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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 50

How the Use of Tools is Taught

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How the Use of Tools is Taught.

The tools of a shop are not given out all at once; they are issued as they are needed, and as a rule, to all the members of a class alike.

I. Carpentry.

In carpenter work the tools used are: the cross-cut, tenon, and rip saws; steel square, try square, bevel and gauge, hammer, mallet, rule and dividers, oil stones and slips. And among edge-tools: the jack and smoothing planes, chisels, and gouges. Braces and bits, jointer planes, compass-saws, hatchets, and other tools are kept in the shop tool-closet to be used as needed.

The saw and the plane with the square and gauge are the foundation tools, and to drill the pupils in their use numerous lessons are given, varied only enough to avoid monotony. The pupil being able to plane a piece fairly well, and to keep to the line in sawing, the next step is to teach him the use of the chisel in producing simple joints of various kinds. The particular shapes are given with the intent to familiarize the pupil with the customary styles and methods of construction.

Previous to the execution of a lesson in wood each pupil is required to make a working drawing of the same in his book, inserting all necessary dimensions in figures.

The different sizes of the same tool, a chisel for instance, require different care and methods of handling, page 26 and the means of overcoming irregularities and defects in material form another chapter in the instruction to be given.

With the introduction of each tool, the pupils are taught how to keep the same in order. They are taught that sharp tools are absolutely necessary to good work.

II. Wood-turning.

Five or six tools only are used, and from previous experience the pupils know how to keep them in order. At first a large gouge only is issued, and the pupils are taught and drilled in its use in roughing out and producing cylinders and cones; then concave and double-curve surfaces; then in work comprising all these—all in wood turning with the grain. A wide chisel follows, and its use in conjunction with the gouge is taught. After this, a smaller gouge, chisel, and parting tool, and a round-point are given, and a variety of shapes are executed. Next comes turning across the grain; then bored and hollow work, chucking, and the various ways of manipulating wood on face-plates, mandrels, etc. Finally, turning of fancy woods, polishing, jointing, and pattern-work.

In connection with the making of patterns, their use is shown by brief exercises in moulding. Castings are made of lead or type metal. Though very little moulding or casting is done by the students, enough practice is given to illustrate the principles and explain the use of technical terms.

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III. Forging.

Work in the blacksmith shop is in one essential feature different from any other kind. Wood or cold iron will wait any desired length of time while the pupil considers how he shall work, but here comes in temperature subject to continual change. The injunction is imperative to "strike while the iron is hot," and hence quick work is demanded—a hard thing for new hands. To obviate this difficulty bars of lead are used, with which the lesson is first executed, while all the particulars of form and the methods of holding and striking are studied. The lead acts under the hammer very nearly like hot iron, and permits every operation on the anvil except welding.

The various operations of drawing, bending, upsetting, punching, welding, tempering, etc., are learned in connection with the fabrication of hooks, stirrups, chains, swivels, tongs, hammers, and machine tools.

One of the most difficult lessons in the art of the smith is that of managing the fire. The various kinds of heat are explained and illustrated, and habits of economy of both iron and fuel are inculcated.

Arrangements have been made to greatly extend the short courses in Moulding, Brazing, and Soldering next year.

IV. Machine-Shop Work.

In the machine shop, owing to the inevitable lack of tools, the class-work is less uniform. It is practically impossible to furnish a class of twenty students with twenty lathes, twenty planers, and twenty drills, etc., etc. The page 28 size and cost of such a shop puts the matter out of discussion; the cost of the tools in the present shop exceeded $5,000, exclusive of the engine and shafting.

Nevertheleas, the instruction is given with an approach to regularity; the practice is as uniform as the tools will allow. The course includes chipping, filing, polishing, turning, drilling, boring, screw-cutting, scraping, planing, etc., and all the details of fitting and finishing.

During the second term the members of the class, either singly or in groups, enter upon the construction of their projects for finished work.

Throughout the year a detail is made from each shop-division to study the management of the engine and boilers, under the direction of a competent engineer.

Five upright steam engines of about five horse-power each, the work of the students, were set up and run by the members of the graduating class in June last.

[Extract from the Report of the Director, June, 1883.]

"The construction of machines as extensive as these engines you just saw run has been at the expense of more uniform class-work, and it is quite possible that next year we shall aim more at instruction and less at construction. During the year, the second-year class have forged one hundred tools for the turning shop, seventy for the machine shop, forty-six tools for the forges themselves (including forty pairs of tongs), and other outside jobs, making a total of two hundred and eighty tools or jobs, exclusive of regular exercises, and not included in the work on exhibition. A word of warning may be necessary to those who have been chiefly interested in the development of our tool instruction. The time spent in shop-work has never exceeded two hours per day, unless the page 29 boys have voluntarily remained after hours, that is, after 3:20 o'clock, for additional practice. Moreover, from these two hours should be subtracted fully fifteen minutes for washing, dressing, etc. A week, therefore, represents less than nine hours of actual work in a shop. Hence, in placing a value upon the time spent, as men count time, you should remember that a "day's work" is all the boys have had per week. For carpentry and wood-turning they have had three hundred and eighty hours, or thirty-eight days; in blacksmithing three hundred and eighty hours, and in machine-shop work, three hundred and eighty hours. They are thus boys of very limited practice, and while they ought to have an intelligent idea of tools and their uses, of the laws of mechanism, and of the properties of wood, iron, steel and brass, we ought not to expect finished work from their hands."