[Chapter IV][p. ]
Woodworking and Metalworking Tools
America or England
The adz is a frequently maligned tool, usually accused of having produced the scored marks seen on the exposed beams in old houses. Such marks were actually made either by a broadax or by a felling ax; the adz, properly used, functioned as a plane and left a smooth surface on the face of a wood joist, sleeper, or beam. In his Mechanick Exercises Joseph Moxon left no doubt that the adz was used as an intermediary between the ax and a plane. He stated that the adz was used "to take thin chips off Timber or Boards, and to take off those Irregularities that the Ax by reason of its Form cannot well come at; and that a Plane (though rank set) will not make a riddance enough with."1 More than one hundred years later, in 1812, Peter Nicholson's description of the adz's function was basically the same.2
Moxon described the adz as a "carpenter's" tool, but early-nineteenth-century English tool catalogues show variations for use by coopers, carpenters, shipwrights, and wheelwrights.3 Henry Mercer maintained that the adz was used primarily by shipwrights.4 One example with a spur poll, illustrated here as A, is similar to an adz described as a "shipwright's" on page 27 of Eric Sloane's A Museum of Early American Tools. The only distinguishing feature of the shipwright's adz in tool catalogues, however, is one of size. It was otherwise identical to the carpenter's adz (B) and both were shown with large octagonal peg polls. A catalogue of edge tools published in 1863 by the Douglas Axe Manufacturing Company shows "Ship Adzes" with a "Flat Head" or "Spur Poll."5 Perhaps, as Sloane suggests, the spur poll was an American innovation. A contemporary depiction of adzes in use by ship carpenters [p. 44] can be seen in a series of views drawn by W. H. Pyne, published in London in 1808. The polls on their adzes appear to taper like a spur.6 Moreover, the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century examples manufactured by Sargent and Company and described as "carpenters" and "railroad" adzes bear no peg polls at all; they are simply flat, rectangular, solid polls.7 The only adzes illustrated in Diderot's Encyclopédie are in the carpentry section and bear no resemblance to those found in England or America.8 It is likely that there were as many forms of adzes as there were nations, regions, and different types of craftsmen requiring them.
Adz B bears the stamp T. AUSTIN in a rectangle. This type of stamp, the octagonal peg poll found on early-nineteenth-century examples, and the slight chamfered-edge decoration of its handle probably place the tool within the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The cast-steel adz (A) probably dates from the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Another example in the collection (57.26.230) is similar to the carpenter's adz pictured here, but it has a shorter handle and blade and a narrower cutting edge (29 5/8 by 9 3/4 by 3 1/2).
Adz handles were never firmly secured to the blade head because the blade had to be removed in order to be sharpened. The metal socket and handle were both tapered, therefore, and it was a relatively simple matter to reverse the tool and force the blade over the smaller portion of the handle to remove it. By 1869 the fact that each craftsman required various forms of adz blades, all of which had to be used on separate handles, led Peter H. Bradley, of Portland, Maine, to patent an improved adz. His invention consisted of a two-piece blade that could be pressed together over a handle and held in place by a plug. Perhaps the weakness in his design was the plug, which he stated was "not liable to be thrown out." Whatever the reason, his invention did not take hold.9
Description A: Length, 43 3/16; blade length, 10 1/2; blade width, 5 7/8. Hickory handle; cast-steel blade. B: Length, 33 1/2; blade length, 11 1/2; blade width, 4 1/2. Hickory handle; cast-steel blade stamped T. AUSTIN in rectangle. Both adzes probably purchased originally by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.26.84, 57.80.2.
Nose or Downcutting Auger
A notch, partially visible at the lower end of the blade, gives the nose auger its name. Before these augers could be used, a preparatory hole was started by a gouge or center bit of the same diameter.10 When a hole was bored, the blade had to be withdrawn to discard the shavings.
Great strength and pressure were needed to turn these large augers when boring wide and deep holes. For that reason many augers with wide blades have a loose handle inserted through a ring, or an eye, atop the shank, rather than a tang piercing the handle and clinched over it as in Number 3. There has been some dispute about when the ring and loose handle came into use. Phineas Cooke's spiral auger of 1770 used the device, but it also appeared in a ship's carpenter's auger found at Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Ocean. The auger had been left by a Dutch expedition of 1597.11 This type [p. 45] obviously existed, therefore, before Nathaniel Dominy IV began his career about 1760.
The initials ND were punched into the shank of this auger, indicating ownership by Nathaniel Dominy IV. The original handle may have been replaced early in the nineteenth century by his son, Nathaniel V.
Description Length, 25 5/8; blade diameter, 1 11/16; handle width, 18 1/2. Iron eye, shank, and cutting blade; soft-maple handle. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV or Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.103.
Nose or Downcutting Auger
The auger was an important tool for carpenters and wheelwrights. It enabled them to bore holes of a width and depth impossible to achieve by using lighter wood-boring tools such as the brace and bit or gimlet (Nos. 20, 39).12
Cutler and Company, of Sheffield, England, describes this tool as a "Shell" auger, and their catalogue, published about 1833 to 1837, advertised eleven diameters for the tool that ranged from 1/2 inch to 2 inches. Other contemporary sources merely refer to this slit-nosed form as an "auger," as a "carpenter's" auger, or, with a longer pod, as a "ship carpenter's" auger.13 The notched spoon blade, with one projection sharpened to form a "nose" in profile and the other projection bent upward to clear and hold the shavings from the hole, is not seen in eighteenth-century illustrations.14
In addition to the examples illustrated (Nos. 2, 3, 4), three other nose augers used by the Dominy craftsmen have survived. These range in length from 14 3/8 to 27 1/4 inches and have cutting edges with diameters of 1 1/8, 1 1/4, and 1 7/16 inches. One of these (57.26.110) has a shank stamped S. HORTON inside a serrated rectangle.
The handles used on each of the three nose augers illustrated are different. In this example the auger's tang pierces a narrow cylindrical section flanked by circular, tapered handgrips similar to the handle shown on a screw tap illustrated by André Jacob Roubo (see p. 139). This handle also bears some resemblance to one used by Ezra L'Hommedieu for his patented screw auger of 1809. That handle, however, had a more pronounced concave-shaped handgrip with much rounder ends and a shorter, thicker central cylinder.15 The early type of handle, plus the long three-piece iron shank, helps to date the tool in the last quarter of the eighteenth century.
Description Length, 22 3/8; blade diameter, 1/2; handle width, 10. Iron blade, shank, and tang; hickory handle. Purchased and used by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.105.
Nose or Downcutting Auger
England and America
It took considerable skill to use an auger properly. Nowhere is that made so evident as in a description of the tool furnished by James Smith about 1815 or 1816:
The largest of the boring tools for wood, is the auger. The oldest construction of the auger, which is yet in common use, in various parts of the country, cannot be wrought till a small excavation has been made, which is mostly done with a gouge, at the place where the hole is to be; and till the auger arrives at a considerable depth, the motion of it is very unsteady. This old auger is shaped like a gimblet, except at the point, which is like that of a nosebit.
Everyone who makes use of an auger in the usual way by hand, knows by experience that he never can so completely exert his strength in this operation, as when he bores down perpendicularly, with his body leaning over his work; and it is very evident by every degree of the auger's elevation from this situation, his power is of less effect, consequently his labor is increased, and his work so much retarded, that in the former position he can bore four holes for one in the latter. In the hand boring, also, the unsteady and irregular motion of the auger, (particularly when the common old-shaped one is used), at its first entrance into the wood, occasions the holes to be bored very crooked, often larger without than within, and very wide of the direction aimed at, especially if the wood proves hard and knotty, and the holes are deep.16
Smith's description gives evidence of another tool for preparing the starting hole—the gouge—and also shows that the nose auger was still commonly used in the nineteenth century. It was not until the last quarter of that century that the spiral auger completely superseded the older form.17
This nose auger may be earlier than the dates indicated. The conjoined initials ND are stamped twice on the handle and are also chiseled into the shank just below the handle. These initials are Gothic, however, and the handle is of a later, lathe-turned type. These clues probably indicate purchase of the auger by Nathaniel Dominy V. The initials WR over E are also stamped on the shank and are of a type used by Birmingham toolmakers to mark their products.
Description Length, 20; blade diameter, 17/16; handle width, 17 1/8. Steel blade, shank (stamped ND and WR over E), and tang; American white-oak handle stamped twice ND. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.106.
The double-podded center-screw auger with twisted shank, patented by Ezra L'Hommedieu in 1809, was not the first spiral auger. It was, however, so great an improvement over earlier types that its special position in the history of tools is well justified. In 1770 Phineas Cooke received 30 guineas from the English Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce for his invention of a spiral auger, undoubtedly the first of its type.18 Cooke's auger, however, used a double-worm gimlet starting screw, and it cut on only one sharpened bottom edge of the blade's twisted shaft.
James Smith gives a number of reasons why Cooke's auger had not superseded the common nose auger by 1816:
This auger is not commonly used, but it pierces the wood much truer than the common one; no picking is necessary before it can be wrought, nor does it require to be drawn out to discharge the chip. It is, however, better adapted to the boring of soft wood than hard. Its use being on this account more limited than workmen like, besides its being not cheap in its first purchase, and if not made of good metal and very carefully tempered, easily changing its form, it will probably not regain the character it once acquired. The general disadvantage of augers with gimblet points, is, that when they encounter knots or hard places in the wood, they are apt to break.19
L'Hommedieu's auger terminated in a thick screw worm, not as easily broken, and had two sharpened cutting lips. In his patent specifications, he stated:
The auger at the end of which enters the timber has a screw in the centre which supercedes the necessity of a gouge. The auger as its name implies is made with two pods directly opposite to each other and at the extremities of each pod next the screw are two sharp lips, for cutting the timber. The auger may be made of any dimension. The shaft and handles like those in common use otherwise at the pleasure of the owner. The great superiority of this auger over any other in use consists in its being more strong and durable, in turning much easier, boring faster and drawing out of the hole with more ease.20
The augers illustrated have double cutting lips and thus date after 1809. Conjoined initials ND were cut into the shank of A, and separated initials were stamped on the shank of B. Also stamped on the latter is PEIRCE xx W, probably the maker's name. On the auger at the right, a large split running [p. 48] with the grain of the handle is seen near the shank, and an equally great crack appears on top of the handle. This crack suggests the disadvantage of piercing an auger handle with a tang and clinching it on top.
More spiral augers survived in the Dominy tools than any other kind. Twelve examples, ranging from 1/2 inch to 1 7/8 inches, are not illustrated. Their popularity in the nineteenth century would substantiate their acquisition by Nathaniel Dominy V, but the only reference in Dominy accounts to an auger is to "1 Screw Augre" acquired on February 23, 1791, from Deacon David Talmage.21 Early nineteenth-century English catalogues refer to spiral augers as "screw" augers, and it is entirely possible, therefore, that Nathaniel IV owned one which was similar in design to that of Phineas Cooke.22 If so, it has not survived. Spiral augers similar to those in the Dominy woodworking shop can be seen in Figure 175 of Henry C. Mercer's Ancient Carpenters' Tools.
Description A: Length, 23 5/16; cutter diameter, 1 3/8. Steel eye, shaft, and cutter, with initials ND cut into shaft. B: Length, 18 7/8; cutter diameter, 1 3/4; handle width, 17. Steel eye, shaft, and cutter, ND and PEIRCE xx W stamped on shaft; hickory handle. Both probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57:26.96, 57.26.90.
New York City or East Hampton, N.Y.
Awls were owned by a variety of craftsmen. The bradawl with its cylindrical shank and chisel-shaped edge was used by joiners and carpenters.23 Moxon described this tool as a "Pricker" and stated that in "vulgar usage" it was called an "awl."24 The term "bradawl" was certainly applied by the early nineteenth century, being used in Joseph Smith's Explanation or Key, to the Various Manufactories of Sheffield (1816), Nos. 546 and 547.
Woodworkers used the bradawl to push aside wood fibers without splitting them. This was especially important to rural craftsmen like the Dominys in applying decorative moldings to cabinetwork and in attaching the moldings with sprigs. The tool was also useful in making starting holes for the flat-ended screws in use during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It came in assorted sizes, as evidenced by the fact that four other bradawls, larger and smaller than the two examples illustrated, were included in the Dominy Tool Collection.25 Bradawl A was intended for heavier work; a square hasp at the juncture of the shank and handle prevents the blade from being pushed upward into the handle under pressure. The device is illustrated [p. 49] in an English tool catalogue of about 1818 with a circular, tapered, belaying-pin-shaped handle.26 The octagonal-shaped handle, favored by the Dominys for tools dating about 1790 to 1810, probably places A about a generation earlier than B.
Two scribe, or scratch, awls used by the Dominys to mark the surface of wood with guide lines are not illustrated in this catalogue. With thin cylindrical shanks tapering to a sharp point, they resembled a modern ice pick. In the Dominy shop they were probably referred to as "marking awls."27
Description A: Length, 6 1/2. Steel blade; American white-oak handle. B: Length, 5 3/4. Steel blade; hickory handle. Both probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.132, 57.26.592.
America or England
It is evident from four surviving broadaxes that earlier examples owned by Nathaniel Dominy IV had been repaired too often to be of further use to Nathaniel V. Between 1786 and 1805 their manuscript accounts record at least ten instances of "mending" or "new-laying" an edge on axes, including five specific references to broadaxes.
Many modern authors regard the broadax as a specific chisel-edged tool, "more than twice the size of a felling axe," "used for hewing round logs into square beams."28 The Dominys and their contemporaries, however, apparently used the term "broad axe" for a wide range of large axes of diverse size, shape, function, and origin. Apparently the Dominys owned more than one size of broadax, because in 1805 Abraham Hedges, Jr., a blacksmith, was credited with 1 shilling to "Harden &c Sm1 Broad Ax," a clear implication that at least one of their other broadaxes was larger.
An eighteenth-century book written by Edward Hoppus to aid estate appraisers in valuing objects for inventories lists "Four sorts of Felling Axes" from 1 shilling 5 pence to 2 shillings, "Four sorts of House Axes" from 2 shillings 6 pence to 3 shillings 6 pence, and "Four sorts of Lopping Axes" from 17 shillings to 24 shillings a dozen.29 Unfortunately, these axes are not described or pictured. The list may have been chiefly representative of the early eighteenth century because later English tool catalogues, for example, Joseph Smith's (1816) or Cutler and Company's (about 1833 to 1837), show twenty-four and twenty-three different types. At least one catalogue shows a group of ax heads similar to those of the Dominys' under the heading of "Carpenters Broad Axes."30
Eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century craftsmen's use of a general term for a group of multipurpose axes makes it difficult to determine how the Dominys' axes were used. There are clues present, however, that afford some clarification. The broadax with the curved handle (A) was probably used to fell trees. Shortly before 1808 W. H. Pyne shows English woodsmen using this type of ax, as well as the heavier wedge type, for "lopping off branches from timber."31 Perhaps "lopping ax" would be a better term to describe it. Its blade is knife edged, the eye is symmetrical, and the replacement handle is that of a late-nineteenth- or early-twentieth-century felling ax. The nature of the handle suggests that Nathaniel Dominy VII (1827–1910) or Charles M. Dominy (1873–1956) continued to use it for the purpose for which it was originally made. The heavy poll is split near the eye, an indication of heavy use. On it is stamped COLLINS / HARTFORD / CAST STEEL / WARRANTED. Collins and Company, founded in 1826, were the first to supply American markets with cast-steel axes, and they also made other edge tools at their Connecticut plant.32 This ax, therefore, was probably made in the second quarter of the nineteenth century.
The ax in the center of the picture (B) was used for hewing or squaring logs into beams. It is chisel [p. 50] edged (bezeled on one side only), the rear side of the eye is thicker than the side shown, and the handle is bent at an angle to protect the user's hand from grazing against timber being hewn. Its characteristics fit the definitions of a broadax given by Edward Knight and Henry Mercer.33 The handle is most likely original, and the blade of iron with steel facing indicates probable origin in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.
An ax like C is referred to by Mercer as a "Knife-Edged Broad Axe." It has a perfectly symmetrical eye to receive a straight handle and a cutting edge bezeled on both sides of the blade. It is identical, however, to a type described as a "Kent" ax in Joseph Smith's tool catalogue and is very similar to a Kent ax shown in Wildung.34 This tool would have been useful to the house carpenter and millwright for hewing beams and rafters and to the wheelwright for rough-shaping stock. Since Nathaniel Dominy V practiced all three crafts, this would have been a particularly useful ax. Its blade is stamped I. CONKLIN, probably the name of the firm that made it in the second quarter of the nineteenth century.
One other broadax used by the Dominys has survived (57.26.284). It is knife edged and was probably a felling ax; its blade, stamped J. FORDHAM / SAG HARBOR / CAST STEEL / WARRANTED, measures 12 1/4 by 6 1/2 inches. All the broadaxes discussed here fit into the category of bench axes commonly used in the early years of this century. Axes of the shape pictured, with cutting edges from 4 to 7 1/2 inches and single or double beveled, were called "Bench Axes" by Sargent and Company. Their "Broad Axes" had cuts ranging from 11 to 13 inches and were available in "Western" or "Pennsylvania" patterns. In 1863 the Douglas Axe Manufacturing Company, East Douglas, Massachusetts, made broadaxes in "New England, New Orleans, Ohio & Western," and "Pittsburgh" varieties.35 The precise terminology applied to hand tools, as well as specific functions, still presents a largely unresolved problem.
Description A: Handle length, 32 1/4; blade length, 11; blade height, 6 3/4. Hickory handle (replacement); cast-steel blade stamped COLLINS / HARTFORD / CAST STEEL / WARRANTED. B: Handle length, 22 7/8; blade length, 11 1/2; blade height, 6 1/4. Hickory handle; iron blade with steel face. C: Blade length, 10 7/8; blade height, 7 1/4. Cast-steel blade stamped I. CONKLIN. All probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. C, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.26.231, 57.26.82, 57.80.3.
Carpenter’s Paring or Socket Ax
This unusual ax has defied classification. No illustration or description of a similar tool has been found, and no positive identification could be given by members of the Early American Industries Association at their fall meeting in 1959 or in 1964 when they met at the Hagley and Winterthur Museums.36 This ax would have been useful to carpenters, shipwrights, and wheelwrights. The Dominys did very little ship making or repairing, however, and it was probably used by them for carpentry or wheelwright work.
Plate I of the section of Diderot's Encyclopédie illustrating the work of the wheelwright shows a "beginning" or "fitting" ax (Illus. XV), which evidently made the first rough cuts before an adz was used to produce a curved surface on wood stock.37 The shank of the Dominys' ax is much longer, however, and the two forms are probably unrelated. It has been suggested frequently that this tool may have been used as a mortising ax or that it was used to trim mortises.38 If so, the cut would be quite wide, almost 6 5/8 inches, and very deep because of the great length of the shank and blade, 23 1/4 inches. There is no evidence that the curved area just above the decorative notch at the left of the blade, or any other part of the tool, has ever been struck. Instead, all evidence of use appears around the chisel edge and at the opening in the iron shaft (top left) into which a handle was fitted.
The bearer of the initials IC, stamped inside a shield, has not been identified; but the stamp design helps to date the ax as having been made in the early eighteenth century. Nathaniel Dominy III, the probable owner of the ax, is described in deeds as "a carpenter," as discussed in Part One.
It has been suggested that this ax was used to trim the edges of boards by "letting the ax drop of its own weight, and twisting the handle from side to side."39 It is true that the weight and balance of the ax is concentrated in the blade so that, when lifted, it would fall of its own accord.
In Der Odenwald (June 2005), pages 65-75, Professor Karl Azzola illustrates very similar carpenter’s axes on late Medieval stonecrosses, dating ca. 1500, near Hesselbach, Hesseneck Township, Odenwaldkreis, Germany. The Joseph Greber Collection, Decorative Arts Photographic Collection, Winterthur Museum Library, contains a photograph of a wood-carved drawing printed in a Carmelite manuscript at Vilvoorde, near Brussels, Belgium. It shows a carpenter paring or truing-up the edges of a floor board. The carpenter is using a tool identical to catalogue no. 8. Letters to the author from Art Shaw, July 18, 1979, and Edward Ingraham III, July 23, 1983, also confirm the tool as a paring or socket axe.
Description Handle length, 9; overall length, 23 1/4; blade length, 7 5/8; blade width, 6 9/16. Iron blade stamped IC inside a shield. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy III. Museum accession: 57.26.280.
Bench or Workbench
East Hampton, N.Y.
This is a superb example of the eighteenth-century joiner's bench. Its main surface is made from a solid piece of red oak more than 12 feet long, 17 1/2 inches wide, and 5 1/2 inches thick. A supplementary board, 10 3/4 inches wide and 1 3/4 inches thick, provides a wider work surface. The window on the wall behind the bench faced east, admitting light from the rising sun and providing sufficient light for the craftsmen to work into the early part of the afternoon. Its location and size indicate that this was undoubtedly the most important of the three benches in the Dominys' woodworking shop. Nathaniel Dominy III was a carpenter, and this bench may have been in the shop when Nathaniel IV began his career. For that reason, and because of details of its construction, it has been dated in the third quarter of the eighteenth century.
Moxon describes the workbench as a "tool," and this was perhaps the most useful of all their tools for holding and gripping boards being planed, sawed, or shaped with a chisel. Several features of the Dominys' bench are similar to those illustrated by Moxon in 1703 and later by Roubo about 1769.40 These include a board catch (between the mallet and plane), called a "Hook" by Moxon. The serrated-edge iron hook is imbedded in an adjustable, rectangular wood block similar to that shown in Figures 5 and 6 of a plate from L'art du menuisier (Illus. XVI). A tap with a mallet served to raise or lower its height. This device was used "to lay Boards or other Stuff flat against, whilst they are Trying or Plaining." Its function is clearly shown on the benches of the two workmen at the left of Roubo's view.
Moxon's bench employed either a single- or a double-screw vise. The simple handgrip screws of Moxon's example have been replaced on the Dominys' [p. 54]
Interior view of a woodworker's shop. From André Jacob Roubo, L'art du menuisier (Paris, 1769–1775), III, Plate II.
The Dominys used a sophisticated variant of this practice with a board that slid on a 4-foot-long track. This enabled them to vary the distance from the vise according to the length of the board and gave support precisely where needed. Between the upper rail of the track and the bench drawers is a grease container that pivots on a screw and can easily be drawn out when needed. That useful device is shown as Figure 7 in Roubo's plate.
In colonial America it was customary for a woodworker to build his own workbench. In rural areas it was not unusual for farmers or other noncraftsmen also to need a bench, and on January 26, 1773, Nathaniel Dominy IV billed Nathan Conkling, Jr., 10 shillings for a "joiners bench." It was probably small because on September 15, 1796, Nathaniel V charged Jonathan Baker 7 shillings "To cut pair of bench screws." A bench that cost only 3 shillings more than "screws" could not have been very large.
Description Length, 148 1/4; height, 29 1/2; depth, 28 1/4. All parts of red oak. Made by Nathaniel Dominy III or Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.367.
Bench or Workbench
East Hampton, N.Y.
On the west wall of the Dominys' woodworking shop were two smaller workbenches, each placed in front of a window to receive light from the midafternoon and evening sun. The bench not illustrated (57.26.368) is almost identical to this one except that it is slightly larger, has a sliding board support, and also has a hole bored in its top to receive a holdfast.
It is possible that this example may be the oldest of the Dominys' benches. The board supports are stationary, as shown in Moxon, and the large hole in the leg under the vise board may indicate that [p. 56] the bench originally had a single-screw vise mounted vertically, as pictured by Moxon and Roubo.41 At least one change was made in the bench design: holes for supporting boards were originally bored into the far leg of the bench. An extra vertical board support, designed to accommodate stock under six feet long, was obviously fitted into the stretcher and bench top as an afterthought.
To the right of the vise board can be seen a grease cup. The board catch, or "hook," has been taken from its hole and placed between a plane and a burnisher. Although the catch fits its hole snugly, its height above the surface of the bench can be easily adjusted with a few taps of a mallet. All three benches are lower than the medium height of 32 inches mentioned by Nicholson and are not anywhere near the waist-high height noted by Mercer in his discussion of the carpenter's bench.42 This might indicate that the Dominy craftsmen were short. A more logical explanation is that much of the work accomplished on the bench required the application of arm and hand pressure—more easily applied when the bench surface was lower. Even so, modern craftsmen would be quite uncomfortable leaning over these benches.
Description Length, 77 3/4; height, 28 7/8; depth, 31. Red-oak top and legs; white-oak stretcher. Made by Nathaniel Dominy III or Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.369.
East Hampton, N.Y.
These button bits were used by the Dominys to scribe, cut, and smooth bone, horn, and wood buttons. Forced into a hand brace of the type shown in Number 20, they were held in place by pressure. Their outer spurs scored and cut the circumference of the button. Sharp chamfered edges between the spurs and center pin smoothed the button surface just before the spurs cut through and released it.
Although they have been described as "button bits," no mechanic's handbook or tool catalogue published before the middle of the nineteenth century depicts this form.43 The contemporary illustration most like it appears in a French turner's manual of 1792, where it is described as a form of English center bit.44 It is shown without spurs and is similar to C, which is stamped FD.
Between 1773 and 1822, Dominy accounts record the making of 356 buttons and 1,708 button molds. The Oxford English Dictionary describes the latter as wood disks to be covered with cloth for buttons. Since the Dominys' customers often paid for their products with clothing, the bits were probably used by the craftsmen to provide buttons for their own use. The bit not shown has a cherry-wood shank with a wrought-iron shaft and cutter.
Description A: Length, 5 3/16; bit diameter, 9/16. Soft-maple block; steel shaft and bit. B: Length, 5 1/2; bit diameter, 9/16. Birch block; steel shaft and bit. C: Length, 6; bit diameter, 7/16. Soft-maple block stamped FD; steel shaft and bit. D: Length, 7 5/16; bit diameter, 19/32. Hickory block; steel shaft and bit. A, B, and D probably made by Nathaniel Dominy V; C made by Felix Dominy. Museum accessions: 57.26.159, 57.26.156–157, 57.26.155.
Chair, Pin, Quill, or Spoon Bits
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
In late-eighteenth- or early-nineteenth-century tool catalogues, these bits are called "chair," "spoon," "quill, or "pin," interchangeably. Tool A, for example, is described as a "chair" bit and was available in 3/8- and 5/8-inch sizes.45 Although the end of this bit is bent upward, its name describes its function perfectly; it was used by the Dominys to drill holes in chair stiles to receive the round tenons of arm supports, seat rails, and stretchers. The stop provided by the wood shank prevented a hole's becoming more than 1 1/4 inches deep. A chair made by the Dominys, and displayed in the reconstructed woodworking shop at Winterthur Museum, has holes measuring exactly 5/8 of an inch in diameter and 1 1/4 inches in depth.
The long-shafted bit (B), made of a few pieces of iron welded together, was used for a special purpose—in a restricted space, for example—where the brace would be difficult to turn if a short block and shank were used. One other spoon bit (57.26.178) survived in the Dominy Collection. Its block is cherry, and it is 4 7/8 inches long with a cutting diameter of 1/16 of an inch.
During the nineteenth century the terms "gouge" and "spoon" came to be used for these bits in literature dealing with the history of tools. Gouge bits were defined as an open half cylinder sharpened at the end of the blade like a gouge. Spoon bits were generally bent up at the end of the blade to make a taper point.46 These distinctions for what are basically variants of the same design have been maintained and are useful. It should be remembered, however, that the distinction was not made by early craftsmen or toolmakers.
Description A: Length, 14 1/6; bit diameter, 5/8. Pear block; iron blade and shaft. B: Length, 21 1/2; bit diameter, 3/8. Pear block; iron blade and shaft. C: Length, 9 9/16; bit diameter, 1/4. Apple block; steel blade and shaft. D: Length, 8; bit diameter, 7/32. Hickory block; steel blade and shaft. E: Length, 6 3/4; bit diameter, 1/8. Hickory block; steel blade and shaft. All probably made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.163, 57.26.166, 57.26.164–165, 57.26.173.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
A countersink bit was used to enlarge the upper part of a previously drilled hole so that the head of a bolt, rivet, or screw could be sunk flush with, or below, a wood or metal surface.
"Rose hd Countersinks" is the name applied to the two bits, A and B, by an English tool catalogue printed on paper watermarked 1798.47 At least three other English catalogues of the early nineteenth century also illustrate rose-headed countersinks.48 Mercer refers to the two examples at the right as "plug centre bits," apparently using as his source Charles Holzapffel's Turning and Mechanical Manipulations published in London in 1846.49
Three other countersink bits owned by the Dominys, in diameters of 3/16, 5/16, and 1/2 inch, have survived. These bits may have been supplied by local blacksmiths because, on separate occasions in 1788 and 1791, Nathaniel IV purchased center bits and "Screw-Box Bits" (No. 107) from Deacon David Talmage.50
Description A: Length, 5 3/4; bit diameter, 5/8. Beech stock, steel shaft and bit. B: Length, 6; bit diameter, 1/2. Tulip block; steel shaft and bit. C: Length, 6; bit diameter, 3/8. Hickory block; steel shaft and bit. D: Length, 5 3/8; bit diameter, 5/16. Soft-maple block; steel shaft and bit. All made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.145, 57.26.144, 57.26.158, 57.26.162.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
According to Wildung, the gimlet bit was used to drill pilot holes for wood screws. This is probably a valid explanation of its use.51 Certainly the bits shown must have been used in hardwoods (if not metal) for, with one exception, the blades have all broken above their starting twist.
Although the tool is referred to as a "gimlet" bit by Mercer, its eighteenth- or nineteenth-century name is not clear.52 The design remained consistent; apart from hand-wrought shafts and wood shanks, it does not differ appreciably from gimlet bits made in 1901.53
Description A: Length, 11 3/4; bit diameter, 1/8. Hickory block; steel shaft and bit. B: Length, 7 1/16; bit diameter, 3/32. Soft-maple block; steel shaft and bit. C: Length, 9; bit diameter, 3/16. Hickory block; steel shaft and blade; iron ferrule. D: Length, 7 5/16; bit diameter, 5/32. Hickory block; steel shaft and bit. E: Length, 13 3/16,,n; bit diameter, 1/8. Hickory block; steel shaft and bit. All probably made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.174, 57.26.176–177, 57.26.175, 57.26.172.
Nose or Wimble Bits
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
These hand brace bits are related to the nose, or downcutting, auger (Nos. 2-4).54 The projecting lip, or notched blade, seen most clearly on C and E, allows wood shavings to accumulate in the spoon, or hollow portion, of the bit. The shavings had to be removed frequently from the hole cut by this tool. Consequently, they were probably the least efficient of all cabinetmakers' bits.
Bits of this type are shown in several contemporary English tool catalogues. They are called "nose bits" by Belcher and Hunter but in the Book of Patterns they appear as "wimble bits."55 The latter was apparently a generic term used in the eighteenth century to denote tools used for boring holes, such as a gimlet, auger, brace, or bit.56
Description A: Length, 13 9/16; bit diameter, 5/8. hickory block; steel shaft and bit. B: Length, 12 5/8; bit diameter, 1/4. Hickory block; steel shaft and bit. C: Length, 12 5/8; bit diameter, 7/16. Hickory block; steel shaft and bit. D: Length, 10 7/16; bit diameter, 1/4. Apple or pear block; steel shaft and bit. E: Length, 5; bit diameter, 5/16. Hickory block; steel shaft and bit. All probably made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.171, 57.26.170, 57.26.169, 57.26.167–168.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
In his Cabinet Dictionary Thomas Sheraton stated that a complete set of cabinetmaker's bits amounted to "near four dozen."57 Reamer bits would undoubtedly have been included, and these examples are evidence that the Dominys had use for this type of tool. Their purpose was to widen, or ream, previously drilled holes.
The more precise machining of the reamer blade at the left of the illustration relates it to English examples such as the bit shown in the Book of Patterns. It was probably used by the Dominys on soft metal such as brass and on hardwood. An obviously rough, hand-wrought blade characterizes the reamer at the right; it was probably made by a local blacksmith.58 One other reamer bit (57.26.194) survived in the Dominy Tool Collection; it is similar to the bit at the right but about one-half its length.
Description A: Length, 8 11/16; bit diameter, 1/4. Hickory block; steel blade, probably English. B: Length, 9 7/8; bit diameter, 1/2. Hickory block; iron blade. Both made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.153, 57.26.152.
There is an obvious relationship between the spiral bit and the spiral auger (cf. No. 5). The history of the development of a twisted blade, providing the advantage of boring a hole faster and straighter while removing wood shavings at the same time, is discussed above under the auger.
All the Dominys appreciated the efficiency of spiral bits. Seven examples used by Nathaniel V and his son Felix have survived. It is evident from the number of late examples that their handymen descendants replaced early bits with improved spiral forms.
English tool catalogues of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries carried no illustrations of spiral bits. This suggests that the Dominys obtained these examples from American toolmakers. As late as 1880 Knight noted that "twisted drills are in much favor among American mechanics, but for some reason are not so popular in Europe."59
Of the five examples illustrated, all but one were twisted from a single bar of steel and probably all had starting screws originally. The blade of D has been broken, and it is impossible to know whether or not it had a starter screw. It is the only one made [p. 62] from steel wire in the group and is probably the latest in date.
Description A: Length, 8 3/4; bit diameter, 5/8. Dogwood block; steel shaft and blade; copper-wire ferrule. B: Length, 9; bit diameter, 9/16. American-beech block; steel shaft and blade. C: Length, 10 3/4; bit diameter, 7/16. Dogwood block; steel shaft and blade. D: Length, 8 9/16; bit diameter, 1/4. Hickory block; steel shaft and blade. E: length, 5 1/2; bit diameter, 1/4. Soft-maple block; steel shaft and blade. All probably made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.179, 57.26.186, 57.26.183, 57.26.187, 57.26.184.
From the number of unidentified tools in various collections it can be deduced that craftsmen occasionally made special-purpose tools for particular tasks. These tenon-cutting bits are examples of the type of implement for which no illustration or document can be found.60
It is evident that they were used as bits because the shanks are tapered to fit a brace. Tool A has two metal cutters with the sharpened edges parallel to the opening. The other bits have a number of fine saw teeth cut into their metal shafts. All three will cut only with a clockwise motion. The bits illustrated, A-C, are designed to cut round wood plugs 3 3/4, 4 1/8, and 2 1/2 inches long respectively.
Various suggestions have been made regarding the purpose of these bits. Perhaps the most pertinent is that they were used to produce the round tenon, or dowel, at the end of stretchers, arm supports, spindles, and other parts of chairs made by the Dominys. The center bit (B) fits the tenon of an arm support for a slat-back chair made by Nathaniel Dominy V, while the lower bit (C) fits the side-stretcher tenon of the same chair. A plug, or dowel, only 3/8 of an inch in diameter could be cut by A, and it may have been used for parts of chairs made for children. That type of chair is mentioned in the Dominys' accounts, and because its parts were proportionally smaller it required smaller tenons.
Description A: Length, 10; cutting edge diameter, 3/8. Hickory shaft; steel cutter. B: Length, 11 9/16; cutting edge diameter, 3/4. Ash shaft; steel cutter. C: Length, 11 7/8; cutting edge diameter, 11/16. Hickory shaft; steel cutter. All made by Nathaniel Dominy V. A, Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.93.64, 57.26.143, 57.26.142.
Brace or Bitstock
A similar tool in a plate in an English catalogue has the caption "Gentlemens Iron Braces" (see Illus. XVII).61 Such a designation in a period when the term "gentlemen" was seldom applied to craftsmen is intriguing.
