straight cuts and mitres. This was site work. The only tools a hacksaw, a square and a pencil , no vice.
I could saw well after that but then I knew how far I still had to go just to master just the one tool. I was working with a craftsman sheet metal worker, who could do it more accurately and with lots less effort.
Now 30 years later I have a band saw and even after truing up it still doesnt cut as well as that craftsman.
All of these tools are like trying to shoot with a bow and arrow. Pretty soon you can hit the target at 20 yds. However to master it and hit a gold 2" dia at 20 yds 99 times out of a 100? or hit the gold 6" dia at 100 yds that will take years.

Weston Bye
04-17-2010, 07:08 AM
Oxymoron = an idiot using a gas axe :rolleyes:

What? you mean I can increase my IQ with an oxyaxetylene torch?

Idiot: IQ 0-25
Imbecile: IQ 26-50
Moron: IQ 51-70

Wow.

beanbag
04-17-2010, 07:34 AM
Dan Mar tools in San Carlos, CA, has a foot pedal powered lathe.

oldtiffie
04-17-2010, 08:19 AM
Like this one?

Smooth as silk - and the lead-screw and half-nuts work.

The treadle, once set going, does not require much effort at all.

It is a show-piece - not here - at my machine and tool suppliers premises:
http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Old%20machinery/Old_lathe1.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Old%20machinery/Old_lathe2.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Old%20machinery/Old_lathe3.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Old%20machinery/Old_lathe4.jpg

gwilson
04-17-2010, 11:13 AM
Actually,David Brinkley narrated Wallace Gussler's gunsmith movie. I was there for 39 years,first 1970-1986 as Master Musical Instrument Maker,then Master Instrument and Toolmaker.

we did a lot of hand work in Colonial Williamsburg. I still do today. You can't do EVERYTHING with machines.

You can get my movie "The Musical Instrument Maker" from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation on disc for something like $29.99. In it we make a spinet harpsichord and a violin. It was the last,and most ambitious craft film made there (1974).

vpt
04-17-2010, 12:03 PM
How was the first lathe/mill built?

Paul Alciatore
04-17-2010, 12:52 PM
Surfacing a block by dragging it on concrete? Now that I have never thought of but brings a smile to my face. What grit?

What grit? Well, he had "True Grit".

As any telescope mirror maker will tell you, the law of averages is awesome.