Charles Henry Ham.

Manual training : the solution of social and industrial problems online

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at the vise. But there is excellent hand and eye training
work in the Chipping, Filing, and Fitting Laboratory.

The file is a humble tool, but it is older than history,
dating back to the Greek Mythological period. " From
the smallest mouse-tail file used in the delicate operations
of the watch and philosophical instrument maker, to the
square file for the smith's heaviest work, there is a multi-
farious diversity in shape, size, and gauge of cutting."
Some of the files made by the Swiss 'for the watch-maker
"are of so fine a cut that the unaided eye cannot discern
the ridges."

In no department of the useful arts did the hand-
worker attain to greater dexterity than in file-cutting.
With a sharp-edged chisel the file-cutter made from one
hundred and fifty to two hundred " burs " a minute, and
they were so fine as to be traced by the sense of touch
alone, but as straight as though ruled by a machine. The
hand -working file-cutter held his ground until 1859,
when a Frenchman, M. Bernot, invented a file - cutting
machine which entirely superseded the old method of
manufacture, reducing the cost of files to one-eighth of
their former price.

The lessons in the Machine-tool Laboratory will not be
described in detail as in the other shops. The processes
are so delicate and so intricate, and the resulting prod-
ucts in machines so closely approach the marvellous, as to
beggar description. The poverty of words as compared
with things asserts itself with unexampled force in the
presence of a great variety of tools, each of which seems
to be endowed with the power of reflection, and each of
which, instead of whispering a word in your ear, drops
into your hand a thing of use to man.

The laboratory is silent, the tools are dumb, but how


eloquently they proclaim the era of comfort and luxury !
They have no tongue, but through their lips you shall
speak across continents and under seas. They have no
legs, but through their aid you shall, in a race round the
world, outstrip Mercury. The machines they make shall
bear all your burdens ; with their brawny arms they lift
a thousand tons, and with their fingers of fairy-like deli-
cacy pick up a pin ; with the augur of Hercules they
bore a channel through the mountain of granite, and
with a Liliputian gimlet tunnel one of the hairs of your

These ingenious tools are worthy of careful inspection
both on account of the marvels they perform and the
delicacy of their construction and adjustments. One
of them, a screw-engine lathe, for example, is taken to
pieces, and each piece described in order that the stu-
dents may be made familiar with the construction of the
tool, and so rendered capable of taking good care of it.
During this inspection the instructor outlines the history
of the tool. The main feature is the slide-rest, invented
by Maudslay while in the employ of Bramah, the lock-
maker. It is not too much to say that two things exact-
ly alike, or near enough alike, practically, to serve the
same purpose very well, were never produced on the old-
fashioned turning lathe. This the instructor endeavors
to make clear to the class. He also explains precisely
how Maudslay's improvement remedied the defects of
the old-fashioned lathe. Still there remained something
to be done to make it perfect, and putting the pieces to-
gether the instructor shows where Maudslay's work end-
ed and that of Clement began. Clement made two im-
provements in the slide-rest, one involving the principle
of self -correction, for which he received the gold Isis


medal of the Society of Arts in 1827, and the other
consisting of the "self-adjusting double-driving centre
check," for which he was awarded the silver medal of the
same society in 1828. Thus improved or perfected, the
slide -lathe became the acknowledged king of machine-
tools, the self-adjusting two -armed driver taking the
strain from the centre and dividing it between the two
arms, and so correcting all tendency to eccentricity in
the work.

The Machine-tool Laboratory contains a great variety
of tools, of which the chief are lathes, drills, and planers ;
but there are many auxiliary tools, and in the advanced
stages of the course a single lesson often affords oppor-
tunity for the introduction of several of them. And, as
in the other school laboratories, each tool, upon its first
presentation to the class, forms the subject of a brief
lecture a practical lecture too, for the instructor uses
the tool while he sketches its history and perhaps that
of its inventor, shows what place it holds in the order
of machine-tool development, and how admirably it is
adapted to its particular work, and makes suggestions as
to its care. Sometimes a lesson involves the use of a
drawing made by the students a year before, and the
piece of iron in which it is wrought is the product of a
previous lesson in forging ; and it may also have been
manipulated with the file or the cold-chisel, or both, in
the Chipping, Filing, and Fitting Laboratory.