One side of the pad of this brace has the initials ND stamped with a circular punch, a mark usually identifying Nathaniel Dominy IV. However, the similarity of this brace to one in a catalogue of the late eighteenth century (they are almost identical), plus its Australian blackwood or rosewood cap, would seem to indicate that it was purchased no earlier than 1790 and probably later. Although Nathaniel IV lived until 1812, it is likely that the original purchaser was his son.
A thumbscrew for securing bits in the pad is missing. The Dominys probably did not have much use for iron braces. An earlier example, late seventeenth or early eighteenth century (57.26.16), also survived in the Dominy Tool Collection. It is62 Apparently woodworkers preferred a wooden brace with a pad that permitted a rapid transfer of bits. Only three bits for these braces survive, probably an indication that few were purchased.
Description Length, 9 7/8; cap diameter, 2 5/8. Iron pad and shaft, pad stamped with initials ND; Australian blackwood or rosewood cap. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.17.
Braces or Bitstocks
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries this useful tool was known by at least three names: Joseph Moxon refers to it as a "Piercer"; advertisements in colonial newspapers and authors of how-to-do-it manuals such as Nicholson and Smith call it a "stock"; and English tool catalogues refer to the form as a "brace."63
The Dominys and other contemporary craftsmen used this tool to hold various types of bits in the manner illustrated. It operated as a crank to enable a worker to drill holes with greater speed and continuity than possible with a gimlet or auger.64 Steel ferrules protect the edges of the pad where pressure from the bit would cause a tendency to split the wood. Heavy pressure often caused wooden braces to split, and if one looks closely at the frame to the left of the cap, a large break can be seen. It was mended with a brass plate, screws, and copper rivets on the underside. Both tools show the wear of hand pressure and rubbing. On brace A, Nathaniel Dominy V used a die to stamp DOMINY in a serrated rectangle above the date 1802.
Brace B is unmarked but was probably made earlier by Nathaniel IV. Although its design appears similar to that of nineteenth-century brass-plated, spring-catch wood braces made in England in large quantities, it is actually close to the design of a brace dated by R. A. Salaman as mid-eighteenth century.65 Its ferrule (one is missing) is made of iron, rather than steel. Although only 1 5/8 inches longer than the 1802 example, its wood frame is thicker and heavier. In making this brace Nathaniel IV used a typical craftsman's device of the eighteenth century: nonessential surface was discarded for both a useful and a decorative or aesthetic effect. Thus the deep chamfering of its edges heightens the effect of its curved surface without compromising the tool's strength, producing an object that is utilitarian and beautiful.
Three other wood braces (57.26.19, 57.26.21, 60.354.2) used by the Dominys have survived. Two of these are of the English brass-plated, spring-catch type seen in English tool catalogues and illustrated recently by Wildung.66 One of these braces (57.26.19) is stamped MOULSON and was made in Sheffield by the Moulson Brothers between 1828 and 1841.67 Although it is generally thought that braces strengthened by the addition of metal parts [p. 65] were introduced in the nineteenth century, they were actually in use during the last decades of the eighteenth century. The Annapolis, Maryland, cabinetmakers, Shaw and Chisholm, advertised in 1773 that they had imported "Neat brass mounted stocks with 36 bits for each."68
Description A: Brace length, 13 1/4; cap diameter, 2 5/16; bit length, 8; blade diameter, 7/32. Beech stock stamped DOMINY in serrated rectangle and 1802; hickory cap; steel ferrule; apple bit head; steel blade and shaft, probably English. B: Brace length, 14 7/8; cap diameter, 2 1/2; bit length, 9 9/16; blade diameter, 1/4. American-beech stock; American soft-maple cap; iron ferrule; apple bit head; steel blade and shaft, probably English. A made by Nathaniel Dominy V. B made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Bits probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V (see No. 12). Museum accessions: 57.26.18, 57.26.165, 57.26.20, 57.26.164.
BURNISHER AND SCRAPER
East Hampton, N.Y.
Burnishers and scrapers were inseparable tools because, like the brace and bit, they worked together in woodworking. By grasping the handles of the burnisher and pushing its steel rod over the scraper's blade, a razor-sharp burr on either side of the blade could be produced. The scraper was especially useful to cabinetmakers in finishing the surface of mahogany or other curled or cross-grained hardwood. As explained by James Smith in 1815 or 1816, the penultimate process in preparing hardwood surfaces employed a "tooth-plane," with a blade set in a stock in order to present an almost perpendicular edge of fine teeth to the wood: "With this kind of plane, however hard the stuff may be, or however cross and twisted its grain, the surface may be made every-where alike, and will not be rougher than if it had been rubbed with a piece of new fish-skin. This roughness may be effectually removed with the scraper, which is a thin plate of steel, like part of a common case-knife, the back of it being let into a piece of wood, as a handle."69
Mercer states that craftsmen of the early nineteenth century made scrapers from broken saw blades, citing as evidence a reference in J. Stokes's Complete Cabinetmakers' and Upholsterers' Guide.70 Although scrapers of the type illustrated here were manufactured in quantity in England,71 there are many reasons to believe that this scraper and its burnisher were made by Nathaniel Dominy V. The scraper's cutter was originally a saw blade, and its soft-maple handle is stamped in a serrated rectangle (see No. 31).
Smith's reference to the use of fishskin as an agent for rubbing the surface of wood is an interesting confirmation of other late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century references. Sandpaper is not mentioned in Dominy accounts until 1815, when Nathaniel V credited Abraham Hedges with 6 pence for a supply of it.72
Description A: Length, 3 1/8. Soft-maple block stamped DOMINY in serrated rectangle; steel blade. B: Length, 10 3/16. Soft-maple handles; steel rod. Made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.206, 57.26.121.
This tool was constantly used by wood turners to check the diameter or thickness of stock being turned on a lathe. The example illustrated could very well date between 1750 and 1775. The cyma and reverse-cyma curve and incised line decoration typify the efforts of eighteenth-century toolmakers to beautify their products. The half-round lower sections of the arms have obviously been wrought from rectangular bar stock visible on the upper part of each arm. Note, too, that the contact surfaces of the arms are smooth and broad, enabling them to ride on the surface of turning wood without scoring or tearing.
The design of this caliper most resembles one illustrated as Plate 10, Figure 2, in Hulot's L'art du tourneur mécanicien (Paris, 1775). The author describes it as "un compas d'épaisseur simple" (a simple compass for measuring thickness). The fact that the Dominys' example does not resemble calipers illustrated in Salivet, Diderot, Mercer, or English tool catalogues may support the belief that it was made during the second quarter of the eighteenth century.73 The initials AK are stamped on one arm of this caliper, but they have not been identified.
Description Length, 4 11/16; width (closed), 1 1/8. Steel arms stamped AK; iron rivet. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.44.
America, Probably East Hampton, N.Y.
The Dominy accounts contain several references to customers who paid debts with walnut, sassafras, cherry, or "appletree" logs. Because logs had to be felled, moved, and shaped for milling, a cant hook was necessary for the moving operation. It is not surprising to find that the Dominys owned one. By setting the wrought-iron hook (which swings loosely in a mortise) in a log and applying pressure to the handle, they could roll a log in whatever direction was desired. This example is unlike the group shown in Mercer, and no cant hook is pictured in eighteenth- or early-nineteenth-century sources.74
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest use of the term "cant hook" occurred in America in 1848. An 1833 view of the Smith and Dimon Shipyard in New York City, painted by John Pringle, shows four workmen with cant hooks near a huge log being cut by two laborers with a whip (crosscut) saw.75 The shapes of their cant hooks are quite similar to that of the Dominys.
Description Length, 50 1/2; hook length, 11 1/2; shaft width, 2 1/4; hook width, 1 3/8. White-oak shaft; iron rivet, hook, and washer. Made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV or Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.260.
Mortising, Firming, and Paring Chisels
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
These eleven chisels are a majority of the seventeen that survive in the Dominy Tool Collection. Split and broken handles are evidence of their abuse by later generations of Dominys who probably used hammers instead of mallets to strike the handle ends. That abuse resulted in short lifetimes for many Dominy chisels when coupled with natural attrition; most eighteenth-century chisel blades were formed of a thin layer of steel heat-welded to iron, and the layer frequently had to be replaced. These factors probably account for the preponderance of early-nineteenth-century chisels in the collection. By that time only large or inexpensive chisels were made of steel and iron.76 For example, the only cast steel used in the large socket-firmer chisel (K) is on the cutting edge and cutting face, as is clearly shown by the split, or division, just above the edge.
Mortise chisels (A-C) cut rectangular holes into which tenons were fitted, as where a rail might join the top part of a leg on a case piece of furniture or chair. In some instances (for example, the cant hook shown in No. 23), the mortise hole was merely a receptacle for some moving part. The shape of its blade enabled fairly straight, deep incisions to be made in softwoods and in hardwoods previously bored.77 Chisels of this type were generally ordered eight to a set (see Richard John's order, Chapter III). The catalogue issued by Cutler and Company, Sheffield (1833–1837), states that both joiners' and cabinetmakers' sets were provided in that number. Their chisels were made in thirteen sizes ranging from 1/16 of an inch to 1 inch.78 It [p. 68] is clear that, with thirteen sizes available in sets of eight, there was bound to be some overlap in sizes used by joiners and cabinetmakers.
The Dominys owned at least seven mortise chisels. Of the four not illustrated (57.26.62, 57.26.63, 57.26.65, 57.26.237), two had blades stamped W. BUTCHER, a mark used by the Sheffield firm of William Butcher from 1818 to 1828.79 The mark also appears on a firmer chisel (I).
Of the remaining chisels, five are firmer and socket types, while three might possibly qualify as paring chisels. The firmer, or forming chisel, was the first chisel used by woodworkers in cutting away superfluous wood. Called a "Former" by Moxon because it was used first, it is referred to in later sources as a "firmer." English tool catalogues do not illustrate paring chisels. No distinction was made between types except to note whether power was supplied by a mallet or by hand and shoulder. If struck with a mallet, the chisel was a firmer; if pushed by hand, it was a paring chisel.80 A firmer not illustrated (57.26.252) was made or sold by the firm of John Tillotson, Sheffield.
A chisel with a blade stamped WELDON (D) and its companion (E) started life as firmers but were converted by the Dominys for a special purpose. They may have been used for carving gunstocks or for finishing fluted decoration on cabinetwork. Their rounded shoulders would not be prone to tear the edges of a channel. WELDON was a mark used on tools from 1787 to 1841 by four Sheffield firms: William Weldon; Weldon and Furniss; Furniss, Cutler and Stacey; and Cutler and Company. A cast-steel fluting chisel (63.156.194) made in Sheffield sometime between 1817 and 1833 is not shown.81
Next to these chisels is an example (F) of a blade converted from a file. Its cutting edge is both skewed and curved. The absence of wear from being struck by a mallet and the further absence of indentations from strain against the tool rest of a lathe indicate that this chisel was used for paring.
Socket chisels (J, K) were heavy-duty firming and mortising chisels useful to the carpenter rather than the cabinetmaker. These were efficient in preparing mortise holes for beams in houses and mills. The stamp W. L. JONES has not been identified, but WILCOX & CO. was probably a mark used by A. Wilcox & Co., manufacturers of edge tools in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, in 1849.82 This is the latest chisel in the group illustrated and was undoubtedly purchased by Nathaniel Dominy VII.
Description A: Length, 10 3/4; blade width, 1 1/16. Hickory handle; steel blade and ferrule. B: Length, 9 3/16; blade width, 1/4. Birch handle; rough-forged steel blade, possibly East Hampton, New York. C: Length, 6 1/2; blade width, 1/8. Hickory handle; iron blade with steel face. D: Length, 8 7/8; blade width, 5/8. Ash handle; steel blade stamped WELDON (Sheffield, England, 1787–1841). E: Length, 9 5/16; blade width 1/2. Hickory handle; steel blade. F: Length, 7 3/4,; blade width, 3/8. Soft-maple handle; steel converted-file blade; iron ferrule. G: Length, 6; blade width, 5/16. Hickory handle; steel blade. H: Length, 10 3/4; blade width, 1. Beech handle; iron blade. I: Length, 11 1/8; blade width, 1 1/4. Dogwood handle; cast-steel blade stamped W. BUTCHER / CAST STEEL (Sheffield, England, 1818–1828). J: Length, 13 3/16; blade width, 2. Hickory handle; iron blade with steel face stamped W. L. JONES. K: Length, 17 5/16; blade width, 1 7/8. Hickory handle; iron blade with cast-steel face stamped with an eagle and WILCOX & CO / CAST STEEL / WARRANTED (Rocky Hill, Connecticut, ca. 1849); steel ferrule. All made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V and Nathaniel Dominy VII. Museum accessions: 57.26.66, 57.26.64, 63.156.54, 57.26.67–68, 63.156.144, 63.156.103, 57.26.118, 57.81.25, 57.26.250, 57.26.115.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
With two lathes (Nos. 48, 49) in the Dominy woodworking shop, it is to be assumed that considerable time was spent in turning wood, bone, and metal objects. The number of turned chairs and stands illustrated in Chapter VI are proof of the Dominys' skill in wood turning. Turning chisels were vital in lathe work and were utilized after initial rough shaping by a gouge (No. 41). As Moxon and succeeding authors put it, flat chisels (A, C, and E) "do the Office of Smoothing plains in Joyning and Carpentry."83 They smoothed irregularities left by the gouge and reduced the whirling surface of the stock to a uniform size.
Tool E is, perhaps, one of the most handsome of the turning chisels. Nathaniel III or IV converted it from the fine steel of a seventeenth-century sword or dagger blade. A flower-and-leaf design and the date 1660 are inlaid in brass. On the opposite side are inlaid the word ANNO and a bird design. Visible [p. 69] on the handle of C are Felix Dominy's initials, indicating that he used it and might have made the handle for it. The turning chisel at the far right (G) shows the conversion of a worn file to a useful tool. A blade with a similar shape is illustrated as Figure 7 in Plate XIX of Salivet's Manuel du tourneur (Paris, 1792) and is described as a "half-round chisel" for "hollowing or digging" half-round moldings."84 This turning tool would have been especially useful in shaping the edges of circular-top candlestands made in quantity by the Dominys (Nos. 247–50, 254, 255). It is also a good example of the danger involved in dating a tool by one design element. The blade is stamped with the initials BN under a stylized crown, a mark used by Samuel Genn, a filesmith, of Sheffield, from 1774 to 1787.85 Its handle, however, is stamped with the initials FD, used by Felix Dominy when he converted the file to a chisel in the early nineteenth century.
A thin-bladed chisel with rough-hewn handle (F) may have been used as a "diamond-point" chisel for turning brass. It is difficult to make a flat statement about this kind of turning tool because [p. 70] these "point" chisels were often used to turn hardwood, ivory, and metals.86 The Dominys turned all three materials and this chisel was therefore probably used on each. A worn surface on the blade shank just below the handle indicates that the chisel was used with the beveled edge pointing down and away from the user.
There is little doubt that the blunt-edged chisel (D) was used in turning metal such as brass, rather than in working on wood surfaces. Perhaps it is the "3 square Turning Chizzel" that David Talmage, Jr., made for Nathaniel Dominy IV in 1795 at a cost of 3 shillings.87 Certainly no better description is available for the shape of the blade. Both Nicholson and Smith state that triangular and square-edged turning tools were designed for use on brass, iron, and steel. Knight, however, mentions that square-edged turning chisels were sometimes used in smoothing wood.88 On at least one occasion Nathaniel IV turned "hand iron heads" (andiron heads) for William Hedges, and a turning tool of this type would have been most useful in that kind of operation.89
One other turning chisel (57.26.78) has survived, but because of its broken blade it is not illustrated. With steel shaft and plain, octagonal, soft-maple handle, it was probably made during the early nineteenth century.
Description A: Length, 19 1/4; blade width, 1. Soft-maple handle; horn ferrule; iron blade with steel face. B: Length, 19 3/16; blade width, 7/16. American hickory handle; horn ferrule; iron blade with steel face. C: Length, 17 3/4; blade width, 1 1/2. Soft-maple handle stamped FD; horn ferrule; iron blade with steel face. D: Length, 16 1/8; blade width, 3/4. Hickory handle; horn ferrule; iron blade. E: Length, 14 1/4; blade width, 1/2. Soft-maple handle; horn ferrule; steel blade inlaid with brass. F: Length, 13 5/8; blade width, 5/16. Hickory handle; iron blade with steel face. G: Length, 13; blade width, 1. Ash handle stamped FD; iron ferrule; steel blade stamped BN under stylized crown, mark of Samuel Genn, Sheffield, 1774–1787. A and B made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. C, F, and G made or purchased by Felix Dominy. D and E made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.71, 57.26.70, 57.26.69, 57.26.413, 57.26.119, 57.26.285, 57.26.122.
East Hampton, N.Y.
Clamps are commonly used to bind glued surfaces tightly together until the fastening material has set. Clamps, incidentally, do not appear in eighteenth- or early-nineteenth-century tool catalogues, nor were they offered for sale in the advertisements of tool distributors that appeared in American newspapers of the same period. It can be reasonably assumed that these wood clamps were made and used in the Dominy woodworking shop. American wood was used in their construction; and the presence of conjoined initials ND on C plus the name DOMINY struck on the end of both blocks of A suggests their East Hampton origin.
Only one contemporary reference can be found that relates to the use of a clamp, and it refers to the type shown as Figures 18 and 19 in a plate from Roubo (Illus. XVIII).90 Lacking illustrations of eighteenth- or nineteenth-century examples, it is difficult to know exactly when the clamps shown here were made. From the standpoint of design, the earliest example is probably A and the latest example, B. The latter is closest in design to nineteenth-century clamps illustrated in Mercer's book.91 The screws for all these clamps were probably made in the screw box shown as Number 107. That tool was being used in the Dominy shop by 1791, because in August of that year Nathaniel Dominy IV credited Deacon David Talmage for 5 shillings 8 pence for "Screw-Box Bits &c."92
Four other clamps of the type illustrated, with blocks ranging from 13 1/8 to 20 1/8 inches, have survived (57.26.218–221). Of these, one pair of clamps (57.26.219) has the initials ND scratched on its surface.
Description A: Length, 8 3/4; depth, 1 11/16. Red-oak arms stamped DOMINY; ash screws. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. B: Length, 13 7/8; depth, 2 1/8. Unidentified arms; dogwood screws with hickory head; birch screw block. C: Length, 13 7/16; depth, 2 5/16. Red-oak arms stamped ND; hickory screws. All made by Nathaniel Dominy IV and Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.93.60, 57.26.608–609.[p. 71] [p. 72]
East Hampton, N.Y.
Active woodworkers like the Dominys needed large clamps that would hold together the frame and panels of house doors, interior wall paneling, or the paneled doors of a desk and bookcase. The clamp shown was their solution to the problem involved in tightly seating mortise-and-tenon joints in order to hammer pegs into them.
It is possible that this craftsman's solution was original. Panel clamps shown in Mercer have screw pressure exerted on movable pegs, or tenons, while here the force is pressed against a block-and-ratchet design. A bold, hand-wrought ram's-horn nut and an iron screw fasten the block in place. The closest form in contemporary literature is a clamp illustrated by Roubo (Illus. XVIII).93 Its ratchet design could be an indication of a common eighteenth-century practice, but in the absence of other examples the Dominys' clamp provides a unique survival.
A smaller clamp (57.26.222), perhaps used for the same purpose, also survives. It is only 33 1/2 inches long, with a fixed block at the front and a movable block and screw at the opposite end.
Description Length, 62; height, 6; depth, 2 3/8. Fixed and movable block, shaft, white-pine; hickory screw; iron ram's-horn nut, screw, and washer. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.226.
East Hampton, N.Y.
The Dominy craftsmen made chairs in great quantities, and this clamp was used to force slats for chairs to retain a curved shape (see Nos. 182, 189). After the wood slats were steamed over boiling water or actually dipped in hot water, they became flexible and could be bent. By pushing one end of the slats against an upright block of the clamp and then putting the other movable block in place, the slats, when dried, conformed to the curved shape of the clamp. The thickness of slats used in chairs made by the Dominys indicates that this clamp would hold four slats.
This type of clamp is not described in any literature pertaining to craft techniques or tools. Perhaps it was an original solution to a problem encountered by the Dominys.
Description Length, 27 1/16; height, 7 1/2; depth, 3 7/8. Tulip moving blocks; white-pine templates; red-oak center shaft. Made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.223.
Cooper's Compass or Divider
Because this tool is a compass capable of adjustment to a fixed position, it qualifies as a divider.94 In eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century sources, however, it is described merely as "a compass," albeit a special type used by coopers.
When a barrel or cask was completed, the cooper used the points of this compass as an inside caliper top. With the measurement fixed, he scribed a circle of the same diameter across a group of boards. When this circular pattern was cut and the boards fastened together, a tight-fitting head was produced. Diderot illustrates a compass of this type in describing the activities of the cooper ("tonnelier") and calls it a "compas à quart de cercle," no doubt because the arm will adjust over a one-quarter arc of a circle.95
While this type of compass was designed for use by coopers (for example, Roubo illustrates the usual type for cabinetmakers, without an adjusting arm, on Plate 15 of his work), the Dominys probably used it in other endeavors. It would have been useful, for example, in scribing circular patterns for the small circumferences of woolen wheels or Dutch wheels. English tool catalogues list these compasses in several sizes, but one, Book of Patterns, with paper watermarked 1798, offers them with a reach up to 18 inches. This example will open to 18 1/2 inches. Around 1800 the wholesale cost of this instrument was 50 shillings per dozen, or 4 shillings 2 pence apiece. Because the Dominys valued a day's labor at about 7 shillings, a compass of this type would have cost more than a half day's pay.
At first it seemed possible that this tool might be placed in the third quarter of the eighteenth century. The heart-shaped thumbscrew, hand-hammered chamfered edges, and small volutes at the top of the arms appear consistent with eighteenth-century tool design. The fact that this type of thumbscrew and chamfering is shown in early-nineteenth-century tool catalogues, coupled with the fact that a maker's name, S. JARVIS (unidentified), is stamped on the arc in a style introduced in the late eighteenth century, accounts for the cautious date, 1770–1830, assigned above.
Description Length, 12 7/8; width (closed), 1 1/2; width (open), 18 1/2. Iron compass stamped S. JARVIS. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Gift of Nathaniel M. Dominy, 1960. Museum accession: 60.354.1.
Compass or Oval-tracing Machine
East Hampton, N.Y.
At first glance, this compass would appear to be a clockmaker's beam, or rod, compass used to scribe large circles for clock dials.96 It was used by cabinetmakers and turners, however, to trace ovals.
This kind of tool is illustrated in Roubo's treatise on woodworking, in a plate headed "Machine propre a tracer les ovals." In his text the author describes it as a "Croix ou equerre mobile" (cross mark or moving square) and states that it was used to cut out ("découper") ovals.97 The same compass is shown by Salivet in 1816, who described it as a "tool for tracing ovals."98
Only the compass itself survived in the Dominy Tool Collection; its cross, or track, is a modern replacement made by the Winterthur Museum's cabinetmaker. The length and width of the oval to be scribed is determined by adjustment of the two blocks seated in the track. Loosening each of their [p. 75] wedges permits them to move along the rectangular bar. Thin rectangular pieces of ivory are attached to the bottom of the blocks, enabling them to glide smoothly in the tracks. The compass point is a piece of iron sunk into a block. A turned handgrip enables the user to guide the compass and exert pressure on the surface of a board.
At least three oval tables were made in the Dominy shop. In 1766 Nathaniel IV billed Henry Conkling £1 4s. for such a table, and on September 14, 1792, Nathaniel V made one for his uncle John Dominy at a cost of £1 16s.99
Description Length, 39 3/16; height, 4 5/8; depth, 1 1/2. Birch shaft; American soft-maple sliding blocks; satinwood wedges; modern cross (replacement). Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.49.
Initial and Name Dies
America, Probably New York
In 1732 a South Carolina craftsman, James Rousham, advertised the loss of some of his tools. In his notice he mentioned that a saw handle was marked with the initial R, presumably his own.100 Recently, when the tools of Samuel Wing—a cabinetmaker of Sandwich, Massachusetts, and a contemporary of the Dominys—were recovered by staff members of Old Sturbridge Village, many were stamped with the original owner's name, S. WING. It was common for craftsmen to stamp tools with initials or name as proof of ownership, and the Dominys were no exception to this practice.
Their initials and names have survived not only on the tools in the collection, but fortunately on some of the dies used to mark their tools. No record survives to show whether they made or purchased the dies. Each has a steel face into which the letters were cut. The dies used by Nathaniel IV and Felix Dominy have raised letters; the one used by Nathaniel V has incised letters. On the latter example the serrated, or saw-toothed, edge of a rectangle enclosing the name can be clearly seen.
Description A: Shaft length, 1 7/8; face width, 3/16. Iron and steel die. B: Shaft length, 3 3/4; face width, 11/16. Iron and steel die. C: Shaft length, 2 1/4; face width, 1/4. Iron and steel die. A made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. C made or purchased by Felix Dominy. Museum accessions: 57.26.253, 57.26.256, 57.26.254.
Letter and Number Dies, with Holding Blocks
America, Probably New York
Diemaking was a highly skilled occupation. English tool catalogues did not offer them for sale and American craftsmen apparently ordered them from local metalworkers. The Dominy accounts do not provide any clue to the origin of these examples, but the holding blocks were undoubtedly made in their woodworking shop. In the Dominy shops these dies were primarily used to mark tools and clock parts. At the lower right-hand corner of the upper block can be seen the reversed, conjoined initials ND, indicating where Nathaniel IV's die (No. 31) was originally held.
It is obvious from the unfilled holes in the blocks that many of the letter and number dies used by the Dominys have not survived. Nevertheless, it is fortunate that so many late-eighteenth-century examples survived and can be illustrated here. Frequently individual dies were used in combination to produce special number or letter effects.
Description A: Block length, 5; depth, 2; height, 1 1/4. White-pine block; steel dies. B: Block length, 9 7/8; depth, 1 5/ 8; height, 1 3/8. Ceylon satinwood block; steel dies. Letter and number face widths: letter N, 5/32; No. 3, 1/8; No. 2, 5/32; letter h, 1/8; No. 3, 3/32; lunette, 1/4; No. 1, 5/32; lunette, 1/16; Roman numeral VI, 1/8; letter or No. 0, 1/8; letter N, 5/32; letter J, 1/8; letter y, 3/32; No. 2, 1/8; lunette, 3/32; letter or No. 0, 1/16; letter M, 1/8; letter P, 1/8; letter C, 5/32; letter Y, 1/8; letter or No. 0, 1 1/6; No. 4, 3/16; Roman numeral II, 1/8. Probably made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: block and dies, 57.26.479, 57.26.480; dies only, 63.156.282.
Files, Woodworking and Metalworking
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
The seven files shown present a cross section of the thirty-two files that have survived in the Dominy workshops. The relatively large number of survivals is somewhat surprising since files are not usually considered an important part of an eighteenth-century woodworker's shop inventory. It must be noted, however, that the Dominys were also metalworkers, a craft in which files play a vital part. It [p. 77][p. 78] should also be noted that certain types of files, particularly those used as tool sharpeners, were found in cabinetmakers' and carpenters' shops in great quantities, and Roubo confirms that float and flat files were used by cabinetmakers for working hardwoods.101
The thirty-two files in the Dominy Collection do not include tool blades converted from worn files, a fact that helps explain the preponderance of early-nineteenth-century examples among the survivals.102 For contrast, both metalworking and woodworking files are included in the illustration here and in the one in the catalogue section devoted to metalworking tools (No. 140). A, C, and E were used on metal in the clock shop, while B, D, F, and G were used in woodworking.
According to a foremost mid-nineteenth-century authority on file function, type, and manufacture, distinguishing features of these tools lay in the shape, type, size of the teeth, and use.103 Classifications were two: flats and floats.
Flat files were general-purpose tools used essentially in metalwork, although Roubo shows that such files were also used in working hardwood surfaces. Tool B is a true file in that its teeth were double-cut by hand, and the fineness of its teeth was originally middle or second cut.104
Float files were of single cut, the cut having been produced by a series of chisel blows on the original blanks. Floats were used on both wood and soft materials. The types and uses of these Dominy files are as follows:
A: A flat file that was used in metalworking and obviously employed by the Dominys in the clock shop. It still contains an abundance of brass partides pressed between its single-cut teeth, indicating that it was used as a float.
B: A flat, general-purpose file (entering file), also used in the metalworking shop.
C: A float file, designated as an oval, or crossing, float. The tool was used for filing the crosses, or arms, of clock gears in the Dominy clock shop.
D: A float file of coarse-grade teeth. This tool was fashioned from another file which contained teeth of a much finer consistency. While its shape is similar to a file known as a "horse float," it is almost identical to a file shown by Roubo that was utilized in working hardwood.
E: This is a flat file used by Felix Dominy for repairing, rather than making, watches and for working clock pinions. Its double-cut teeth are a smooth grade. The name Fenn and the numeral 6, denoting size, are stamped on its tang. According to Abraham Rees, the principal firm in London dealing in "clock tools, engines, and rough materials ready prepared" was "Fenn's in Newgate Street, No. 105."105 On page 169 of Pigot and Co's City of Dublin and Hibernian Provincial Directory (London, 1824) is a listing for Samuel Fenn, 105 Newgate Street, London, "toolmaker and dealer," and the same directory for 1826 and 1827 lists a Joseph Fenn at that address.106
F: A flat file, strikingly similar to a file shown in Cutler and Company's catalogue (ca. 1833–1837) as a "cabinet" file. Usually, however, this type of file is called a "half-round," or "flat-round," file. In the Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts, Mechanical and Chemical, Manufactures, Mining, and Engineering Charles Tomlinson states that this kind of file was used for hollow work and as an all-purpose file.
G: A flat file, described in Joseph Smith's tool catalogue of 1816 as a "handsaw" file, used for sharpening the teeth of saw blades. Its nature suggests its usefulness in a woodworking shop.
The handles of the files tell still another story bearing on frequency of use. Since a tool in reasonably constant use would be found atop a workbench or table, handles of such tools were carved to prevent them from rolling off. Thus B and D, with octagonal handles to prevent rolling, and C and E, which have been shaved on two sides, would appear to be the most frequently used of the Dominy files shown here.
Description A: Length, 15 5/8; blade width, 15/16. Soft-maple handle; steel blade stamped CAST STEEL / SW / WING (Sheffield, 1821–1841). B: Length, 13 1/2; blade width, 7/8. White-ash handle; steel blade stamped WARRANTED / CAST STEEL / ASHTON & JACKSON (Sheffield, 1838–1861). C: Length, 12 1/2; blade width, 3/4. Soft-maple handle; steel blade stamped D. D: Length, 9 1/2; blade width, 3/16. Soft-maple handle; steel blade stamped CAST STEEL. E: Length, 7 11/16; blade width, 3/8. American cherry handle; steel blade stamped FENN / 6 (London, ca. 1824). F: Length, 5 3/4; blade width, 5/8. Steel blade stamped IK / KENYON (Sheffield, 1774–1841). G: Length, 4 5/8; blade width, 7/16. Steel blade stamped CAST STEEL / W. GREAVES / & SONS SHEAF WORKS (Sheffield, 1828–1841). A and E acquired by Felix Dominy. B, D, and G acquired by Nathaniel Dominy V. C and F acquired by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.530, 57.26.529, 57.26.294, 57.26.555, 57.26.539, 63.156.209, 63.156.236.
East Hampton, N.Y.
Large quantities of turned woodwork were produced on the two lathes in the Dominy shop. To measure the accuracy of the turning and to insure some degree of uniformity for similar wood products, these craftsmen made gauges. Fortunately this example was marked by Nathaniel Dominy, and its ink inscription tells us that is was used on Hook Mill Rounds.
As related in Chapter V, one means of earning a living for Nathaniel IV and V was mill carpentry. Windmills require many cogs and rounds for the gear wheels which transferred power at different areas in the mill. Twenty-two additional gauges of this type, ranging from 4 to 12 1/2 inches in length, have survived. They were used for various types of turned work, and inscriptions indicate that at least two of them were used for "Pump Box" measurements (57.26.343) and "W.W. Spokes" (57.26.351). The latter abbreviation probably meant "woolen wheel spokes."
Description Length, 11 1/4; width (largest opening), 2 7/8; depth, 5/8. Birch gauge inscribed in ink Hook Mill Rounds. Made by Nathaniel Dominy V during construction of Hook Mill, 1804–1806, in East Hampton. Museum accession: 57.26.275.
East Hampton, N.Y.
This special gauge, made by Nathaniel Dominy IV in 1794, has been described by descendants as a "slitting gauge used for cutting pockets in a window frame." It is conceivable that this tool was used for that purpose, although the window frame it cut would necessarily have been of softwood because the blade is not thick or heavy.
A cutting gauge with an adjustable blade and movable block is shown on page 43 of Cutler and Company's tool catalogue (ca. 1833–1837). Knight describes such a tool as "having a lancet-shaped knife (one or two) and a movable fence by which the distance of the knife from the edge of a board is adjusted. It is used for cutting veneers and thin wood."107 In a more recent book Wildung illustrates similar tools which he calls "slitting gauges" and states that they were used to slice hand-cut veneer or to cut drawer bottoms at a thickness predetermined by setting the block on the gauge.108
Because the Dominys apparently used little veneer in cabinetwork—the only surviving example, a table (No. 253), was made years later—it is doubtful that this gauge was used for veneer. It was probably used by the Dominys for cutting the large number of drawer bottoms needed in the case furniture they made.
Description Length, 14; block width, 3 1/2 American beech block stamped ND, 1794, shaft, and wedge; dogwood screw; steel working blade. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.51
Marking and Mortising Gauges
East Hampton, N.Y.
These tools were indispensable to cabinetmakers, carpenters, and most other woodworkers. Authorities agree with Joseph Moxon that the basic purpose of this tool was "to gage a line parallel to any straight side." Tools of this type are commonly called "marking gauges," but a distinction should be made between gauges with one marking pin (A) and those set in pairs (B). The former was a marking gauge; and after its movable block was set at a given distance from the edge of a board, it could transfer that same measurement to any other board having at least one straight edge. In this manner, for example, a cabinetmaker could insure the correct depth of cut for dovetails. The mortise gauge was used to scribe fixed pairs of lines to mark the width of mortises and tenons. The scratched lines seen about such joints on old furniture were made by this type of tool.109
Although the marking-gauge design employed by Nathaniel Dominy IV was retained over a long period of time by cabinetmakers, commercial toolmakers had changed it by the second decade of the nineteenth century. Instead of a rectangular stem, a half-round stem with a flat bottom was employed. A similarly shaped block replaced the older oval design. Instead of a wedge, or wood thumbscrew, to secure the block, metal thumbscrews were employed. A screw arrangement permitted the distance between the block and marking pins to be changed without moving the position of the block.110
Nathaniel Dominy IV combined the functions of marking and mortising gauges in A. In addition to the single pin, pairs are set for distances from 1/2 to 1 1/4 inches. The bottom gauge has the numbers 1 through 7 stamped on it in one-inch graduations, plus marking tacks set for widths of 3/16 to 11/16 inches. Ten other marking and mortising gauges of various designs have survived including one stamped DOMINY (57.26.32), made by Nathaniel Dominy V, and another made of bone (57.26.208) —probably by the same craftsman. The number of gauges that have survived probably indicates that these craftsmen set certain measurements, over and over again, on different gauges.
