Document 17: Judson Mansfield Woodworking Machines 1852-1952

Overview: Woodworking Industries in the Factory System

Judson Mansfield, the author of the 1952 article (reprinted below) was an engineer (in the woodworking machinery component of the ASME). Reprinting Mansfield's address below -- given originally before his colleagues at the ASME meetings in 1952 --  gives me the opportunity of capturing an authoritative voice outling briefly the background on the development of power woodworking machines that ultimately became the models developed in the 1920s for the amateur market.

By the mid-1920s, J D Wallace, Boice-Crane, and other prominent figures in the ASME were developing power tools suidtable for the home workshop market. Before the home workshop market came into play for these manufacturers, opportunites for sales of smaller-scaled power woodworking machines existed in the home building industry. See more here.

Initial Development of Powered Woodworking Machinery

Machinery, driven by water or steam power, appeared first in England, in the late eighteenth century. [link to planer] In America, in the first half of the ninenteenth century America, the registation of patents for power woodworking machinery woodworking machinery were registered at a frequenst pace.

By 1850, the American woodworking machinery industry was the envy of the world. As evidence, I am reprinting fragments from published hearings of investigations conducted by British Parliamentary committees in the 1850s:

In 1852, Joseph Whitworth -- a noted nineteenth-century British machine tool builder -- toured some American industrial areas. What impressed him was America's shift toward labor saving machinery, especially woodworking machinery.

...While it was evident that the British technology of metalworking was superior to the American, the American woodworking technology, in testimony before a British Parliamentary Committee, in Whitworth's view, was superior. In those districts of the United States of America that the Committee have visited the working of wood by machinery in almost every branch of industry, is all but universal...

Source: Joseph Whitworth, Special Report (1853)

Two years later, in 1854, another British engineer, John Anderson, led another group of people dispatched by another Parliamentary Committee, also charged with investigating the American woodworking machinery industry. The second group visited many of the same establishments visited by Whitworth. Impressed, Anderson's report included descriptions of woodworking machines and their operations.

...In no branch of the manufacture does the application of labour-saving machinery produce by simple means more important results than in the working of wood....

Source: Report of the Committee on the Machinery of the United States of America (1854)

This is classic account of the construction and operation of woodworking machines: 

1872 John Richards  A Treatise on the construction ... of Wood-working MachinesLondon: Spon,, 1872

Now, Fast Forward to the 1920s:

Writing in Mechanical Engineering in 1920, Thomas Perry, manager of a Michigan veneer works, noted,

Woodworking, one of the oldest civilized trades, is now one of the largest industries in the United States. It is doubtful whether any group of modern manufactures gives evidence of less scientific knowledge of its products.3

Source: Thomas Perry, "The Engineer and the Woodworking Industry: A Great Industry in Which There Exists an Urgent Need of Engineering Skill," Mechanical Engineering 42 1920, page 448.

Another mechanical engineer, B. A. Parks, echoed this sentiment a year later:

The woodworking industry is one of the oldest industries extant, and yet it has shown the least development and has been the slowest to adopt modern principles of manufacturing of any industry of which the writer has knowledge.

Source: B. A. Parks, "Engineering in Furniture Factories," Mechanical Engineering 43 (1921), page 85.

[Working on this part] Other engineers reiterated Perry's and Parks' belief that American wood-working was devoid of scientific engineering knowledge.

To rectify this problem, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers established in 1925 a Wood Industries Division, which served, in an attempt to bring woodworking up to par with other production industries, to focus mechanical engineers' attention on all aspects of woodworking technology.5 [5.Thomas D. Perry, "The Wood Industries," Mechanical Engineering, 52 (1930), p.434. Between 1919 and 1925, when the Wood Industries Division was created, ASME published many papers concerning woodworking under the name of the Forest Products Section.]

These sharply contrasting views of American woodworking technology, expressed some seventy years apart, demand explanation. Were the assessments of the British visitors of the 1850s accurate, and if so, how can one explain the absolute or relative decline of American woodworking after the 1850s? Could one argue that the British were too sanguine or that the mechanical engineers of the 20th century were too caught up in the rhetoric and ideology of efficiency and the movement to eliminate waste?

Unfortunately, despite its importance in the history of American technology, indeed in the history of American material culture, the mechanized woodworking machine industry has received but scant attention.