From the first lesson in the room devoted to draw-
ing, to the last lesson in the Machine-tool Laboratory,
the course of training is orderly, consecutive. Each step
contains a hint of the nature of the next step, and each
succeeding step consists of a further application of the
principles and processes of the last preceding step. In


a word, the students follow their drawings through all
the laboratories till the designs " are brought out in a
finished state either in cast or wrought iron."

The lathe is the fundamental machine-tool, but a com-
pletely equipped machine-tool laboratory includes a great
variety of supplementary or auxiliary tools, a thorough
knowledge of which is essential to a good mechanical ed-
ucation. It does not follow, because these tools are in a
large degree automatic, that skill may be dispensed with
in their use. Many of them are very complicated in de-
sign and construction, and they can no more be made to
do efficient service under an unskilled hand than a loco-
motive can be made to accomplish a series of success-
ful " runs " by an unskilled " driver." Hence every tool
in the laboratory is made the subject of an exhaustive
study. The principle of mechanics involved in its con-
struction is expounded, a practical illustration of its
method of operation is given, its peculiar liability to in-
jury is explained, and rules for its care are carefully for-
mulated, and frequently repeated.

There is a prevalent theory that the wide application
of so-called automatic tools to mechanical work largely
decreases the legitimate demand for skilled mechanics,
but it is fallacious. In the first place a thousand things
are now made where one thing was made fifty years ago.
In the second place the extensive use of steam and
electricity greatly enlarges the sphere wherein accurate
work becomes absolutely essential to human safety, and
hence extends the field of operations of the inventive
faculty. In the third place the cost of machine-tool
made products having been greatly reduced, competition
is proportionately intensified, thus narrowing the mar-
gin of profit, and so rendering any injury to machinery


through want of skill in the operator relatively more
disastrous. As a matter of fact a line machine-tool is
more liable than a watch to get out of order through
careless handling, and it no more than a watch, can be
properly repaired by a bungler. It follows that skill in
the use of machine-tools is as essential to a successful
mechanical career now, as skill in the use of hand-tools
was formerly.

But another conclusion follows more irresistably, name-
ly that the civil engineer who devotes his attention to
the construction and management of massive machinery,
such as pumps, hydraulic and lever presses, looms, and
steam-engines, whether locomotive, marine, or other, must,
in order to be master of his profession, be thoroughly
familiar with every step of their construction ; and such
familiarity can only be acquired by a course of practical
study in the machine-tool shop. It is the province of
the civil engineer to utilize certain forces of nature in
the service of man, and it is only through the machine-
tool shop that such utilization can be effected. It hence
follows that a practical acquaintance with the manipula-
tions of the machine-tool shop is an essential prerequisite
to a successful career in the field of higher mechanics.
The man who aspires to construct any great mechanical
engineering work, like the Brooklyn Bridge, for exam-
ple, must know the exact mechanical power of every
piece of machinery he employs, as also the exact me-
chanical value of every piece of iron that enters into the
structure ; and these things he cannot know unless he
is familiar with the entire series of iron manipulations,
from those of the foundery to those of the machine-tool

The aspect of the Machine-tool Laboratory when in re-



pose, so to speak, is dull and uninteresting, not to say
repellant. There are twenty-four engine-lathes, as many
adjustable vises, a milling machine, and a variety of aux-
iliary tools. The lathes are supported by dingy-looking
cast-iron frames, and under each lathe there is a chest of
drawers containing a set of tools. Overhead there is a
wilderness of pulleys and shafting, which seems to the
untrained eye to have very little relation to the machines
below. The working parts of the lathes show burnished
steel surfaces, which reflect coldly the glare of yellow
sunlight flooding the room. If it were moonlight instead
of sunlight one might summon the ghosts of those daring
men who hundreds and thousands of years ago dreamed
audaciously of the future of applied mechanics. Roger
Bacon must have had a vision of the machine-tool shop
when he said, " I will now mention some of the wonder-
ful works of art and nature in which there is nothing of
magic, and which magic could not perform. Instruments
may be made by which the largest ships, with only one
man guiding them, will be carried with greater velocity
than if they were full of sailors; chariots may be con-
structed that will move with incredible rapidity without
the help of animals ; a small instrument may be made to
raise or depress the greatest weights ; an instrument may
be fabricated by which one man may draw a thousand
men to him by force and against their will ; as also ma-
chines which will enable men to walk at the bottom of
seas or rivers without danger."