Description A: Length, 9 3/4; sliding-block length, 2 1/2; sliding-block depth, 2 7/16. Beech stem and block stamped ND; hickory screw; iron marking tacks. B: Length, 9; sliding-block length, 2 1/2; sliding-block depth, 2 7/16 American cherry stem and block, stamped ND 1765; birch screw; iron marking tacks. Both made by Nathaniel Dominy IV in 1765. Museum accessions: 57.26.28, 57.26.27.
East Hampton, N.Y.
Only one large marking gauge survived in the Dominy Tool Collection. Its purpose is the same as that of smaller gauges, but it was used on wide panels or boards. The crossbar is stepped to fit against edges of varying depth, but it is not shown in its normal position. Concentrated wear is evident on the first 7 or 8 inches of the shaft; and the crossbar, or fence, was probably used primarily on that part of the tool. Similar gauges are illustrated only in modern sources.111
Description Length, 27 11/16; width, 10 3/8. American cherry cross arm, shaft, and wedge; iron marking tacks. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.26.
East Hampton, N.Y.
Both this gauge and a companion stem (57.26.34a) stamped with the initials ND used the block and wedge illustrated here. They were probably made by Nathaniel IV for a special job or purpose, for no information about this type of gauge could be found in contemporary or modern sources.
The fact that a cove to fit over a quarter-round molding forms part of the block's underside may be a clue; the tool might have been used to scribe distances from a rounded or molded surface instead of a straight edge. The major difference between the companion gauges is in length, 57.26.34a being shorter at 7 7/16 inches. On both gauges the distance between the marking tacks is 1 inch, and the gauge opening is centered about 2 inches from the end.
Description Length, 9 3/16; height, 7/8. Satinwood shaft; American white-oak block; beech wedge; iron marking tacks. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.34b.
An inexpensive but useful tool to woodworkers, the gimlet was next to the smallest boring tool available to cabinetmakers and carpenters. Only the bradawl was smaller. It is related to the auger and to the brace and bit. Although they are listed in many how-to-do-it manuals, one of the few authors to explain their function was Joseph Moxon. Put simply, the gimlet was used whenever the brace and bit proved too large or too awkward to use in boring a hole.112 Moxon advised that craftsmen own several sizes.
The gimlets illustrated here and in a plate from an English tool catalogue of about 1798 (Illus. XIX) show that they came in a wide variety of sizes. Between 1765 and 1773 Nathaniel Dominy purchased ten gimlets, paying as little as 2 shillings for a half dozen in 1770.113 Tool D, with its gouge bit and tang twisted over a handle stamped ND, may be the only survivor of the gimlets purchased in that period.
Their continued usefulness to the Dominys is seen in eleven other gimlets acquired by the Winterthur Museum in addition to those illustrated, including two German examples of the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. Most of the survivors have oval-shaped heads typical of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is easy to identify the gimlet head replaced by Nathaniel Dominy V. Tool B has a birch handle, whereas the [p. 83] others have boxwood heads, which English tool manufacturers provided at a slight extra cost. Copper rivets, which helped to prevent the heads from splitting and the tang from pulling out, were also available at extra cost (Illus. XIX). The starting screw, or worm, shown on the large gimlet and on those in the English tool catalogue is usually considered an innovation of the late eighteenth century. But the device is used on the gimlet illustrated in Plate 22 of Roubo's L'art du menuisier.
Description A: Length, 2 11/16; cutting-bit diameter, 1/8. Boxwood head; iron blade; copper rivet.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Mercer stated that the gouge was used more frequently by cabinetmakers and carpenters for ornamentation than for construction.114 That observation seems to be justified by the lack of discussion about it in source books. It is usually classified with the chisel and described as a tool for hollowing and rounding wood surfaces.
Few gouges survive in the Dominy Tool Collection, probably because these craftsmen normally decorated furniture surfaces with moldings produced by special planes rather than with carving. The four shown are good examples of various types employed in eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century shops. The heavy iron gouge (A) displays a broken head, suggesting that it had been struck hard, possibly with a hammer rather than a mallet. The blade has been bezeled both on the inside and outside surfaces. In his Panorama of Science and Art James Smith states that a gouge with a bezeled edge on the inside of the blade was used by millwrights and enabled them to make a perpendicular cut on a wood surface. Smith also pointed out that nose augers could not be used until a starting hole had been made by a gouge.115 If the Dominys' iron tool could make a perpendicular cut, it would have been useful in drilling large holes in wood. Tool catalogues of the period do not show this type of gouge and it was probably made by a local smith.
The next two gouges have wood handles and were meant to be struck by a mallet. Firmer gouges, as shown in Cutler and Company's catalogue (ca. 1833–1837), seem to have a wider flare and heavier shoulder than these examples.116 Tools B and C were probably used by the Dominys in making gunstocks and qualify as carving gouges. Tool D is unquestionably a carving gouge. Its blade, converted from a worn file, has no shoulder and pressure was applied solely by hand.
A firmer gouge (57.26.116) made by the toolmaking firm of John Sorby and Sons, Sheffield, between 1821 and 1841, has survived. It and a carving gouge (57.26.133) made in Sheffield, by Samuel Newbould's company between 1815 and 1841, are pictured on pages 43–44 of the Winterthur Portfolio, II.
Description A: Length, 9; blade width, 1 1/8. Wrought-iron blade, shaft, and head, stamped ND. B: Length, 9 5/16; blade width, 9/16. Hickory handle; steel blade. C: Length, 9 1/4; blade width, 1. Beech handle (modern replacement); iron blade. D: Length, 5 5/8; blade width, 3/16. Hickory handle; steel blade converted from a file. A probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B–D probably purchased or made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.262, 57.26.236, 57.26.269, 57.26.590.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Moxon, Nicholson, and Smith state that the gouge was the first turning tool used to rid wood of irregularities quickly. It was, in effect, a reducing agent. It was also employed by the turner to produce a variety of concave decorative moldings. In the Dominy shop, for example, the gouge was used primarily on the shafts of candlestands and the stiles and legs of chairs.
There were two different lathes in the Dominy [p. 85] shop (Nos. 48, 49), and the handle lengths of these gouges are related to them. In the Panorama of Science and Art Smith states that turning tools used at a great wheel lathe required handles long enough to reach under the shoulder of the craftsman using them. In contrast, tools used at a "foot" [pole] lathe needed handles of about half that length. This circumstance probably accounts for the varied sizes of the gouge handles illustrated.117
Most of these turning gouges were probably made in the vicinity of East Hampton. The blades and shafts are hand forged and, with one exception, their long shafts are made up of two or three pieces of iron. Gouge G, made in one piece, has the initials TH stamped in a rectangle on the shaft and is probably the product of an English toolmaking firm.118 A long gouge bit was converted to make the shaft and blade of F. The black-gum handle of G was made by Felix Dominy, probably to replace an earlier one of soft maple that split and broke. Five of the six gouges with original handles were made of the latter wood. The use of horn ferrules rather than iron ones is also noteworthy and illustrates the imaginative application of indigenous materials by these craftsmen.
Description A: Length, 12 1/8; blade width, 7/8. Beech handle (modern replacement); iron blade with steel face. B: Length, 15 7/8; blade width, 3/4. [p. 86] Beech handle (modern replacement); iron blade with steel face. C: Length, 16 7/8; blade width, 3/8. Soft-maple handle; iron ferrule; iron blade. D: Length, 17 3/16; blade width, 1. Soft-maple handle; horn ferrule; iron blade with steel face. E: Length, 17 5/16; blade width, 5/16. Soft-maple handle; horn ferrule; iron blade with steel face. F: Length, 18 1/4; blade width, 5/16. Soft-maple handle; horn ferrule; iron blade with steel face. G: Length, 18 13/16; blade width, 3/4. Black-gum handle stamped FD; iron blade with steel face. H: Length, 22; blade width, 7/8. American soft-maple handle; horn ferrule; iron blade with steel face. A–F probably made and used by Nathaniel Dominy V. G made and used by Felix Dominy. H probably made and used by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.216–217, 57.26.77, 57.26.74, 57.26.73, 57.26.76, 57.26.75, 57.26.72.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
"Flat circular stones used for the grinding of edge tools," mounted on a spindle and turned by a winch handle, were in common use during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.119 Actually, as Mercer demonstrates in Ancient Carpenters' Tools, grindstones were used in the fifteenth century and may have been known to the Romans.120
This tool was among the most expensive items of equipment in the Dominy shop. In 1791 Nathaniel Dominy paid 12 shillings 6 pence to Jeremiah Miller "by a Grindstone." At his current rate of pay (see Chapter III) the stone above cost him almost two full days' wages. It is difficult to know whether the frame was made at that time or was in use earlier. It is logical to assume that because Nathaniel III was a carpenter a grindstone would have been in use in the woodworking shop before 1791. The hole in the stone is much too large for the spindle, requiring wedges inserted between the shaft and the stone. That may have been deliberate in order to easily adjust centering the stone.
Like a number of the larger Dominy tools, this grindstone can be dismantled and stored when not in use. Its frame is a heavy V-shaped tree fork to which a rail has been nailed to support a water trough. Four roughly chamfered legs support the frame but these are removable. The two stiles holding the spindle are wedged in dovetail fashion into the sides of the frame and they are easily taken out. The handle is secured to the spindle by a wooden screw. When the spindle and wheel are lifted up, the water trough, hollowed from a solid block of wood, can also be taken off the frame. It was important to remove the stone from the water trough when not in use because it is sandstone and prolonged immersion in water would soften it.
Description Height, 25 1/2; length, 30 7/8; depth, 15 5/8. All parts red oak. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.612.
Probably East Hampton, N.Y.
This tool was essential to any woodworker who had occasion to "hold fast" a board or other work on a bench top. Plate 11 from Roubo's L'art du menuisier (Illus. XVI) shows it in use by craftsmen performing various tasks at their benches. The holdfast used by the Dominys is L-shaped and does not have the nicely curved arm pictured by Roubo, Moxon, and Mercer in his Ancient Carpenters' Tools.121
Large and heavy, this example was intended for use on only one (57.26.368) of the three benches in the Dominy shop. By placing the holdfast's shaft in a hole on the bench top and driving it in at a very slight angle, the tool would grip tightly any stock placed under its arm. The arm and shaft are of three pieces of iron welded together—undoubtedly at a local smith's forge.
Description Arm length, 10 9/16; shaft length, 14 5/16; depth, 1 3/8. Iron holdfast. Probably made by a local blacksmith for Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.59.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Different forms of this tool were used by cabinetmakers, carpenters, coachmakers, coopers, and wheelwrights. Because the Dominys performed the tasks of all these woodworkers, the drawknife was a necessary tool. These, and two others owned by the craftsmen, have survived. A versatile tool, it could be used to thin or round the sides and tops of shingles, staves, wheel spokes, tool handles, stool legs, and anything that might be held in a shaving horse or in a bench vise.122
The blade of A is stamped 8. This probably refers to its size because tools of this shape, described as "for Carpenters," are shown ranging from 8 to 16 inches in Cutler and Company's catalogue. The bent tangs piercing the handles and the [p. 88] handle shape itself mark this as a late-eighteenth-century example.
Drawknife B is a special one most often used by coopers and referred to as a "hollowing knife" in both Cutler and Company's and Joseph Smith's tool catalogues.123 Although used primarily on the curved surface of barrel staves, it could also be used to hollow, or shave, any concave surface. Notice that the iron ferrules of A have been replaced by brass ones on B. Rivets, instead of bent tangs, serve to hold the handles in place. These are typical early-nineteenth-century practices.
Description A: Length, 16 1/2; blade length, 8 1/8. Birch handles; steel blade stamped 8 and tangs; iron ferrules. B: Length, 16 5/8; blade length, 10 1/4. Soft-maple handles; steel blade and tangs; brass ferrules; iron rivets. Probably made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.113, 57.26.112.
Drawknives or Chamfer Knives and Froe
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
These tools were commonly used by coopers and are illustrated together to provide contrast in describing their functions. The least controversial implement is the froe (C), described by some modern writers as an "all-purpose tool" for splitting shingles, lath, staves, and clapboards.124 Contemporary books such as Diderot's Encyclopédie ("Tonnelier"), Smith's Explanation or Key (No. 183), and Cutler and Company's tool catalogue (p. 18) list the froe as a cooper's tool. There is general agreement that the top of the froe blade was struck with a club while its handle was twisted back and forth to split a block of wood along its grain. The shiny, worn top of the blade is evidence that it received much pounding from the Dominys during carpentry and coopering work.
Tool A has been the subject of some argument. [p. 89] An article published by William B. Sprague in 1938 illustrated a similar tool captioned "Chamfer Knife," but the same kind of tool pictured in Wildung (p. 64) is identified as a "splitting froe," to be struck. In Eric Sloane's A Museum of Early American Tools (pp. 40–41), it is described as a "chamfer knife" to be used for shaving wood.125 Both authors describe it as a "cooper's" tool. The Dominys apparently did not use it as a froe; it bears no evidence of having been struck by a hammer. Moreover, in describing the tools of the "Boisselier" (cooper or bushel maker), Diderot shows a similar tool being used by a cooper at his bench to shave the bottom of a pail or bucket. It and a drawknife (No. 44) are described as "Planes ordinaires & droites" (common and right-hand drawknives).126 One side of the blade of the Dominy's right-handed drawknife is stamped HORTON. A slight concave curve of the blade is not evident in this photograph.
The tool at the middle of this group (B) is obviously related to A, suggesting that it was also used for shaving. Because of its curved-blade surface, it might have been used on barrel or bucket staves. Its function was similar to the cooper's "jigger," although the latter had a combined straight knife and curved blade. Because eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century sources show only a straight-bladed froe as a cooper's tool for splitting, curved-blade knives like B were probably used for shaping staves.
Description A: Blade length, 17 1/4; handle length, 5 7/8. American beech handle; iron blade stamped HORTON and handle. B: Blade length, 13 1/2; handle length, 5 1/16. American soft-maple handle; iron blade and handle. C: Blade length, 13 3/4; handle length, 14 1/8. White-oak handle; iron blade. A and B probably made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. C probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.114, 57.26.261, 57.26.85.
Stock or Block Knife
East Hampton, N.Y., and Probably England
There is no contemporary description of this tool's purpose, but it was undoubtedly used to roughshape or outline wood as indicated in the photograph. Dutch and English craftsmen, for example, still use a similar tool to make the preliminary shape of a wooden shoe.127
Because of the large amount of turning done in the Dominy shops, the stock knife was probably welcomed as an early-nineteenth-century improvement over the use of a hatchet or drawknife in rounding wood to be turned on a lathe. It is significant that this tool is not offered for sale in English tool catalogues until its appearance in the trade book issued by J. Belcher and Sons, Birmingham, England, about 1818 (Illus. XX). As early as the seventeenth century Moxon indicated that turners used a hatchet or drawknife to round a piece of wood before placing it on the lathe. In the 1850's turners in England were still instructed that "when a piece of wood of any length, such as the leg of a chair or table, has to be turned, it is first hewn into some approach to the circular form by means of a small axe." A recent book about English chairmaking showed illustrations of turners using this technique in the early years of this century.128
The turned handle of the block knife might be a replacement rather than the original, and it carries Felix Dominy's initials. Its blade could have been fashioned in East Hampton because it is wrought iron, and its design shows a radical departure from
Detail of a stock or block knife. From a tool catalogue issued for J. Belcher and Sons, Birmingham, Eng., about 1818, p. . (Courtesy of the Essex Institute)
Description Length, 30 3/8; blade length, 12 3/8. Soft-maple handle stamped FD; iron shaft, blade, hook, and staple. Purchased and made by Felix Dominy. Museum accession: 57.26.229.
Arbor and Cross
East Hampton, N.Y.
The most important lathe attachment to survive in the Dominy Tool Collection is this arbor and cross, used by Nathaniel Dominy V to turn the dished circular tops of stands and tea tables. It is fortunate that reference is made to it in the Dominy accounts because none of the eighteenth- or nineteenth-century English and French source books illustrate this piece of equipment. One would expect to find a similar device in Charles Plumier's L'art de tourner (Lyon, 1701) or in Salivet's Manuel du tourneur (Paris, 1792), but either it was so commonly known to turners that it was overlooked or the attachment [p. ]
On February 27, 1795, Nathaniel Dominy IV entered the sum of 6 shillings 9 pence on the credit side of Deacon David Talmage's account, "By an Arbor & Cross for Turning Stands."129 What Talmage had made was the wrought-iron cross and the iron rod (arbor) that pierces the upright puppet, horizontal shaft, and circular pulley. Its hollowed end can be seen at the right. Unfortunately, the arbor and cross was assembled incorrectly for photography. The cross, shaft, and pulley should extend from the flat, vertical position of the puppet that fits into the end of a lathe bed. In the woodworking shop Nathaniel V then made the puppet, screws, shaft, and pulley.
When Nathaniel V was ready to use the arbor and cross, he first cleared the great wheel lathe bed of existing puppets and inserted this one into the bed at the end away from the wall. A key (wedge) was inserted through the mortise hole in the puppet to fasten it tightly in the bed. The great wheel and its portable support was moved along the shop floor to a position opposite the pulley. Then another puppet was inserted into the lathe bed and its screw tightened against the hollowed end of the arbor. A precut circular slab of mahogany, cherry, or maple was then fastened to the cross with screws and turned in a vertical position. With gouges and chisels Nathaniel V then proceeded to fashion the plain but aesthetically pleasing table tops seen in Chapter VI. The screw holes under the table top were hidden by a block of wood or brace that received the table's columnar support. Whether original to America or not, it was truly an ingenious solution to the problem of making dished-top tables.
Description Height, 30 1/2; cross width, 14; length, 18 3/8; pulley diameter, 8 1/2. White-oak puppet and cylindrical shaft; dogwood screw (round head); hickory screw (flathead); soft-maple pulley; iron arbor and cross. Iron cross and arbor made by Deacon David Talmage, Jr.; puppet, screws, and pulley made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.370f.
Great Wheel Lathe
East Hampton, N.Y.
Many parts of the furniture illustrated in Chapter VI were turned on this lathe. Chair legs and stiles, the columns of tea tables and stands, and round table tops were fashioned by the Dominys with the aid of this tool and the turning implements already shown (Nos. 25, 41).
The great wheel lathe is a dramatic example of what Lewis Mumford meant when he stated that "standardized, specialized human beings were the machines of the ancient world."130 It took a great deal of human energy, usually in the form of an apprentice but in the Dominy shop probably a family member, to turn the wheel and supply power to the lathe. The advantages of continuous drive permitted by the wheel lathe are well described in Robert Woodbury's book. In summary they are:
1. Elimination of the alternating rotation of the pole lathe (No. 49), thus permitting continuous [p. ]
2. Stock turning at higher speed enabling greater accuracy in shaping wood.
3. Use of pulleys to provide the speed and mechanical advantage desired by the turner.
4. Eventual adaptation of continuous drive to horse, water, steam, and electric power. Lathes of this type were in use for turning metals by the second half of the fifteenth century and available for use on wood by 1568.131
The view of the lathe bed shown here is the same as that Nathaniel Dominy V had while turning the wheel for his father, Nathaniel IV, or that young Felix had while performing the same task for his father, Nathaniel V. In the section devoted by Diderot to turning, a craftsman is shown at the lathe with his back to an apprentice, preventing the apprentice from seeing the master at work.132 This illustration was apparently arranged to give readers of the Encyclopédie a clear picture of all processes involved in turning; modern European craftsmen, trained in the traditional mysteries of the trade at similar lathes, state that they always face the lathe bed while turning the wheel in order to observe the master at work.
While this lathe appears somewhat crude, it was a remarkably efficient and versatile tool. The upright members supporting the wood for turning are known as "puppets." These could be moved along the length of the lathe bed to accommodate long or short stock. Hand-wrought puppet screws enabled the Dominys quickly to place between, or remove from, the puppets a piece of wood or to change the pulley used to turn the stock. The tool rest, a horizontal wooden bar on one side of the puppets, [p. ] could also be raised or lowered. Originally the frame supporting the great wheel was portable and could be moved parallel to the lathe bed to accommodate it to other pulleys and arbors (No. 47). The modern, conjectural frame is fixed in the position which, according to family descendants, was most frequently used.
The wheel is a monument to the Dominys' wheel-wrighting skills. Its twelve spokes, mortised and tenoned to felloes and hub, and its six felloes, mortised and tenoned together, are closer in design to lathe wheels shown in Diderot's Encyclopédie than to wheels illustrated in Plumier's L'art de tourner or Salivet's Manuel du tourneur.133 It is probable that both lathe bed and wheel were made during the third quarter of the eighteenth century.
Description Bed length, 56 5/8; height, 39 1/4; bed height, 26 1/2; bed depth, 9 3/4; wheel diameter, 67 1/4; hub length, 10 3/8; hub diameter, 7 1/2. American white-oak hub, spokes, and felloes; soft-maple wheel handle; red-oak leg supports and tool rest; American white-oak lathe bed and puppets; hickory pulley; wrought-iron wheel axle, handle, and puppet screws. Made by Nathaniel Dominy III or Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.370–371.
East Hampton, N.Y.
In the opinion of one modern writer the lathe and bow drill were the only complex tools known to antiquity and were the most important tools available to mechanics until the end of the eighteenth century. The spring pole and treadle drive for a lathe appeared in the thirteenth century and spread so rapidly that it was common by 1400.134 A rope, tied to a pole suspended from ceiling beams, was wrapped about the stock to be turned and tied below the lathe bed to a foot treadle. Stepping on the treadle caused the stock to revolve toward the turner; releasing the treadle caused the pole to "spring," reversing the direction of the stock and lifting the treadle to its former position.
Because one person could operate this lathe and keep both hands free and because it was relatively easy to construct, the pole lathe remained in use into the nineteenth century, as evidenced from a
Lathe bed suitable for cabinetmakers. From André Jacob Roubo, L'art du menuisier (Paris, 1769–1775), III, Plate 309.
A pole lathe is shown by Roubo (Illus. XXI) as a suitable type for cabinetmakers, perhaps because that group of craftsmen was not expected to do enough turning to justify the installation of a large wheel lathe. The design of the Dominys' lathe is quite similar to one shown in Figure 2, Plate XLIV, of the supplement to John Barrow's A New and Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (London, 1754). In that plate turning tools are shown in racks behind the turner in the same position that the Dominys placed them in their shop. Barrow's lathe had solid, wide supports for its bed and adjusting screws to raise or lower the tool rest. The hole in the right-hand puppet of the Dominys' lathe originally received such a hand screw.
With the pole lathe, gouges and chisels can be used only when the wood being turned is moving toward the turner-a decided disadvantage. To avoid ripping and scarring the work, the turning tool must be removed just before the back stroke of the pole begins. This requires skilled coordination between foot and hand. Work turned on this lathe had a rougher appearance and required more finishing than pieces turned on the great wheel lathe. The Dominys probably used it only for work requiring a lathe bed longer than that of the great wheel and for heavy turning such as workbench screws, pump-box pipe, high-post bedsteads, and mill shafts. There is evidence to support a family tradition that columns for the porch of Clinton Academy in East Hampton were turned on this lathe. On August 7, 1802, Nathaniel Dominy V billed Archibald Gracy £3 8s. "To work on Accademy &c" and 10 shillings "To 30 feet Timber for Collumns."136
Description Length, 77 5/8; height, 32 5/8; base depth, 34 1/2; bed depth, 9 1/2. Ash pole (original); white-oak bed, base, supports; red-oak tool rest; wrought-iron puppet pikes. Made by Nathaniel Dominy III or Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.372.
East Hampton, N.Y.
The end grain surfaces of this mallet are severely worn from pounding on chisel and gouge handles and the stocks of planes or from helping to fit mortise-and-tenon, or dovetail, joints tightly. Undoubtedly some of the wear is due to use of the tool on metal rather than wood surfaces by someone not well trained in traditional craft practices.
As Smith clearly states in The Panorama of Science and Art, mallets were made of wood to prevent damage to surfaces upon which they were used. They were made of the "soundest and toughest wood" available. The shape of the woodworker's mallet depended upon individual preference, but the surviving example in the Dominy Collection, which is cylindrical, avoids even the traditional shape preferred by cabinetmakers and joiners. Most mallets were somewhat rectangular in shape, "concave on that side which the handle enters, and convex on the other; this is done because it is customary, or because it is supposed to look best."137 There is ancient precedent for a cylindrical [p. ] mallet head, because it was a type preferred by Roman woodworkers.138 A small bone mallet, in the traditional shape (57.26.276), was also used in the Dominy shop.
It has not been possible to obtain a definitive microscopic analysis of the Dominys' heavy, lathe-turned mallet head. The weight and density of the wood suggest lignum vitae, but its structure is closer to persimmon or boxwood. An octagonal handle provides an effective handgrip, and the incised lines encircling the head not only provide decoration but indicate where the head was to be bored to receive the handle.
Description Length, 11 7/8; width, 6 1/8; head diameter, 3 1/4. Hickory handle; probably persimmon or possibly boxwood head. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.101.3.
East Hampton, N.Y.
In fitting moldings together at the corners of picture frames or case pieces, the ends of the pieces to be joined were usually beveled at a 45-degree angle and then joined or "mitred."139 The miter box enabled woodworkers to saw a 45-degree angle with speed and consistency. The material to be cut was laid flat—inside the box—and cut diagonally. Moxon discussed its use in the late seventeenth century, but the tool he illustrated consisted only of a base and one upright through which a saw blade was guided.140
The Dominys' miter box is constructed with cut nails, indicating that it was made after 1800. Initials ND are scratched twice under the base and are probably those of Nathaniel V. To show its function, a handsaw with a broken blade is in the guide lines, replacing the tenon saw which was probably used originally.141 Evidence that the tool remained in continual use is seen in the piece at the left of the rear upright. A split in it has been fastened with modern wire nails.
Description Length, 12 1/4; height, 2 3/16; depth, 4 3/8. American cherry base scratched twice on underside with conjoined initials ND; soft-maple sides. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.233.
East Hampton, N.Y.
Another example of the standardization of parts for craftsmen's products within their own shops is the patterns that cabinetmakers used for various sections of furniture. One of the most exciting finds in the Dominy Tool Collection is a group of patterns for the furniture produced in their shop at East Hampton. To the best of this writer's knowledge the only other wood templates used by American cabinetmakers of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries exist at Old Sturbridge Village among tools used by Samuel Wing, a chairmaker of Sandwich, Massachusetts, and at the Winterthur Museum in the form of templates used by the Ware family of New Jersey chairmakers.
Illustrated are five patterns for armrests used on chairs made by Nathaniel Dominy V (see Nos. 179–86). Pattern A has an inscription on one side that reads 1/2" higher than the / front posts (script). It is probably a warning to the craftsman to remember where to drill the hole in the rear post that received the tenon of the armrest. In looking at B, the viewer must remember that it is shown from above because it is the pattern for the armrest of a corner chair (No. 186). When traced, it makes only half of the curved arm and must be reversed to trace the other half. It was used with another pattern
Description A: Length, 12 5/8; height, 2; width, 1/4. Cherry. B: Length, 15 3/8; width, 1 7/8, 1 5/8, 2 3/8. Tulip. C: Length, 13 3/4; height, 2 3/8; width, 1/2. Tulip. D: Length, 19; height, 2 3/8; width, 1/2. Red gum. E: Length, 12 13/16; height, 2 3/8; width, 1/4. White pine. A, B, C, and E probably made by Nathaniel Dominy V. D probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.307, 57.26.309, 57.26.306, 57.26.310, 57.26.308.
Bracket Foot, Cresting Rail, Clockcase Cresting, and Slat Patterns
East Hampton, N.Y.
The list of different kinds of wood used to make the Dominys' furniture patterns gives an almost complete cross section of the "stuff" they used for woodworking. Whenever a pattern was needed, they apparently chose a scrap of whatever wood was available in a size large enough to complete the template.
In this group, A and D are patterns for slats used in slat-back chairs (Nos. 181, 182, 184, 189). Scratch-awl marks for tenons are visible on both patterns. The inscription on the surface of D is in an upside-down position and reads August 29th 181 [final number illegible]. From 1801 to 1809 a total of twenty-nine slat-back chairs are recorded in Dominy accounts but none of the entries were made for August 29. The closest entry occurred on August 10, 1807, when David Miller was charged 15 shillings for three "slat back" chairs.142 Bracket feet were outlined by patterns E and F, but the former was broken before it was acquired by the Winterthur Museum. Several pieces with these feet, made by Nathaniel V, still survive (Nos. 242, 243, 245).
A number of clockcase pediments bear crestings, the profiles of which were traced from G, H, and I (Nos. 227, 236, 239) . Pattern B may have been used to shape the apron of a small clockcase. Its exact use is not known. The thickness of C (13/16) would indicate that it is probably an unfinished cresting rail for a chair rather than a pattern. It is the only [p. ]
Description A: Length, 16 13/16; height, 3. Red oak. B: Length, 14; height, 2 5/16; White pine. C: Length, 16 5/16; height, 1 9/16. Soft maple. D: Length, 13 3/8; height, 2 3/4. Beech, inscribed August 29th 181 [final number illegible]. E: Length, 7 3/4; height, 2 5/16. White pine. F: Length, 7 5/8; height, 5. Tulip. G: Length, 5 3/4; height, 3 13/16. Tulip. H: Length, 3 1/4; height, 2. Red pine. I: Length, 3 3/8; height, 1 7/8. Rag paper. All made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.319, 57.26.318, 57.26.316, 57.26.312, 57.26.315, 57.26.317, 57.26.322–323, 57.26.365.
Candlestand and Tea-Table Leg Patterns
East Hampton, N.Y.
During this forty-year period Nathaniel V made an average of about two stands each year in the woodworking shop. These patterns helped him to make legs for the tripod bases of these stands (Nos. 247–51). The initials JD are scratched on the surfaces of A and C. Perhaps they belonged to John Dominy (1760–1837), a surveyor and a younger brother of Nathaniel IV.
Patterns A, B, C, and E are for a cabriole leg with a snake foot. (C is broken.) Pattern D, however, is a template for the so-called spider leg that was introduced in the nineteenth century. It appears on a number of Dominy stands (No. 251). Pattern E has a pencil inscription on one side that reads 5 1/4 Wide / 13 1/2 Long.
It was mentioned previously that the number of surviving wood patterns used by American cabinetmakers is fairly small. Their use was widespread, however. An inventory, taken in 1763, of the estate of William Larkin, who lived at Bethel, Chester County, Pennsylvania, listed "Wood prepared for tools, patterns, Molds &c." They were valued at 17 shillings 6 pence.143
Description A: Height, 9; length, 13 3/4; width, 3/16. Pine, initials JD scratched on both sides. B: Height, 9 3/8; length, 15 1/2; width, 3/16. Pine. C: Height, 7 3/8; length, 10 9/16; width, 3/16. Pine, initials JD scratched on both sides. D: Height, 9 1/2; length, 13 1/2; width, 3/16. Pine, stamped 14 and 4 3/4 on one side. E: Height, 7 7/8; length, 12 1/2; width, 3/16. Pine. Made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.303, 57.26.301, 57.26.304–305, 57.26.302.
Chest-on-Chest and Table Leg Patterns
East Hampton, N.Y.
It is unfortunate that pattern A has not been linked to any of the considerable number of tables made by the Dominys. The template was used to produce a turned, tapered leg ending in a Dutch foot. Only one documented table (No. 253), made by Nathaniel V, has been located and it employs a later, Sheraton-style turned leg.
Pattern B is for a cabriole leg with pad foot that was used on a chest-on-chest made for the Dominy family (No. 193).
Description A: Height, 27 9/16; width, 1 7/8. Red oak. B: Height, 36 9/16; width, 2 11/16. Soft maple. A probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B probably made by Nathaniel V. Museum accessions: 57.26.467, 57.26.463.
Cresting Rail Patterns
East Hampton, N.Y.
Yoke-shaped cresting rails adorn many chairs made by the Dominys (No. 190). The smaller pattern (A) was probably used for some of the twenty-nine "little" or "small" chairs made between 1773 and 1833. A number of full-sized chairs have cresting rails made with the aid of the larger pattern (B).
Description A: Length, 11 3/16; height, 1 3/16. White oak. B: Length, 15; height, 2 1/4. Tulip. Both made by Nathaniel Dominy IV or Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.320, 57.26.464.
Cresting Rail and Splat Patterns
East Hampton, N.Y.
The four patterns for splats in this illustration are quite obvious. Pattern A was traced on the stock [p. ] that Nathaniel V cut for the splat of his fiddleback chairs (Nos. 179, 180, 188). The left side would be traced, as indicated here, and then the template flipped over to trace the right side. The same procedure was used with C, but the end result would be the outline of a vase-shaped splat. It has been badly split and is not useful in its present condition. The penciled inscription, N Dominy (script), is clearly visible on the surface of E.
Pattern B is a profile for a cresting rail, although that is difficult to believe from its position in the photograph. It was used in a horizontal position with the hole at the left. After being flipped over, it would provide the outline for shaping a Cupid's-bow cresting rail, an innovation of the Chippendale period in colonial America. A number of chairs made by the Dominys with this type of cresting have survived (Nos. 179, 180, 188, 190).
Description A: Length, 20; width, 3. White pine. B: Length, 9 5/8; width, 2. White pine. C: Length, 13 3/16; width, 2 3/8. White pine. D: Length, 12 3/4; width, 3 7/8. American white oak. E: Length, 16 5/16; width, 5. White pine. A, B, D, and E probably made by Nathaniel Dominy V. C probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.465, 57.26.321, 57.26.313–314, 57.26.466.
East Hampton, N.Y.
Gun repair and the stocking of guns were always a source of income for the Dominys (see Appendix B). It is not unexpected, therefore, to find that a pattern for making a rough-cut gunstock has survived in the Dominy Tool Collection.
It is difficult to fix a date for this pattern, but it was probably made by Felix Dominy about 1820. Its length is remarkably close to that of the breech-loading flintlock rifle patented by John H. Hall in 1811 and adopted for production on a large scale by the United States Army in 1819.144 Hall's rifle is 53 inches long, and the length of the pattern illustrated here is 53 1/2 inches. Since Felix Dominy was active in the militia about 1817 to 1835, it is reasonable to assume that the pattern was made at that time.
Description Length, 53 1/2; width, 3/4. Birch. Probably made by Felix Dominy. Museum accession: 57.26.279.
Wheel Rim or Felloe Patterns
East Hampton, N.Y.
Just as the rim of the wheel used to turn a lathe in the Dominy woodworking shop (No. 48) was made of a series of felloes mortised and tenoned together, so, too, were wheels for vehicles or for spinning fibers.145 The patterns, or templates, illustrated here enabled the Dominys to produce wheels of standard diameter and circumference without a complete set of new measurements for each operation.
Pattern C carries a pencil inscription Stage fore Wheel, barely visible in the photograph. In East Hampton History it is noted that early in the nineteenth century the town received its mail once a week by stagecoach traveling from Brooklyn and that a stagecoach also ran from Sag Harbor to East Hampton during the last half of the century.146 On the inside edge of this template, three lines are scratched to indicate the placement of spokes.
Description A: Length, 17 1/4; depth, 2 3/16, produces wheel diameter, 22. Red-oak, inscribed 22 inches (script). B: Length, 19 1/4; depth, 1 5/8, produces wheel diameter, 36. Tulip, stamped 3 on both sides. C: Length, 21 3/16; depth, 1 1/2, produces wheel diameter, 42. Red-oak, stamped 3 6 on both sides, inscribed Stage fore Wheel (script). D: Length, 21 1/2; depth, 1 5/8, produces wheel diameter, 48. [p. ]
Pincers with a flathead and straight gripping jaws are described in three English tool catalogues as "Carpenters."147 This design enabled the head to be placed flush against a surface in order to pull nails or bolt heads from a hole. They were sold in either a "black" or a "bright" finish, with the latter costing 2 shillings 6 pence more per dozen. The dark paint on this example explains the purpose of a black finish—to prevent rust. Metalworkers have long known that a high polish on iron or steel retards rust also, thus explaining bright finish. The hole piercing both arms of the pincers shown here was used to cut wire or nails.