Accepting the Whitworth and Anderson reports at face value, Nathan Rosenberg has left us with the notion that America's rich endowment of timber helps to explain its "rise to woodworking leadership" in the period 1800-1850.[left off here]

Document 17: Judson Mansfield's ASME Address, "Woodworking Machinery 1852-1952 -- History of Development from 1852 - 1952",

American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Fall Meeting of the AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS, September 8-11,


Source: Mechanical Engineering: The Journal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Dec 1952, pp 983-995.


THREE companies, organized before 1852, and a fourth founded in 1854, are still manufacturing woodworking machinery. - The H. B. Smith Company of Smithville, N. J., was founded by H, B. Smith who built his first wood-working machine in 1832 for use in his cabinet-making shop because the machinery manufacturers would nor build what he wanted. 

These machines were found to be superior to those on the market and led to his forming the H. B. Smith Company, specializing in building woodworking machines with iron frames or bases cast in one piece. The company has been operated continuously by members of the Smith family. At present its president is Mr. Earl J. Smith. Part of the data used in compiling this paper are taken from a bound volume of the New Jersey Mechanic, a house organ published by them in 1870 and 1871, Baxter D. Whitney & Sons, Inc., of Winchendon, Mass., was founded in 1837 by Baxter D. Whitney. Mr. Whitney's father owned and operated a woolen mill. Young Baxter's first business venture was in the repair shop of the mill building machinery for manufacturers of wooden tubs and pails. 

mansfield figure 1

In 1837 he built sixteen looms for weaving cashmere, but Apparently the machines for tub, pail, and chair manu­facture attracted him to the woodworking-machinery business. Fig. 1 shows his first cylinder planing machine. Mr. William M. Whitney, a direct descendant of the original Baxter D. Whitney, is now president of that company.

In 1893 the J. A. Fay & Company, founded in 1841, combined with the Egan Company, organized in 1874, to form the present J. A. Fay & Egan Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. The J. A. Fay & Company operated several plants, and while it has been in continuous operation, the management has not remained in one family group as has the H. B. Smith and Baxter D. Whitney companies.

The S. A. Woods Machine Company of Boston MA, founded in 1854, has continuously manufactured a line of  planers, matchers, flooring machines, and molders, later adding a variety of circular saws, band resaws, saw-filing and gumming machines, tenoners, chain mortisers, and automatic variety lathes.


An 1860 catalog of the J. A. Fay & Company illustrates 73 woodworking machines, 6 metalworking machines, 6 portable steam plants, 8 stationary steam engines, noiseless fan blowers, grist mills, and rubber and leather belting.

Fifty of the 73 woodworking machines used frames built up of hardwood with metal brackets and the remaining 23 were of cast iron. Those listed are as follows:

Planing and matching machines, Fig. 2, cylinder planers, Daniels planers, molding machines in several sizes, tenoners, blind slot tenoners, power mortisers, scroll saws, vertical single-blade resaws, Fig. 3, circular resaws, saw tables, railway cutoff saws, boring machines, multiple-spindle routing and boring machines, spoke-forming lathe, dowel machines, turning lathes, molding and shaping machines, and saw arbors.

These early machines had either built-up wood frames with cast brackets, bearing yokes, and soon, single-piece cast frames or several cast-iron pieces fastened together by screws or bolts. All bearings were either of babbitt metal cast around arbors in the bearing housings, or holes bored and reamed in the casting which were sometimes brass-bushed for higher speeds, but frequently the shaft ran directly in the reamed hole.

Cutter spindles and rotating parts were driven by flat belts, limiting both the speed and power available, Heavy sur­facers and matchers usually were driven by pulleys mounted at both ends of the cutterhead arbors. Gears and racks had cast teeth which were smoothed by hand with a file or formed grind­ing wheels, Bearings were lubricated by wicks or oil reser­voirs filled with wool waste. Designs of many of these machines were worked out in the pattern shop without the aid of drawings other than a general layout. Patternmakers in those days were a combination of machine designer and pattern maker.

These early machines went into mills, mostly powered by water wheels, belted or geared to line shafts, which transmitted the power throughout the plant. The individual machines were driven from these line shafts by tight and loose pulley countershafts, either built as part of the machine, or located on the floor or ceiling close by. One mill, in its advertising, stressed the point that it had available 370 hp generated by a water wheel.

