Charles Henry Ham.

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tions in nearly all industrial pursuits.


Among the great inventions and discoveries which dis-
tinguished the last quarter of the eighteenth century,
Maudslay's slide-rest attachment to the lathe was one of
the greatest, if not the greatest. Without it "Watt's in-
vention would have been of little more real service to
mankind than the French automata of the first quarter of
the same century the mechanical peacock of Degennes,
Vaucauson's duck, or Maillardet's conjurer. Mr. Samuel
Smiles, in his admirable book on " Iron-workers and Tool-
makers," declares that this passion for automata, which
gave rise to many highly ingenious devices, "had the
effect of introducing among the higher order of artists
habits of nice and accurate workmanship in executing
delicate pieces of machinery." And he adds, " The same
combination of mechanical powers which made the steel
spider crawl, the duck quack, or waved the tiny rod of
the magician, contributed in future years to purposes of
higher import the wheels and pinions, which in these
automata almost eluded the human senses by their mi-
nuteness, reappearing in modern times in the stupendous
mechanism of our self-acting lathes, spinning-mules, and

That there was a logical connection between the two
eras of mechanical contrivance that of the ingenious
automata and that of the useful modern machines is
extremely probable. That the refugee artisans from
Antwerp and from France had a stimulating effect upon
English invention and discovery there can be little doubt ;
and that the French automata, which were much written
about, and exhibited as a triumph of mechanical genius,
became known to and exercised an influence upon the
minds of intelligent mechanics is equally probable. We
are therefore surprised to find Mr. Smiles arriving at a


conclusion in such direct conflict with his general views
of the gradual growth of inventions, namely, "that
Maudslay's invention was entirely independent of all
that had gone before, and that he contrived it for the
special purpose of overcoming the difficulties which he
himself experienced in turning out duplicate parts in
large numbers."

But however this may be, Mr. Maudslay's invention
revolutionized the workshop. Before its introduction
the tool of the artisan was guided solely by muscular
strength and the dexterity of the hand ; the smallest varia-
tion in the pressure applied rendered the work imperfect.
The slide-rest acting automatically changed all that. With
it thousands of duplicates of the most ponderous, as well
as the most minute pieces of machinery, are executed
with the utmost precision. Without it the steam-engine,
whether locomotive or stationary, would have been hard-
ly more than a dream of genius ; for the monster that is
to be fed with steam can be properly constructed only by
automatic steam-driven tools ; or, as another has expressed
it, " Steam-engines were never properly made until they
made themselves."

Ten minutes are thus agreeably and profitably occu-
pied by the instructor in a review of the history of a
single invention, and its relations to the whole field of
mechanical work.

Another branch of the lesson consists of an inquiry into
the natural history, qualities, value, and common uses of
the wood which is to be the material of the day's ma-
nipulation black-walnut. Holding a piece of the pur-
plish brown wood high in his hand the instructor dis-
charges, as it were, a volley of questions at the class,
"What is it called?" "Where is it found?" "How


large does the tree grow?" "For what is the wood
chiefly used ?" Up go a dozen hands. The owner of one
of the hands is recognized, and he rises to tell all about
it, but is only allowed to say " black-walnut." The next
speaker is permitted to say that "the black -walnut is
found all over North America ;" the next that it is more
abundant west of the Alleghanies, and most abundant in
the valley of the Mississippi ; the next that in a forest
it has a limbless trunk from thirty to fifty feet high,
but in the " open " branches near the ground ; the next
that it is extensively used in house - finishing, in furni-
ture, for all kinds of cabinet-work, and especially for

Further inquiry elicits the information that the black-
walnut is a quick-growing, large tree ; that its wood is
hard, fine-grained, durable, and susceptible of a high pol-
ish, and that through use and exposure it turns dark, and
with great age becomes almost black. One student de-
scribes the leaves, another the fruit or nuts, and states
that they are used in dyeing; a third states that the
black-walnut is a great favorite for planting in the tree-
less tracts of the West, on account of its rapid growth
and the value of its timber. When the subject appears
to be nearly exhausted, a boy at the farther end of one of
the forms rises timidly and tells the story of the late Mr.
W. C. Bryant's great black-walnut-tree at Roslyn, Long
Island. He concludes, excitedly, " It is one hundred and
seventy years old and twenty-five feet in circumference."*