A pincer with a claw at the end of one arm plus a beveled gripping surface (57.26.248) has also survived. Similar tools illustrated in Plate 39 of Belcher and Hunter's catalogue (Nos. 503–5) are called "Farriers" pincers. They were used to pull hoof nails from the shoes of horses or oxen.148
Description Length, 13; closed width, 1 5/8. Iron pincers. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.489.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
These planes are excellent illustrations of the wide variety of molding planes with similar functions owned by the Dominys and their contemporaries. The smaller tool (A) will produce a cock bead around the edge of a drawer, for example, or finish the outer edges of a panel with the same molding. This plane was used to put a bead on the front stiles of the clockcase hood made for David Gardiner in 1799 (No. 220). The second plane (B) was used by Nathaniel V to produce a large bead as decoration on the edge of a panel where it was joined to another board. The type of joint it ornamented is known in carpentry as "bead and butt."149
The blades of these tools are set at different angles Middle pitch (55°) was used for the cock-bead plane and it was intended for use on hardwoods. Common pitch (45°) was used on the large bead plane and Nathaniel V probably used it on softwoods.150 On the back of this plane's stock is stamped 7/8, and an ink inscription reads Bead. Nicholson mentions that planes cutting a 7/8-inch bead could also be used for torus moldings.151 Whether these marks were put on the plane's stock by its English manufacturer or by Nathaniel V is not known.
Wedged into the sole of the large bead plane is a [p. ]152
Description A: Length, 6 1/2; height, 5; width, 7/16; blade angle, 55°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped DOMINY in serrated rectangle and date 1795; iron blade with steel face. B: Length, 9 3/8; height, 5 1/2; width, 1 11/16; blade angle, 55°. In a letter to the author, August 23, 1971, W.L. Goodman stated that after ca. 1770, English molding planes are a standard length of 9 3/8. Probably European beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped DOMINY in serrated rectangle; iron blade with steel face. Both planes made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. A, Museum purchase from, and B, gift of, Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.14, 57.93.94.
(Center) Bead Planes
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Rural cabinetmakers depended upon molding planes as the most convenient method for decorating their wares. The Dominys were no exception, as attested by the parade of different types to follow.
A molding, semicircular in section and called a "bead," was a simple but aesthetically pleasing way to finish the edge of two panels joined together, the edge of a chair leg, the bracket foot of a case piece, or a table edge. Although used in the second half of the eighteenth century, this type of decoration became even more popular about the time Nathaniel V made his plane in 1800, prompting Thomas Martin to observe, "Since beading has been so much in fashion, planes for the purpose have been introduced."153 The blades of these planes act like those of the tongue plane; the straight edges do the cutting, leaving a semicircular ridge in the center.
Both planes are set at York pitch (50°) and were probably used on hardwoods. The side of the earlier plane is stamped with the initials BT, and it may have been acquired by Nathaniel Dominy IV as payment for a debt. When he obtained it, he[p. ] stamped it with his own initials and probably put the fence on it. The fence is affixed to the stock with rose-headed nails.
In his advertisement of about 1840, John Bowles, a planemaker of Hartford, Connecticut, stated that he made "Centre Beads" up to 3/8 inches at a cost of 84 cents and over 3/8 inches for 92 cents. By 1901 the cost of making double-boxed center bead planes in factories had been reduced enough to enable Sargent and Company to sell them for 60 to 65 cents.154
Description A: Length, 10; height, 5 3/8; width, 1 1/4; blade angle, 50°. American soft-maple stock and wedge, front of stock stamped ND in rectangle; iron blade. B: Length, 7 1/2; height, 5 1/4; width, 5/8; blade angle, 50°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped DOMINY in serrated rectangle and 1800; iron blade with steel face. A made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Both planes gifts of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.93.101, 57.93.85.
(Double) Bead Plane
East Hampton, N.Y.
Cabinetmakers often used a molding consisting of two semicylinders for decorating the edge of a table leaf or the top of a bureau. Nicholson pointed out that although one of the rounded surfaces was larger than the other the combination was called a "double bead."155 About 1840 John Bowles, of Hartford, Connecticut, made double-bead planes for which he charged $1.34.156 Similar planes are illustrated by Roubo, who assigned their use to coachmakers.157
This type of molding appears occasionally on furniture produced by the Dominys. The plane illustrated was made by Nathaniel IV in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, but it was probably little used. Dogwood, a close-grained wood, was chosen for the stock and cherry for the wedge. The whole plane may have been fashioned quickly to fill a special order requiring a double-bead molding. Instead of seasoned beech, Nathaniel used whatever hardwood was handy. Further evidence for this assumption is seen in the rough-formed handgrip and finger grip at the front and back ends of the stock. They lack the usual finesse and polish of planes made by the Dominys, and the normal wear from constant use and pressure is absent. The plane bears Nathaniel IV's initials on the front of the stock. No other plane of this type has survived.
Description Length, 9 5/16; height, 4 5/8; width, 1 1/8; blade angle, 55°. Dogwood stock stamped on front 25 with initials ND in rectangle; American cherry wedge; iron blade with steel face. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.31.
Bead (and Double Quirk) Plane
East Hampton, N.Y.
In archaeology, one of the acknowledged methods of determining the use of an artifact is through sound literary confirmation from contemporary sources. Sometimes, however, when these sources fail, one must use surviving physical evidence—coupled with some speculation—to make statements about the purpose and function of an artifact, such as this particular plane.
The fence of the plane is cut at a 45-degree angle to its sole. Therefore, when the fence is placed against the edge of a board in an upright position to act as a guide, it forces the sole and cutting edge[p. ] of the iron to cut a small double-quirked bead at a 45-degree angle between the top and side surfaces. Speculation infers that planes of this type might have been used to make the first cut for bead moldings on the edges of table legs. A bead plane of the same size, without a fence but with a finer set blade, was then used to smooth the resulting molding.
Description Length, 9 11/16; height, 4 1/2; width, 13/16; blade angle, 45°. American beech stock stamped on front with conjoined initials ND; dogwood wedge; iron blade. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.97.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Smoothing planes with a convex sole along their length were called "compass" planes. They were used by woodworkers like the Dominys for the surfaces158
Contrary to Mercer's statement, this type of plane is illustrated by Diderot, who called it a "Rabot ceintré" (an encompassing plane). It is also shown in Roubo's book on woodworking and must have been commonly known, therefore, in the eighteenth century.159
The blade of the upper plane is not original to it and is part of a double iron. Because neither the wedge nor the bed is scooped for the bolt of a double iron, Nathaniel Dominy IV must have used a single blade in it. Brass-mounted planes were in use at least by 1760. In that year Richard Johns, a Philadelphia joiner, ordered "2 Pair of Grooving Planes with the Tongue brass."160 By 1803, when
Description A: Length, 7 1/4; height, 4 5/8; width, 2 1/4, blade angle, 50°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped ND in rectangle; steel blade stamped WELDON (Sheffield, 1787–1841). B: Length, 6 3/4; height, 3 3/4; width, 2 5/8; blade angle, 40°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped DOMINY in serrated rectangle and 1803; iron blade with steel face stamped NEWBOULD (Sheffield, 1787–1841); brass sole plate. A made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B made by Nathaniel Dominy V. A, Museum purchase from, and B, gift of, Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.93.52, 57.93.58.
Cooper's Jointer Plane
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
According to dimensions given in Tomlinson's Cyclopaedia (60 to 72 inches), this plane is too short to qualify as a cooper's jointer plane. Because the Dominys did engage in coopering—Nathaniel IV credited John Chatfield in 1769 for "25 hoop poles yt I got in his land"—and because the sole of this plane is grooved from the pressure of many board edges having been run over its surface, it qualifies both as a cooper's jointer and as another example of the individual design of some craftsmen's tools.161
It was extremely important that the edges of barrel staves and other wooden containers be [p. ]162 This type of plane was always used with the sole facing upward and with the artisan applying pressure to the board as it passed over the plane iron. According to Knight and as shown in Mercer's and Wildung's books, the cooper's jointer was used in a slanting position.163
None of the sources quoted above show a guide nailed to the sole, as can be seen on the Dominys' jointer. This simple device provided stability to boards as they were pushed over the cutter and also served as a guide for the beveling of the edges of staves. The circular hole piercing the upper end of the stock indicated that this jointer was supported on a dowellike rod, perhaps similar to the modern replacement illustrated.
Description Length, 51 3/16; height, 2 1/2; width, 5 1/4; blade angle, 40°. Red-oak stock, initials ND scratched on underside. American beech wedge; iron blade with steel face stamped NEWBOULD (Sheffield, 1787–1841). Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.228.
East Hampton, N.Y.
It is difficult to determine whether Nathaniel IV first made this tool as a rabbet plane and then converted it or whether he fashioned it as a cove plane in the beginning, with a large beveled opening to allow shavings to fall out easily.
The blade is as wide as the sole and would, therefore, cut a 3/4-inch-wide concave quarter of a circle, or cove. A plane of this type would have been useful to the Dominys in molding the underedge of a table leaf so that, as the leaf was raised, the cove molding would fit snugly against an ovolo, or quarter-round molding. This plane might also have been used to produce decorative moldings to be attached to case pieces or clockcases.
Description Length, 11 3/8; height, 4 11/16; width, 3/4; blade angle, 50°. American soft-maple stock and wedge, front of stock stamped 26 with initials ND in rectangle; iron blade with steel face. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.37.
Cove, with Bead, Planes
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
These are the only planes of this type to survive in the Dominy Tool Collection. Nathaniel Dominy IV made them to produce the same kind of molding but in a different size and for use on soft- (A) and hardwoods (B). The only contemporary reference to this type of molding plane seems to be a list of planes produced by John Bowles in Hartford, Connecticut, between 1838 and 1840. He made "Cove Planes with Beads" from 3/4 inch to over 1 inch in size, priced from 75 cents to $1. Their cost was 12 1/2 cents more per size than an ordinary cove plane.164
Perhaps the relationship of tool design to human physical requirements is well illustrated by contrasting these two planes. Planemakers consistently narrowed the upper part of the stock of a wide molding plane. This may have been done so that it might easily be grasped by the hand. The attention to aesthetic detail on eighteenth-century tools is demonstrated by the cove molding that softens the transition from the upper to the lower part of the stock. This molding also serves to strengthen the stock because an abrupt change from a thick to a thin dimension might result in splitting the wood.
The name BISHOP is stamped on the iron of the smaller plane. According to Sheffield directories of the period, several firms might have qualified as its manufacturer. From 1774 to about 1786 George Bishop made wool shears, edge tools, spades, and shoe knives. In 1787 the firm of Bishop, Weldon, & Carr—factors, merchants, and saw and edge-tool manufacturers—was listed at 18 Bridge Street. By 1817 the other partners had disappeared, and Bishop and Company alone was listed. From 1837 to 1849 Samuel Bishop produced edge tools on Young Street. It would appear, then, that the blade was made in Sheffield, at some time between 1787 and 1849, by one of the several firms called Bishop.
Description A: Length, 8 3/16; height, 5 5/8; width, 1 3/16; blade angle, 45°. Birch stock and wedge, front of stock stamped 22, with conjoined initials ND and date 1787; iron blade with steel face. B: Length, 9; height, 6 1/16; width, 11/16; blade angle, 55°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped with initials ND in rectangle and date 1795; probably cast-steel blade, stamped BISHOP (Sheffield, 1787–1849). Both made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Gifts of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.93.96, 57.93.99.
Fore or Jack Plane
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Moxon succinctly states the reason for the name of this bench plane: "It is called the Fore Plane because it is used before you come to work with the Smooth Plane or with the Joynter."165 The surface of hand-cut planking or stock was quite rough and irregular. In order to give some degree of uniformity to the surface, a woodworker ran this type of [p. ]
Over the years much confusion has arisen about the names of the bench planes used by woodworkers, especially in connection with the fore, or jack, plane. What is most important is the fact that the purpose of these planes, whatever their name, was identical. In The Panorama of Science and Art Smith states that the "jack-plane" was used by joiners, "to take off the greater irregularities of the stuff, left by the axe, the adze, or the saw, and it is therefore the first plane employed"—almost an echo of Moxon's statement made one hundred years before. It is likely that "fore plane" was a seventeenth- and eighteenth-century term for this tool and that sometime near the end of the eighteenth or the beginning of the nineteenth century the word "jack" was substituted in the name of this or a similar plane. Randle Holme's comment in 1701 was quite plain. "The Jack Plain, called so by the carpenter, is the same that Joyners call the Fore Plain."166
The earliest example of the term "jack plane" in the Oxford English Dictionary is from Smith's Panorama, published about 1816. Only one early-nineteenth-century source book mentions the fore plane: in discussing bench planes, Nicholson lists both the fore and the jack plane but later discusses and illustrates only the jack plane.167 On July 25, 1808, Nathaniel Dominy V purchased a "Double Iron Jack Plain" from Miller Dayton at a cost of 6 shillings.168 But in Greenfield, Massachusetts, as late as 1842 to 1849, a young cabinetmaker's apprentice, named inappropriately Edward Jenner Carpenter, wrote that he had "finished my fore plane iron & flung it aside & Lyons got me a new one."169
Mercer refused to enter into the controversy and refers to this tool by both names. Mills Brown made a valiant effort to separate the terms and identify two separate types of planes. He noted that Moxon mentioned the jack plane for carpenters, fore plane for joiners, and that both were the same plane. Brown thought, however, that in mid-nineteenth-century America two distinct types were in existence.170 Nevertheless, among some forty-eight different planes offered by John J. Bowles, a plane maker in Hartford, Connecticut, from 1838 to 1840, only jack planes were listed.171 Sargent and Company's tool catalogue of 1901 shows both a "jack" and a "fore" plane whose only differences were length and handle design. The former was a plane 16 inches long with a plain handle, or tote, while the latter ranged from 18 to 22 inches and had a hollow grasp handle.172
The front of the plane illustrated here is stamped twice with Nathaniel Dominy IV's mark, the initials [p. ] ND inside a rectangle. This tool was used over a long period of time before it was abandoned and another one made in 1792 (No. 70). The handle was probably a quickly made replacement because it is not as well finished as other examples in the collection. A thin wedge has been fitted into the sole of the plane where the blade opening occurs. After much use the sole of a plane had to be replaned and made true. This practice made the mouth of its bed wider; and when that occurred, the user had the choice of repairing or discarding the tool.
On top of the stock, left of its bed, is a worn concave area. This was caused by the craftsman's striking it with a mallet to loosen the wedge and iron, allowing the depth of the iron to be adjusted or the blade completely removed. In this example the iron, or blade, is probably a replacement of the original.
Description Length, 15 1/8; height 5 3/8; width, 2 1/8; blade angle, 40°. Beech stock, front stamped twice ND in rectangle; birch handle; American softmaple wedge; American hickory pegs; steel blade stamped WELDON (Sheffield, 1787–1841). Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.77.
Fore or Jack Plane
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
In order not to create a depression on the top surface of the stock, as occurred in Number 69, woodworkers often placed a round or lozenge-shaped insert of hardwood, bone, or metal near the wood-shaving orifice. In this example the insert is made of hickory.
A pronounced tapering of the stock from front to back (1 3/8 to 1 3/4) is visible in the photograph. This resulted from the greater pressure brought to bear on the front of the plane where the woodworker grasped it with his left hand. Over a long period of time the sole of the plane wore more rapidly at the front than at the rear.
As noted above, this plane was probably made as a replacement for Number 69. It is stamped on the front with Nathaniel IV's touch, ND in a rectangle, and with the date when the stock was made, 1792.
Description Length, 15 1/8; height, 5 5/8; width, 2 3/8; blade angle, 45°. American beech stock, handle, and wedge, front of stock stamped ND in rectangle and date 1792; steel blade stamped WELDON (Sheffield, 1787–1841). Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.76.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
These planes produced moldings which contradicted the name they bore. Hollow planes were used by craftsmen to make convex, rounded moldings and their soles, therefore, were concave.173 Many of the half-round moldings on Dominy clockcases were made by these planes. The planes were always ordered with the companion round plane (Nos. 87–89).
Woodworkers apparently found them the most useful of molding planes. Eleven "hollows" survive in the Dominy Tool Collection; originally there were probably a dozen in the woodworking shop. In Richard Johns' tool order of 1760 (see Chapter III), twelve pairs of hollows and rounds topped the list. English tool catalogues of the early nineteenth century show irons for hollows and rounds in paired combinations, and as late as 1910 Sargent and Company offered them for sale in the same manner.174
Four of the five Dominy planes illustrated have numbers stamped on the stocks (A, C, D, and E). In the case of hollows and rounds, the numbers are a code reference to blade size. In the list of planes made by John J. Bowles hollows and rounds were listed as "pair to No. 12" and "over No. 12."175
As a group, these tools provide much evidence of planemaking technique. In the widest planes the upper parts of the stock have been removed to provide a comfortable handgrip. The medium-width planes retain full stocks, and in the narrowest example the lower part of the stock has been removed to correspond to its iron. The latter plane[p. ]
Two different pitches were used for the blades of these hollows. They were used on different types of wood, and a smoother surface was often obtained by first using a hollow plane with a blade of rank setting and then using one of the same size with a finer set iron.176
Description A: Length, 10 3/4; height, 5 3/4; width, 1; blade angle, 50°. Birch stock and wedge, front of stock stamped 6, with conjoined initials ND and date 1765; iron blade with steel face. B: Length, 11 1/4; height, 6; width, 1; blade angle 50°. Birch stock and wedge, front of stock stamped with conjoined initials ND and date 1765; iron blade with steel face. C: Length, 8 11/16; height, 5; width, 1/2; blade angle, 55°, Birch stock and wedge, front of stock stamped 12, with conjoined initials ND and date 1765; iron blade with steel face. D: Length, 8 15/16; height, 4 11/16; width, 7/16; blade angle, 50°. American cherry stock and wedge, front of stock stamped 14, with initials ND in rectangle and date 1788; iron blade with steel face. E: Length, 9 3/8; height, 5 3/8; width, 7/16; blade angle, 55°. Probably European beech stock and wedge, rear of stock stamped I, front stamped DOMINY in serrated rectangle; iron blade with steel face. A-D made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. E purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. A, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, 1957. B-D, Museum purchase from, and E, gift of, Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.80.4, 57.93.19, 57.93.29, 57.93.32, 57.93.98.
Hollow Planes or Forkstaffs
As Peter Nicholson stated in 1812, the purpose of this type of tool was to produce smooth, long, cylindrical surfaces. It is essentially a type of hollow plane; but instead of being long and narrow, it was, in Nicholson's view, "similar to the smoothing plane in every respect of size and shape" except for its concave sole.177
Coachmakers, cabinetmakers, chairmakers, and carpenters found this kind of plane useful for stair rails, carriage-wheel spokes, large furniture moldings for case pieces, and tool handles. The common pitch (45°) of the blade of the forkstaff plane acquired
Since the original blade in the 1769 example has been replaced and much surface wear shows on both stocks, it is evident that these planes were used frequently by the Dominys. Their initials or name can be seen on the front of the stocks.
Description A: Length, 6; height, 4 1/8; width, 1 15/16; blade angle, 45°. European beech stock and [p. ]
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
The jointer was the longest of the bench planes employed by woodworkers, and its length was a direct expression of its purpose. This tool was used to plane straight edges on long boards in order to insure a tight fit when placed together edge-to-edge. This operation was called "shooting." According to Moxon, joiners also used it to "try [plane] Tables with (large or small), or other such joyners work."178
It is important to realize that much skill was required in using this plane. In finishing a joint, the shaving of a long edge was removed in one operation-a procedure requiring strength and balance. All contemporary sources agree that the blade was set quite fine or, in James Smith's words, to stand out "scarcely above a hair's breadth." The common pitch of the blade was 45 degrees, but for mahogany or other hardwoods it was usually set at 50 or 55 degrees.179
Nathaniel Dominy IV was quite pleased with this superb example of plane making. When it was finished, he stamped his complete name on the front of the stock using individual upper and lower case letters instead of the initial touchmark found on the other tools. The curve at the back of the handle grip is echoed in reverse by the unusually thin front of the tote. To relieve the stock from a feeling of clumsiness and weight, the edges were chamfered. Even the wedge was scooped in front and its edges chamfered.
No finer illustration could be found of the suiting [p. ] of a tool to the particular requirements and tastes of individual craftsmen during the period of hand craftsmanship. Most writers indicate that the jointer could be anywhere from 27 to 30 inches, but this example is 33 1/2 inches. Smith and Nicholson list 30 inches; Tomlinson, 28 to 30 inches; Knight, 28 to 30 inches; Mills Brown, 27 to 30 inches. Mercer shows planes of over 30 inches and calls them "floor planes," used chiefly for the surface leveling of floor boards.180 In the Sargent and Company catalogue of 1901 jointer planes are shown ranging from 24 to 30 inches, while John Bowles made five different lengths of jointer planes (21, 22, 26, 28, 30) in the late 1830's.181 The condition of the Dominys' plane indicates that it was not used for flooring but for finer woodwork that required a plane 3 1/2 inches longer than the usual jointer.
Description Length, 33 1/2; height, 6 3/4; width, 3 1/8; blade angle, 50°. American beech stock, grip, and wedge, front of stock stamped Nathaniel Dominy / 1766; iron blade with steel face stamped WELDON (Sheffield, 1787–1841). Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Mrs. Carl Mason (Phoebe Dominy), 1959. Museum accession: 59.158.1.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
To obtain a high degree of exactness and smoothness on a piece of "stuff," an old term for wood material, the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century woodworker often used the long plane. As described in source books, it was a longer version of the trying plane, and its blade was set at a depth between that of the trying plane and the jointer.182
The usual dimension of this plane is given as 26 or 27 inches long, but in 1854 Charles Tomlinson put the length at between 24 to 26 inches. The example shown here, made by Nathaniel Dominy V in 1797, is exactly 26 inches long; it probably supplemented one of the same length made earlier by his father (57.26.8). At least two other long planes were made by Nathaniel V and used in the woodworking shop. One is stamped at the front of the stock, DOMINY 1800 (57.93.81, length 25 7/8); the other is marked DOMINY 1802 (57.26.1, length 24 13/16).183
It is difficult to determine whether the name MOTTRAM, stamped on the plane iron, was used to identify the firm of Mottram and Greaves, first listed in the Sheffield General Directory of 1817, or that of Mottram and Company, founded by Thomas Mottram sometime after 1821. There is little doubt that the blade was made in Sheffield and is a replacement of an earlier one.
Description Length, 26; height, 6 5/8; width, 3 1/8; blade angle, 45°. American beech stock, handgrip, and wedge, front of stock stamped DOMINY in serrated rectangle and date 1797; iron blade with steel face stamped MOTTRAM (Sheffield, about 1821–1849). Made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.82.
Molding Plane (Bead, Hollow, Groove, and Reverse Ogee)
East Hampton, N.Y
This plane and the following example offer primary lessons on the difficulties involved in identifying eighteenth-century tools. The complex moldings produced by these tools were apparently designed for specific tasks which became unnecessary with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in America—all of which means that the author has been unable to assign a particular name or function to these planes.
The blade of the plane shown here has a two-piece welded wrought-iron shaft and an edge that was probably hand cut by a local smith. When the stock was made (probably by the owner of the initials IM incised on the side of the plane hidden from the viewer), it had an adjustable fence, the arms of which moved through the mortise holes cut through the stock. After Nathaniel Dominy IV acquired it, he attached a 1/4-inch permanent fence [p. ]
The early style of the letters IM and ND on the stock plus the use of rose-headed nails probably dates this plane closer to 1750 than to 1800. Its blade was set at York pitch (50°), indicating that the plane was intended for softwoods.184
Description Length, 11; height, 6 5/16; width, 1 5/8; blade angle, 50°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped ND in rectangle, initials IM incised on side of stock above fence; soft-maple fence; iron blade with steel face, shaft made of two pieces. Probably made by IM (unidentified); acquired by Nathaniel Dominy IV, who added a permanent fence. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.91.
Molding Plane (Ogee, Reverse Ogee, Bead and Quirk)
East Hampton, N.Y.
It is intriguing to note that the largest and crudest of the Dominys' molding planes was used to cut the most sophisticated and complex molding. Woodworkers could, and did, use a combination of planes to produce complicated moldings; here, one 2-inch blade in a stock with a 1/2-inch fence cuts a pattern in one stroke that might have required three separate planes. The only reference to a similar plane is in the list of planes made in the 1840's by John Bowles. He made molding planes in various sizes (some larger than 1 inch), which he called "Qk [quirk] Ogees with Beads or fillets," to sell for $1.12 1/2.185 His plane would execute two of the three designs made by the Dominys' plane. A series of moldings similar, although not identical, to these are illustrated in Nicholson's Mechanical Exercises (London, 1812). They were used as moldings for door frames.186
A deep notch cut on top of the stock near its front end served the same purpose as the horn frequently seen on European planes.187 It enabled the craftsmen to grasp a rounded section with thumb, palm, and remaining fingers. A semicircular beveled opening on the right side of the stock, like those seen on rabbet planes, discarded broad shavings without clogging its bed. Obviously, most of the wear on the original oak sole occurred where
Description Length, 12; height, 3 3/4; width, 2 1/2; blade angle, 45°. White-oak block stamped on front ND in rectangle; dogwood addition to sole; maple wedge; iron blade. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy III. Addition to sole probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.100.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
The only plane of its type in the Dominy Collection, this was used by Nathaniel V to produce an ogee molding. This shape in profile is the cyma recta—the serpentine line of beauty acclaimed by William Hogarth in his Analysis of Beauty (London, 1753).
The pleasing lines may have been its greatest asset; records hint that woodworkers may have preferred to use complex molding planes that combined the ogee curve with other decorative moldings. When Richard Johns ordered tools from England in 1760 (see Chapter III), he included only one 4/8-inch ogee among some thirty-six planes.
Because its iron is set at middle pitch (55°), this plane was apparently used by Nathaniel Dominy V to make hardwood moldings.188 The blade is stamped BISHOP, clearly visible in the photograph, and was made by a Sheffield firm sometime between 1787 and 1849.
Description Length, 9 3/16; height, 6 7/16; width, 1; blade angle, 55°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped DOMINY in serrated rectangle and date 1800; probably cast-steel blade, stamped BISHOP (Sheffield, 1787–1849). Made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.35.
Ovolo or Quarter-round Planes
East Hampton, N.Y.
Eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century advertisements refer to these planes as either "quarter-rounds" or "ovolos," and, they produced the quarter-round molding known as an "ovolo."189 They were used extensively by the Dominys in cabinetmaking and carpentry work. Like other sets of molding planes shown in this catalogue, each cut a profile of the same design in a slightly different size; the number stamped on their stocks is evidently an indication of the molding width made by each plane's iron.
This group of tools is an excellent representation of molding plane stocks made in succession during the last thirty-five years of the eighteenth century. The smallest of the group (E), perhaps used for picture-frame moldings, clearly shows the initials-in-a-rectangle stamp used by Nathaniel IV. Below it, an ovolo plane, with blade and wedge inserted in the stock, illustrates the name-in-a-rectangle stamp used by Nathaniel V.
All have fences to place the moldings at a set distance from the edge of a board and all except D and E were intended for use on hardwood surfaces. Only one other plane of this type (57.26.9) has
Description A: Length, 10 1/8; height, 5; width, 9/16; blade angle, 55°. Birch stock and wedge, front of stock stamped 19, with conjoined initials ND and date 1765; iron blade with steel face. B: Length, 8 7/8; height, 5 1/2; width, 9/16; blade angle, 55°. Satinwood stock and wedge; front of stock stamped 16, with conjoined initials ND and date 1766; iron blade with steel face. C: Length, 10 3/8; height, 6 7/8; width, 15/16; blade angle, 55°. American cherry stock stamped on front 17, with conjoined initials ND and date 1766; mahogany wedge; iron blade with steel face. D: Length, 9; height, 5; width, 7/8; blade angle, 50°. Birch stock and wedge, front of stock stamped 18, with conjoined initials ND and date 1768; iron blade with steel face. E: Length, 4 7/8; height, 1 5/8; width, 5/8; blade angle,
Ovolo or Quarter-round Plane (Double)
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
In the early nineteenth century one of the more common types of decoration seen on table edges was the double ovolo, produced by the plane bearing the same name. The quarter-round surfaces produced by this plane are so slight that today attention is usually given to the deep incision, or groove, produced at the center of this molding.
The touchmark of Nathaniel V and the year in which he made the plane are stamped on the front of the plane. In addition, characteristics of American beech are present in the stock and wedge. [p. ]
Description Length, 9; height, 5 3/8; width, 11/16; blade angle, 55°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped DOMINY 1809; iron blade with steel face. Made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.87.
Panel or Strike Block Plane
East Hampton, N.Y.
This plane has all the features of the strike block (No. 95), but it is 3 or 4 inches longer. It is not a jack, or fore, plane because its sole is flat and straight, not curved. The low angle of its blade and the fact that a double iron is employed are indications that this tool was used cross grain and on the ends of boards.
In the Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts (London, 1854), "Panel planes" are listed as part of a joiner's bench equipment. Their length is given as 14 1/2 inches, only 1/2 inch smaller than the plane illustrated. Knight also lists a plane of this type, merely describing it as a "long stocked plane having a handle or toat" used after the trying plane had leveled a wood surface.190 Among the tools listed in 1827 by Amasa Thompson, a carpenter of Middleborough, Massachusetts, was a "Pannel plane" valued at $1.25.191 John Bowles was making "pannel" planes between 1838 and 1840.192
It is possible, of course, that when Nathaniel Dominy V made the stock for this plane in 1817 he intended it to be used as a slightly longer strike block. Its double iron may have been purchased at about the same time that the stock was made, because William Greaves and Sons, whose stamp appears on the plane, are first listed in Sheffield directories in 1817. In addition to being designated as a toolmaking firm, the term "American Merchants" appeared after their name, an indication that they produced tools for export.193
The Dominys had frequent use for a plane of this size. It has had its sole trued up often enough to have caused a very large bed opening. In addition to the example shown here, six other planes of similar length (16 1/8, 16 1/4, 16 7/16, 16 9/16, 16 5/8, 16 15/16; 57.26.2–5; 57.26.7; 57.93.78) have survived.
Description Length, 15; height, 5 7/8; width, 2 5/8; blade angle, 40°. American beech stock, tote, and wedge, front of stock stamped DOMINY in serrated rectangle and date 1817; iron blade with steel face stamped GREAVES & SONS (William Greaves and Sons, Sheffield, 1817–1833). Made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum purchase from Mrs. Carl Mason (Phoebe Dominy), 1959. Museum accession: 59.158.3.
Plow or Grooving Plane
East Hampton, N.Y.
A simple technique for joining two boards tightly is to fit a tongue of one edge into a groove cut in the other edge. This plane was used by the Dominys to "plough," or cut, a groove in the edges of boards.
Nathaniel Dominy IV's plane is a universal plow. Its fence, with long arms mortised through the stock, is adjustable by loosening and tightening a key, or wedge, visible at the side of the stock in front of one arm. A vertical wooden key projects from the top of the stock. This is called a "stop," and its adjustment permitted plowing a groove to [p. ]194
In the late seventeenth century Moxon described this tool as a "narrow rabbet plane" and said that joiners used several different plows for various groove widths. By the third quarter of the eighteenth century this "cumbersome and expensive" practice was no longer necessary because of the use of a "universal plough." Employing a movable fence and stop, eight to twelve plow irons, ranging in size from 1/8 inch to 3/4 inch, could be used in the same stock to cut the desired groove width on any thickness of board.195
This plane is pleasing in appearance and use. The rounded edges of the stock offer no resistance to hands, and its vertical and horizontal lines are softened by curved surfaces on arms, stock, and fence.
Three other plows have survived in the Dominy Tool Collection. One is the nonuniversal type described by Moxon and was probably used by Nathaniel III. It dates between 1725 and 1750 and is in very poor condition. The front of its stock is stamped with large, early-style initials TC or TO. A wood, rather than an iron, sole is used, no stop is provided, and it was designed to cut only a shallow groove.
A second plow (No. 96) is stamped at the front with both the initials TI and ND in a rectangle. Also nonuniversal, it was designed to cut a 1/4-inch-deep round-bottom groove of the type used on the edges of early drop-leaf tables. It was used in conjunction with a plane (57.93.101) that cuts a half-round tongue. It may have been used first by Nathaniel III or acquired later by Nathaniel IV for furniture repair work. It is American in origin; microanalysis of its woods reveals that it was made of American beech.
A third plow (57.26.14) was probably made by Nathaniel VII. It is branded with the name DOMINY (script), a brand originally devised for marking flour barrels at the Hook Mill. A universal plow with a hollow grasp handle and turned knobs for adjusting the screw arms of its fence, it is a type commonly used between 1840 and 1875 and is similar to the plow shown in Wildung's book.196 A patent drawing for an improved plow plane, submitted by Emanuel W. Carpenter, reveals that plows with adjustable screw-arm fences were in use by 1837.197
Description Height, 6 3/4; width (including fence), 9; blade angle, 45°. Birch stock, fence, slides, stop, and wedges, front of stock stamped with conjoined initials ND and date 1772; iron blade with steel face. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.47
Plow and Rabbet Plane
East Hampton, N.Y.
This unique special-purpose plane was made by Nathaniel Dominy V in 1797. His stamp and that date are clearly shown on the front of the stock. It was probably used to cut grooves into drawer sides to receive the board that formed a drawer bottom. Its fence enables the plane either to move along the edge of a 1-inch-thick board and cut a rabbet (ship lap) or to cut a groove 5/8 of an inch away from the edge of a board. It will not cut deeper than 9/16 of an inch, and its present blade is 5/16 of an inch wide. Shavings were discharged from the side—typical of rabbet-grooving planes.
A rabbet, or ship lap, might be desired along the inner edge of a door panel or on the outer edge of a [p. ]
Description Length, 9 3/8; height, 5 3/8; width, 1 3/8; blade angle, 45°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped DOMINY in serrated rectangle and date 1797; iron blade with steel face. Made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.39.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
This plane will cut a rabbet 3/16 inches wide, and its fence insures that it will be made at that distance from the edge of a board. It has no stop, and the depth of its cut was regulated either by eye or by a predetermined measurement marked with a scratch awl. Its design is proof that not all rabbet planes were made with a curved mouth open through both sides of the stock.
Nathaniel Dominy IV probably had good reason for stamping the number 24 below his initials on the front of this plane's stock, but whether it was a code to the size of the plane or its number in a series cannot be determined. Few other planes made by the Dominys have as high a digit stamped on them.
On February 19, 1770, Nathan Conkling furnished Nathaniel IV with "1 Plane Iron," for which he received a credit of 1 shilling 3 pence.198 Perhaps that blade was intended for this plane. The half pitch of its blade, 60 degrees, indicates that the Dominys used it on the edge of hardwood boards.