When steam is " turned on " the aspect of the Machine-
tool Laboratory is completely changed. Steam is, indeed,
the arch-revolutionist ; it breathes the breath of life into
inanimate things makes them think, speak, and act. The
low hum of unused machinery first salutes the ear ; then


the students take their places. They are three years older
than when we encountered them in the engine-room.
They are from seventeen to twenty years of age. They
are no longer boys ; they are young men robust, hearty-
looking young men. Their bearing is very resolute re-
markably resolute ; their attitude is erect. They are full-
chested, muscular-armed, frank-faced young men. In tho
three years' course now drawing to a close they have
learned how to do many things, and hence they show a
good degree of confidence. But the dominant expression
on all the interesting young faces is, after all, one of mod-
esty ; so true is it that every acquisition of knowledge, and
especially practical knowledge, not on ly stimulates desire
to learn more, but enlightens the perception as to the
magnitude of the field of further inquiry. As the addition
of a useful thing to the world's stock of things creates a
demand for a score more of useful things, so the addition
of a fact to the student's stock of facts not only creates a
desire for more facts, but strengthens the mind for the
prosecution of the study.

It may be that there are vain statesmen, philosophers,
priests, and kings, but we should as little expect to find
a vain mechanic as a vain scientist.

These twenty-four students may go out into the w r orld
to-morrow to make their way. Some of them will en-
ter upon the stage of active life, others will continue
their studies in higher schools of literature, science, and
art ; but whether they go or stay, if they have made the
most of their opportunities in the Manual Training School
they have learned the lesson of modesty, and learned to
respect labor, not only as a means of earning one's daily
bread, but as the most powerful and the most healthful
mental and moral stimulant.


Steam is on, and the students standing at the lathes
are impatient to begin. It is not a lesson in the ordi-
nary sense. Each student works independently of special
direction, for each is engaged in making a machine the
graduating project. The instructor is at hand, not to
dictate but to advise, if requested. From his fund of
experience as the elder scholar he will answer questions
propounded by his younger fellow-students. In front of
the students, parts of the working drawings may be seen.
It is plain that there is to be variety in the exhibit of
"projects." There are several steam-engines, differing
in model ; there is a steam-pump, a punching machine,
a lathe, an electric machine, and a steam-hammer.

At a sign work commences a dozen varieties of work,
emitting a dozen tones of buzzing and whizzing. The
instructor's face lights up with a pleased expression as
he notes the progress of the work. There is no sign
of hesitation in the class ; no questions are asked ; the
students seem to be driving straight to the mark. The
instructor's heart swells with pride ; he can trust " his
boys !" lie has been regarding them with an expression
of affection, but now his eyes wander they have a far-
away look. He no longer sees the students, he is look-
ing beyond them. He drops into a reclining attitude,
sighs, falls into a reverie, and dreams. In his dream he
sees naked savages, emerging from caves, armed with
clubs, pursuing animals. These are succeeded by men
bearing rude stone implements axes and hammers
and these in turn by men armed with bows and arrows,
but half-clothed with skins of beasts, and crouching and
shivering beneath the shelter of the branches of a tree
pulled downward and secured by clods of earth. This
picture disappears, and is replaced by a pastoral scene