* "At Ellerslie, the birthplace of "Wallace, exists an oak which
is celebrated as having been a remarkable object in his time, and
which can scarcely, therefore, be less than seven hundred years old.
Near Staines there is a yew-tree older than Magna Charta (1215), and
the yews at Fountains Abbey, in Yorkshire, are probably more than


The timid boy dwells upon his story of the " big " tree
with evident fondness, and his eyes dilate with satisfac-
tion as he resumes his seat. The circumstance of the
great age no less than the enormous size of the tree has
captivated his imagination. The discriminating instruct-
or will not fail to note such incidents of the lesson. It
is through them that the special aptitudes of students are
disclosed. The instructor will always bear prominently
in mind that the purpose of the school is not to make
mechanics but men. Nor will he forget, as Buckle re-
marked, that Shakespeare preceded Newton. Buckle pays
a glowing tribute to the usefulness of the imagination.
He says, " Shakespeare and the poets sowed the seed which
Newton and the philosophers reaped. . . . They drew
attention to nature, and thus became the real founders of
all natural science. They did even more than this. They
first impregnated the mind of England with bold and
lofty conceptions. They taught the men of their gener-
ation to crave after the unseen."

Disraeli, in his matchless biography of Lord George
Bentinck, in summing up the character of a great Eng-
lish statesman is equally emphatic in praise of the imagi-
nation as a practical quality. He says,

" Thus gifted and thus accomplished, Sir Robert Peel
had a great deficiency he was without imagination.
Wanting imagination, he wanted prescience. No one
was more sagacious when dealing with the circumstances
before him; no one penetrated the present with more
acuteness and accuracy. His judgment was faultless,

twelve hundred years old. Eight olive-trees still exist in the Garden
of Olives at Jerusalem which are known to be at least eight hundred
years old." "Vegetable Physiology." By William B. Carpenter,
M. D. , F. R. S. , F. G. S. London : Bell and Daldy. 1865. p. 78.


provided lie had not to deal with the future. Thus it
happened through his long career, that while he always
was looked upon as the most prudent and safest of lead-
ers, he ever, after a protracted display of admirable tac-
tics, concluded his campaigns by surrendering at discre-
tion. He was so adroit that he could prolong resistance
even beyond its term, but so little foreseeing that often
in the very triumph of his manoauvres he found himself
in an untenable position."

The timid boy has imagination ; if he has application
and the logical faculty he may become an inventor, or he
may become an artist an engraver or a designer of works
of art or he may become a man of letters. To the man
of vivid imagination and industry all avenues are open ;
Disraeli's wonderful career offers a striking illustration
of the truth of this proposition. The true purpose of
education is the harmonious development of the whole
being, and the purpose of this turning laboratory is to edu-
cate these twenty-four boys, not to make turners of them.

The laboratory is a labyrinth of belts, large and small,
of wheels, big and little, of pulleys and lathes. A stu-
dent, at a word from the instructor, moves a lever a few
inches, and the breath of life is breathed into the compli-
cated mass of machinery. The throbbing heart of the
engine far away sends the currents of its power along
shafting and pulleys. The dull, monotonous whir of
steam-driven machinery salutes the ear, and the twenty-
four students take their places at the lathes. They are
from fourteen to seventeen years of age, and range in
height from undersize to " full-grown." They look like
little men. Their faces are grave, showing a sense of re-
sponsibility. They are to handle edge-tools on wood rapid-
ly revolved by the power of steam. There is peril in an


uncautious step, and death lurks in the shafting. Of these
dangers they have been repeatedly warned ; and there is
in their bearing that manifestation of wary coolness which
we call "nerve," and which in an emergency develops
into a lofty heroism capable of sublime self-sacrifice.