Description Length, 8 15/16; height, 5 3/4; width, 3/8; blade angle, 60°. Birch stock, front stamped 24, with conjoined initials ND and date 1770; hickory
Rabbet Plane (Side or Dado)
New York City and England
Nicholson does not illustrate a plane of this type, but his description of the side rabbet plane fits the tool shown here so closely that it could have served as his model:
Side Rebating Planes Are those which have their cutting edge on one side of the plane, and discharge the shaving at the other, the lower part of the stock is therefore open upon both sides. The side of the plane containing the mouth, is altogether vertical; but the opposite side is in only part so, from the top downwards to something more than half the height, then recessed and bevelled with a taper to the sole; the orifice of discharge for the shaving is [p. ]199
This plane was used to begin or to clean the vertical sides of rabbets, or grooves. It may have been used most often for making grooves; in the second edition of the Manuel du tourneur (1816), a similar plane is called a "Bouvet d'assemblage" (a joiner's grooving plane for band or scarf joints).200 The vertical knives that scored the wood ahead of the iron in order to keep it cutting within a prescribed groove and the brass thumbscrew adjuster for a brass stop (the latter barely visible above the knives) were improvements on planes early in the nineteenth century.
The plane is an example of the Dominys' purchase of tools in New York City. In this case the blade had been imported from England, but the stock was made by an American firm, that of Austin and Elbridge Baldwin. The two are listed in New York City directories from 1831 to 1841 as "planemakers." They were successors to a firm established earlier by Enos Baldwin, and their advertisement in the American Advertising Directory for 1831 states that they made "Carpenters', Cabinet Makers', Coopers' and Coach Makers' Planes." A 1 7/8-inch skew-mouthed rabbet plane (57.93.43) was also purchased from the same firm.
Description Length, 9 1/2; height, 6 3/4; width, 1 1/16; blade angle, 50°. American beech stock and wedge, stamped on front of stock DOMINY in serrated rectangle, stamped on rear of stock A & E. BALDWIN in serrated rectangle; iron blade with steel face stamped W. BUTCHER (Sheffield, 1818–1828). Purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.28.
Rabbet Plane (Skew-Mouthed)
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
What the smoothing plane was to the upper or lower surface of a board, the skew-mouthed rabbet plane was to the rabbet cut on its edge. The oblique angle of its blade enabled it to slide over cross-grain fibers, thus smoothing rabbeted edges that had to be planed against the usual direction of wood grain.201
Nathaniel IV may have made this plane to replace another example in the collection (57.93.10), also 1 1/8 inches wide. Two other skew-mouthed rabbet planes (57.93.12, 57.93.43) made or acquired by [p. ] Nathaniel V early in the nineteenth century have also survived.
Description Length, 10 1/8; height, 5 7/8; width, 1 1/8; blade angle, 50°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped I, with initials ND in rectangle and date 1794; iron blade with steel face. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.30.
Rabbet Planes (Square-Mouthed)
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Rabbet planes without fences were used for cleaning and smoothing the internal angles of fillets and grooves previously cut by a rabbet plane with a fence.202 The curved portion of the mouths of these examples indicates that shavings were thrown to the right.
In a catalogue published between 1833 and 1837 Cutler and Company, of Sheffield, offered "Square Rabbet Irons" in assorted sizes up to 1 1/2 inches. The Dominys probably had more planes of this type; but only one other example (57.26.10), which will clean a rabbet 1 1/4 inches wide, has survived.
One of these planes was intended to be used on hardwoods, as evidenced by the pitch of its iron.203
Description A: Length, 9 15/16; width, 3/4; height, 6 1/4; blade angle, 60°. Birch stock and wedge, stamped on front of stock 3, with conjoined initials ND and date 1765; iron blade with steel face. B: Length, 7 7/8; width, 7/16; height, 5 7/8; blade angle, 50°. Birch stock and wedge, stamped on front of stock 3, with conjoined initials ND; iron blade with steel face. Both planes made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. A, Museum purchase from, and B, gift of, Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.93.24, 57.93.89.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
As noted in Number 71, hollow planes cut convex surfaces known as "rounds," and round planes cut concave, grooved moldings called "hollows." The terms used for these paired planes are, admittedly, confusing and have caused more than one writer to err.204 To avoid error, one should remember that the moldings produced by hollows and rounds are a reversal of the shape of their soles.
Mercer gives the round plane but slight treatment, mentioning only that it was used "to round the inside of wooden gutters or to deepen mouldings already cut."205 It was an extremely useful plane, however; and in the hands of skilled artisans, large hollows and rounds of the type shown here could produce beautiful cornices, fireplace moldings, and stair rails.206 Although these long round planes are thought of primarily as carpenter's planes, they were used earlier by urban cabinetmakers and over a long period of time by country craftsmen. Both Nathaniel Dominys used this round plane and a similar example (57.93.74, width 1 7/8 inches) to produce the handsome and bold hollow moldings on their clockcases and case pieces (Nos. 210, 216, 217, 220).
Constant use and the application of greatest pressure at the front of the stock caused the soles of large planes to wear unevenly. The tapering of this plane's stock is clearly shown in the photograph, [p. ]
Description Length, 15; height, 5 9/16; width, 2 1/4; blade angle, 45°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped ND in rectangle and date 1791; beech handle; iron blade with steel face, illegible stamp (probably English). Made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Mrs. Carl Mason (Phoebe Dominy), 1959. Museum accession: 59.158.4.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
These planes have been assigned to this category because of the shape of their soles. It is difficult to determine whether they were originally rabbet planes reshaped to produce hollow moldings or whether they were a special type of rabbet plane. Roubo illustrates semicircular rabbet, or platband, planes ("guillaumes à plates-bandes cintrées").207 His figures show rabbet planes with stops, however, to cut a predetermined depth. It is conceivable that Nathaniel IV designed these planes to make deep hollow grooves and used a rabbet-plane orifice in the stock to permit easy discharge of shavings.
The upper plane (A) has a definite horn, or handgrip, at the front and is closer to European examples than any other tool in the Dominy Collection.208 This plane was also used frequently enough to cause its sole to split and be patched with a piece of pearwood.
Description A: Length, 11 3/8; height, 5 1/8; width, 1 7/16; blade angle, 45°. American beech stock and wedge, rear of stock stamped ND in rectangle; pear sole patch; iron blade with steel face, probably English. B: Length, 7; height, 6 1/8; width, 9/16; blade angle, 55°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped ND in rectangle and date 1795; iron blade with steel face, probably English. Both made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.93.38, 57.93.21.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
In addition to nine round planes illustrated in this catalogue, eight other examples have survived in the Dominy Tool Collection. Of the planes not pictured, three (stamped 5, 9, 11 in the series) were made by Nathaniel Dominy IV in 1765.
According to Nicholson, woodworkers often started a hollow molding with a gouge and then used one or more round planes to clean and smooth the excavation.209 The practice of using two molding planes of slightly different pitch is well illustrated by the four rounds shown here. Both York (50°) and middle pitch (55°) are in evidence.
As is true of the hollows (No. 71), the English plane acquired by Nathaniel V early in the nineteenth century (D) is easily distinguished from the handmade examples produced by his father. Also evident on that plane is the peculiar susceptibility of English beech to worm damage. The plane above it (C) made of American beech in 1792 is untouched. This may account for the American craftsmen's practice of fitting English edge tools with native wood.
Description A: Length, 11 3/8; height, 6 3/16; width, 7/8; blade angle, 50°. Birch stock and wedge, front of stock stamped 7, with conjoined initials ND and date 1765; iron blade with steel face. B: Length, 9; height, 6 1/4; width, 1/2; blade angle, 55°. American cherry stock, stamped on front 13, with conjoined initials ND and date 1786; birch wedge; iron blade with steel face. C: Length, 10 13/16; height, 6; width, 1 1/4; blade angle, 55°. American beech stock and wedge, front of stock stamped 4, with initials ND in rectangle and date 1792; iron blade with steel face. D: Length, 9 3/8; height, 5 1/2; width, 7/16; blade angle, 55°. European beech stock and wedge, rear of stock stamped 2, with front stamped DOMINY in rectangle; iron blade with steel face. A–C made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. D purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. All four planes, Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.93.20, 57.93.17, 57.93.6, 57.93.13.
Sash Fillister Plane (Skew-Rabbet with Adjustable Fence)
East Hampton, N.Y.
This plane was intended to remove a rectangular or square section from the edge of a board, leaving two surfaces at right angles to each other. The result is known as a "rebate" in England or "rabbet" in America. A piece of elaborate molding can be fitted into a rabbet for decorative effect, or two boards can be made to fit together tightly by overlapping their rabbeted edges (lap joint). Window-sash frames have a number of rabbeted edges, and because the Dominy accounts list the making of sash, it is supposed that the plane shown here was used as a sash fillister.
In lists of eighteenth-century tools, "fillister" is one of the most fascinating terms encountered. As noted in Chapter III, "1 moving Filister without Arms," and "1 Left handed Fillister of 2/8" were among the tools Richard Johns wanted from England in 1760. In a list of cabinetmaker's and joiner's tools offered for sale in 1773 by Shaw and Chisholm, of Annapolis, Maryland, were "sash, moving, and common fillasters."210
Basically a type of skew-rabbet plane, the fillister is not discussed by Moxon; he may have considered it too common to write about when he discussed the rabbet plane. As late as 1812, for example, James Smith did not list the fillister in his discussion of rabbet planes, although he hinted at it in stating that there were many different kinds of rabbet planes including some with fences and stops.211 Because the fillister had many variations of design and because so many patents improved them during the nineteenth century, much confusion has arisen about the names and purpose of the fillister.212
Two early-nineteenth-century accounts describe the essential difference between moving and sash fillisters. The former had a fence attached directly to the sole or underside of its stock by screws. Adjustment of these screws permitted the fence to move over any portion of the blade desired, thus regulating the width of the cut. The latter had a fence, as pictured here, with projecting arms mortised through the sides of its stock, thus allowing the fence to be moved some distance from the cutting edge. Its blade always cut a rabbet of the same width, but it could be used on varying thicknesses of wood.213
The tool illustrated here has been described as a "sash" plane, but it should be pointed out that it would also qualify as a "left-handed" fillister. Its orifice is designed to throw shavings to the left, or away from the bench. As Nicholson points out, fillisters were also designed to throw shavings to the right or onto a workbench.
When Nathaniel Dominy IV made this plane in 1765, he may have intended to use it as an all-purpose fillister. On the other hand, between 1769 and 1803, Nathaniel Dominy IV and V made 565 squares of sash and 526 lights of sash, accounting for Nathaniel V acquiring another sash plane (cat. no. 91) in 1799. It is also possible that his son, Nathaniel V, converted it to use both as a moving and sash fillister. Its fence will slide under the sole and cover the blade if the stop is in a raised position as shown here. The plane has been much used and repaired, and it is difficult to distinguish between original and added fittings. A peg and wedge were used to repair a split in the tote; a bad split in [p. ] the stock, beginning at the juncture of the bed and orifice, was tightened with a hand-cut screw bolt and nut. The stop, which slides in a vertical groove on the side of the plane, is adjusted by a hand-cut eye-bolt screw that projects horizontally opposite the stop. The plane's iron sole is held in place by handmade screws with hand-filed heads. This may have been original, to prevent wearing down of the sole, or it may have been added later when the plane was in danger of becoming useless because of a worn sole.
No other fillisters survive in the Dominy Tool Collection, and it appears that the craftsmen were never attracted to the newer models of the early nineteenth century. These had an extra vertical cutter to clean the sides of the rabbet and a thumbscrew to adjust a broad-surfaced stop. Its continued use is graphic evidence in support of George Kubler's theories about the continued use of older tools and their constant repair even though newer forms were available.214
Description Length, 14 1/2; height, 7; width, 4; blade angle, 45°. American cherry stock and fence slides, front of stock stamped with conjoined initials ND and date 1765; American beech fence; satinwood stop; apple wedge; iron blade with steel face. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.46.
Sash Plane (Rabbet and Ovolo)
Unlike the sash fillister, which was called a "double member'd sash plane" by the Annapolis cabinetmakers Shaw and Chisholm, this plane does not have an adjustable fence and the distance between the rabbet and ovolo molding cannot be varied.215 It was used by Nathaniel V to produce window sash of one standard size.
When the sash plane was used on the edge of a board, it cut a rabbet on one edge to receive a pane of glass and a decorative tongue and ovolo on the other edge. Then, by cutting the same board to a predetermined width and placing the cut edge upward, the sash plane could produce the same molding on the new edge. The result was a decorative muntin to face inside a room.
The angle of its blade is set at York pitch (50°), indicating its use on softwood.216 In the late 1830's217
Description Length, 10; height, 6 1/2; width, 1 5/16; blade angle, 50°. Birch stock stamped on front DOMINY in rectangle and date 1799; probably European beech wedge; probably cast-steel blade. Purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum purchase from Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.5.
East Hampton, N.Y.
The oldest dated tool in the Dominy Collection is this smoothing plane stamped Nathaniel Dominy / Ye 3d Joyner [owner?] Decembr / Ye 25th AD 1763. Like other Presbyterians of the period, it was business as usual for Nathaniel Dominy on Christmas Day, with no observance of a holiday. Instead, he spent it finishing this plane. As explained previously, Nathaniel IV's father and grandfather, both of the same name, were alive when it was completed; he used the appellation "Ye 3d" until the death of his grandfather in 1769.
This type of plane was the last one used by woodworkers on finished work, and it left a surface with a high degree of smoothness. Because of its small size, it could be applied to particular areas of a piece of wood that needed attention. As Smith declared in 1812, "if the work be well managed, the [p. ]218
Its split, scarred condition is evidence of its hard use, as is also the plug inserted into the sole at the bed opening. Even with this insert, the opening finally became too wide for the plane to be of use. The indentations visible on the rear end of the stock were caused by a mallet. Smoothing planes were struck there in order to loosen the wedge and iron.
When this smoothing plane and the two that follow were first examined, the author believed that the group represented an early plane and its later replacements. The low angle at which the blade of this plane is set (30°) indicates, however, that it was used either for finishing softwoods or for end grain. A modern block plane used to finish end grain will have its blade set at 20 degrees. Blade angles of 50 and 60 degrees, at which the next two planes are set, were used on the surfaces of mahogany, maple, and cross-grained or other hardwoods.219
Description Length, 6 11/16; height, 2 3/8; width, 2 1/4; blade angle, 30°. Satinwood stock and wedge, top of stock stamped Nathaniel Dominy / Ye 3d Joyner [owner?] Decembr / Ye 25th AD 1763;; maple sole plug; iron blade. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1959. Museum accession 59.42.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
In August, 1787, Nathaniel Dominy IV purchased a plane iron from David Talmage, Jr., at a cost of 1 shilling 6 pence.220 Perhaps it was a blade for the plane shown here, made in the same year.
The angle of this blade, 50 degrees, is the York pitch commonly used for mahogany and other hardwood surfaces. Nathaniel IV may have made this smoothing plane to replace an earlier one inherited from his father. Its shape is basically the same as the smoothing plane he made for softwoods or end grain twenty-four years earlier in 1763.
Description Length, 6 3/4; height, 3 7/8; width, 2 1/8; blade angle, 50°. Satinwood stock and wedge, front of stock stamped with conjoined initials ND and date 1787; iron blade with steel face stamped NEWBOULD (Sheffield, 1787–1841). Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.59.
Smoothing and Tooth Plane
East Hampton, N.Y.
Although this plane is illustrated with the single iron that was in its bed when it was presented to the Museum in 1957, it is quite likely that it was also used by the Dominys as a tooth plane. The [p. ]221
With the Dominy tools is a tooth iron, a blade with a series of closely spaced grooves cut along its length, that fits the bed of this plane. Mercer and other writers state that the purpose of the toothing plane (called "tooth plane" in eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century sources) was to score the surface of veneer or joints that were to be glued. The series of ridges formed on the wood by pushing the toothing plane across it served as receptacles for glue and helped make a more secure bond.222
Only one piece of veneered furniture made by the Dominys has come to this writer's attention (No. 253). In 1812 James Smith mentioned a different function for the toothing plane that probably comes nearer to the use they made of it. According to Smith, this type of plane was used on very hard woods or wood of quite twisted and cross grain. The surface was thus made "everywhere alike" and no rougher "than if it had been rubbed with a piece of new fish-skin." This rough texture was then removed with a scraper (No. 21).223
The conjoined initials ND visible on the front of the stock were struck from a die that has survived (No. 31). They are different from the initials ND within a rectangle struck from a die that no longer exists. The year in which Nathaniel IV made this plane, 1765, is also visible on the stock.
Description Length, 6 1/2; height, 4 3/4; width, 2 1/4; blade angle, 60°. Satinwood stock and wedge, front of stock stamped with conjoined initials ND and date 1765; iron blade. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.55.
Strike Block Plane
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Planes of this type and size were used by woodworkers for "shooting" short joints or bevels and miters. The Dominys used this tool quite frequently for planing the joints where decorative moldings came together on case pieces and clockcases or for the interior framing of case furniture.
Moxon described a strike block as "a Plane shorter than the Joynter plane with a sole made exactly flat, and straight." Its purpose was as noted above, but Moxon added that, when miter, or bevel-edged, work was small enough, this plane could be held in one hand with the sole facing up and the wood passed over the cutting edge of the blade with the other hand.224
Diderot illustrates a miter plane of this shape and size; forty years later James Smith mentioned the strike block as a substitute for a jointer plane when use of the latter "would be unhandy." He added that it was "much employed in planing the ends of boards, across the fibres, and the inclined plane forming the bed, is lower than that of the jointer." As indicated below, the blade angle of the Dominys' strike block is set lower than the usual 45-degree angle. Smith described the length of this kind of plane as being about 11 or 12 inches. Nicholson called this type a "Straight Block" and listed 12 inches as a common length for it, but a modern author, Mills Brown, states that it was apparently to inches long.225
A "Strike Block" was among the list of joiner's tools ordered for Richard Johns in 1760, as quoted in Chapter III. Several years later, in 1767, Samuel Carruthers, a Philadelphia planemaker, advertised that his wares included "double-iron'd planes of a late construction far exceeding any tooth planes or uprights whatsoever, for cross-grained or curled stuff."226 If one did not know that double irons were in use by 1767, one might question the date of the blade in the plane illustrated. This type of blade was not, however, an early-nineteenth-century innovation but rather a development of the third [p. ]227
Usually a depression was made in the bed of a plane to receive the screw that fastened a double iron together. On this plane, the back of the wedge is scooped for the screw head. The attention lavished on the making of most of the Dominys' tools is well illustrated by this example. Scarcely a straight edge has been left unsoftened by chamfering or smoothing round. Nathaniel Dominy IV's initial stamp and the date 1793 can be seen at the front of the stock in an upside-down position. Another strike block (57.93.74), 12 1/16 inches long, survives in the collection. It is stamped ND in a rectangle at the front of the stock.
Description Length, 11; height, 5 1/2; width, 2 3/4; blade angle, 40°. American beech stock, tote, and wedge, front of stock stamped ND in rectangle and date 1793; iron blade with steel face, probably English. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.73.
Table Round Planes
East Hampton, N.Y.
These tools should be classified as grooving planes because they produce a rounded hollow, or groove; but they bear another name. These were a special type which cabinetmakers used most frequently to make tongue and groove joints for the leaves of tables. Knight calls a form with a similar function a "table-plane" and states that they were used with companion hollow planes.228 In the 1840's John Bowles advertised that, in addition to regular hollows and rounds, he also made "Table Hollows and Rounds," boxed or with fences.229
The owner of the initials TI stamped on the fence of the upper plane (A) is unidentified, but he was probably the maker of this plane. Because it was used on table leaves of slight thickness, the slides for adjusting the fence are fairly short. When
Only one drop-leaf table made by the Dominys has been identified (No. 253). It does not employ a tongue and groove joint, a type of construction used early in the eighteenth century. It is demonstrated in Chapter V that the Dominys made many kinds of tables, but perhaps these planes were used to repair old pieces brought to their shop. Records show that on December 9, 1794, Nathaniel V charged Merry Parsons 1 shilling 6 pence to mend a table, and on February 11, 1804, Nathaniel V billed Timothy Miller 4 shillings for making a new leaf for his table.230
Description A: Length, 11 1/2; height, 5 5/8; width, 3 1/4; blade angle, 45°, American beech stock and slides, front of stock stamped ND and TI in rectangles; hickory wedge; iron blade. B: Length, 6 1/8; height, 4 7/8; width, 5/8; blade angle, 60°. Birch stock stamped on front ND in rectangle; modern wedge; iron blade. Both made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. A, gift of, and B, Museum purchase from, Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.93.90, 57.93.15.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
This plane was so commonly associated with the plow plane that source books contain almost no comments on it. The blade of the tongue plane is notched in the center. When pushed along a board edge, its sharp outer edges cut into the wood, leaving a center ridge, or tongue.
Unlike the plow it has no stop to regulate depth of cut. When joiners had sets of matched pairs, as advocated by Moxon, the depth of the tongue was of little concern. With the adoption of the universal plow, a question arises: which plane was used first—plow or tongue? If the tongue plane was used first, the depth of the tongue could be measured and the stop of the plow adjusted accordingly.
The keys, or wedges, used to help in the adjustment of the fence are visible, as is the curved side opening in the stock for the discharge of shavings. With their blades set at an angle of 45 degrees, both [p. ] this plane and the plow described previously were probably used on softwoods.
Three other tongue planes have survived. One (57.93.101) is described with its matching plow in Number 81. When Nathaniel Dominy IV made the tongue plane illustrated, it may have been a replacement for an earlier plane (57.26.13) matched with a mid-eighteenth-century plow (57.26.12). The front of the earlier plane is stamped with the initials TC or TO in a rectangle. The third tongue plane (57.26.15) was probably made by Nathaniel Dominy VII between 1850 and 1875 to match the plow (57.26.14) described above.
Description Length, 12 1/4; height, 6 3/4; width (including fence), 4; blade angle, 45°. Birch stock, fence, slides, and wedges, front of stock stamped
East Hampton, N.Y.
After the jack, or fore, plane (Nos. 69, 70) had reduced the irregularities of a piece of wood, the trying plane was used to level the ridges produced by the former tool. Its purpose, then, was to smooth and straighten surfaces, an operation known to eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century cabinetmakers as "trying." Like the jointer plane, it was pushed over the entire length of a board in one long stroke.231
In a recent study, this form of bench plane is unfortunately compared to the jack, or fore, plane on an equal basis.232 The sole and the blade edge of the trying plane were completely straight—"tried and true"—while those of the jack, or fore, plane were slightly convex.
Authors contemporary with the Dominys assign different lengths to this tool, ranging from 20 to 22 inches.233 During their long career as woodworkers the Dominys evidently had much use for a plane of this size. Their lumber supply came from varied sources and required much work with the jack and trying planes before a uniform surface could be obtained. One customer was credited with payment of his debt with "96 feet of Crooked timber."234
Nathaniel Dominy V made this plane in 1809 probably as a replacement for an earlier beech plane (57.26.6, length 22 7/8) made by his father. That one survives in split condition with its blade and wedge missing. The double iron used in this example is a replacement made, perhaps, by Nathaniel Dominy VII (1827–1910). It was manufactured by the Auburn Tool Company, of Auburn, New York, a firm that is known to have been in business by 1867.235 Proof of the continued popularity of the trying plane exists in another example (57.93.80, length 22) made by Sargent and Company and owned by Charles M. Dominy (1873–1956), a son of Nathaniel VII.
Description Length, 21 7/8; height, 6 3/8; width, 2 7/8; blade angle, 40°. American beech stock, handgrip, and wedge, front of stock stamped DOMINY in a serrated rectangle and date 1809; cast-steel, double-iron blade stamped AUBURN TOOL CO, THISTLE TRADEMARK WARRANTED. Made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.79.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Quite logically, some of the Dominys' work required the drilling of large holes in wood. In making pumps, wagon, mill, and woolen-wheel hubs, a tool that would help to enlarge a small hole was quite useful. The reamer served that purpose.
Reamers of the type shown here are not pictured in old source books. A modern author, Mercer, shows two examples similar to A and states that they were used as pump augers, with long iron shanks for turning the blades, rather than the turned handle seen on the Dominys' reamer.236 As shown in Diderot's Encyclopédie, wheelwrights' reamers were much longer than these and always had a hook at the bottom.237
Sometimes only one edge of the reamer was sharpened (A), but often both edges were bezeled (B). In either case, the edges pared the sides of a hole already cut by an auger. The dowels in the handle of the longer reamer provide extra leverage for turning the blade. They are removable, suggesting that the holes enlarged by this tool were deeper than the lowest dowel. An iron collar, or ferrule, was probably added to the lower end of this reamer's handle after it had split. One other example (57.26.102) has survived. It is 22 1/2 inches long, and the initials of the probable maker, T·H, are stamped in a rectangle on its metal shank. See gouge g, catalogue number 41, page 85.
Description A: Length, 12 1/4; blade diameter, 1 3/8 to 2. Soft-maple handle; iron blade, probably English. B: Length, 27 13/16; blade diameter, 1 13/16 to 2 1/4. Soft-maple handle; birch handgrips; iron blade and ferrule. Both made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.111, 57.26.109.
Bow or Frame Saw
East Hampton, N.Y.
When the Dominy Tool Collection was assembled, one of the few disappointments was the absence of a large cabinetmaker's bow saw. A versatile tool, it is made with projecting handles that turn its blade to cut in any desired direction. Saws of this type are illustrated in both old and modern sources.238 Although at first it was thought that the Dominys must surely have owned a large one, continuing study has resulted in the conclusion that, in all probability, no frame saw larger than the example shown here was used by them.
The Dominy accounts refer only to "sash" (1765), "tenon" (1765), "hand" (1770), and "whip" (1794) saws, with the exception of one undescribed "saw" (1790).239 It would seem, then, that they owned but a single small bow saw. Both Martin and Nicholson fail to illustrate or discuss frame saws in their respective sections on carpentry and joinery.240 Moreover, in his discussion of the frame saw, Mercer states that, while it was popular as a bench saw on the Continent, "it was never popular with the Anglo-American carpenter in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, or used by him as a substitute for the common, open, unframed hand saw."241 When Jeremiah Cresson, of [p. ] Philadelphia, sold the contents of his shop in 1779, with "Sundry Joiners or Cabinet and Chair-Makers Tools," he listed "two hand, two pannel, three tenon, one dovetail," and, of particular interest here, "one frame compass saw."242
Moxon's definition of a compass saw indicates that it was used to cut round or curved paths in wood.243 The Dominys' bow saw was used for the same purpose—to follow the lines scratched on a wood surface around the outline of leg, arm, cresting rail, or splat patterns. It is possible, therefore, that the term encountered in Cresson's advertisement, a "frame compass saw," could be applied to the example pictured here. The range of blade length for both types of saws was remarkably similar. In 1816 Joseph Smith illustrated turning webs for frame saws from 10 to 20 inches long and compass saws from 10 to 18 inches long.244
The frame saw operates on a principle of tension applied to the blade by drawing the upper ends of its frame closer, thus spreading the lower ends and pulling the blade rigid. Most frame saws had a winding stick inserted in a double loop of rope stretched between the upper ends. By turning the stick and twisting the rope, the upper ends of the frame were drawn closer. The winding stick then rested against the center brace to maintain the taut condition of the rope. There is no sign of wear to indicate that Nathaniel IV or V used a rope on their saw. Instead a long wrought-iron bolt with a hand-cut screw pierces both ends. A hand-wrought wing nut turns on the screw and tightens the frame. It was important for the center brace to be flexible, and a glance at the photograph reveals that only one tenon is pegged fast into its mortise. The opposite tenon is allowed to ride freely in its mortise.
Another unique feature of the Dominys' saw is the slotted rivet bolts to which the blade is fastened. Each rivet fits snugly into the frame, but pressure on the blade will turn it in any direction wanted. As noted above, most bow saws had handles to which the blade was attached in order to rotate the blade easily. Roubo, however, shows a small bow saw of a construction similar to the Dominys', the only difference being a ring, or eye, attached to the rivet head.245
The curved frame, with its chamfered edges ending in lamb's-tongue decoration, makes this saw both handsome and functional. It is easy to see how the buck saw, which has a rigid blade and was used for sawing small logs and pieces of wood for kindling, derived its shape from this type of saw.
Description Height, 14 1/16; width, 14 7/8. American cherry bow and diagonal brace; beech stretcher; iron bolt, nut, and rivets; modern steel blade. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV or Nathaniel V. Museum accession: 57.26.79.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Those familiar with woodworking tools might be tempted to state that this tool is the "sash" saw acquired by Nathaniel IV in 1765. It can be said with assurance, however, that it is not. The type of handle, the number of teeth per inch on the blade, and its length are all clues to the fact that it is a saw used for making dovetails. A glance at an engraved plate from a Sheffield tool catalogue of 1816 (Illus. XXII) shows that the dovetail saw has an open handle and narrow blade ranging from 8 to 10 inches long. The sash saw has a closed handle and a wider blade 14 inches in length.246
In discussing dovetail and sash saws, Nicholson distinguished them by the number of teeth per inch on their blades, a distinction also used later in the century by Knight. Nicholson assigns thirteen teeth to the inch to the sash saw and about fifteen teeth to the inch to the dovetail saw; Knight assigns eleven and fourteen to eighteen, respectively. Obviously, dovetail saws were made with finer teeth and, on this bit of evidence alone, the Dominys' saw qualifies; its blade bears fifteen teeth per inch that will cut only on the push stroke.
Both types of saws featured a heavy back rib at the top of the blade. The rib was often made of brass but sometimes, as in this example, the rib was made of iron or steel. Its purpose was to help stiffen the blade and prevent its breaking because of buckling or wavering. The handle of this saw was carefully fitted to the blade with screw bolts and countersunk nuts. The ends of the bolts are cut off and neatly hammered to form a rivet head.
Saw blades, made of high-quality steel, were seldom discarded but were used for different types of saws over and over again. The front of this saw is broken, and it is possible that it was a sash saw [p. ] refashioned into its present form by Nathaniel V.
Description Length, 15; blade length, 10 1/8; height, 3 5/16. Birch handgrip; steel blade; iron screws and bolts. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.23.
Frame or Veneer Saw
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
The gripping handles at each end of this saw clearly indicate that it was designed for two workers. It is long enough for use as a framed pit saw (the blade is 48 1/2 inches long) because that type of blade ranged in length from 4 to 7 feet,248 but it is249 Still another factor against its use as a pit saw is its narrow 24-inch width across the handles. Pit-saw frames were much wider.
It is more likely that the Dominys' saw was used like a veneer-cutting saw. Veneering webs 44, 49, 54, 60, and 66 inches in length are shown in Joseph Smith's 1816 tool catalogue. A plate from Roubo's L'art du menuisier (Illus. XXIII) also provides some evidence for the purpose—and manner of use—of the Dominys' saw. The plate shows two workmen using a similar tool to cut strips of veneer from a log clamped in a double-screw vise. Diderot's Encyclopédie also illustrates two cabinetmakers using such a saw to cut planks lengthwise from a large square beam. It is important to remember, however, that Diderot does not state that these artisans are cutting veneer. He merely notes that two men are occupied in sawing lengthwise near a press. In describing the frame saw Diderot called it a "quarter," or "lengthwise," saw.250 Skillful cabinetmakers using this type of tool could cut veneer strips as thin as 1/8th of an inch.251 In his American Mechanical Dictionary Knight states that veneer saw blades contained two or four teeth per inch. The Dominys' saw blade has three teeth per inch.
Two recent publications illustrate frame saws of this type. They refer to them as "coachmaker's saws," used to cut the heavy plank needed by coachmakers or stock for bedstead posts.252 This term is not found in contemporary records, suggesting that—like many other tools—the framed veneer saw was used with a variety of blades for several purposes. For example, it would make an excellent tool to saw out drawer bottoms for large case pieces. This may explain Diderot's reference to a "lengthwise saw" used by the workmen depicted in his engraving.
It is not clear that the Dominys actually used this saw to cut veneer. Only one piece of veneered furniture, made by Nathaniel Dominy V, has been discovered (No. 253). A drop-leaf table, its design indicates that it was made at a time when veneers were being cut by circular saws and sold wholesale to cabinetmakers. In 1825 Richardson and Company, of Philadelphia, advertised the availability of their "Improved Patent Rotatory Veneer Cutters, propelled by steam power." They stated further that "Fine Veneers cut to convenient sizes, can be [p. ]
ILLUS. XXIII. Manner of sawing wood veneering lengthwise. From André Jacob Roubo, L'art du menuisier (Paris, 1769–1775), III, Plate 278
On December 25, 1767, Nathaniel IV credited Aaron Isaacs 5 shillings 9 pence for twenty-three pounds of chalk.254 Woodworkers usually covered a cord with chalk, tensed the line over a wood plank or log to be sawed, and snapped the cord, thus leaving a chalk-line guide for the sawyers to follow. It is probable that the chalk Nathaniel IV purchased in 1767 was used over a long period of time to mark lines on wood cut by this saw and to clean watches (see No. 127).
A metal adjusting screw, very similar to the device shown in Roubo's plate, was used to maintain tension on the blade or to allow the use of a slightly different blade size. Instead of notched volute handgrips, however, the Dominys' saw has lathe-turned handles. Both types of handle are shown in Mercer's book, as is the thinner veneering web usually found in frames of this type.255
Description Length, 57 1/4; blade length, 48 1/2; width, 24; blade depth, 3. White-oak frame; iron clamp, pins and bolt; steel blade, probably English. Made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV or Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.81.
Gate or Spring Saw
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
This saw is a smaller version of the gate saw, used in large mills, in which a heavy blade was tensioned in a sash frame. Whether Nathaniel V designed it because he was familiar with similar types in local mills or because he knew of small spring saws in other craftsmen's shops is not known.
The design was apparently familiar to late-eighteenth-century woodworkers; the same idea is illustrated in a French Manuel du tourneur published in 1792 (Illus. XXIV).256 There it is used in a bow-spring lathe and called a "lengthwise," or "quarter spring," saw. Because rose-headed wrought-iron nails were used to fasten the horizontal rails to the stiles of the frame, the Dominys' saw was probably made close to 1800 and, therefore, soon after the French book was published.
Nathaniel V made the frame of his saw to fit into the bed of the spring-pole lathe already in the shop. The lathe cord was tied to the iron staple on top of the sash frame. Another cord was tied to a staple on the underside of the sash frame and then fastened to the lathe treadle. By pumping the treadle with the foot, the sash frame, or gate, could be made to move up and down.
"Quarter-stuff" is an old carpentry term denoting quarter-inch-thick plank.257 Significantly, the French book calls this type of saw a "quarter spring" and shows a thin board being cut. The Dominys used it in the same manner.
Description Height, 29 5/8; width, 17; depth, 3 5/8. White-pine, tulip, and red-oak stationary frame; birch and red-oak moving frame; iron bolts, nuts, rivets, staples, pins; steel blade, probably English. Made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.80.[p. ]
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Only one complete handsaw used by the Dominy craftsmen has survived. It is tempting to believe that the tool illustrated is the saw Nathaniel IV purchased from Aaron Isaacs in 1770 at a cost of 8 shillings.258 It is more probable, however, that the broken handsaw used in their miter box (No. 51) is the original tool and that the saw shown here is a replacement bought by Nathaniel V about 1800.
The handle of this saw is American beech, and the rounded shape of its leading edge is different from the kidney shape illustrated in Joseph Smith's tool catalogue of 1816 (Illus. XXII).259 Hand-wrought iron rivets fasten the blade to its handle. According to Mercer, the hollow grasp handle did not become popular on handsaws in England and America until after 1750. Moxon, for example, pictures such a saw with a cylindrical handle mounted on a tang.260
The decorative notch at the end of this saw is sometimes used as evidence for assigning an early date to similar tools. It should be pointed out that nineteenth-century illustrations of handsaws also show this device, and Sargent and Company's catalogue of 1910 pictures a number of saws with a decorative notch.261 Like the bow saw, this handsaw cuts only on the push stroke.