The gearing used in connecting the water wheels to line shafting consisted frequently of a cast bevel gear running with a mortised-type gear, in which hickory or maple teeth were in­serted in pockets cast in the rim of the wheel, the teeth being formed to proper shape by hand, The men who kept these wheels in repair were about "tops among the mechanics of that day and their prestige was considerable.


>The discovery of gold in 1849 in California and the west-ward movement of settlers created an enormous demand for covered wagons, carriages, and carts, which was further stimu­lated by the Civil War. This demand far exceeded the ca­pacity of the local wagon builders and blacksmiths, and many new factories were started. Certain sections of the country built up a reputation for types of wagons such as the "Conestoga" covered wagon of western prairie fame, and one writer claims that our present slang name of "stogie" for cigars had its birth in one of these communities. The wagonmakers there smoked strong black cigars and, because they worked on Conestoga wagons, were frequently called "stogies," and the name has clung to this,, particular type of cigar for nearly a century.

The Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Ind., celebrates 'its centennial this year. It was eight years, or 1860, before that company became a manufacturer and stocked its wagons and carriages, which previously had been built to order only, partly because of lack of capital for the purchase of machinery.

During this peak demand for vehicles, machines were developed for special operations for the various units making up the wagons such as wheels, axles, reaches, neck yokes, and metiers. Ingenious machines were built for operations such as boring, turning, and mortising the hubs; turning, tenoning, and shaving spokes; also for truing. and finishing up the wheel assemblies. Other machines were felloe-bending, boring, planing, sawing, and sanding machines. Fig. 4 shows an automatic hub-turning machine. An automatic double-spoke tenoning, mitering, and pointing machine, Fig. 5, is another typical example.

Other manufacturers were bringing out machines suitable for the sash and door and furniture trade. The first single-end tenoners were marketed about 1850, and were wood-frame ma-chines with arbor-bearing yokes, slides, brackets, and table-wheel .rails of cast iron, Fig. 6(a). The machine proved very valuable and was soon replaced by machines which were en­tirely of metal, Fig: 6(b), By 1866, the original double-end tenoner, shown in Fig. 7, was patented and exhibited at the Centennial Exposition of 1876.


Baxter D. Whitney built the first practical cylinder planing machine before 1850, and in 1866 introduced a new type, dis­played at the 1867 Paris Exposition, where it received a silver medal and became known as the "Silver Medal Planer," Fig. 8. This supplanted the company's first planer, Fig. 1. Designed into this Silver Medal Planer were such features as the upper and lower wedges for support and adjustment of the bed, still standard in all heavy planers now in production, thus proving the soundness of the original design.

These cylinder planing machines replaced the earlier fixed-knife roll-feed machines and the Daniels planer, Fig, 9. The fixed-knife planer was like a large hand plane except for the addition of power-driven feed rolls moving the work past a stationary knife or bit.

On an improved Daniels planer, Fig. 10, the cylinder cutter-head was set at an angle producing a shear cut eliminating to some extent tearing of cross-grained wood. The roll-outfeed return is shown swung out of the way of the platen to which are dogged the planks to be surfaced. Fig. 11 shows an early endless-bed double-surfacer patented July 19, 1881, A top and bottom feed roll carries the stock clear of the machine, as the. endless bed stops just ahead of the bottom cutterhead at the rear end of the machine.

Cutterhead speeds on these early belt-driven machines ran at about 4000 rpm which was the maximum that could be ob­tained with belt drives. Spindle pulleys had to be held to about 41/s to 5 in, so that the centrifugal force of the belt around the pulley would not significantly reduce the grip be­tween the belt and pulley.


In 1866, identical-twin brothers, Robert and Ralph Greenlee, formed the Greenlee Brothers & Company in Chicago. Wil­liam B. Greenlee, son of one of the original founders, is at present chairman of the board of the plant which was moved from Chicago to Rockford, IL, in 1903 and 1904.

One of their early inventions was the hollow chisel mortiser, Fig. 12, exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in 1876 where it created interest second only to the famous Corliss engine. Other early machines developed by the brothers were spur-feed self-feed ripsaws, sash and blind relishing and mortising machine, dash and door clamp, and railway carshop machinery.


The earliest log saw on record is the pit or drag saw. A recent travelogue of Central Africa showed two natives sawing a log by this method.

The blade is of such length as to accommodate two men, the log being located over it pit. One man, the top sawyer who is "boss man," stands on top of the log and guides the saw while his assistant, the pit man, is beneath the log and helps run the blade up and down, cutting the boards off at a rate of 100 to 20() ft per clay. The expression "top sawyer," meaning the best nun or boss, was derived from this pair of workers.