This is the very essence of education, its informing spir-
it. The student no longer thinks merely of becoming an
expert turner ; he thinks of becoming a man ! All the
powers of his mind are roused to vigorous action ; the
imagination illumes the path, and the reason, following
with firm but cautious step, drives straight to the mark.
Rapid development results from the combination of prac-
tice with theory rapid because orderly, or natural. The
knowledge acquired is at once assimilated, and becomes
a mental resource, subject to draft like a bank account.
But unlike a bank account it increases in the ratio of the
frequency with which drafts are made upon it, and the
result is the student leaves school at seventeen years of
age with the reasoning experience of an ordinarily edu-
cated man of forty.

The lesson has been announced by the instructor, its
chief points stated and analyzed, its place in the scale (so
to speak) of the art of turnery defined, its educational
value to the mind, the hand, and the eye shown, and the
points of difficulty involved so emphasized as to lead to
painstaking care in the execution of crucial parts. The
new tool required by the lesson is handled in presence of
the waiting class by the instructor ; the time of its inven-
tion stated ; the name of its inventor given ; the method
of its manufacture described ; and how to sharpen, take
care of, and use it explained with such minuteness of de-
tail as to insure the making of a permanent impression
upon the minds of students.


The wood-turner's case contains more than a hundred
tools, perhaps a hundred and fifty, but not more than a
score of them are fundamental ; the others are subsidiary,
and require very little if any explanation.

The lesson may be one in simple turning, as a table-leg,
the round of a chair, or parts of a section of a miniature
garden-fence ; or it may be a set of pulleys, or patterns
for various forms of pipe. The pieces of wood to be
wrought or manipulated lie at the feet of the student,
and the working drawing (drawn by the student himself)
lies on the bench before him. The piece of wood to be
turned first is adjusted, the student touches a lever over
his head which sets the lathe in motion, takes the required
tool in hand, and the work begins. Guided by the auto-
matic slide-rest, the sharp point of the tool chips away
the revolving wood until it assumes the form of the
drawing lying under the eye of the operator. Thus the
lesson proceeds to the end of the prescribed period two
hours. The master watches every step of its progress.
If a student is puzzled he receives prompt assistance, so
that no time may be lost. Indeed the relations between
instructor and students are such, or ought to be such, that
the question is asked before the puzzled mind falls into a
rut of profitless speculation through revolving in a circle.
But if the true sequential method of study is followed
the student rarely fails, from the vantage ground of a
step securely taken, to comprehend the nature of the
next step in the regular order of succession. This is the
Russian system, and it is the method of the wood-turnery
as well as of every department of the Manual Training
School. Hence a certain tool having been mastered,
the next tool in the regular order of succession is more
easily mastered, because (1) each tool contains a hint of



the nature of its successor, and (2) each addition to the
student's stock of knowledge confers an increased capa-
bility of comprehension.

When the lesson is concluded the whir of the machin-
ery ceases, and a great silence falls upon the class as the
students assemble about the instructor, each presenting
his piece of work. This is the moment of friendly criti-
cism. The instructor handles each specimen, comments
upon the character of the workmanship, points out its
defects, and calls for criticisms from the class. These
are freely given. There is an animated discussion, involv-
ing explanations on the part of the instructor of the
various causes of defects, and suggestions as to suitable
methods of amendment. Then the pieces of work are
marked according to the various degrees of excellence
they exhibit, and the class is dismissed.



The Iron Age. Iron the King of Metals. Locke's Apothegm. The
Moulder's Art is Fundamental. History of Founding. Remains
of Bronze Castings in Egypt, Greece, and Assyria. Layard's Dis-
coveries. The Greek Sculptors. The Colossal Statue of Apollo
at Rhodes. The Great Bells of History. Moulding and Casting
a Pulley. Description of the Process, Step by Step. The Furnace
Fire. Pouring the Hot Metal into the Moulds. A Pen Picture of
the Laboratory. Thus were the Hundred Gates of Babylon cast.
Neglect of the Practical Arts by Herodotus. How Slavery has
degraded Labor. How Manual Training is to dignify it.

As we enter the Founding Laboratory we recall Locke's
apothegm: "He who first made known the use of that
contemptible mineral [iron] may be truly styled the fa-
ther of arts and the author of plenty." We reflect, too,
that the mineral that has given its name to an age of the
world our age is worthy of careful study.

