I cannot put an earlier date on metal lathes but I do recall that at the
Geddy House foundary at Colonial Williamsburg, VA they have, or had, a metal
lathe. Given CW's extensive historical crafts research that would have made
them available in 1770...
It depends on what you mean by 'metal lathe'. If you mean a lathe used to turn
metal, then they go back at least to the 15th century. However those looked just
like heavy duty wood lathes. Up to the end of the 19th century a lot of metal
turning was still done on lathes that looked like that, often turned by a foot
If you mean a lathe that looks like what we think of as a metal lathe, with lead
screw, crossfeed tool holder, apron, change gears, etc., then you're talking
about something that evolved throughout most of the 19th century and continues
to evolve today.
No. but what's "ancient" ?
Given a quick look, I (and most others with an interest) can quite
easily date a lather from about 1890 onwards, just by looking. There
were a whole range of innovations, both in features to be used, and in
techniques for how lathes were made.
If you have any interest in the history of engineering or machine
tools, find a copy of LTC Rolt's classic "Tools for the Job".
I've seen #147 at rural auctions numerous times, and it has always
been described as a tool to use on heavy chains to "un-kink" or
straighten stubborn chain links. The two pointy finger-like
extensions are supposedly placed over the holes in the adjacent kinked
chain links and the tool's flat surface (the base the tool is standing
on in your photo) is hit with a hammer, the blow forcing the links to
straighten. Never used one or saw one in action, but enough
auctioneers have described the item's use as above, that I tend to
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.