The first recorded improvement in this type of saw was the addition of a stiffening frame, with members passing on each side of the log in which it thin blade was fastened under ten­sion. The thin blade cut less kerf and pulled much easier. This type of frame was soon provided with. vertical ways sliding up and down on stationary uprights and reciprocated by power. The log or hoard was advanced by power-driven rolls, or a ratchet feed, eliminating the heavy physical work.

The modern design of this old saw, in which several saw blades arc mounted, provides one of the fastest and least waste­ful methods of converting small and medium logs into lumber.


The first indication of circular saws in this country is the importation of a rather large blade from England in 1814, for use in a log mill. These circular saws Caine into general use between then and 1860. Fig. 13 shows an early circular roll-feed resaw, and Fig. 14 a hand-feed large railway saw for 'cutting large timbers and wide built-up units such as car doors. Band saws were in use but with considerable blade breakage until those of Swedish steel were available in 1870.

Rapid expansion of railroads and the completion of the first transcontinental road in 1869 required a large number of cars. These cars were largely constructed of wood with steel truss rods in the underframe. Many of the workmen who went to the harvest fields of the West rode these rods under freight cars as a means of cheap transportation, and the expression "hitting the rods" is a slang phrase of many years' standing.

To fill the demand for car parts, heavy machines of large capacity were designed, consisting of multiple-spindle boring machines, gainers, mortisers, tenoners, and saws.

The multiple-spindle borer, Fig. 15, was built with three or four vertical and one or two adjustable spindles which could be set at any angle up to 45 dcg, either side of vertical. All spindle's adjusted in and out over the work table. The number of spindles was largely determined by the number of different-sized holes to be bored in the average work. These holes were located by templates laid on each work face with projecting pointed metal pins. A hammer blow on each pin marked the location of the hole, and it-was up to the operator to remember the size of hole for each location.

Often a car borer, mortiser, and gainer, Fig. 16, were set up as a group to operate on one table so that all operations on each member of a car-body frame could be completed in one handling. These tables were power-driven and fitted with stops, which could be set lengthwise of the table, for the loca­tion of various mortises, tenons, and holes.

The heavy double-end tenoncr, Fig. 17, was developed and built for car work with a capacity of 12-in. X 12-in. timbers 12 ft long. This tenoner is the largest-capacity machine ever built, and, of course, was belt-driven from a tight and loose pulley countershaft. Since heavy timbers are no longer used in the frame construction of cars, this machine has been off the market for many years.


In sash and door plants the replacement of mortised and tenoned doors by those assembled with dowel pins created a demand for special machinery developed for this construction. The "three and one" rail borer, gluer, and dowel drive, Fig. 18, with hopper feed, saves material and eliminates two han­dlings of the work. Stile borers, panel raisers, clamps, sanders, and self-feed ripsaws increased over-all plant efficiency.

Self-feed ripsaws, feeding 400 !pm, are set in gangs to cut out the planks to the widths used for various sash and doorparts. Rollers hre incorporated in the machine for returning the board to the feeding end of the machine for subsequent cuts, and for delivering the dimensioned pieces to conveyers. From the ripsaws, these long strips are conveyed to the cutoff departmeut where they are cut to required lengths after re-moving knots and other defects. The short pieces of waste are conveyed to a department where cores for door stiles are as­sembled from pieces as small as 1 in. X 11/4 in. X 6 in. These arc glued up between full-length scrips a/Id in. thick. This method of manufacture is economical and uses a lower-grade material without affecting the quality of the finished part.

This technique has been brought ro its present state of perfec­tion, largely, by plants located in the Mississippi River Valley.


The stands of fir and pine timber in the Pacific Northwest, where logs of up to 6 and 8 ft diam are not unusual, required development of large sawmills. One of the mills in Washington has a foot-long slice off the top of the stump of a fir tree which is about 12 ft, 9 in. in diam and had 586 an­nual rings at the point of cut, showing ,it was a seedling in 1320. There are two large firs still growing which are to be left until they reach a natural death or are accidentally de­stroyed by lightning or fire. Both of these firs are now over 10 ft in diam.

mansfield figure 2

[Mansfield's figure 20 image was bad -- over-xeroxing -- so I substituted this, older, image, of the Newberry 1808 bandsaw.]