Description Length, 30 1/8; blade length, 25 5/8; height, 4 1/4. American beech handgrip; steel blade, probably English; iron rivets. Probably made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.22.
East Hampton, N.Y.
Just as files were never discarded, broken or worn saw blades were continuously put to use in smaller forms. This type of saw came into being in this manner, and its name derives from the fact that it was used to cut small circular courses such as those needed for key-, latch-, and lockholes.262
According to Nicholson and James Smith, keyhole saws of the early nineteenth century had handles with adjusting screws in order to shorten or lengthen the blade. Adjustability was important for cutting very small curves or in making shallow incisions. It eliminated the awkward use of the end of a long, flexible blade.263
No adjustable saw has been found in the Dominy tools. Instead, as seen here, individual saws with different blades and varying fineness of teeth were employed. All except A cut on the push stroke. Curiously, the exception will cut only when pulled toward its user, with only its notched handle to insure a firm grip. Saw B is of interest because it has two sets of teeth cut into one blade; simply reversing it brings coarser or finer teeth into play. After holes had been drilled with a brace and bit, one of these saws was undoubtedly used by the Dominys to cut an oval-shaped hole in their clockcases for receiving a staple (Nos. 205, 217, 220).
Description A: Length, 5 3/8; blade length, 1 3/4. Iron wire ferrule. B: Length, 6 1/4; blade length, 2 9/16. C: Length, 12 3/4; blade length, 6 1/2. D: Length, 8 3/8; blade length, 3 3/8. E: Length, 4 1/4; blade length, 1 15/16. F: Length, 4 1/8; blade length, 1 1/2. Iron ferrule. All soft-maple handles and steel blades. All made by Nathaniel Dominy IV and Nathaniel V. Museum accessions: 57.26.458, 57.26.457, 57.26.212, 57.26.211, 57.26.460, 57.26.468.
Saw Clamp or Whetting Block
East Hampton, N.Y.
These saw clamps were used to hold saw blades while they were being sharpened (No. 104). When A is reversed, it conforms to B; with a blade placed in between, the blocks can be placed in a bench vise. (Perhaps a better name than saw clamp would be "whetting block," applied by James Smith in his description of sharpening and setting the teeth of a saw.)264 A saw was sharpened by filing the teeth with a triangular file (No. 33).
The upper edges of the blocks are scored from countless passes with a file. Along each upper edge is a hollow molding, perhaps designed to catch the steel filings from the saw blade. Also surviving in the Dominy Tool Collection is a late-eighteenth-century iron saw set (57.26.438) similar to those shown on page 5 of a Book of Patterns (ca. 1798). It was used to twist the teeth to the left and right of the blade, thus "setting" a "kerf," or path, for the teeth, the path being wider than the blade's width. This insured a freer passage of the blade.265 For heavy saws with large teeth, Nathaniel Dominy V made a tool from a large block of ash with a vertical piece of triangular steel file piercing the head of a wood spring. Punching the spring brought the end of the file against a tooth of a saw, causing it to be pushed into a depression and thus "set" left or right of its blade (57.26.291).
Description Length, 14 9/16; height, 2 7/8. Soft-maple. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.234.
East Hampton, N.Y.
The screw box was used to cut a spiral thread on wood cylinders, thus creating screws for clamps, lathe puppet, bench vises, and any other tool for which a large wooden screw was needed. The cutter fits into a channel at the upper right-hand side of the block, and a wide path at the lower right of the block was cut as a discharge space for shavings. The photograph demonstrates that the bite of the cutter was regulated by adjusting a screw. Turn buttons hold the iron plate in place. Whether the screw box was clamped in a vise and the wood cylinder forced through it or it was twisted on a cylinder fastened in a vise, strength was required to cut a screw with this tool. Its prime advantage was, of course, that it could cut screws of a standardized pitch and diameter endlessly.
This tool is further evidence of the existence of a pool of knowledge shared by craftsmen of Western Europe and colonial America. A glance at the design of the "screw plate" illustrated by Roubo (Illus. XXV) shows that, while the Dominys' is not an exact replica, it is fairly close to the diagrams furnished by the French cabinetmaker. The Dominys' guide plate is made of wrought iron while Roubo's was evidently constructed of wood.
There is little doubt that the wood part of the box was made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Whether or not he purchased the metal parts from a local smith is unknown. His accounts show that in August, 1791, he bought "Screw-Box Bits" from Deacon David Talmage at a cost of 5 shillings 8 pence. On July 21, 1773, Nathaniel IV paid Samuel Sherril 5 shillings "by forgeing a Screw plate & Eleazer work" and 1 shilling to David Talmage on September 14, 1786, for "forging a Screwplate."266 It is impossible to know whether these screwplates were for this box or whether they were dies for threading metal screws. Probably they were for the latter purpose.
Description Length, 9 3/8; height, 3; depth, 2 5/16. Red-oak block; hickory turn buttons; iron plate; steel cutter. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Gift of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.93.61.[p. ]
Screw Tap, Metal
East Hampton, N.Y.
Like the wooden tap pictured next, this tool cuts an internal thread and was used to make threaded receptacles for screws on lathe puppets, clamps, and other tools employing wood screws. It closely resembles an auger, and the tang of its shaft pierces the handle in order to clinch over the top. The stamp, N. DOMINY, on the shaft may be an indication that Nathaniel IV made this screw tap from a broken or worn auger, rather than purchasing it from a local blacksmith. Its handle was certainly made in the Dominys' shop.
Except that the shaft of this screw tap retains a basic rectangular shape, its design is quite similar to one pictured by Roubo as appropriate for use by cabinetmakers (Illus. XXV). Close examination of its blade shows that the cutting edges are filed on four separate edges with each incision bearing a slight inclination in order to provide for a continuous pitch to the thread it cuts. If the incisions completely encircled the shaft, then only the lowest, or beginning, incision could be used as a cutting edge.
Description Length, 14 5/16; handle width, 12 3/8; cutter diameter, 1. Hickory handle; steel shaft and cutter, shaft stamped N. DOMINY. Made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.195.
Screw Tap, Wooden
East Hampton, N.Y.
This tool was used to cut a concave thread around the interior circumference of a large hole previously bored in wood. It was a screw tap of this type, for example, that was used to cut threads for the double screws on the vises of the workbenches. A gouge was used to start a hole and an auger to cut a large, deep opening; then a reamer might enlarge the hole cut by the auger. Finally the screw tap was inserted into the hole and, with a twisting motion, cut spiral threads.
It is possible that this operation required two screw taps—one slightly larger than the other—to obtain the depth of thread desired in easy stages. Another tap (57.26.210), with a cutting diameter of 1 11/16 inches, also survives in the Dominy tools. It is identical to the tool shown here but its wedge and cutter are missing. The depth of the thread cut by this tap could be regulated by extending or retarding the length of its steel cutter.
Mercer shows three screw taps in his book but casts some doubt on whether this tool was used before the nineteenth century. He says, for example, that Diderot does not illustrate its use by craftsmen.267 Actually, Diderot does provide illustrations of screw taps but not in context with cabinetmakers or carpenters. He shows them in the section devoted to wood turners, their prime makers and users. [p. ] Several types are pictured, including a "tarot à tête ronde" (a screw tap with round head).268 The first turning manual published, Plumier's L'art de tourner (1701), illustrates screw taps in Plate 56. The ends of the Dominys' screw taps still have indentations from the pressure of lathe puppet pins.
Description Length, 14 3/8; handle width, 10 1/4 tap diameter, 1 9/16.White-oak handle; hickory tap; steel cutter. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.232.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
The spokeshave occupies a position between the drawknife (No. 44) and the smoothing plane (Nos. 92–94) in removing parts of a wood surface. Apparently in common use by the late eighteenth century, its development presents something of a mystery because it is not illustrated or even discussed in Moxon, Diderot, Roubo, Nicholson, or James Smith. In short, almost none of the contemporary sources have anything to say about the spokeshave.
In A History of Woodworking Tools Goodman repeats the oft-quoted theory that it began as a wheelwright's tool for smoothing spokes.269 While not well documented, this assumption probably has some basis in fact. Martin (1813) states that wheelwrights used "spoke-shaves" to smooth up spokes "to the form they are required" after the shapes had been roughed out with another tool.270 The Oxford English Dictionary shows that the term was used in the English language as early as 1510 but gives no documented clue to its craft derivation.271 Mercer correctly states that a spokeshave was used in Salem, Massachusetts, as early as 1644; unfortunately, the occupation of the owner is not given in the inventory.272 Over one hundred and fifty years later, in 1795, a notation appeared in the ledger of Daniel Burnap that he had charged 10 pence for "Brassing Spoak Shave" (inserting a wear plate in the sole), for Jonathan Birge, a local cabinetmaker.273
Abraham Rees provides an excellent early-nineteenth-century description of the spokeshave and assigns it to blockmakers—artisans who made the pulleys or blocks for the tackle and rigging of[p. ] ships.274 When the tool finally appears in an English catalogue, Joseph Smith's (1816), one example is shown with cooper's tools.275 Two years later, in 1818, J. Belcher and Sons, of Birmingham, show spokeshaves both for joiners and coopers.276 An English author has recently stated that spokeshaves were a traditional tool used by Windsor chairmakers for the smoothing of seats.277 Little else is known about the spokeshave except that it was in existence by the sixteenth century and that by the late eighteenth century it had become a useful tool for many types of woodworkers.
Because the Dominys were cabinetmakers, carpenters, coopers, and wheelwrights, it is logical that four spokeshaves survived in the tool collection. Tool C is a spokeshave closely related to a smoothing plane. Probably made by Nathaniel IV for a special purpose, the thin blade is attached to its block by hand-wrought screw bolts. In this view of the sole, the screw ends appear to be rivets. Tool A is a shave with a stock made of bone, one of several tools made from this material by Nathaniel V about 1800. Tool B was probably purchased by him between 1810 and 1830. His stamp, DOMINY in a serrated rectangle, is found on the end of the handles. Its design is similar to an example, which also has a wear plate inserted in the sole, illustrated in Joseph Smith's catalogue.278 The cutting depths of A and B can be adjusted by tapping the blade tangs for a deeper cut or hitting the blade for a shallower cut. Adjusting screws for spokeshave blades are shown in Cutler and Company's catalogue (ca. 1833–1837). They became standard to eliminate loosening of the tangs through constant tapping.279
Spokeshave blades shown in Joseph Belcher and Son's catalogue reveal that coopers' irons were usually wider and longer—ranging from 5 to 7 inches—than joiners', which ranged from 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches. It can be assumed that the Dominys used these tools for smoothing the curves of cabriole legs, chair seats, and cresting rails and for other cabinetmaking tasks.
Description A: Length, 11 5/16; blade length, 2 1/2. Bone stock; iron blade. B: Length, 11 3/8; blade length, 3 1/2, European beech stock stamped DOMINY in rectangle on handle ends; steel blade and wear plate. C: Length, 4; blade length, 1 1/2. Ceylon satinwood stock; steel blade. A and B made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. C made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B and C, gifts of Robert M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.26.209, 57.93.69, 57.93.83.
East Hampton, N.Y.
Almost everyone has used a square to scratch or pencil right-angle lines on a wood surface or to "try the squareness" of wood edges. In The Panorama of Science and Art James Smith noted that joiners and cabinetmakers frequently made their own squares of wood.280
The die used to stamp Nathaniel Dominy's name on the end of this square's handle has not survived, and this is the only tool in the collection bearing this elaborate mark. Constructed with a joiner's technique, the tenon of the thin blade is mortised [p. ] through the handle and held in place with pegs. Scratch marks from a mortise gauge (Fig. 36) are still visible on the handle, just below the blade. Incised lines are drawn on the handle in divisions of 1/4, 1/2 and 1 inch. The latter are stamped with numerals from 1 to 10.
It is quite possible that this square is earlier than the date assigned above. A similar square (57.26.36) of almost identical dimensions has survived, bearing the ND in a rectangle stamp of Nathaniel IV; and the tool shown here could have been made by his father, Nathaniel III (1714–1778). Another square (57.26.37) made of oak is larger (15 by 22 3/16), but its construction is almost the same as the one illustrated. Wood squares became unreliable after long use, and craftsmen often purchased combination wood and steel squares in the nineteenth century. Sometime between 1833 and 1849 Nathaniel V bought a mahogany, brass, and steel example bearing the stamp of its Sheffield maker, William Marples, Jr. (63.156.5).281
In addition to these, two other squares (57.26.53, oak, 3 11/16 by 2; and 57.26.207, bone, 6 1/8 by 6 5/8) used by the Dominys have survived, as well as an early-nineteenth-century T-square (57.26.49) and four "set squares." The latter are crude, made in the Dominy shop with handles and arms crossed at "set" angles to avoid resetting the blade of a bevel square.282
Description Arm length, 10 by 8 7/16; arm height, 1 5/8 by 1 1/2. Birch, stamped Nathaniel / Dominy on rectangular end of arm. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy III. Museum accession: 57.26.35.
In The Circle of the Mechanical Arts (1813) Martin assigns small wood and steel squares to joiners and large all-metal squares to carpenters.283 It has been traditional to think of a metal square as a carpenter's tool, and because a large part of the Dominys' income was derived from carpentry, it is possible that these examples were made in connection with that craft.
Durability was usually the selling point for squares made of iron or steel. The broken iron tool (B) is proof, however, that over a period of time even hand-wrought metal tools wore out. Some attempt to repair the arm with copper rivets was made, but they obviously did not provide a satisfactory solution. This square is probably older than the complete example (A), acquired by Nathaniel Dominy V in 1795.
On page 75 of the Book of Patterns there is pictured an iron square with information that it was sold in 18- and 24-inch lengths and 1 1/4- or 1 1/2-inch widths. It sold for 14 shillings 6 pence per [p. ] dozen. Nathaniel V's square (A) is 24 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide.
The numbers stamped on these squares can only be read from right to left, in contrast to the modern practice of reading left to right or marking figures on both sides. All numbers on the Dominys' measuring tools read from right to left. Whether or not this was a standard eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century practice is not known. Moxon illustrates a ruler as Figure D in Plate 5 of his Mechanic Exercises. Numbers on it are clearly shown in a left-to-right order, as they are in Cutler and Company's tool catalogue (ca. 1833–1837).284
Description A: Length, 24 by 13 1/2; width, 1 1/2. Iron, stamped ND and 1795 on underside. B: Length, 8 5/8 by 12 5/8; width, 1 7/16. Iron with copper rivets. A probably acquired by Nathaniel Dominy V. B probably acquired by Nathaniel Dominy III or Nathaniel IV. Museum accessions: 60.378, 57.26.38.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
What the square is to right angles, the bevel is to any departure from 0 to 180 degrees. When the thick stock, or handle, is set against an edge, the blade may be moved to any angle desired and a line scratched or drawn across the wood surface.285 Its greatest advantage lies in its movable blade: a bevel can be used to duplicate any angle already cut into a piece of wood. Its prime advantage, however, is also something of a liability. Smith pointed out that the joint, or rivet, on which the blade pivoted had to be stiff or the blade angle might shift.286 For this reason Nicholson cautioned that "when many pieces of stuff are to be tryed up to a particular angle, an immoveable bevel aught to be made for the purpose."287 The Dominys did just that by making set squares.
It is difficult to know which of these bevels was first acquired by Nathaniel Dominy V. The fact that tool A stamped with the date 1810 is made of American beech hints that he made it and used it on large pieces of stock. An iron lozenge inset around the rivet is an indication that he was aware of contemporary tool decoration. The smaller bevel (B) with an inlaid brass lozenge at one end is quite similar to those shown in English tool catalogues published in 1816 and 1818.288
Description A: Length, 13 1/8 by 12 3/16; closed width, 1 1/16. American beech handle and arm, rectangular end of handle stamped DOMINY in rectangle and date 1810; iron rivet. B: Length, 4 by 7 3/4; width, 15/16. Mahogany handle stamped DOMINY in rectangle on underside; brass rivet, brass and steel inlaid lozenges; steel blade, probably English. A made, and B purchased, by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.40, 63.156.3.
TACK PULLS OR NAIL CLAWS
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Both the purpose and the date of these tools must be a guess because contemporary sources do not mention this kind of implement. The Dominys undoubtedly found these claws useful for removing upholstery tacks, sprigs, and other small nails from wood.
A nail claw, about 6 3/4 inches long including its handle, appears in a group of saddler's tools in an English catalogue of about 1798.289 Its shaft and claw are very similar to B. The blade of the larger example was fashioned from steel used previously for a knife or sword. An incised design of wheat stems, with traces of brass inlay, decorates both sides. This blade could be from about the middle of the eighteenth century, but there is considerable doubt that its handle is that early.
Description A: Length, 6 5/8. Hickory handle; steel blade, probably English knife or sword. B: Length, 5. Hickory handle; steel blade. A probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B probably made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accessions: 57.26.135, 57.26.141.
TRAVERSE WHEEL OR TRAVELER
East Hampton, N.Y.
The most practical tool for measuring the circumference of a wheel and transferring the measurement to an iron tire was the traverse wheel, or traveler. A blacksmith or wheelwright noted the number of times a marker—in this case a hole punched through the iron wheel—passed a given point on his traveler. The same number of revolutions were then marked on a piece of iron-tire stock to obtain the exact length needed.290
Wheelwrighting was one of many occupations pursued by Nathaniel Dominy IV. This tool would not have been useful, however, until after the clock shop and forge were built in 1797. Perhaps it is an early attempt at smithing on the part of Nathaniel IV; it is certainly a crude example of toolmaking.
Traverse wheels were in common use; perhaps[p. ] this fact accounts for their absence from contemporary source books. They are not illustrated by Diderot in his discussion of the wheelwright, nor do they appear among the large number of forge tools illustrated in the Encyclopédie.
Description Handle length, 11 1/2; wheel diameter, 9 5/8, Birch handle; iron wheel, spoke, and rivet. Made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.395.
TURNSCREW OR SCREW DRIVER
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Screw drivers of the eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries are uncommon, possibly because screws were less frequently used than nails and pegged joints in fastening woodwork.291 Nevertheless, screws and turnscrews are pictured by Roubo in a plate devoted to the "different kinds of iron necessary for holding woodwork."292 Surprisingly, too, English tool catalogues of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries show large quantities of turnscrews. They also call the tool a "screwdriver" in the same plate.293
Five screw drivers, ranging in date from the example shown here to about 1925, survive in the Dominy Collection. The gimlet-type handle on this turnscrew clearly bears the conjoined initials ND stamped on many other tools by Nathaniel IV. Its blade was probably converted from a chisel or gouge, and the tang head has been beaten into a rivet. Note that the end of the blade is blunt and V-shaped to fit into the hand-filed notches in the heads of early screws. The shape of modern screw drivers stems from a tool patented in 1866 by Christopher Dodge.294
Description Length, 4 1/8; handle width, 2 1/2. Dogwood handle cut with conjoined initials ND; iron blade stamped ANE. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.130.
East Hampton, N.Y.
A versatile tool, this vise, or clamp, could be used either atop a workbench or fastened in a double-screw vise attached to a bench. Only one contemporary vise like this one has been discovered. Among his illustrations of veneering, marquetry, and inlay, Roubo pictures an "étau de bois" (wood vise) that is similar to this clamp. Perhaps it was originally used to clamp small glued surfaces together until the glue set. A kind of tray is created by four pieces of white pine fixed to the base with hand-wrought nails. Tenons at the bottom of the vise jaws fit loosely into mortise holes, permitting movement when the screw is turned. Incidentally, the threads in the holes were made by a screw tap (No. 108), and the screw was apparently made in the box shown as Number 107.
Quite by accident, one useful purpose for this tool was discovered while the reconstructed woodworking shop was being set up at Winterthur. The vise makes an excellent holder for plane stocks whose beds or soles are being shaped or smoothed.
Description Length, 19 1/8; height, 11 1/2; depth, 7 1/4. American white-oak base and movable jaws; dogwood saw; hickory screw handle; white-pine tray rim. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy V. Museum accession: 57.26.394.[p. ]
East Hampton, N.Y.
There is no doubt that Nathaniel IV measured this yardstick and stamped the inch markings with dies, some of which have survived (No. 32). The homemade yardstick was standard at the turn of the nineteenth century; it was not until a generation later that professional rule makers, like the Belcher Brothers, of New York City, began to make machine-made measured instruments available.295
The measurements, like those on the squares illustrated (Nos. 111, 112), run from right to left, and they are not reversed on the opposite side. That side of the stick is plain except for the stamped initials ND and the date 1800 stamped in both small and large numbers. Markings are indicated for 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 inch, retaining the method used by Moxon, who, for example, referred to 1/8 inch as half a quarter. Using a modern inch standard, there is no apparent variation from the earliest to the latest measuring sticks or squares in the Dominy Collection.
Two other yardsticks have survived. One is very similar to the example shown here and has a small ND initial stamp on its reverse side (57.93.3). It may have been the first yardstick made by Nathaniel IV. The other stick (57.93.2) has brass-tipped ends, one of which is stamped 1823. It is a good example of an early machine-made rule with 1/8-inch markings, and these are used in reverse on the opposite side. Unfortunately, the name of the maker is not stamped on it. Both yardsticks were purchased from Robert M. Dominy in 1957.
Description Length, 36; height, 9/16,; depth, 1 7/16. Birch, reverse side stamped ND and date 1800. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.46.
3 Joseph Smith, Explanation or Key, to the Various Manufactories of Sheffield (Sheffield, Eng., 1816), Nos. 240–44. See also tool catalogues of J. Belcher & Sons (Birmingham, Eng., ca. 1818), Figures S, T, U, W, X, Y, p. 79, and of Cutler & Co. (Sheffield, Eng., ca. 1833–1837), p. 23.
6 Microcosm…of the Arts, Agriculture, Manufactures, &c. of Great Britain (London, 1808), I, "Miscellaneous," Plate 5 and p. 4.
9 United States Patent Office, Patent 93957, Aug. 24, 1869, illustrated in Peter C. Welsh, "United States Patents, 1790 to 1870: New Uses for Old Ideas," United States National Museum Bulletin 241 (Washington, D.C., 1965), Figure 31, p. 134.
10 Charles Tomlinson, ed., Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts (London, 1854), I, 92, Figure 82. See also Mercer, Figure 166, p. 188.
11 W. L. Goodman, The History of Woodworking Tools (London, 1964), pp. 65, 167, and Figure 168, p. 168. The spiral auger invented by Phineas Cooke was first illustrated in William Bailey, The Advancement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (London, 1772), Plate XLIX, p. 276. It is reproduced in Mercer, Figure 176, p. 2O1.
13 Nicholson, Plate 1 (facing p. 70), Figure 8; Smith, Explanation, No. 205; J. Belcher & Sons, Nos. 85–86, p. 82.
14 Moxon, Plate 4 (p. 69), Figure K, and pp. 94–95; Diderot, II, "Charpente," Plate XLIV, Figures 23–25.
15 Welsh, Figure 40, p. 140. See also Edward H. Knight, American Mechanical Dictionary (Boston, 1880), 1, 184, Figure 423.
17 Goodman, Figure 171, p. 171, illustrates a page from [p. ] the 1864 catalogue of William Marples & Sons, Sheffield, Eng., which features nose augers.
18 First published in Bailey, Plate XLIX, p. 276, and illustrated also by Mercer, Figure 176, p. 201. Other spiral augers are credited to Lilley and Gurley, both of Mansfield, Conn., about 1800, by Knight, I, 184.
21 In discussing the awards given for hardware and edge tools (Group XV) at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876, Francis Walker noted the disappearance of pod and shell augers and the overwhelming predominance of screw types. See Reports and Awards, Group XV (Philadelphia, 1877), pp. 11–12.
32 J. Leander Bishop, A History of American Manufactures from 1608 to 1860 (Philadelphia, 1866), II, 311–12. See also American Advertising Directory, for Manufacturers and Dealers in American Goods for the Year 1831 (New York, 1831), p. 53.
34 Mercer, pp. 85–86; Smith, Explanation, Nos. 258–59; Frank H. Wildung, Woodworking Tools at Shelburne Museum (Shelburne, Vt., 1957), p. 32.
35 Sargent & Co., pp. 1082–83. See also The Douglas Axe Manufacturing Co.'s Price List, Nos. 250–53, pp. 74–81.
38 Henry J. Kauffman, author of Early American Ironware, Cast and Wrought (Rutland, Vt., 1966) states that he has owned two similar axes and that they were used by carpenters to trim mortises.
40 Moxon, Plate 4 (p. 69), Figure A, and pp. 64–65; André Jacob Roubo, L'art du menuisier (Paris, 1769–1775), Plate 11. For the modern carpenter's bench and vise, see Mercer, Figure 70, p. 72.
41 For a history of the bench and the introduction of the "back vise," apparently Continental in origin, see Goodman, pp. 183–87. Roubo, Plate 279, "ETABLIE A L'ALLEMANDE," Figure 1, shows a bench vise with two screws mounted vertically and a back vise. In text published in 1774 (II, 803), Roubo specifically states that it was a German bench (there were many German cabinetmakers working in Paris) and that this type of bench with a back vise was a German invention.
43 Mercer, cf. Figures 173C and D, pp. 197–98. Appleton's Dictionary of Machines, Mechanics, Engine-Work and Engineering (New York, 1850), p. 222, shows this type of bit under "Button Machinery."
44 Louis Georges Isaac Salivet, Manuel du tourneur (Paris, 1792), I, Plate XX, Figure 2, p. 333. See also a new and enlarged edition published in 1816 (I, 91). See also Plate XIII, Figure 2.
45 Book of Patterns (Birmingham or Sheffield, Eng., ca. 1798), Plate 32, Nos. 742–47. See also Belcher & Hunter's tool catalogue (Birmingham, Eng., n.d.), Plates 3, 5, Nos. 20, 38–43.
48 Belcher & Hunter, Plate 6, No. 54. See also Cutler & Co., p. 40; Smith, Explanation, cf. Nos. 528–29.
58 Belcher & Hunter, cf. Plate 6, Nos. 56–58. See also Book of Patterns, cf. Plate 32, Nos. 713–14; Smith, Explanation, Nos, 521–23.
60 Bits for cutting plugs in wood and metal are shown in Roubo, Plate 313, Figure 9, and Plate 319, Figures 3–4. These appear to be quite shallow, however, and their purpose may have been to bore a wide hole quickly in narrow stock.
63 Moxon, Plate 4, PP. 90–91; Nicholson, p. 126; Smith, Explanation, No. 494; Book of Patterns, Plate 30, No. 707; Smith, Panorama, 1, 114–15.
67 Charles F. Hummel, "English Tools in America: The Evidence of the Dominys," Winterthur Portfolio, II (1965), 42.
68 Maryland Gazette, May 6, 1773 (Supplement), as quoted in Alfred Coxe Prime, comp., The Arts & Crafts in Philadelphia, Maryland, and South Carolina, 1721–1785 (Topsfield, Mass., 1929), p. 182.
70 Mercer, Figure 128, p. 135. In discussing the scraper, Mercer is incorrect when he states that the tool is not mentioned by Diderot. It is illustrated in the Encyclopédie, IV, "Ébèniste et Marquéterie," Plate XI, Figure 116. The design of the scraper shown is almost identical to that owned by the Dominys.
71 J. Belcher & Sons, No. 479; Smith, Explanation, No. 540. For more recent types of scrapers, see Wildung, p. 29.
73 Salivet, I (1792), Plate I, Figures i, 1 (see enlarged edition of 1816, Plate XV, Figures i, 1); Diderot, X, "Tourneur," Plate VIII, Figures 19–21; Mercer, Figure 196, p. 229.
74 Mercer, Figure 39 and pp. 41–43. For sketches of how the cant hook operated, see Sloane, pp. 42–44.
75 This painting is owned by the New York State Historical Association and is exhibited at Fenimore House, Cooperstown, N.Y.
80 Moxon, pp. 76–77; Nicholson, p. 132; Mercer, Figures 148–51, pp. 164–66; Smith, Panorama, I, 112. For tool catalogue illustrations, see Book of Patterns, facing Plate 33; Cutler & Co., pp. 4, 6, 8; Smith, Explanation, Nos. 83, 90–91.
83 Moxon, p. 189. See also Nicholson, p. 368; Smith, Panorama, I, 67; Mercer, Figure 194, p. 225; Salivet, I, Plate XIX, Figures 2–3.
95 Diderot, X, "Tonnelier," Plate VI, Figure 9. See also Belcher & Hunter, Plate 40, Nos. 507–9; Book of Patterns, Plate 76; Smith, Explanation, No. 202.
96 Illustrated by Diderot, IV, "Horlogerie," Plate XV, Figure 59; Abraham Rees, The Cyclopaedia; or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature (Philadeiphia, 1810–1824), II, Plate XIX, Figure 14.
99 Account Book (DMMC, MS 59x9a), pp. 10, 113. The other table was made for Cloe Loper in Dec., 1791.
102 For examples not illustrated in this book and for identification of makers, see Hummel, pp. 37–46.
106 According to W. L. Goodman, the Kent London directories for 1769 and 1775 mention Daniel Fenn, "Watchmaker and dealer in watchmaking tools" at 105 Newgate Street. Joseph Fenn continues to be listed at this address until 1872 (letter to the author, Feb. 18, 1966).
109 See Moxon, pp. 93–94; Nicholson, Plate 2 (facing p. 160) and pp. 140–41; Smith, Panorama, I, 118–19; Mercer, Figure 60 and pp. 60, 63; Wildung, pp. 56–57.
110 Smith, Explanation, Nos. 464, 467, 476, 479. Thomas Martin, The Circle of The Mechanical Arts (London, 1813), Plate 1, "Carpentry," Figure 17, shows the new shape with the block fixed by a wedge.
112 Moxon, Plate 4, p. 69 and p. 94. See also Nicholson, Plate 2 (facing p. 146), and p. 146; Martin, Plate 1, "Carpentry."
115 I, 112–13. A group of all-metal gouges without explanation of their use is shown in Wildung, Figures 1–4, P. 10.
117 Moxon, Plate 15, "Turning," and pp. 183–84; Nicholson, Plate 6 (facing p. 386) and pp. 368, 386; Smith, Panorama, I, 67.
118 Two molding planes, with initials TH stamped on them, were owned by Daniel Burnap (1759–1838). See Hoopes, p. 98.
122 H.L. Edlin, Woodland Crafts in Britain (London, 1949), Figures 17, 34, 41, 47, 77, 110, and pp. 14–15; Mercer, Figure 94 and pp. 97, 1OO; Moxon, Plate 8, Figure 3, and p. 122; Sloane, pp. 38–39; Wildung, Figure 6, p. 55. The Dominys probably had a shaving horse in their shop, but none has survived; and there is no documentation to prove its existence. Moxon states that in making ladder rungs or tool handles the drawknife was used by a workman at a bench.
125 Corrected from an earlier book, Eric Sloane, ed., Diary of an Early American Boy (New York, 1962), p. 33, in which the chamfering knife is shown being used incorrectly as a froe. See also William B. Sprague, "The Cooper," Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc., II (June, 1938), Figure E and pp. 33, 35–36, 38.
128 Moxon, p. 183; Book of Trades, p. 56; L.J. Mayes, The History of Chairmaking in High Wycombe (London, 1960), Plates 1, 5–6, p. 6.
133 Ibid., Plates I, IV. See also Charles Plumier, L'art de tourner (Lyon, 1701), Plates 15, 38; Salivet, I, Plate V.
147 Book of Patterns, Nos. 932–33; J. Belcher & Sons, No. 1254; Belcher & Hunter, Plate 36, No. 443.
149 For a clear description and illustration of beaded surfaces, see Knight, Vol. I, Figures 605a–e, pp. 253–54.
159 Mercer, Figure 108, pp. 112–13; Diderot, VII, "Menuiserie," Plate VIII. Figure 113; Roubo, Plate 14, Figure 14.
163 Knight, I, 616; Mercer, p. 104 and Figures 103–4 on pp. 108–9. See also Edlin, Figure 134, of a modern cooper using a jointer in this position.
169 Winfred C. Gates, "Journal of a Cabinet Maker's Apprentice," Chronicle, XV (June, 1962), 23, 24.
171 DMMC, MS 59x9.22. Bowles is described as a "planemaker at 93 Main Street" in Gardner's Hartford City Directory, for 1840 (Hartford, Conn., 1840), p. 13. Kenneth Roberts in a letter to the writer states that Bowles is listed only from 1838 to 1840.
172 Page 1118. According to Joseph Link, president of the Early American Industries Association, these figures are also listed in a Sears Roebuck catalogue of 1907.
174 Smith, Explanation, No. 720; Cutler & Co., p. 12; Sargent & Co., p. 1119. As early as 1701 Randle Holme listed "Hollow Plains" among seven types of "Moulding Plains" used by joiners (p. 367).
180 Smith, Panorama, I, 108; Nicholson, p. 104; Tomlinson, ed., II, 420; Knight, II, 1724; Mills Brown, p. 30; Mercer, pp. 103–4 and Figure 102, p. 108.
204 Wildung incorrectly calls the round plane a "hollow" plane in Figure 15, p. 17, and in Figure 8, p. 33. He demonstrates knowledge of correct usage in Figure 1, p. 30.
212 Mercer, Figure 116, p. 122, Figure 126, p. 133, and pp. 123, 131–32; Welsh, p. 125 and Figure 18, p. 126.
218 Moxon, p. 71; Nicholson, Plate 1 (facing p. 144), Figure 3, and p. 104; Smith, Panorama, I, 110.
219 The figures are not constant. Close, but different, angles are given in Smith, Panorama, I, 108; and Tomlinson, ed., II, 421.
225 Diderot, VII, "Menuiserie," Plate VIII, Figure 96, "Varelope à onglet" (miter jointer). See also Smith, Panorama, I, 109, 110; Nicholson, pp. 105–6; Mills Brown, pp. 33–34.
237 III, "Charron," Plate II. Excellent drawings of these tools in use are in Sloane, Museum, p. 75.
238 Moxon, Plate 4, p. 102; Roubo, Plate 12; Knight, III, 2034; Mercer, p. 149 and Figure 140, p. 150; Sloane, Museum, pp. 68–69; Wildung, pp. 4–5.
246 Nicholson, Plate 2, p. 146, illustrates a sash saw with open handle about 11 inches long, an indication that the type of handle used on sash or dovetail saws was determined by the whims of smiths and craftsmen.
250 IV, Ébèniste et Marquéterie," Plates I, IX, X, Figures f, 69, 71, "presse f, auprès de laquelle sont deux hommes occupés à refendre" and "Scie à refendre."
256 Salivet, I, Plate XVIII, Figure 10. The same figure is illustrated in the second edition of 1816, Plate XXXV.
262 Mercer, Figure 131 and pp. 137, 139; Nicholson, Plate 2, Figure 10, pp. 137, 146; Smith, Panorama, I, 107.
272 Mercer, Figure 98, p. 104; inventory of the estate of John Talbey, Salem, Mass., taken Nov., 1644. See George Francis Dow, ed., The Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts (Salem, Mass., 1916), I, 39
290 A good sketch of this tool in use is in Sloane, Museum, p. 97. See also Rollin C. Steinmetz and Charles S. Rice, Vanishing Crafts and Their Craftsmen (New Brunswick, N.J., 1959), p. 17.
291 Mercer, Figure 225 and pp. 268–70. W.L. Goodman's recent evaluation of the screw driver proves that it was an innovation of the sixteenth century and not in common use until the end of the eighteenth century (letter to Welsh, April 8, 1966).
