|Glossary Intro and Glossary Annexes|
Another example eponymous product, the Forstner bit, was named for Benjamin Forstner (1834—1897). This bit-- it forms flat-bottomed holes -- is widely used by woodworkers.
Forstner was born in Pennsylvania but migrated to Salem, Ore., in 1865, where he was a gunsmith until 1889. His knowledge of metallurgy, boring and rifling helped him develop the bit that was originally called the "Forstner Flange Bit" or the "Webfoot Auger." He patented his bit design in 1874.
Like Phillips (of the Phillips
screw-driver), Forstner turned to the great factories in New England to take his invention into full production. The Colt Patent Fire Arms Co. of Hartford, CT, manufactured the bits with a short center point and sharp cylindrical rim. Having perfected strong bits that could provide accurate boring of gun barrels and cylinders, Colt adapted Forstner's bit for drilling wood.
The Forstner bit won a prize at the Centennial Exposition of 1876 and another at the World's Fair of 1883. His business arrangement with Colt was lucrative; Colt paid Forstner a royalty for the rest of his life, and he died a wealthy landowner.
Forstner bits operate without (1) the "lead", or center screw, or, following the anatomy of a Gimlet, the "gimlet-point" and (2) cutting spur or nicker of more conventional wood boring bits. The Forstner bit proved especially useful to gunsmiths, to cabinetmakers, and icreasingly to the wider audience of amateur woodworkers who make furniture.
Sources: Philip Leon, "Name Brand Tools", Popular Woodworking, December 2006, page 104