Double circular sawmills, Fig. 19, were developed to handle these large logs. Mills with 72-in lower and 36-in upper blades are about the largest built and would remove a sub­stantial kerf, as the saw blades had to be thick enough to make a heavy cut without vibration.

The need of a more efficient and less wasteful method was apparent and, in 1869, the first large log band mill was built. This was still running in 1923. Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company of Milwaukee brought out its first large band mill, Fig. 20, in 1885, which had 9-ft-diam by 8-in, face wheels, the upper one being built of wood for lightness. Four years later mills with 8 and 9-ft wheels were being made entirely of iron. In 1896 Allis-Chalmers' first electric-driven mill was set up including a 9-ft band mill running a 14-in-wide saw which was driven through gears by a 100-hp electric motor. Sawmill carriages with rope or direct steam feeds, Fig. 21, set works, edgers, slashers, Fig. 22, cutoff saws, steam-feed jump saws, and complete log and lumber-conveying systems were developed for mills handling as much as 150,000 ft per day.

Fig, 23 shows a mill containing one band mill with 11-ft­diam wheels and two with 9-ft wheels.

The efficiency and quality of work produced by either the circular or band mills depended on the skill and knowledge of the plant "saw' filer." The term saw filer is probably a misno­mer, as most of these saws are and were sharpened on special grinding machines and not filed at all. The tracking and smooth running of the blades arc accomplished through proper tensioning by either hammering or rolling. These so-called saw filers, usually one or two in a plant, were very important men. The service of those with good reputations was often obtained by outbidding the company in whose employ they had been.

The author was named after one of these saw filers who worked in the mills on the Mississippi Valley near Clinton, Iowa, in the last half of the nineteenth century.


Quality of finish of the surface of lumber produced by sur­facers, molders, matchers, and machines, using cylindrical heads, is controlled by a number of factors. The type and diameter of cutterhead, speeds, knife cuts per inch, cutting angle, and amount of joint on the knives are all important.

About 1900, experiments in grinding and jointing of knives, mounted in the cutterheads while in the machine, were tried out and proved superior to the previous method of grinding the detached knives and clamping them in the heads as accurately as possible. The improvement in the quality of work was so great that the grinding and jointing method was adopted and is still standard practice. The surfacer, Fig. 24, has a built-in grinder bar and slide, to which a motor-driven grinder is mounted, for sharpening the knives. Following the grinding, the motor is replaced by a jointing stone. The cutterhead is run at its rated speed, and the knives arc jointed by drawing the jointing stone, back and forth, over the full length of the knives. The stone is adjusted to remove a very small amount of metal from each knife, but to bring all cutting edges into a true circle.

Jointing gives assurance that each knife, regardless of the number, will perform its share of shaving removal, producing a well-finished and relatively smooth surface with uniform depth and width for all knife marks. This, of course, is only true when the head bearings are snug and in good shape. Jointing knives opened up a new approach to good workmanship and greater output. Increased feeds could be obtained by increasing the number of knives in heads, and machines were built and operated with as many as 20 knives mounted in heads on an 11-in. cutting circle. However, most of the machines now use heads with 4, 6, or 8 knives.


New methods of manufacturing steel increased the output and reduced the cost of this material to a point where it re-placed wood for structural purposes. In 1897 no freight cars were built of steel. Of 137,000 freight cars built for freight service in 1901, 20,000 were either all steel or had steel struc­ture. This trend has continued and today no heavy wood-working machinery is built for carshops, and practically all cars, both freight and passenger, are metal throughout.

In the late 1880's and early 1890's, far-reaching developments were under way, such as the use of electricity for street light­ing and operating streetcars. This was the beginning of our present method of power distribution and has affected life in general,' and machine design in particular, more than any pre­vious factor.

By 1906, direct-current motors running 720-900 or 1000 rpm were being used coupled direct to machine countershafts.; A machine thus driven individually could be located in the most desirable position in regard to work flow, as it no longer was necessary to place it in relation to lineshafting which was often inconvenient and clumsy.


Another development of this time was our early automobiles. Free-running high-capacity ball or roller bearings, occupying small space and mounted in light dirtproof housings, were necessary for the successful dperation of autos. These early trouble-free and hardened-steel sealed bearings were brought to the attention of wood-shop operators, resulting in their trial for woodworking machinery. Long bearing life, less frequent lubrication, cleanliness, and case of replacement were a few of the advantages which brought about their rapid acceptance. Shorter, stiffer spindles and bearing housings, occupying less space, were all made possible by the use of ball bearings.