a vast plain covered with flocks and herds. In the
foreground stands the shepherd, and in the distance his
tent, consisting of skins of beasts stretched on poles, and in
the tent door a woman sits pounding a fleece into felt.
The shepherd, his flocks and herds, his tent, and the
woman in the tent door, vanish like the mists of morn-
ing, and where the shepherd was, the husbandman is seen
harvesting the golden grain ; and in the shadow of the
cottage which has replaced the tent a woman is pound-
ing corn. The scene again changes the plain has be-
come the site of a great city. The city is protected by
thick, high walls, surmounted with frowning battlements.
Sentinels pace back and forth along the parapet. Huge
helmets protect their heads, and their bodies are clothed
in armor. Quivers full of bronze-tipped arrows depend
from their shoulders, in their hands they carry long
bows, and the clank, clank of their broad, two-edged,
bronze swords breaks the dull, monotonous routine of
their march. A brazen gate swings back noiselessly on
brazen hinges, and bowing to the sentinel, the dreamer as
noiselessly glides into the city. Suddenly he feels the
hot breath of the f oundery furnace-fire, and is blinded by
a glare of red light. Shading his eyes he sees dusky
forms hurrying to and fro with ladles full of molten
metal. Turning away he hears the heavy stroke of the
sledge, and looking, beholds a dusty, smoky smithy. The
stalwart smith drops the sledge at his side, rests one foot
on the anvil-block, and wipes the sweat from his brow ;
the helper thrusts the cooling iron into the coals, bends
to the bellows, and the forge-fire sings. At the sound of
a bell the dreamer starts, the old Assyrian city falls into
ruins, the ruins crumble into dust, and on this dust an-
other city rises, flourishes, falls, and piles the dust of



its ruins. Over a waste of years twenty centuries the
dreamer's thought flashes, and he stands in the presence
of the Alexandrian mechanic-philosopher. He sees Hero
in the public street, gazing abstractedly at his condensed-
air fountain, and follows him into his shop or laboratory,
an.d observes him curiously as he toys with the model of
a queer little steam-engine. " This is the Iron Age, but
in its infancy," he exclaims under his breath, as his eyes
wander from a fine Damascus blade hanging against the
wall to some poor hand-tools lying on the working-bench.
" I will speak to this old man," he continues, " and ask
him to step into my Machine-tool Laboratory, and see my
boys make steam-engines ; it will be a revelation to him.
Come, old friend there look !" And the dreamer
looks. Does he see double? The laboratory is un-
changed ; steam is still on ; the whir of machinery and
the buzzing sound of steam-driven tools salute the ear,
and the students are all busy at their benches finishing
parts of "projects" and adjusting them in their places.
But there are twenty-four other men shades of men in
the laboratory. Most of them are old ; some are in work-
ing clothes, others in full dress, wearing ribbons and or-
ders of merit. Over each student one of these shades
bends with an air of absorbing attention. The dreamer
recognizes Papin, Fulton, Watt, and Stephenson shadow-
ing the students engaged in the construction of engines.
They beckon Hero, and he joins the group, threading his
way timidly between the lines of lathes, and looking
askance at the rapidly revolving wheels and flying belts.
Over the shoulders of other students are seen the faces
of Maudslay, Bramah, Clement, Roberts, Whitney, !N"a-
smyth, Huntsman, Cort, Murray, Dudley, Yarranton, Roe-
buck, and Whitworth, besides several unfamiliar faces.


Suddenly they all gather about a nearly completed proj-
ect a stationary engine. They witness the forcing
home of the last'Screw; they see the miniature machine
made fast to the bench. Steam is let into the cylinders.
The student's flushed face is in sharp contrast with the
colorless faces of the group of old men by whom he is
surrounded. The piston-rod moves languidly the ma-
chine trembles as if awaking from slumber, the shaft os-
cillates slowly, then faster, then regularly, like a strong
pulse-beat. The project is a success the first one com-
pleted! The student's face turns pale as pale as the
white faces of the old men at his side. They open their
lips as if to cheer him, but no sound is heard. He
breathes quick almost gasps; his heart beats loudly; he
tries to shout but cannot utter a word. At last he claps
his hands ! The instructor starts from his chair, rubs his
eyes, and stares around the laboratory. All the students
are there, gathered in a group about the finished " proj-
ect," but the ghostly shades of the old inventors have
vanished like the unsubstantial fabric of a vision.

The " projects " are not all finished on the same day.
Some of them are far more complicated than others, and
some students are more skilled than others. All are very
busy. It is not improper to ask questions relating to work
on the graduating projects ; the instructor is at hand to
answer such questions. But it is a point of honor not
to ask a question if the difficulty can possibly be other-
wise overcome. Hence very few questions are asked.

