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Witherby Tools


Making and Using Handtools

  The Hammer and Cold Chisel - Shop Talks with the Young Mechanics by W. H. Vandervoort, 1897

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In this series of talks it is hoped to present to the young mechanics some points pertaining to the tools with which they come in daily contact and about which they are often unable to obtain all the information necessary in order that they may use these tools correctly and efficiently.

Before starting our topic a few words of a general character may not be out of place.

The correct manipulation of metal working tools comes perfectly natural to many of our young mechanics, and they easily become expert in their use. 

It seems to be born in them, and they make good workmen no matter how poor the tools with which they work and how bad the instruction they receive; but where one such man is found there will be a dozen others who can acquire the necessary skill to be called good machinists, only after careful study and close application of the most thorough instruction.

The time required to accomplish this will depend entirely on the man and the condition under which he works.  Under favorable circumstances two to six years will be required.  The more the apprentice reads and thinks the more quickly will he master his trade.  Every apprentice should be a regular subscriber to at least one good paper treating on the subject and should read it. 

He should never fail to look over the advertising pages of each issue, as these pages constitute a perfect index of progress along the line of his chosen occupation.  The reading create thought, will broaden the ideas and put the young man in a better position to appreciate what he sees and hears.

The young machinist must keep constantly before him the two requisites of a good mechanic-accuracy and rapidity.  The first he must acquire, and if he would succeed in these days of close competition, he must couple with it the ability to product such work quickly. 

He should, above all things, train his judgment, having it continually with him, and should learn as quickly as possible the strength of the materials with which he is to deal.  This will come more by experience than by calculation and let good judgment and common sense aid in making the experience bill low.

“Observation is a great teacher.”  Therefore we should learn to observe, noting carefully the ways in which the skilled mechanic performs his work.  His thoughts must be kept continually on the work in hand, studying better and quicker ways to do it.

 He can gain the confidence of his employer in no better way than by strict attention to his work, careful observance of all regulations pertaining to the management of the plant, and a sincere disposition to do at all times his very best.  He should be perfectly free to ask questions; sensible ones, as the other kind will injure his cause.  He must be cautious about making suggestions as they are usually not thankfully received.

When the foreman gives precise instructions as to how to perform a piece of work, the instructions must be followed to the letter, even though he thinks he can do it in a better way.  He is probably wrong, but if not the opportunity to do it his way will come soon, and in such a way as to please rather than provoke, by providing the better method.

He must learn to take a hint, as the foreman may at times suggest rather than tell him that it would be best to do the other way; and above all things he must not have to be told a second time. It is bad to duplicate accidents to tools or mistakes on work, and especially so when preciously cautioned on these points.  He cannot be too neat and orderly, not only with his tools and work, but in his personal appearance.

The young mechanic should never lose an opportunity to visit other shops, as he will be sure to get some good ideas from them.  More can often be learned in some poorly equipped, illy-managed concern than in a shop running under the most perfect system, as we are often more forcibly impressed with the how not to do it, than with the how. 

A careful perusal of the trade catalogues issued by all of the leading machine and small tool builders cannot fail to be of value, as in those catalogues will be found many excellent cuts, with description of tools, and often valuable hints on their manufacture and uses.

The Hammer

The hammer and cold chisel are a noisy pair with which the apprentice becomes acquainted early in his shop experience, and his aching arms and battered knuckles tell of the introduction.

The machinist hammer, as generally used, weighs from three-fourths to one and one-half pounds, exclusive of handle.  It is made of high-grade steel, carefully tempered on head and pene (also: pein, peen, machinist's hammer)) and usually of the form shown in Fig. 1.

Learn how. Discover why. Build better.

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MF No. 2 Hand Drills


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