Ball-bearing arbors were first furnished as a desirable feature on jointers, to special order, as early as 1908. ,By 1923 they were available as standard equipment on most woodworking machines.


In 1909 thin high-speed knives mounted in circular cylin­ders, for jointers, surfacers, and molders began to appear. The safety of these, when used in jointers, was aggressively advertised and their use has saved many fingers and hands. The thin knives were locked in the cylinders by various de-signs of gibe and clamp screws, eliminating the danger of the broken knife bolts which were required with the thick knives previously used on the old square-type heads.


Early auto bodies were built up of wood frames covered by light sheet-steel panels. The wood parts were of curved con-tours built up with special glue joints. The car manufacturers were constantly looking for more and better machines de­manding special types for many of the peculiar operations re­quired in standard body structure. The demand for machinery was further increased when closed bodies became popular, and lasted until the late 1920's when all-steel bodies replaced the composite construction.


The alternating-current electric motor, with no sliding parts other than the bearings, came on the market about 1919, The first of these motors used on woodworking machines were mounted direct on cutterhead arbors equipped with babbitt bearings. Bearing wear required adjustment to maintain the proper air gap between the rotor and stator and complicated the motor mounting. Ball bearings eliminated the necessity of this adjustment and their long life and other advantages were soon apparent.


Machines with cutter spindles mounted on ball bearings and driven by direct-mounted motors eliminated the use of belts which previously controlled the amount of adjustability of spindles. The self-contained motor-driven unit may be mounted for adjustment in any direction and can be quite compact. The comparison of the latest belted double-end termer and the motor-driven double-end tenoner, Fig. 25, with that in Fig. 7 clearly shows the advantages. Between 1920 and 1930 nearly all woodworking machinery was rede­signed for the incorporation of ball bearings and shaftless motors. Early users of these machines had considerable to learn about their operation and maintenance and, peculiarly, one of the hardest things to teach them was not to over-lubricate the bearings. Some manufacturers recommended. lubrication not oftener than once a month, but usually if a bearing showed any heat the first thing tried was to load it full of grease or oil, which only increased the temperature, until the excess lubricant was forced out of the housing. Today "sealed for life" ball bearings have eliminated this trouble.

In the United States 60-cycle alternating current is standard except in a few localities. The 60-cycle current permits motor speeds of 3600 rpm maximum and multiples thereof ranging through 600, 900, 1200, and 1800 rpm. These speeds are theoretical and when the motor is loaded usually drop 3 or 4 per cent. The 3600-rpm motors therefore actually run about 3450 to 3500 rpm when fully loaded.

Most cutterheads when belt-driven ran from 4200 to 5000 rpm. Experience has shown that satisfactory results usually can be obtained at 3450. These results are made possible by the better bearings, more rigid construction, jointed knives, and ample power in the spindle.


Vertical spindle shapers require high speeds up to 10,000 and 12,000 rpm. The electrical manufacturers brought out a frequency changer which. could be placed between the 60-cycle power line and the driven motor, modifying the frequency of the current so that motors could be run at any practical speed. Vertical-spindle shapers are usually equipped with 7200-rpm motors, while surfacers and molders were frequently run at 6000 rpm.

The availability of any desired speed, with ample power, provided designers with a new device. Some advocated high speeds with one or two knives in the head, not jointed. Others maintained that slower speeds and multiple knife heads, properly jointed, were the best. This controversy has never been fully settled, but most of our current woodworking machines are run with 60-cycle current at 3450 rpm.

High speed, above 6000 rpm, increases mechanical difficulties such as proper balance, ball-bearing lubrication, and cuts down bearing life. If the speed is pushed too high, the advantages in quality or quantity of work do not justify the added main­tenance costs.


Each motor, mounted on the machine, required its control for starting, stopping, or reversing. When the frameless motors first came out they were smaller than their control cabinets. For single-motor machines the size of the control was unim­portant, but when eight to a dozen motors were used, finding space in the machine for the controls became a problem. On these early machines controls frequently were mounted in cabinets hung on the wall or suspended from the ceiling, Electrical manufacturers soon brought out new controls, smaller in size, and arranged for group mounting so that cabinets may now be incorporated in the machine bases pro­viding dustproof-type enclosures acceptable for maintenance and checking.