The last week of the term is a very trying one to
all concerned. The students are reticent and unusual-
ly silent; all are anxious, some are timid the nervous
tension is extreme. The instructor becomes taciturn
under a painful sense of compulsory isolation from his


class, towards all the members of which he has, for three
years, sustained fraternal rather than dictatorial relations.
But as the projects are, one by one, completed, the atmos-
phere clears. When the student realizes that his project
is certainly not to be a failure, his face lightens and he is
pleased to discuss its " points " with the instructor. The
instructor is delighted to resume his former relations
with the class, the feeling of constraint is dispelled, and
the graduation-day exercises are contemplated with con-



The new Education is all-sided its Effect. A Harmonious Devel-
opment of the Whole Being. Examination for Admission to the
Chicago School. List of Questions in Arithmetic, Geography, and
Language. The Curriculum. The Alternation of Manual and
Mental Exercises. The Demand for Scientific Education its
Effect. Ambition to be useful.

have now passed in review all the school labora-
tories, from the engine-room, or laboratory where power
is generated, to the Machine-tool Laboratory where pow-
er is utilized, or harnessed, and compelled to do the work
of man. We have observed the student, in his first
effort over the drawing-board, struggling laboriously to
make a straight line, and in the Laboratory of Carpentry,
trying with varying success to make a tenon fit the mor-
tise, and we have stood by his side in the Machine-tool
Laboratory in the moment of his triumph exhibiting his
graduating " project " a miniature engine throbbing un-
der the pressure of steam, and doing its work with ad-
mirable precision. But we have seen only the manual
side of the curriculum. The mental side is still to be
shown. The claim made in behalf of the new education
is that it is better balanced than the x)ld, that it is all-
sided, that it produces a harmonious development of the
whole being, that it makes of the student a man fully
furnished for the battle of life, mentally, morally, and
physically. Accordingly the curriculum of the Manual
Training School combines with the laboratory exercises



a variety of mental exercises of quite a comprehensive
character ; and first, certain mental acquirements are nec-
essary to admission, as witness the following from the
first catalogue of the Chicago school :

" Candidates for admission to the first year must be at
least fourteen years of age, and must present sufficient
evidence of good moral character. They must pass a
satisfactory examination in reading, spelling, writing, ge-
ography, English composition, and the fundamental oper-
ations of arithmetic as applied to integers, common and
decimal fractions, and denominate numbers. Ability to
use the English language correctly is especially desired."

The following questions were used at the first exami-
ation for admission to the Chicago school.


Transcribe work sufficient to show processes. No
credit given for results alone.

1. Change to decimals and find the sum of , |, ^, &, .

2. Divide the product of 28f and 13 by the difference of 8 T \

3. Divide .00875 by 12f

4. Reduce .395 of a mile to integers.

5. If a locomotive move f of a mile in | of an hour, what is its
speed per hour?

6. A man invested of his money in land, .125 of it in stocks,
$12,000 in a vessel, and had $55,500 remaining. How much did he
invest in land?

7. Bought a square mile of land at $75 an acre. I reserved 160
acres of it for streets and alleys, and divided the remainder into lots
each 66 feet front by 200 feet deep, all of which I sold for $15 per
front foot. The expense of surveying, etc., was $2000. What did I

8. How many balls, each \ of an inch in diameter, are equal in
weight to a ball of the same material 1 foot in diameter?

9. Find cost of material for making box, inside measurement 4 by


2 by 3 feet, of inch lumber, worth $30 per M., -^ of the lumber pur-
chased being wasted. Include in the cost 7 dozen screws at $1.80
per gross.

10. What is the height of a rectangular cistern capable of contain-
ing 600 gallons, the bottom of which is 7 by 11 feet, inside measure-


1. Name the five most populous cities of the United States in
order of population. On what water is St. Petersburg? Dublin?
Rome? Calcutta? Cairo?

Online LibraryCharles Henry HamManual training : the solution of social and industrial problems → online text (page 7 of 30)