The Founding Laboratory, like all the laboratories of
the school, is designed for twenty-four students. There
are twenty-four moulding-benches, combined with troughs
for sand, and a cupola furnace where from five hundred
to one thousand pounds of iron may be melted.

The students we lately parted from in the "Wood-turn-
ing Laboratory are here. Their training has been confined
to manipulations in wood ; they are now to be made ac-
quainted with iron iron in considerable masses. They
should know something, in outline, of the history of the
king of metals in the Founding Laboratory. The instruct-
or speaks familiarly to them, somewhat as follows :


The art of the founder is fundamental in its nature.
The arts of founding and forging are, indeed, the essen-
tial preliminary steps which lead to the finer manipula-
tions entering into all metal constructions. Whether
forging preceded founding or founding forging is imma-
terial; both arts are as old as recorded history much
older indeed. Moulding, which is the first step in the
founder's art, should be among the oldest of human dis-
coveries, since man had only to take in his hand a lump
of moist clay to receive ocular evidence of his power to
give it any desired form.

Moulding for casting is closely allied to the potter's
art. The potter selects a clay suitable for the vessel he
desires to mould, and the founder prepares a composition
of sand and loam of the proper consistency to serve as a
matrix for the vessel he desires to cast.

The art of founding was doubtless first applied to
bronze. The ruins of Egypt and Greece abound in the
remains of bronze castings, an analysis of which reveals
about the same relative proportions of tin and copper
in use now for the best qualities of statuary bronze. The
bronze castings of the Assyrians show a high degree of
art. Many specimens of this fine work of the Assyrian
founder have been rescued from the ruins of long-buried
Nineveh buried so long that Xenophon and his ten
thousand Greeks marched over its site more than two
thousand years ago without making any sign of a knowl-
edge of its existence, and Alexander fought a great bat-
tle in its neighborhood in apparent ignorance of the fact
that he trod on classic ground. But there, delving be-
neath the rubbish and decayed vegetation of four thou-
sand years or more, Layard found great treasures of art
in the palaces of Sennacherib and other Assyrian mon-


arclis vases, jars, bronzes, glass-bottles^ carved ivory and
mother-of-pearl ornaments, engraved gems, bells, dishes,
and eau-rings of exquisite workmanship, besides arms and
a variety of tools of the practical arts.

In Greece, in the time of Praxiteles, bronze was
moulded into forms of rare beauty and grandeur. The
colossal statue of Apollo at Rhodes affords an example
of the magnitude of the Greek castings. It was cast in
several parts, and was over one hundred feet high.
About fifty years after its erection it was destroyed by
an earthquake. Its fragments lay on the ground where
it fell, nearly a thousand years ; but when the Saracens
gathered them together and sold them, there was a' suffi-
cient quantity to load a caravan consisting of nine hun-
dred camels. One of the finest existing specimens of
ancient bronze casting is that of a statue of Mercury dis-
covered at Herculaneum, and now to be seen in the mu-
seum at Naples.

During the era of church bells the founder exercised
his art in casting bells of huge dimensions. Early in the
fifteenth century a bell weighing about fifty tons was
cast at Pekin, China. This bell still exists, is fourteen
and a half feet in height and thirteen feet in diameter.


But the greatest bell-founding feat was, however, that of
1733, in casting the bell of Moscow. This bell is nineteen
feet three inches in height and sixty feet nine inches in
circumference, and weighs 443,772 pounds. The value of
the metal entering into its construction is estimated at
$300,000. It long lay in a pit in the midst of the Krem-
lin, but Czar Nicholas caused it to be raised, mounted
upon a granite pedestal, and converted into a chapel.
The methods of casting employed by the founder of
this king of bells are not known. The bell has outlived


the Works where it was cast. The melting and handling
of two hundred and twenty tons of bronze metal certain-
ly required appointments, mechanical and otherwise, of
the most stupendous character ; and the existence of such
Works presupposes an intimate acquaintance with the
most minute details of the founder's art, since the natu-
ral order of development is from the less to the greater.
That is to say, the founder who could manipulate scores
of tons of metal in a single great casting could doubtless
manipulate a few pounds of metal ; or, the founder who
could cast a bell weighing two hundred and twenty tons,
could cast pots and kettles and hundreds of other little
useful things. What we hope to do in this school Found-
ing Laboratory is to gain a correct conception of great
things by making ourselves thoroughly familiar with
many forms of little things in moulding and casting.