About 1923, the first woodworking machines were built in small sizes for hobbyists by a company in Milwaukee.

Today these small-type machines are manufactured in several sizes in almost unlimited quantities at prices such that many people equip basement shops as a hobby. They have proved so valuable that many manufacturers use them for making small parts.

Following along this development, portable electric-motor­-driven tools for many of the operations formerly performed by hand in the building trades have been developed. All of these are equipped with ball bearings, light in weight, and very practical.


A new-type belt drive made its appearance about 1930 in the rubber V-belts. These now can be had with cotton, nylon, or steel cords, matched for length when used in multiples, rind carefully balanced. This has permitted the designing of molders and other machines requiring different spindle speeds, and has eliminated the necessity of a frequency changer in the higher ranges. The steel-cord belts operate without any stretch, and all three types are a valuable contribution to our power-transmission systems.


Electrification of machines with high speed and rigidly supported spindles has permitted greatly increased feeds and produces excellent smooth surfaces, The planer and matcher, Fig. 26, is one of the later developments and will run up to 1000 ft provided the feed and discharge facilities are adequate. Fig. 27 shows the handling method at the infeed end of one of these matchers, consisting of disk chains, automatic tilting and loading hoist, transfer chains, and automatic feeding table.

Where molders are used running short lengths of work, hopper feeds are provided and the use of conveyers incorporated wherever possible.

In every line of manufacture, moving work materials through the plant requires as high as 25 per cent of the manpower em­ployed; consequently, everything is being done to reduce material handling by adopting mechanical conveyer systems. Rough-mill rooms in furniture plants are set up with conveyers between the cutoff saws, ripsaws, and surface planers. In some casts the work is fed to the machine by the conveyer without an operator. In many sash-and-door plants an ob­server will note hopper feeds, by which the work is auto­matically returned to the operator's position.


Automatic shapers with large rotary tables fitted with automatic air clamps, Fig. 28, will produce an amazing amount of work.

Ideas taken from the metalworking field, such as the V-ways of a lathe or metalworking planer, have been used for straight-line motion in double-end tenoners and straight-line ripsaws, improving the quality of work over the old style side-guided chains.

In the ripsaw, joints are produced suitable for gluing, thus saving in handling and eliminating the unavoidable losses of glue jointing. Fig. 29 (Hermance) shows the first chain-feed straight-line ripper built in 1911 and still running. Fig. 30 is one of the latest Mattison machines.

The double-end tenoner is probably the most versatile ma-chine used in the woodworking industry. These machines can be had with innumerable attachments such as the dado at­tachment, both stationary and jump; relishing attachment; scoring-saw units; cam-operated shaping attachment; win­dow-frame and sill-horning attachments; dovetailing attach­ments, and holdback chains for multiple cutting. The exhaust system for handling shavings is furnished as a regular part of the machine, saving considerable time in setting up and starting production on the machine. In one instance, only 3 hours were required to take a tenoner off a flatcar, con­nect It up both electrically and to the blower system, and get it in operation.

Carbide cutters have made a place for themselves and, when properly applied, run almost indefinitely without sharpening. Their use in saws and knives will increase as their qualities gain wider recognition.


The many outstanding qualities of wood: its availability almost everywhere, its ready workability, its high strength/-weight factors, its warmth and beauty, to mention only a few, have established wood as the most universally valuable raw material in the forward march of human progress. Our homes and our home furnishings are mostly of wood; much of our music is derived from instruments of wood, as is the major part of our sports equipment. Outside the home wood is adaptable to a myriad of useful applications. This ap­preciation of wood has grown over the years, and the best is yet to come.

Woodworking machinery has kept abreast of this amazing growth. The active and alert management of this industry can be relied upon to maintain, and even to accelerate, the rate of progress shown during the past century. Future wood-working machines will be more economical and efficient than they have ever been before.


The author sincerely regrets that this survey of 100 years has permitted the mention of only a few important types of woodworking machines, among the many in use. He is equally regretful that space prevents giving deserved credit to many of the members of the Association of Manufacturers of Woodworking Machinery, as well as to others whose ac­complishments are equally worthy of mention.

The author's appreciation is extended to the many manu­facturers of woodworking machinery who have so generously given of their time in preparing brief histories of their com­panies, and in furnishing past catalogs and circulars from which many of the data of this paper have been taken.