The next subject I propose to touch on is that of
In 1831, the mention of lathes, drilling machines, and screwing machines brings me very nearly to the end of the list of the machine tools used by turners and fitters, and at that time many lathes were without slide rests. The boiler-maker had then his punching-press and shearing machine; the smith, leaving on one side his forges and their bellows, had nothing but hand tools, and the limit of these was a huge hammer, with two handles, requiring two men to work it. In anchor manufacture, it is true, a mechanical drop-hammer, known as a Hercules, was employed, while in iron works, the Helve and the Tilt hammer were in use. For ordinary smith’s work, however, there were, as has been said, practically no machine tools at all.
This paucity or absence in some trades, as we have seen, of machine tools, involved the need of very considerable skill on the part of the workman. It required the smith to be a man not only of great muscular power, but to be possessed of an accurate eye and a correct judgment, in order to produce the forgings which were demanded of him, and to make the sound work that was needed, especially when that soundness was required in shafts, and in other pieces which, in those days, were looked upon as of magnitude; which, indeed, they were, relatively to the tools which could be brought to operate upon them. The boiler-maker in his work had to trust almost entirely to the eye for correctness of form and for regularity of punching, while all parts of engines and machines which could not be dealt with in the lathe, in the drilling, or in the screwing machine, had to be prepared by the use of the chisel and the file.