America, Probably New York
The anvil is the metalworker's equivalent to a woodworker's bench. On its surface, iron was shaped into hinges, latches, lockplates, tools, and other useful implements. Its cone-shaped horn was used to bend heavy iron into chain links or to bend bar iron into shoes for horses or oxen. Thus anvils were used by metalworkers primarily for forging and welding.1 A hole in the top of the anvil received a cutting chisel, or "hardie." This device was used to break pieces of bar iron into appropriate lengths or to divide forged iron into two or more component parts.2 The hole could also receive shaping stakes.
Considerable skill was needed to judge the color of iron heated in a forge just before it was hammered on an anvil. If the iron was to be shaped by hammer blows, it was judged ready when at a "white heat." Smoothing the surface of a piece of iron already in its desired form required only a "blood," or "cherry," red heat. When two pieces of iron were to be joined together, or welded, a "Sparkling or Welding Heat" was used.3
A considerable number of tools converted from their original function to other uses—many with welded shafts—and a wide variety of metalworking entries in their account books (see Appendix B for a sampling) are evidence that the Dominys heated metal to all three degrees of color. On this anvil Nathaniel IV, Nathaniel V, and Felix mended gunlocks, made metal bands, or loops, for attaching gun barrels to stocks, made new hammers for guns, produced fishhooks, mended door locks, and remade or repaired steelyards.
The age of this anvil is difficult to determine. It is the writer's opinion, however, that it was made before 1800. Although the Dominys' clock shop and forge were not built until 1797, it was noted in Chapter I that clockmaking and metalworking were carried on in their home before that date. Moreover, an entry in Nathaniel IV's account book suggests that this anvil was in need of repair as early as 1789. On March 27 of that year he credited Deacon David Talmage with 5 shillings for "mending my Beakhorn."4 The large cone-shaped projection at the right of the anvil illustrated here is variously called a "Beekhorn," "Pike," "Beckern," or "Beek Iron."5
There was a marked degree of change in the shape of anvils from the late seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century, a change which helps reinforce a conviction that the Dominys' anvil was acquired in the latter part of the eighteenth century. An anvil, shown as Figure 2 in the first plate of a section devoted by Moxon to "Smithing," embodies a typical late-seventeenth-century design. It has a square or rectangular top with a sharply pointed beak, or horn, extending from it. Moxon clearly states that the horn was only "sometimes" a part of the anvil.6
At some point during the eighteenth century the horn was fixed to the anvil slightly below the top, as seen on the Dominys' example. This type is shown among the forge tools in Diderot's Encyclopédie, but it apparently continued in use into the early years of the nineteenth century.7 An anvil shown in an English iron foundry of about 1808 has a basic resemblance to one owned by the Dominys. The artist who depicted it warned, however, that he was "presented with so many different forms that we scarcely find two alike."8 It is likely that anvil design was in a state of transition about 1808, because the anvil shown in Nicholson's Mechanical Exercises (1812) has a definite notched-and-stepped projection to which the horn is attached.9 A similar arrangement is seen on a clockmaker's anvil (No. 120) owned by the Dominys.
Museum visitors are used to seeing anvils in restored or reconstructed shops. These forge tools are usually in dreadful condition and do not give an accurate picture of the anvil's original condition when in use. The face of an anvil was quite flat and smooth, without flaws, "and so hard that a File will not touch it." It was commonly set on a block about [p. ]10
Description Height, 10 3/16; top width, 5; base width, 9; length, 17 1/8. Iron, faced with steel work surface. Probably made for Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase, 1957. Museum accession: 57.34.5
Clockmaker's and Watchmaker's Anvils (Beak Iron)
Compared with the large blacksmith's anvil, these tools appear to be children's toys. Clockmakers and watchmakers used these anvils in conjunction with a series of hammers (Nos. 144, 145, 153) to cold-hammer small pieces of steel, to straighten pinion rods, to straighten verges, to hammer brass rods, and to shape, weld, and hammer many other small parts of both clocks and watches.11 Softer metals were struck on the solid brass surface of A.
Anvils were a standard part of the shop equipment of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century clockmakers. An older, possibly locally made version of the Dominys' "beak iron" (B, set in a lignum-vitae block) has survived among the tools once owned by Daniel Burnap.12 A "bigorne" is shown as part of the shop tools among the plates devoted to the science of horology in Diderot's Encyclopédie.13 James Smith states that "clockmakers use very small anvils or beak irons, which they fix in the vice when in use."14 It is true that the anvil shown in Diderot and owned by Burnap has a stepped, rectangular base that could be clamped tightly in a vise leaving the shaft and top surfaces exposed.
The name C. DÖHL, probably that of the maker, is stamped on the side of the beak iron not visible [p. ]15 "A stake, or small anvil, for hammering on," is shown as one of the "Clock tools" in Abraham Rees's Cyclopaedia, and it too has a pointed tang, perhaps additional evidence of a shift from the clockmaker's earlier practice (in the nineteenth century) of using small anvils in a vise to that of setting them in wood blocks.16
Description A: Height, 2 1/4; length, 4 3/8. Brass, sides and top stamped with initial G. B: Height, 4 9/16; length, 5 5/32; base diameter, 7 1/16. Lignum-vitae base; steel anvil stamped C. DÖHL. A probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B probably purchased by Felix Dominy. Museum accessions: 57.26.401, 57.101.1
Hand Anvils or Watch Stakes
America or England
ILLUS. XXVI. Detail of different types of hand anvils ("Différentes sortes des tas"). From Denis Diderot, Encyclopédie, IV (Paris, 1765), "Horlogerie," Plate XII, Figures 2–4.
The function of these hand anvils, or stakes, remains theoretical, but there is no question that they comprised part of the Dominys' clock-shop equipment. The accompanying plate (Illus. XXVI) from Diderot's Encyclopédie shows three remarkably similar tools described only as "Différente sorts des tas" (different kinds of hand anvils).
Before metal was cold-hammered or shaped on their surfaces, they were probably clamped in a vise. The shafts are too small to fit snugly into the "hardie-hole" of the large blacksmith's anvil (No. 119) that was located in the forge area of the clock shop. They are crudely made, and it is quite possible that Nathaniel IV obtained them locally or made them himself.
It is conceivable that Daniel Burnap's "watch stake made of iron and casehardened" was similar to one used by the Dominys. A tool catalogue published in 1909 shows a tool similar to C and calls it a "Watch Case Stake, Oval Face."17 Burnap's recipe for casehardening called for placement of the tool in an old shoe. Then the tool was covered with pieces of a horse's hoof mixed with salt. After being fired to a blood-red heat, the tool was plunged into cold water.18 Because clockmakers frequently casehardened their tools, the Dominys may have followed a similar procedure.
Description A: Height, 3; head width, 1 1/16; head depth, 7/8. Iron stake. B: Height, 3 3/8; head diameter, 1/2. Iron stake. C: Height, 2 1/2; head diameter, 1 3/8. Iron stake. All made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.430b–c, 57.26.430a.
BITS, REAMER, OR CHERRIES
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
These handmade spherical burrs were used by the Dominys to ream the cavities of brass bullet molds, which they produced as early as 1779 (No. 178). This type of reamer is defined in Knight's American Mechanical Dictionary but, with one exception, is not pictured in old dictionaries, encyclopedias, or tool catalogues.19
Members of the Early American Industries Association suggested that these might be gunsmiths' tools, and a search was made to determine whether others could be located. A large number, made to fit a brace with a spring catch, were found among the tools of John and Caleb Vincent, Ohio gunsmiths, and are now owned by the Ohio Historical Society.20
Felix Dominy made the shank for C. It bears the initials FD on one side, in addition to an ink inscription 5/8 on all four sides. Its wire-rod shaft indicates that it is probably the only bit in the group made in the early nineteenth century.
Description A: Length, 7 3/8; bit diameter, 11/16. Cherry block; steel shaft and bit. B: Length, 7 7/16, bit diameter, 5/8. Soft-maple block; steel shaft and bit. C: Length, 7 1/4; bit diameter, 5/8. Beech block, initials FD scratched on one side; steel shaft and bit. D: Length, 7 3/4; bit diameter, 1/2, Whitepine block; steel shaft and bit. E: Length, 8 1/8; bit diameter, 1/4. Soft-maple block; steel shaft and bit. F: Length, 6 5/16; bit diameter, 3/16. Dogwood block; steel shaft and bit. All except C made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV; C made and purchased by Felix Dominy. Museum accessions: 57.26.146–149, 57.26.151, 57.26.150.
BOW, BARREL DRILLS, SMITH'S BRACE, AND BREASTPLATE
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
These tools were needed by clockmakers and watchmakers for drilling holes in brass, iron, and steel. The Dominys used the bow (A), barrel drills (B), and breastplate (C) most frequently; but when exceptional drilling pressure was necessary, the heavy, iron smith's brace (D) was employed.
Barrel drills were well known to eighteenth-century craftsmen, who needed both skill and patience to pierce metals. In 1765 similar tools, under the designation "foret" (drill), were shown in the section of Diderot's Encyclopédie devoted to clock- and watchwork and were also illustrated in Duhamel du Monceau's Art du serrurier (1767).21 A slightly better description was given by Abraham Rees early in the nineteenth century when he identified this kind of tool as a "drill-arbor and drill in a socket for various drills, to be used with a bow and gut."22 The tool described by Rees was an improved version of the Dominys' because several types and sizes of drills could be accommodated in one barrel and arbor. Barrel drills similar to those illustrated by Rees appear in a catalogue of clock- and watchmaker's tools published by a Birmingham firm early in the nineteenth century.23
Daniel Burnap owned at least eleven barrel drills, only five of which were fitted into barrels. His notes on tempering drills to be used on brass require the metal to be at yellow heat.24 Mid- and late-nineteenth-century manuals indicate that the bit shape of D was best suited for making holes in brass, while the less pointed, curved bits were better for steel.25
In use, the bowstring was wrapped around the barrel of the drill and the blunt end of the arbor inserted either in a breastplate or in one of several holes usually found on the side of a small clockmaker's bench vise (No. 170); pushing and pulling the bow then rotated the drill. Craftsmen had to control the drill's speed carefully; too-rapid rotation created heat that would soften the temper of both the drill and the material adjacent to the hole being drilled.26 The breastplate bears the stamped[p. ] initials FD and was undoubtedly made by Felix Dominy.
A heavy iron brace, or bit stock, is the only survivor of a complement of tools used by the Dominys for drilling holes in hard steel or large holes in any type of metal. The blunt end of the brace fitted into a plate inserted in a drill beam, and metal bits were placed in the square hole visible at its opposite end. Because the drill beam was heavily weighted, great pressure could be brought to bear on the metal to be drilled.27 Sometimes the brace fit into the bottom of a heavy iron crane that could be swung out over a large area. The latter type of heavy drilling equipment was probably a nineteenth-century innovation, perhaps developed in response to the increase in production of better-grade steel. One of the best eighteenth-century sources for the various activities of blacksmiths, Du Monceau's Art du serrurier, does not illustrate the type of press or brace and bit which the Dominys employed. Instead, he shows a heavy barrel drill fitted into a large V-shaped spring upon which screw pressure could be applied.28
Description A: Bow length, 20 3/4; depth, 3/8. White oak. B: Length, 4 1/2. Soft-maple barrel; steel arbor and bit. C: Length, 5 5/8. Soft-maple barrel; steel arbor and bit. D: Length, 3 1/4. Soft-maple barrel; steel arbor and bit. E: Breastplate length, 7; width, 3 1/4; height, 1 5/16. Tulip base stamped twice with initials FD; steel inset plate. F: Brace length, 9 3/4; width, 5 1/8. Iron. A–D probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. E and F probably made or purchased by Felix Dominy. A–E, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.84.56–59, 57.84.55, 57.26.433.
East Hampton, N.Y.
All craftsmen used a variety of bench drawers and boxes in their shops to store the various small items needed in their work. Fortunately, many of the boxes used by the Dominys in their woodworking and clock shops have survived. These are shown here and in the two figures that follow.
It is unfortunate that no specific labels were provided for these examples. Dominy account books, however, give evidence of the type of articles that may have been stored in these boxes. At different times Aaron Isaacs bought for the Dominys watch springs, brads (1,300 in 1765 alone) bail handles and escutcheons, screws, chest locks, and so forth. In 1822. Felix Dominy purchased watch keys, hands, seals, chains, verges, and other equipment from Thomas Richards, a watchmaker at 240 Pearl Street, New York City.29
The tulipwood box is neatly joined together with dovetails, and the sliding lid is easily removed with
Description A: Height, 1 3/4; width, 4 15/16; depth, 8 15/16. Tulip box and lid. B: Height, 1 5/8; width, 6 9/16; depth, 5 3/8. Tin box. A probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B probably made by Felix Dominy. Museum accessions: 63.156.4, 63.156.13.
East Hampton, N.Y., and Europe
Inscriptions on this group of boxes, with the exception of D, are proof of their specific content. Written in script on the front and back of the small rectangular box (A) is the word Emery. This abrasive is a coarse form of aluminum oxide and has long been used for polishing metals. It was used by the Dominys in the form of emery buff sticks or emery paper to clean steelwork such as arbors. In 1779 Daniel Burnap noted that emery was rubbed onto engraved clock dials with a balled piece of leather in preparation for silvering them.30 On August 5, 1789, Nathaniel IV bought 1 1/2 pounds of emery from Aaron Isaacs.31
Felix Dominy used the tiny circular box (B) to store Chain hooks and hair springs (inscribed on the top) and hair springs coiled (inscribed on the bottom.) The hooks were used for watch chains and the hairsprings in repairing watches. A dozen chain hooks purchased from Thomas Richards in 1822 cost Felix a total of six cents.32 Perhaps the box was the original container for some of these imported items, because microanalysis has revealed that it is made of European cherry.
Clock Hands were stored in the narrow rectangular box (C), but the inscription on D is not legible. An initial P is visible, followed by what appears to be the letters Bau. According to family history, the large mahogany box was used to store a vial of chemicals and was kept in one of the storage openings in the chimney of the clock shop. All four rectangular boxes were hollowed from solid blocks of wood.
Description A: Height, 13/16; width, 15/16; depth, 1 3/16,. Apple box; white-pine slide. B: Height, 3/4; diameter, 1. European cherry box and lid. C: Height, 7/8; width, 1 1/8; depth, 4 1/8. White-pine box and slide. D: Height, 15/16; width, 1 1/8; depth, 4 1/4. White-pine box and slide. E: Height, 1 15/16; width, 1 15/16; depth, 4 7/8. Mahogany box and slide. All except B probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B probably purchased by Felix Dominy. E, gift of Nathaniel M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.26.570, 57.26.565, 57.26.563, 57.26.562, 57.100.5.
East Hampton, N.Y.
The purpose of these boxes should be crystal clear. One of the Dominys' important sources of income, watch repair, is discussed in Chapter V. Replacement of watch crystals was an easy and profitable task. The boxes shown here served as storage bins for the glass dishes.
Each box is divided into compartments— twenty-four in the large example and eight in the smaller. These are numbered from 10 to 33 (A), and 20 to 27 (B). Most of the glasses have paper labels denoting sizes, although it is obvious that they have become mixed. A label, therefore, does not always correspond to the stamped number of its compartment. Some of the labels bear the printed inscription W. B. & Cie, the name of the manufacturer or exporter of these crystals. The printing style suggests a date between 1820 and 1840.
As watch collectors and enthusiasts know, the shapes of watch crystals vary, depending upon the design of the watch movement and dial size. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries some of the variations in shape were also due to differences in methods of producing watch glass. Abraham Rees described the production technique of the best-quality crystal as follows:
There is a superior description of watch-glasses, technically called bottoms which are not portions of spheres, but are flat on the top, the edges only being concavous. Each of these is cut from a separate piece of hollow glass blown in the shape of a cone, of which the watch glass forms the bottom. The waste of glass, is, therefore, considerable, and the flat glasses are consequently much more expensive than the spherical.33
According to Rees, plain spherical glasses were converted from flat pieces of circular glass by a "heated convex piece of iron" during the eighteenth century. He stated that the practice was discontinued in the nineteenth century, although it continued to be used for large convex glasses used on clock faces.
Several years ago, when the Winterthur Museum acquired a rare watch made by Thomas Harland, of Norwich, Connecticut, its glass was broken. Rummaging through the Dominys' watch-glass boxes produced a crystal of "superior" quality that snapped easily into the grooves of the cover of Harland's watch case.
Description A: Length, 18; height, 3 1/8; depth, 9. White-pine bottom and dividers; tulip end and side. B: Length, 9 9/16; height, 2 1/2; depth, 5 5/8. Entire box tulip. Both probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.606–607.
East Hampton, N.Y.
These small brushes served several purposes in clockmaking and watch repairing. One of their functions was to help correct a condition described by Thomas Martin as the cause of the loss of balance34
Nathaniel IV probably made these brushes by encasing hog bristle in a copper tube. The initials ND are engraved on the upper surface of the larger brush at the right (C). Eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century sources do not illustrate brushes used by clock- and watchmakers, perhaps because they were made by the craftsmen who used them and were not commercially available in quantity as were many other tools. Late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century technical manuals indicate that brushes of many types were employed in cleaning watches and clocks depending upon whether cleaning solutions or abrasives were to be used. According to one author, the thin galvanic coatings of gilt used on late-nineteenth-century watch plates meant that brush cleaning had to be confined to brass wheels.35
The fact that clocks and watches were not always carefully brush-cleaned is stated by M. L. Booth in her Manual (1860): "The cleaning of clocks and watches is more difficult and demands more minute care than ordinary workmen imagine. They often rub the pieces with a brush and Spanish white, and remove the gilding in a short time. The whiting which they use fills the teeth and the leaves of the pinions and they are not always careful to remove it, so that the watch is often dirtier when they have finished than when it was brought to them."36
It was noted earlier (see No. 102) that Nathaniel IV purchased a large quantity of chalk. It is likely that some of that chalk was used for cleaning watches.
Description A: Length, 3 3/16,46. B: Length, 3 1/4. C: Length, 3 3/4. All made of bristle enclosed in a copper tube, probably by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 63.156.257, 63.156.152, 63.156.151.
East Hampton, N.Y.
These tools were used to polish the brass and steel parts of clocks and watches. Oxides of iron called "crocus," "rouge," and "clinker" formed the polishing compounds spread on the leather surface of the buffer.37 Other polishing agents were also employed, but the bright-red color on the leather of these
Silver and jewelry were frequently repaired by Felix Dominy, and the buffers were probably used on a variety of metalwork produced by him and his family. The tacks which attach the leather buffers to the frames are all replacements.
Description A: Height, 2 1/4; length, 17 1/2; depth, 2 5/8. B: Height, 2 3/16; length, 17 7/16. Both have a white-pine board and handgrip, leather (chamois) outer skin, cotton lining, and steel tacks (replacements). Both probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 63.156.9, 63.156.8.
CALIPERS AND DIVIDERS
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
The eighteenth-century craftsman is often viewed as a person possessed with an innate and uncanny ability to judge measurements. Such a view reflects an unfortunate misconception; his talents were not that great. Even though the instruments at his command would not satisfy modern standards of accuracy, no craftsman of the period during which the Dominys worked (approximately 1760-1850) would have been without some measuring devices. The calipers and dividers seen here were especially valuable to woodworkers and metalworkers for measuring thicknesses and inside and outside dimensions of cylinders and rods and for drawing accurate circles.
For contrast, a large pair of wood turner's calipers (A) is shown enclosing a group of tools used by clock- and watchmakers or other metalworkers. Its arms are made of dogwood, a material used by Nathaniel V for other tools, and the iron rivet which fastens its compass joint is an early-nineteenth-century type. These bits of evidence indicate that the tool was probably made about 1800. In theory it could have been used for many purposes, but it is likely that it was used in the woodworking shop to check the outside dimensions of mill gear shafts, cogs, and wheel hubs. In his section on turning, Thomas Martin described this type of calipers simply as a tool "to measure the size of the work."38
The small iron calipers with inward curved arms (B) performed essentially the same function in the Dominy clock shop and forge. A similar implement is illustrated among forge tools by Diderot, who called it a "Compas d' epaisseur" (compass of thickness).39 This caliper could have been used to check the outside dimensions of an arbor being turned on the metalworking lathe or to transfer a measurement of the thickness of one piece of metal to another piece being duplicated at the forge. There is a crudeness about the construction and finish of [p. ] this caliper that indicates local manufacture. Most eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century treatises on clockmaking and watchmaking illustrate adjustable inside and outside calipers among the tools necessary for those crafts.40 Apparently the work performed by the Dominys was sufficiently standardized for Nathaniel IV to make or buy locally a set of fixed inside and outside calipers (C, D, E). They are simply two thin crescent-shaped pieces of iron brazed together back-to-back. Their versatility, however, is demonstrated by the fact that, in use, the set of three will provide a check on twelve measurements.
It was important for clock- and watchmakers to be able to determine whether or not gear wheels were placed on their arbors at perfect right angles. With a tool like the small brass caliper (F), the arbor ends could be balanced between the arms and the true relationship between wheel and arbor determined by the movable lever attached to each arm. Illustrations of a similar tool in use are found in Thomas Martin's Circle of the Mechanical Arts (1813). Most calipers of this type had an additional pair of arms above the joint which permitted artisans to check the accuracy of a duplicate arbor and wheel.41
Three dividers or compasses formed part of the clock-shop collection (G, H, and I). Felix Dominy's initials are inscribed on both the small and the large brass and steel dividers. The small tool (G) is a handmade example that Felix may have inherited from his grandfather. After it broke at the juncture of steel and brass, he probably purchased the larger English dividers (I). The latter has certain features such as the concentric rings decorating the head and curved finger grips on the arms seen on tools illustrated in English catalogues of the early nineteenth century.42 Next to the small dividers is a spring divider (H), also shown among clock tools illustrated in Diderot's Encyclopédie; he called it a "compas élastique ou à ressort" (elastic compass or compass with a spring).43 The steel tines of all three tools enabled craftsmen to scribe circles on metal plates, but the spring divider, with its wing nut and screw, provided the most stable and accurate measurements. It is almost identical in detail, including the wing nut, to a group of "Lancashire Spring Dividers" published in an English catalogue, the paper of which has a 1798 watermark.44
Tool J is undoubtedly the latest of this group. It is a gauge used to transfer measurements from old watch parts to new replacements. When a balance staff, for example, is placed between the two points of the calipers, a numerical value may be read on the brass arm below. This value makes possible an exact duplication of the part measured. Because the scale is measured in twelfths (1/12 of a line or 1/44 of an inch) this gauge has come to be known as a "douzième."45 It is not shown in any early treatise about clock- and watchmaking and probably represents mid-nineteenth-century development. Some watch repairing was conducted by Nathaniel Dominy VII (1827–1910), and it is quite possible that he was responsible for its purchase. A modern douzième gauge, only slightly different in construction, can be purchased today.46
Description A: Length, 19; closed width, 5 5/8; open width, 31 7/8. Dogwood. B: Length, 4 3/8; closed width, 1 9/16; open width, 7. Iron. C: Inside width, 2 1/4, 2 3/8; outside, 1 17/32, 1 7/8. Iron. D: Inside width, 2 15/16, 3; outside width, 2 1/32, 2 3/6. Iron. E: Inside width, 4 1/16, 4 1/8; outside width, 2 15/16. Iron. F: Length, 2 7/16; closed width, 1 1/2; open width, 3. Brass. G: Length, 3 3/8; closed width, 1/2. Brass and steel. H: Length, 5; closed width, 1/8; open width, 2 3/4. Steel and brass. I: Length, 5 7/8; closed width, 3/8; open width, 10 7/8. Brass and steel. J: Length, 6; scale width, 3 7/16; open width, 9/16. Steel and brass. A and B probably made by Nathaniel Dominy V. C–F probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. G–J probably purchased by Felix Dominy. F, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.26.393, 57.26.420, 57.26.431a–c, 57.84.65, 57.26.421, 57.26.419, 57.26.418, 63.156.135.
East Hampton, N.Y.
This slat-back side chair was probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV shortly after the construction of the clock shop in 1797. It was used at the benches and lathe because the painstaking and time-consuming work involved in making parts for clocks or repairing watches required that craftsmen performing these crafts be seated. An interior view of a late-eighteenth-century French clock- and watchmaker's shop shows two such craftsmen seated on high stools, with plain turned legs and stretchers, working at a bench.47
The seat of this chair is a bit over 23 inches from [p. ] the floor, and the distance from the floor of the clock shop to the bottom of the Dominys' bench was 35 inches. Almost 12 inches of clearance under the bench for knees and legs was available to the Dominys, therefore, when sitting in this chair. It seems odd that the one-piece pine seat should be nailed to front and rear rails, but there are no marks left by the pressure of rush strands on the rails. Moreover, hand-wrought nails were used to fasten the seat, indicating that it is the original one.
Tools used to make this chair included turning gouges and chisels, marking gauge, mortise chisel, fore plane, short jointer plane, spokeshave, tenon saw, brace, tenon bits, mallet, and hammer. With the exception of the tenon saw and hammer, all are illustrated in this catalogue.
Description Height, 30 1/8; seat height, 23 1/8; width, 19; depth, 14 5/8. White-pine seat; soft-maple lower rear stretcher and left rear leg; hickory lower front stretcher. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.84.67.
CHISEL, BLACKSMITH'S (HOT SET)
America or England
This tool was used by blacksmiths to cut hot metal at a forge. Two workmen were usually required for
This type of chisel is shown among forge tools illustrated in Diderot's Encyclopédie, although the cutter is held by a wood fagot instead of an iron rod. It is not discussed by Nicholson, who devotes considerable space instead to the use of a cold chisel for cutting iron stock.48 Fitting a chisel or punch within a split fagot was apparently common for French smiths of the eighteenth century. Du Monceau illustrates that practice in his book on ironwork (1767).49
Hot chisel blades were ground thinner and sharper than the cold chisel in order to penetrate hot metal quickly. Because the metal it cut was greatly softened by heat, it could bear a thinner blade. Its cutting action was necessarily rapid to prevent loss of temper from the heat of the metal under its blade.50
Description Length, 23 5/8; chisel height, 6; rod diameter, 7/16. Iron. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.499.
CONTAINER, POLISHING COMPOUND
East Hampton, N.Y., or Europe
This small container was used by the Dominys to hold some kind of finely ground powder used in metalwork—possibly a polishing compound or a soldering flux. A small can of this type for holding powder is shown in two plates relating to metalwork in Diderot's Encyclopédie. The closest thing to the Dominy container was a "borachoir" in an engraving illustrating tools used by a goldsmith or jeweler (Illus. XXVII). The serrated upper edge of its spout can be seen. This was apparently flicked with the finger or a tool in order to set up enough vibration to dislodge the contents. Modern French dictionaries do not give "borachoir" nor do they include "rochoir," the word used by Diderot to describe a similar container used by eighteenth-century tinmen.51 The verb "choir" (to fall) is listed. Perhaps the prefix bora- stood for "borax" and ro- for "rouge." Randle Holme, in The Academy of Armory: or a Display of Heraldry (London: 1701), displays on page 299, item number 67, a “Borax box for soldering” that is very similar to the Dominy’s container.
Nathaniel Dominy IV had the metalworking skills needed to produce this container. Clearly the engraved initials and date indicate that he owned it in 1782, but whether he made or acquired it cannot be determined.
Description Length, 3 1/8; diameter, 1 1/8. Brass, engraved initials ND and the date AD 1782 (script) on top. Made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.391.
Clock-Barrel and Screw-Threads Cutter (Fusee Engine)
America, Probably East Hampton, N.Y.
This precision tool is an "engine" used by the Dominys to cut threads on fusees, clock-winding barrels, and metal screws. It is a versatile combination tool unlike any other fusee engine or screw-thread cutting lathe encountered in old or modern sources.
When in use, the iron frame was gripped in a vise. The engine as photographed is set up for cutting a thread on a metal screw. A brass or steel arbor was fastened on the lower level between a screw bolt (right) and a winding gear drum (left). Turning the handle causes the two gears to revolve and turns a lead screw on the upper level. The cutter automatically moves along the revolving lead screw; and if its blade is pressed against the arbor below, it cuts a screw thread of coarser pitch because of the difference in gear-tooth ratio. The depth of the thread depends upon how much leverage is applied to the cutter.
If a wooden cylinder was put on the lower level in place of an arbor, then a spiral thread could be cut on it, resulting in a winding barrel for a clock. As is generally known, a cord, gut strand, or chain was usually attached to a set of weights and suspended from the winding barrel. If the diameter of the barrel was constant and the spiral thread evenly spaced, the cord would unwind from the barrel and supply a steady, unvaried source of power to drive the clock gears. Because watch gears derived their power from a mainspring and this source of energy varies with the intensity of the spring coil, watchmakers used a stepped, cone-shaped barrel called a "fusee" to control the variation in power.52 There is no evidence that the Dominys made watches, although both Nathaniel IV and Felix Dominy called themselves watchmakers. However, they repaired many watches during their careers and undoubtedly used this engine to cut fusee threads.
The adjustable tool rest was probably used in the process of deepening or cleaning the work produced by the cutter. Wear on the soft-maple gear drum indicates that it was used with a bow when the upper gear and the lead screw were removed. With the exception of the horizontal frame bar and the upright at the left, every part is adjustable or removable. Some indication of the heavy use and [p. ]
In comparison with surviving engines or illustrations of them in eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century sources, the Dominys' cutter is quite crude. Its design, oddly enough, is most like the fusee engine illustrated by Antoine Thiout in his Traité de l'horlogerie (Paris, 1741). His was the first metal machine to combine the principles of "a lead screw and change gears controlling the cutting tool for the spiral thread." Unlike later examples, it appears to be compact and was vertically oriented as is the Dominys' tool.53 Most screw-thread cutting lathes utilized a horizontal frame and would have required much more space than the Dominys'.54
Description Length, 15 1/2; height, 6 1/8. Iron and brass cutter; apple handle; soft-maple gear drum. Made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.410.
Probably East Hampton, N.Y.
This tool was used to cut small toothed wheels called "pinions." It was converted from an old file (the quality of its steel was usually quite reliable) and employed, for example, on brass wire drawn to the correct size through a plate (No. 175) and clamped in a vise. This cutter was placed over the metal rod and tapped steadily downward with a hammer. As a result teeth, or leaves, were shaped on the sides of the brass rod, thus forming a pinion. The photograph shows that this tool is quite worn. Perhaps Felix Dominy was referring to it when he wrote to Elijah Simons, a clockmaker in Sag Harbor, on January 4, 1821, "as to the pinion I have no cutter mine being broken."55
Description Length, 6 9/16; depth, 3/4. Steel. Probably made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.84.54.
DRILLS, PIVOT HOLE
Activated by a watchmaker's bow, these drills made pivot holes in watch plates. The tapered end of the ivory shaft was fitted into a hollow in a puppet of a watchmaker's turn and a plate held against the bit.
Use of these drills demanded uncommon skills. Perfect centering was required, the bit entering the face of the watch plate in an absolutely perpendicular position.56. Martin shows a stock for drills in his Circle of Mechanical Arts that embodies the same principles used to make the drills owned by the Dominys.57 A bit is fitted into a steel arbor, which is in turn fitted into a brass ferrule, or screw, which is fitted into a shaft—in this case, ivory. The baluster-shaped stock at the far right may be slightly earlier than those with an urn-shaped turning above the ferrule.
By the end of the nineteenth century pivot drill bits could be purchased in quantity "at such small cost that it will scarcely pay the watchmaker to make them."58
Description A: Length, 2 1/4. B: Length, 2 5/16. C: Length, 2 3/8. D: Length, 2 3/16. E: Length, 2 1/2. F: Length, 2 17/32. G: Length, 2 11/16. H: Length, 2 23/32. I: Length, 2 7/8. J: Length, 3 1/16. All made of ivory, brass, and steel. All probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. A, B, E, F, and J, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.84.48, 57.84.50, 63.156.302, 63.156.264, 57.84.49, 57.84.51, 63.156.293, 63.156.276, 63.156.288, 57.84.52.
ENGINE, CLOCKMAKER'S WHEEL-CUTTING
America, Probably East Hampton, N.Y.
This engine was indispensable to the Dominys because it cut an exact number of teeth on clock wheels. It was a great timesaver, eliminating the necessity of dividing the rims of their wheels into many parts with a compass and making manual incisions with a file. As Robert Woodbury states in his History of the Gear-cutting Machine, clockmakers were not concerned with making precision teeth for their gears with this tool but were interested in achieving accurate indexing—an exact division of a circle.59
The Science Museum of London has an engine similar to the Dominys' which they date about 1672, and Rees pointed out in his Cyclopaedia that wheel-cutting engines were very nearly the same in the early nineteenth century as they had been in the late seventeenth century.60 By 1800 some English toolmakers were able to supply wheel-cutting engines. About that year the Birmingham firm of Ford, Whitmore and Brunton, which specialized in clock- and watchmaker's tools, illustrated an engine[p. ] with an open iron frame which operated on the same principles as the Dominys' cutter.61 Burnap owned a more elaborate engine, housed in a wooden frame, and his memorandum book contains drawings for making such a cutter.62 Nathaniel Dominy IV owned this tool by 1774, for in that year he credited Samuel Sherril with the sum of 1 shilling, "by a Triangle for Engine." The base of the wheel cutter is simply a long iron triangle to which the cutting frame is attached. In 1791 Deacon David Talmage supplied Nathaniel with a "Steel Arbr for Engine"—perhaps an arbor for a new cutting wheel.63
The operation of this tool is fairly simple. After casting the brass clock wheels (Nos. 154, 163), filing their crosses, or arms, and drilling a center hole in them, the clockmaker mounted the wheels on a lathe arbor and turned the outside rims true.64 A single wheel would then be secured in a jig in front of the engine's cutter. The lower part of this jig is attached directly to a brass index plate. A series of holes are drilled along the circumference of all sixteen different circles, which have been stamped with numbers indicating how many teeth will be cut if that particular index line is followed. Beginning with a circle of the largest diameter and working inward, the numbers are 96, 84, 80, 78, 186, 72, 64, 68, 60, 56, 54, 100, 88, 52, 70, and 30. Another brass index plate has survived with holes punched along the rim of twelve circles. Its number series is 96, 84, 72, 64, 68, 60, 54, 48, 40, 30, 50, and 62. These indexes were not all designed for the wheels of Dominy clocks; some of them were used as a guide to cut teeth on wheels needed for the repair of other makers' clocks.
At the front of the triangle (left) is a long, thin iron arm.65 The end of that shaft fits into the holes of the index plate. When the Dominys had selected the circle of holes they wished to follow, the arm was placed in a hole on that index line. The weight of the cutter frame resting on it held the arm and plate firmly. Next a screw at the opposite end of the triangle (right) was turned clockwise. This forced the cutting frame forward and pressed the cutter against the rim of the clock wheel in the jig. Turning the handle of the engine set gears in motion and caused the cutter to revolve at a high speed. When the incision was made, the screw was turned counterclockwise, thus disengaging the cutter. The arm at the front of the triangle was then removed from its hole, the index plate moved slightly, and the arm dropped into the next hole on the index line. This moved the clock wheel just enough to repeat the cutting operation at a new spot along its rim.
While this may seem laborious, it was an efficient method of reproducing identical gear wheels in any quantity. The clockmaker who did not own an "engine" was at a great disadvantage; it is noted in Chapter V that Elijah Simons, of Sag Harbor, was forced to employ Felix Dominy to cut teeth on Simons's own clock wheels. Considering the limited space, the design of this engine was exactly right for the Dominys because it could easily be removed from the bench vise that gripped the triangle and stored under the bench or on a shelf until needed.