The lesson of the day is the moulding and casting of a
plain pulley. In the Pattern Laboratory each student has
already executed a pattern of the pulley to be cast, and
the pattern lies before him on his moulding-bench. Now
the instructor, at the most conspicuous bench in the
room, proceeds to execute the first part of the lesson,
which consists of moulding. Taking from the trough a
handful of sand, he explains that it is only by the use of
sand possessing certain properties, as a degree of moist-
ure, but not enough to vaporize when the metal is poured
in, and a small admixture of clay, but not enough to
make of the compound a loam, that the mould can be
saved from ruin through vaporization, and, at the same
time, given the essential quality of adhesiveness or plas-
ticity. In the course of this explanation he remarks
that the sand used in some parts of the mould is mixed
with pulverized bituminous coal, coke, or plumbago, in


order to give a smoother surface. Now he takes the
"flask" a wooden apparatus containing the sand in
which the mould is made and explains its construction
and use. From this point the sifting of facing sand on
the turn-over board, to the final one of replacing the cope
and securing it with keys or clamps every step of the
process is carefully gone through with and explained.

Meantime, before the moulding lesson has proceeded
far, a fire is kindled in the furnace and it is " charged ;"
that is to say, filled with alternate layers of coal and pig-
iron, with occasional fluxes of limestone. During the
process of charging the furnace the instructor explains
the principle of its construction, and shows how it oper-
ates. At every subsequent rest in moulding the students
surround the furnace to witness the progress of the fire,
the position of the layers of coal, and the state of com-
bustion. They pass the furnace in procession, and each
peeps in through the isinglass windows upon the glow-
ing fire, asks a question, or a dozen questions, perhaps,
and gives place to the next student in line. In the in-
tervals of these visits to the furnace the work of mak-
ing twenty -four moulds goes on under the eye of the
instructor, the students explaining each step in advance.
He is omnipresent, answering a question here, prevent-
ing a fatal mistake there, cheering, inspiring, and guiding
the whole class, but never insisting upon a slavish ad-
herence to strict identity in processes. And it is to be
noted that there is in moulding more latitude for inde-
pendence than in almost any other mechanical manipu-
lation. Certain essentials there are, of course, but these
being secured, the student may exercise his ingenuity in
the execution of many minor details. That there is con-
siderable individuality in the class may be seen by obser-


vation of the different methods employed by the several
young moulders to compass various details of the same
general process.

The moulds are nearly completed. The instructor
assists a student who is found to be a little behind in his
work, and interposes a warning against haste at the criti-
cal moment. Within the space of a period of ten min-
utes the twenty -four patterns are " tapped," loosened,
and lifted from their beds, imperfections are carefully
repaired with the trowel, or some other tool, channels to
the pouring holes are cut in the surfaces, the pieces re-
maining in the copes are removed, the particles of loose
sand are blown from the surfaces of the moulds, and the
twenty-four copes are replaced, and secured with keys or

A final visit is now made to the furnace. The fusion
is found to be complete; the "pigs" are converted into
a molten pool. It only remains to pour the hot metal
into the moulds. The instructor seizes an iron ladle lined
with clay, holds it under the spout of the furnace reser-
voir until it is nearly filled with the glowing fluid, lifts
and carries it carefully across the room, and pours the
contents into a mould. Then the students, in squads,
after having been cautioned as to the deadly nature of
the molten mass they are to handle, follow the example
of their instructor. At this moment the laboratory ap-
peals powerfully to the imagination. The picture it pre-
sents is weird in the extreme. From the open furnace
door a stream of crimson light floods the room. The
students wear paper caps and are bare-armed ; their faces
glow in the reflected glare of the furnace-fire ; they march
up to the furnace one by one, each receiving a ladleful
of steaming hot metal, and countermarch to their benches,

Online LibraryCharles Henry HamManual training : the solution of social and industrial problems → online text (page 4 of 30)