Description Length, 28; width, 16; height, 4 3/4. Iron frame; steel cutter wheel; iron-and-brass blank jig; soft-maple handle; brass-and-iron index plate. Made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.409a–b.
EXERCISE PLATES AND TEMPLATES
East Hampton, N.Y.
These plates demonstrate the use of scrap metal for practicing engraving techniques. They also serve as reminders that as definitive as old treatises on specific crafts may be they do not always contain complete descriptions of the "art and mystery" of those crafts: eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century [p. ] sources do not illustrate the use of practice plates for engraving.
Felix Dominy was eighteen years old when he practiced engraving the date 1818 on the copper exercise plate at the upper left (A). The dates 1819, 1820, and 1826 also appear on its surface. His full name in script was tried at one time and, on another occasion, he used this piece of copper to test his initial die. His grandfather, Nathaniel IV, used part of a coffin plate to practice his engraving technique, perhaps before putting his name on the pewter dial of one of his clocks (Nos. 195, 198). Mrs. E. Mulford, the name engraved on the plate, was probably the wife of Captain Ezekiel Mulford, to whom Nathaniel Dominy sold a clock in 1772.66
The lower brass plate (C) is pictured horizontally, but it was used in a vertical position. Martin gives a concise description of the function of this template: "The first operation in making a clock (as well as a watch) is the callipering or setting out the positions of the pivot holes for the several wheels; this is done by drawing it out on pasteboard, and transferring the points or centres so ascertained to the plates of the clock, by pricking them through."67
Because the height of this brass sheet is exactly the same as the pierced plates used by Nathaniel IV for some of his clocks (No. 155), it was relatively easy for him to set out "the positions of the pivot holes" for the wheels of his gear train. Obviously, a template of metal would have a longer life than one of pasteboard. Burnap also preferred a metal template.68 While not visible in this photograph, numbers for the teeth to be cut on pinions and wheels are scratched within the circles on the Dominys' plate. These are 6, 8, 84, 72, 64, 42, 36, 72, 72, 96, 42, 60, 30, and 40.
Felix Dominy also used his copper exercise plate as a template. The numbers engraved inside the wheel circles of what appears to be a layout for one of his timepieces (Fig. 231) are quite clear; 96 teeth were to be cut for the large wheel; 64 teeth for the next wheel; then 60, and for the smallest wheel 30. Three pinion circles are stamped 8 quite clearly; this number was formed by using the No. 6 die twice.
Description A: Diameter, 5 5/8. Copper. B: Length, 3 3/16; depth, 2 3/4. Silverplate (copper and silver). C: Length, 7 1/2; depth, 5 3/32. Brass. A used by Felix Dominy. B used by Nathaniel Dominy IV. C probably used by Nathaniel Dominy IV and Felix Dominy. Museum accessions: 63.156.31, 63.156.39, 63.156.30.
EYE GLASS (JEWELER'S LOOP)
This extremely useful tool was employed by the Dominys in watch repairing. It magnifies small parts while they are being fitted in place or perhaps while being filed and polished.
An eye glass is not shown as part of a watch- and clockmaker's shop equipment in Diderot's Encyclopédie; but in the Encyclopédie méthodique, published by Panckoucke at the end of the eighteenth century, a watchmaker seated at a bench is shown peering at a watch movement through an eye glass. Moreover, in 1813 Martin stated that "a magnifying-glass,69
The rim of the horn mounting for this glass is quite worn from rubbing against skin over many years. As late as 1896 watchmaker's glasses were still being mounted in horn.70
Description Height, 3/4; base diameter, 1 3/4; top diameter, 7/8. Horn frame; glass magnifying lens; brass wire band. Made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.549.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
The Dominy clock shop contained more files than any other kind of metalworking tool. Over fifty of this small type have survived. They were used to shape and to clean the various metal parts of clocks and watches. Diderot illustrates at least twelve different types of files used by clockmakers and watchmakers in his Encyclopédie.71 When that number is multiplied by the variety of sizes employed for each type, it is not surprising to find that small files were owned in great quantities by shops making or repairing clocks and watches. It is estimated, for example, that Burnap had forty-eight files in his shop.72
Apparently the practice of using large numbers of small files extended into the late nineteenth century. In 1896 Henry G. Abbott stated: "The average American has a tendency to be extravagant, and in no trade or calling is this extravagance better exemplified than in that of the watchmaker and particularly in the matter of files. Many watchmaker's benches will be found, in the drawers of which, from one to two dozen files will be found, and out of all that number, not to exceed six will be in anything like respectable shape for good work."73 According to Abbott, the secret of giving a file long life lay in breaking it in on soft metal such as brass and gradually bringing it to bear upon steel objects. The same advice was given by James Smith earlier in the century.74
From a variety of sources it is possible to ascertain the specific tasks for which the files shown here were used by the Dominys.75 Tools A and J are tapered round files, also called "rat-tails" in English books but named by Diderot as "équarrissoir" (reamer), or "alézoir" (borer), files. They helped to form and clean the crosses and interior rims of gear wheels. File B, with a lozenge-shaped blade, is described by Tomlinson as a "clock and watch slitting file" used to groove screw heads or to shape and to clean grooves in general.
Verges, pivots, and the small stepped bracket that supports the lower pivot of a verge were made with the help of the rectangular blades of C, D, F, G, and O. They are variously called "verge," "pivot," and "pottance" files. Some of these files have a "safe" edge, that is, an edge with no teeth cut on it. The safe edge permitted filing up to a shoulder or corner without cutting into the surface against which it rubbed. Although the blades of E, H, and P are similar to the files just described, they have important differences in shape. The edges of these three files are rounded. They were known as "round-edge equalling," or "joint," files according to Tomlinson and Rees; but Diderot called them "lime à efflanquer, à charnière" (thinning, leaning, or joint files). Made with tapered or parallel sides, they were used to clean and shape the spaces between gear wheel teeth and pinions.
The blades of I and L are a half-round shape on both sides. Diderot called this type of file "lime à Feuille de Sauge" (sage leaf), but to most clock- and watchmakers they were known as "crossing," or "double half-round," files. Their function was to file the crosses of gear wheels and to round, or point, the teeth of these wheels. The sides of their blades were not symmetrical and, therefore, presented users with a choice of slightly different curvatures. Files K, M, and N feature one flat side and one half-round side. All sources agree in stating that they were called "rounding-off" files (lime à arrondir) and were used for rounding, or pointing, the gear teeth of wheels.
At least two of these files were purchased by the Dominys complete with European handles (G and I). Microscopic analysis of the wood used for the handles of their tools indicates that in most instances the Dominys supplied handles for European blades purchased in New York City. "Small files" were bought by Nathaniel Dominy IV in 1773, 1775, 1789, and 1792. The price paid was always 6 or 8 pence per file. Shortly after he began to make docks in 1817 Felix Dominy drafted a memorandum of tools and supplies to be purchased in New York City. Included in his list were "Round & square Files smallest size."76 It would probably be accurate to say that all the file blades shown here originated in Lancashire. That county was the center of clock and watch tool manufacturing in England, and as late as 1854 Tomlinson stated that the finer varieties of files used by clock- and watchmakers were still being supplied from Lancashire.77
Description A: Length, 5 1/6; blade width, 1/8. White-oak handle; steel blade. B: Length, 5 1/2; blade width, 3/32. White-pine handle; steel blade. C: Length, 5 13/16; blade width, 5/32. American beech handle; steel blade. D: Length, 6 3/8; blade width, 5/32. Cherry handle; steel blade; iron ferrule. E: Length, 6 7/16; blade width, 3/16. Cherry handle; steel blade stamped RE; iron ferrule. F: Length, [p. ] 6 1/2; blade width, 3/16. Soft-maple handle; steel blade; wire ferrule. G: Length, 6 9/16; blade width, 7/32. European yew handle; steel blade; brass ferrule. H: Length, 6 5/8; blade width, 3/16. Soft-maple handle; steel blade; wire ferrule. I: Length, 6 15/16; blade width, 5/16. European cherry handle; steel blade stamped E; iron ferrule. J: Length, 7; blade width, 1/8. Bone handle; steel blade. K: Length, 7 5/8; blade width, 5/32. American cherry handle; steel blade. L: Length, 7 5/8; blade width, 9/32. American cherry handle; steel blade stamped E (script) and r (script) in oval; iron ferrule. M: Length, 7 3/4; blade width, 5/16. Dogwood handle; steel blade. N: Length, 8 7/16; blade width, 1/4. American cherry handle; steel blade; iron ferrule. O: Length, 8 3/8; blade width, 1/4. Cherry handle; steel blade; iron ferrule. P: Length, 8 9/16; blade width, 1/4. American cherry handle; steel blade; iron ferrule. A–C, F–H, J, and M probably made and purchased by Felix Dominy. D–E, I, K–L, N–P probably made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.593, 57.26.602, 57.26.599, 57.26.596, 57.26.600–601, 57.26.595, 57.26.598, 57.26.605, 57.26.594, 57.26.544–545, 57.26.534, 57.26.537, 57.26.597, 57.26.536.
Clock- and Watchmaker's Files
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
In England the city of Sheffield was the greatest rival to Warrington and other areas of Lancashire in the manufacture of files. In this group of clock- and watchmaker's files, three of four marked files were made in Sheffield. Of the smaller tools illustrated, A and C are rounding-off files; B is a verge and pivot file; D is a crossing, or double half-round, file; and E is a slitting file.
File E and the large round-edge equaling, or joint, file below it (F) were made by the Sheffield firm of William Greaves and Sons. Many of their products were probably intended for export to the United States because they are listed in directories as "American Merchants." They are first listed in the Sheffield Directory of 1817 with an establishment on Division Street. Between 1828 and 1833 the firm moved to the Sheaf Works on Maltravers Street. The slitting file was probably made, therefore, between 1817 and 1833, while the larger tool, stamped SHEAF WORKS, was probably made between 1828 and 1841.78 Perhaps the latter was used [p. ] to clean spaces between teeth of the largest gear wheels made by the Dominys.
Although the long file with the name PS/STUBS stamped on it (G) resembles an entering file, it is too thick and wide to qualify for that type; and it was more likely called a "flat," or "taper-flat," file by the Dominys.79 Its teeth are filled with brass filings. Although its exact use in the clock shop is not known, it was probably employed in cleaning the edges of pierced clock plates (Fig. 155). A page from a catalogue of clockmaker's tools issued in 1790 by Peter Stubs, of Warrington, appears in an article by the late George H. Kernodle. The catalogue itself has apparently disappeared, and it has been impossible to identify Kernodle's source.80
Peter Stubs (1756–1806) broadened his market for files when in 1796 he sent an agent, Thomas Carter, to represent him in America. By 1802 Stubs possessed considerable property, including substantial shops and warehouses on Scotland Road in which eighteen file cutters, twenty-two apprentices, and one forgeman were employed. After Peter Stubs's death in 1806 his son John developed a large overseas trade in files, shipping them directly rather than through an agent. The firm carried on under the leadership of William and Joseph Stubs to at least 1841. The Cabinet Cyclopaedia, published by Dr. Dionysius Gardner in 1833, declared that tools manufactured by the Stubs firm could not be surpassed anywhere in the world.81
Tool H is a common "hand," or flat, file used for general metal filing in a clock shop, according to Rees. Its tang is stamped W. BUTCHER, which appears in various combinations on the blades of tools made in Sheffield until 1939 or 1940.82 There is reason to believe, however, that this tool was made between 1818 and 1828. It has a bone handle, probably supplied by Felix Dominy; and it is likely that the mark shown on the file was used at the period when William was the only member of the Butcher family listed in Sheffield directories as a manufacturer of files and "edge tools in all its branches."83
Description A: Length, 4 1/2; width, 3/32. Soft-maple handle; steel blade. B: Length, 5 1/8; width, 1/4. Soft-maple handle; steel blade. C: Length, 6; width, 5/16. White-cedar handle; steel blade. D: Length, 8 1/2; width, 3/8. Soft-maple handle; steel blade. E: Length, 10 13/16; width, 3/16. Soft-maple handle; steel blade stamped W. GREAVES / & SONS (Sheffield, ca. 1818–1833). F: Length, 11 3/8; width, 15/16. Steel blade stamped W. GREAVES / & SONS, SHEAF WORKS (Sheffield, ca. 1828–1841). G: Length, 16; width, 1 1/16. White-pine handle; steel blade stamped PS / STUBS (Warrington, 1800–1841). H: Length, 15 7/8; width, 1 1/8. Horn handle; steel blade stamped W. BUTCHER (Sheffield, 1818–1828). A, B, D, and G probably purchased and made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. C, E, F, and H probably purchased and made by Felix Dominy. A–D, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.84.34, 57.84.32, 57.84.31, 57.84.29, 63.156.55, 63.156.148, 57.26.292, 57.26.484.
Depth Guage ("Deepening" or "Pitching" Tool)
America, Probably East Hampton, N.Y.
A tool similar to this one is described by Diderot as being used for gearing or, in other words, to engage toothed wheels.84 In Martin's Circle of the Mechanical Arts (1813) this kind of implement is called a "pitching-tool," used to ascertain "the distances at which the pivot-holes of any wheel and pinion should be situated, to make their teeth engage properly with each other (called, running the depth)."85 Rees described the same tool a few years later as a "deepening tool," for "adjusting the engagement of wheels with wheels or pinions, not as yet much used in England."86 Rees may have been correct about its degree of use in England, but the depth gauge was one of the clock- and watchmaker's tools offered for sale about 1800 by Ford, Whitmore and Brunton in Birmingham.87
Quite obviously, if the teeth of gear wheels and pinions made by the Dominys did not mesh properly, the teeth would wear rapidly and their clocks lose accuracy. This tool insured a proper fit for the teeth. The Dominys' version consists of a U-shaped frame, the upper ends of which are bent outward at a fixed angle. At the center of this frame a plate is riveted to provide a gripping place for the jaws of a vise. Two upright slotted shafts are affixed to the vertical arms of the frame with wing nuts. Loosening or tightening the wing nuts permits the uprights to be adjusted higher or lower. However, a bolt riveted through the frame prevents the slotted [p. ]
A combination of toothed wheels, wheels and pinions, or pinions could be suspended between the upper and lower arbors. After the necessary adjustments had been made and the teeth were meshing correctly, a compass, or dividers, could be used to measure the distance between the pivots of whatever combination was on the tool. This measurement could then be transferred to clock or watch plates to mark the place where pivot holes should be drilled. Truly ingenious, it was an extremely valuable and much-used tool.
Description Length, 6; depth, 5; height, 5. Iron and steel. Made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.426.
Dial-Marking Gauge (Gunsmith's Tool)
East Hampton, N.Y.
When this tool was acquired from members of the Dominy family in 1957, it came with a history documenting its use as a dial-marking gauge. Subsequent research seems to indicate otherwise, but unfortunately no other evidence for a specific use has been uncovered. It does not appear in illustrations of clock- and watchmaker's tools, nor is an implement like it described in treatises on clock- and watchmaking of the eighteenth, nineteenth, or twentieth centuries. In short, its purpose remains an enigma.
It is stamped with the date 1779, when Nathaniel IV made it, and also bears an inscription indicating that it was revised in 1818. That date coincides roughly with Felix Dominy's entrance into the clock shop, and it is logical to assume, therefore, that this tool had something to do with clockmaking. The section of a circle scratched on its surface is marked, however, only from 5 to 35, certainly not enough to enable a dial-marking gauge to function successfully.
The tool appears to be complete, with no broken parts. Although it is not clear in the photograph, [p. ]
Description Length, 7 1/16; depth, 2 13/16; height, 1/2. Satinwood block and arm; block stamped 1779 and inscribed revised in 1818; iron plate and rivet. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV, revised by Felix Dominy. Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.84.22.
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
The precision required for making clock and watch parts demanded that artisans possess reliable indexes of measurement. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries gauges of the type seen here were used to measure the thickness of arbors, spindles, pinions, clock or watch plates, and other metal parts. Some of those illustrated were undoubtedly made by the Dominys from scrap metal while others were probably bought from local smiths or tool dealers in New York City.
It was apparently a common practice for craftsmen to make their own gauges because contemporary sources offer little discussion of this type of tool. James Smith states that gauges with straight rather than curved backs were used to check the [p. ] thickness of material being worked upon with a file.88 A later source, The Watchmaker's Hand-Book by Claudius Saunier, gives a description of one of the uses of gauges C, D, F, G, and I. After drawplates for making wire and screw plates had been obtained (Nos. 159, 175), artisans were advised to prepare a complete set of screws leaving about one-half inch of unthreaded metal:
When this opration is completed, take a thin plate of a circular or rectangular form, and round its circumference cut a number of notches, gradually diminishing in size, that correspond with the cylindrical uncut portions of the screws.
Mark those recesses with numbers corresponding with those of the screwplate and, opposite to each, drill a hole of the same diameter as the notch.
The first series will serve to measure, without removal from the lathe if desired, the diameters of spindles on which threads are to be cut; and the round holes are useful for selecting the brooches and drills to prepare holes that are to be tapped.89
Of the nine gauges shown, five are marked with either Roman or Arabic numerals. Gauges D and I appear to be the product of commercial tool firms, and these may have been English imports purchased by Nathaniel IV.
Description A: Length, 3 7/32; width, 9/16. Steel. B: Length, 2 11/16; width, 1/2. Brass. C: Length, 3 5/8; width, 5/16. Iron. D: Length, 2 1/4; width, 5/8. Steel. E: Length, 2 3/4; width, 1 1/4. Iron. F: Length, 4; width, 1 1/8. Iron. G: Length, 5; width, 1 1/16. Steel. H: Length, 4 1/4; width, 1 3/8. Iron. I: Length, 5 1/8; width, 1 1/4. Iron. Made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. G, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.26.447, 57.26.453, 57.26.444, 57.26.454, 57.26.449–450, 57.84.21, 57.26.451, 57.26.445.
Clock- and Watchmaker's Hammers
America and England
It is unfortunate that eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century treatises on clockmaking and watchmaking do not illustrate and describe the very small hammers invariably found in the shops dedicated to those crafts.90 They were needed for riveting wheels to arbors, tapping pinions and pivots in place, stretching or straightening arbors, hardening or tempering brass, and hundreds of other related tasks.
Metalworkers can still purchase small hammers with shapes not too different from those owned by the Dominys over one hundred years ago. Indeed, it is a contemporary tool catalogue that furnishes information about the possible use of these hammers. Tools A through D were probably riveting hammers. Tool E was probably a dual-purpose hammer used for planishing and creasing. Its narrow, rounded edge received more wear than its flat, circular head, possibly an indication that the former was used to crease or groove thin sheet metal.91 Next to it (F) is a tool familiar to silversmiths and known as a "chasing hammer"; it is used to strike chasing tools. A similar example is shown in the section of Diderot illustrating jeweler's tools.92
A skilled artisan combined a flexible wood handle with a lightweight hammer head to establish a vibrating pattern when metal was struck. This prevented scarring of the brass or steel, a circumstance which might necessitate additional polishing and risk ruining the part. The age of the hammer head on B is well established by the separation of steel layers from an inner iron core, an early toolmaking technique abandoned by the middle of the nineteenth century. Although steel hammers were generally well tempered by their maker, craftsmen like the Dominys often retempered their tools. Burnap noted in his memorandum book that the face of a clockmaker's hammer should be brought to a yellow heat.93
Description A: Length, 9 1/4; head length, 2 13/16; head diameter, 9/16. Hickory handle; steel head. B: Length, 5 7/8; head length, 2 5/8; head diameter, 1/2. Soft-maple handle; iron and steel head. C: Length, 8 7/16; head length, 2 13/16; head diameter, 7/16. Hickory handle; steel head stamped LHK&C in a rectangle. [p. ]
Clock- and Watchmaker's Hammers
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Among the watchmaker's tools listed as necessities by Martin in 1813 were "small hammers for riveting wheels upon the arbors."94 It would be difficult to find hammers smaller than these, especially in face width. They were undoubtedly used by the Dominys for the repair of watches. According to a modern author, W. J. Gazeley, a hammer like D would have been used for straightening or stretching steel parts.95
All of the handles are hickory—a tough, springy wood—designed to give the flexible response so [p. ]
Description A: Length, 7 1/2; head length, 4 1/2; face width, 1/4. B: Length, 7; head length, 4 1/8; face width, 3/16. C: Length, 6 1/8; head length, 3 1/4; face width, 3/16. D: Length, 7; head length, 1 3/4; face width, 7/32. E: Length, 7 1/4; head length, 2 3/4; face width, 1/2. F: Length, 6 5/8; head length, 2 5/8; face width, 3/8. All handles hickory. Steel or bone heads. All probably made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchases from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.84.39, 57.84.38, 57.84.37, 57.84.40–42.
HEADER, NAIL AND RIVET
America or England
Nails and rivets were, of course, essential in joining woodwork and metalwork, and the Dominys made them as needed. This versatile combination tool provided heads for nail rods and rivets. Heated nail rods were clamped in a vise and sections driven through the two diamond-shaped openings at the center. The hot nail rod was slightly larger than the opening; and as it was forced downward, metal was thus pushed upward to provide a head for the nail. For rivets, iron or steel wire somewhat bigger than the openings was forced into the round holes at either end, pushing excess metal up to form a shoulder on one end. Only small nails and rivets were obtained because the depth of this tool is only one-half inch.
This implement may be the "Heading tool" for[p. ] which Nathaniel IV credited Deacon David Talmage of East Hampton with 1 shilling 6 pence on May 11, 1786.96 Its shape is unlike any of the nail headers shown in Mercer's book or in the Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association.97 Most spring-type nail or riveting headers have a vertical, rather than a horizontal, orientation. In Diderot's Encyclopédie a similar implement is shown as part of a blacksmith's tools, but the name assigned to it is puzzling. He calls it a "Dégorgeoir à graine," which can mean a priming iron, a vent bit, or a seed-spouting tool.98
Description Length, 4; width, 1 5/16; depth, 1/2. Iron. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.485.
HOLDER, WATCHMAKER'S PINION AND WHEEL
Probably East Hampton, N.Y.
Both the function and date of this tool are speculative. No source, old or new, contains an illustration of a similar tool. It was among a large group of clock and watch tools owned by the Dominys, and the shape of its handle and shaft indicates that it was made during Felix Dominy's period of activity, 1817–1835.
The only object that will fit into the small hole in the terminus of its shaft seems to be the arbor of
Description Length, 5. Beech handle; steel shaft and holder. Probably made or purchased by Felix Dominy. Museum accession: 57.26.586.
LADLES, MELTING AND POURING
America or England
Different metals were employed for working or repairing objects in the Dominy clock shop and forge, and these tools were needed to melt and pour them. For making or repairing objects in the clock shop, spelter—a brass and zinc solder—was needed as well as lead for clock weights, pendulums, or fishing net sinkers, silver for repairs to jewelry, watches, and spectacles, and brass for casting clock wheels, clock plates, bullet molds, and button molds.
Small ladles were probably used to melt lesser quantities of these metals while the larger ones, with their pouring lips, were used to melt quantities of lead or to skim off extra flux and dirt from the top of molten metal. The number of plates in Diderot showing metalworkers using ladles is disappointingly few, but he does illustrate a scale maker using a ladle with one pouring lip to melt lead.99
Long handles helped to dissipate some of the heat to which the ladles were subjected in the Dominys' forge. Apropos the heat problem, it will be [p. ]
Description A: Length, 28 7/8; bowl diameter, 2. White-pine handle; iron shaft and bowl. B: Length, 25 3/4; bowl diameter, 2. Iron. C: Length, 18 3/4; bowl diameter, 3 3/4. Iron. D: Length, 15 1/2; bowl diameter, 3 3/4. Iron. A–C probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. D probably purchased by Felix Dominy. C gift of Nathaniel M. Dominy, 1960. Museum accessions: 57.26.500, 57.26.523, 60.354.3, 57.26.531.
LATHE, HAND (TURNING BENCH)
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
This lathe offered the Dominys a broad scope in performing a variety of metal turning and polishing tasks. Steel arbors and spindles were shaped to size, ground, and polished on it. Clock wheel rims were trued up on it before the cutting of teeth by the wheel-cutting engine (No. 136).
The date given for this lathe is conjectural and is approximated from the building of the Dominy clock shop in 1797 (see Chapter I) . Before that date the work described above was performed in the Dominy house and was probably done on a large brass clockmaker's lathe of the type owned by Daniel Burnap.100
As early as 1701 Plumier illustrated seven different types of clockmaker's "turns," or lathes. Some of the basic features of the Dominys' lathe—such as puppets seated in a slotted rectangular opening, puppets of different sizes and types, pulley wheels, and a sliding tool rest—resemble those shown in that French treatise.101 In 1775 Hulot depicted a group of pointed lathe puppets, with wooden bar supports for turning small, delicate work, which are similar to those owned by the Dominys.102 Two years earlier Thomas Hatton, in his book, An Introduction to the Mechanical Part of Clock and Watch Work, had disparaged the kind of lathe shown by Hulot. Hatton maintained that the chief principles in the construction of clockmaker's lathes should be "firmness, and the general use designed for them." He stated further that "the puppets ought to rest upon some solid body, and not upon a bar, as is common in our best leathes [sic] made for sale."103
The Dominys' lathe does not incorporate features of the precision metalworking lathe developed by Henry Maudsley (1771–1831) shortly after 1800, [p. ][p. ] but it does, however, follow Hatton's advice by fixing the puppets, slide rest, and, in effect, the horizontal bar passing through them to a sturdy oak bench. Moreover, its design closely resembles a "Hand Lathe, or Turning Bench" described in James Smith's Panorama of Science and Art about 1816. His design, however, called for puppets, bar, and tool rest to be elevated by metal pillars which were screwed to a board or table.104 Smith's lathe could be driven by a wheel "seldom more than eighteen or twenty inches in diameter…placed just behind the pulley of the mandrel." If necessary, motion could be provided by a bow. Smith used metal screws to tighten the parts of the lathe, but with metal scarce in East Hampton, the Dominys used wooden screws except for the screw pin of the puppet at the right. It has an open ring terminal, described by Smith as better than a thumbscrew because the hand and a lever could apply pressure.
A pin was fitted through a puppet at the right of Smith's lathe, with a convex center at one end and a concave center at the other. This pin was fixed in place with a screw from the top of the puppet. The same arrangement applies to the Dominys' lathe in reverse. It is at the left of their lathe, but its adjusting screw is missing. This arrangement, and the placement of the wheel shown here, may be an indication that Nathaniel IV was left-handed. According to Smith, the wheel of this type of lathe, "placed between two standards fixed to a board six or eight inches broad," should be situated so that the workman using it could turn the wheel with his left hand and hold a turning tool in his right hand. That was apparently impossible for the Dominys, and so they reversed the procedure.
It should be pointed out, of course, that use of the foot treadle left both hands free to concentrate on turning metal. The treadle, however, could not always be used because certain metals had to be turned quite slowly. "In a lathe turned by the foot, three turns of the pulley of the mandrel, for one of the fly wheel, will be found sufficiently quick for iron; four or five turns of the pulley, for one of the fly, may be allowed to brass."105 If the metal in the lathe revolved too rapidly, the resulting heat would destroy the temper of the turning tool.
Note that the slide rest has an adjusting screw attached to it and is visible under the bench. Turning this wooden screw enabled the tool rest to be adjusted up or down in order to bring a cutting tool into a better relationship to the object being shaped. When the driving cord had to be adjusted for a larger or smaller pulley wheel, this was accomplished by raising or lowering the fly wheel support on a stepped wood block in front of the treadle. It might be pointed out that the entire lathe was normally positioned closer to the left of the photograph in line with a depression in the bench that enabled the Dominys to move closer to work being turned. The bigger lathe was moved to the right in the illustration in order to contrast it with the small watchmaker's lathe, or turn.
Description Length, 24 1/4; height from bench, 14 1/4; wheel diameter, 23 3/4; height from floor, 50 3/4. White-oak lathe puppets; probably American white-oak wheel frame; red-oak foot treadle and horizontal puppet bar; apple, Ceylon satinwood, and dogwood set screws; cast-iron wheel and spindie; steel lathe center, pulley spindle, adjustable screw center; dogwood pulleys. Purchased and made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.373.
LATHE SPINDLES (POLISHING SPINDLES)
East Hampton, N.Y.
In 1773 a London clockmaker complained, "I know of no part in our branch I have spent more time on than the polishing part."106 Whitesmiths had long known that highly polished iron and steel gave protection from corrosion. But clock- and watchmakers also polished brass and steel parts in order to obtain smooth-working, friction-free moving parts.
The two large wheels (A, D) originally had a leather covering, and pieces of that material still cling to the nails studding their circumference. They were undoubtedly used as buffing wheels. At the center of the illustration are two polishing wheels (B, C) employing a close-grain stone. The smaller wheel has a black residue on its surface, perhaps an indication that emery was used on it.
Such was the variety of metalwork executed in the Dominy clock shop and forge that these spindles could have been used to polish any of the articles discussed in Chapter V—from bayonets to earrings. According to most manuals, watch parts were polished on a flat surface, and so it is unlikely [p. ]107
Description A: Length, 7 1/8; diameter (largest wheel), 3 3/16. Iron shaft; soft-maple wheels (small); mahogany wheel (large). B: Length, 6 1/8; diameter (largest wheel), 3 1/8. Iron shaft; soft-maple wheel and apple wheel (small); stone wheel (large). C: Length, 5 3/4; diameter (largest wheel), 2 1/4. Ceylon satinwood shaft; black-locust washer; stone wheel (large). D: Length, 8 1/4; wheel diameter, 4 1/2. Hickory shaft and pin; cherry wheel. All probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.376, 57.26.375, 57.26.377, 57.26.374.
Clockmaker's Lathe Tools
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
These were undoubtedly used in much the same fashion as the smaller watchmaker's lathe tools (No. 152). Four of the five examples illustrated employ converted file blades. Tool A was probably sharpened to obtain a type of graver's face for cutting steel arbors. The others were for shaping and reducing brass parts, except D, which has a sharp, concave blade edge. It was used to produce either a bead on a brass rod or two closely spaced incised lines. In his turner's manual of 1792–1796 Salivet shows tools like B, C, and E and states that they were for use on copper and brass.108 A group of lathe tools owned by Burnap are quite similar.109
Description A: Length, 13 3/16; blade length, 3 7/16; handle diameter, 15/16. Soft-maple handle; steel blade; steel ferrule. B: Length, 12 7/8; blade length, 2; handle diameter, 7/8. Hickory handle, probably turned by Felix Dominy; steel blade. C: Length, 10 3/8; blade length, 1 3/8; handle diameter, 1/2. Hickory handle; steel blade; iron wire ferrule. D: Length, 10 1/8; blade length, 1 13/16; handle diameter, 1/2. Hickory handle; steel blade. E: Length, [p. ]
Clock- and Watchmaker's Lathe Tools
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Because lathes were of little use without cutting tools, the Dominys employed tools like these on which to shape metals. Tools A and B are gravers, necessary for cutting steel.
In The Circle of Mechanical Arts Martin mentions that "gravers and turning tools of various kinds" were needed by watchmakers, and Rees shows two types used for cutting metal.110 According to a modern treatise, it was a good practice for watchmakers to have a series of gravers, "each ground back a little more than the other." Each was used to cut a small amount of metal with the point of the graver acting as a guide for the rest of the blade. The craftsman worked carefully to prevent the point from touching the object being turned.111
Tools C, D, and E were converted from files, [p. ] probably because of the excellent grade of steel found in file blades. These were used on softer brass parts because the shapes of their cutting heads are not suited to work on steel. Their shapes are similar to a group of metal-turning tools, used on the clockmaker's hand lathe (No. 151), which Salivet said were used for turning articles of brass or copper.112
Description A: Length, 3 1/4. Hickory handle; steel blade. B: Length, 3 1/4. Steel. C: Length, 6 3/4. Dogwood handle; steel blade. D: Length, 6 5/8. Tropical hardwood handle; steel blade. E: Length, 7 7/8. Cherry handle, steel blade. A, B, and E probably made and purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. C and D probably made and purchased by Felix Dominy. A, B, D, and E, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.84.16, 57.84.19, 57.26.603, 57.84.20, 57.84.18.
Probably East Hampton, N.Y.
Clockmakers had to be certain that the surface of polished brass and steel parts remained unmarred when they were fitted together. Leather or boxwood mallets, therefore, were needed to perform the fitting task for which hammers were not suitable.113
No mention is made of hide mallets in eighteenth- or nineteenth-century sources, but Diderot does show similar ones in the section of his Encyclopédie devoted to silversmiths' tools.114 They would have been useful in working on a metal as soft as silver, and the Dominys repaired silver objects as part of their work. The rough texture of these mallet faces indicates they were used frequently.
Description A: Length, 8 3/8; head length, 2 1/4; head diameter, 1. B: Length, 8 1/2; head length, 2 3/8; head diameter, 1 5/16. C: Length, 9 1/2; head length, 2 1/8; head diameter, 1 1/4. D: Length, 8 3/4; head length, 2 1/2; head diameter, 1 1/4. All handles hickory; all heads leather. All probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.382, 57.26.561, 57.26.380–381.
Patterns and Templates, Clock-Wheel
East Hampton, N.Y.
With these wooden casting patterns and brass templates the Dominys were able to standardize clock parts within their own shop, permitting them, for example, to reproduce clock wheels of the same dimension ad infinitum.
Only the pattern and template for A and C have survived, but these are enough to demonstrate that115 Accounts reveal that Nathaniel IV made sand flasks for other artisans: he sold some to William Hedges in 1766 and 1772.116 Presumably he also made casting flasks for his own use.
Stamped on the large brass wheel (A) is the number I and letter W, while 3 and W are stamped on the smaller wheel (C). Since numbers and letters do not appear on the wheels of Dominy clock movements, this practice may be supporting evidence for the belief that the brass wheels illustrated served as templates.
Description A: Mold pattern diameter, 4 1/8; wheel diameter, 3 1/4 Tulip mold; brass wheel. B: Mold pattern diameter, 3 1/4. Cherry. C: Wheel diameter, 2. Brass. Made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.571a–b, 57.26.572a, 57.26.573a.
Pattern, Clockmaker's Plate
East Hampton, N.Y.
The wood pattern at the right of this illustration (B) was used by Nathaniel Dominy to cast brass plates used in the construction of his more complex clocks (see Chapter VI). Two brass plates, fixed in a vertical position, supported the pivots, arbors, wheels, barrels, escapement, and other parts needed to make a clock keep time.
Like the wheel patterns (No. 154), this wood form was pressed into casting sand, removed, and melted brass poured into the impression left in the sand. After cooling, the resulting pierced plate was lifted from the sand and hardened by hammering.117 It was then cleaned, filed, and polished.
Pierced plates were not in common use by clockmakers but were occasionally used by other American craftsmen such as John Bailey (1751–1823), of Hanover, Massachusetts, who made tall-case clocks.118 The Dominys used this unique design to conserve brass, always a scarce commodity, especially in rural areas. The number 16 is scratched on the bottom center of the plate, denoting that it weighs exactly one pound. The Dominys were always careful to use just enough metal to do a job; they did not indulge in the luxury of excess.
After it was cast, a few changes were made on the brass plate, giving it a slightly different appearance from the wood pattern. The voids in the upper left side of the plate were changed by removing a small piece from the vertical bar and inserting two small horizontal pieces. In addition, a plug of brass was inserted in a corner of the lower-right void. This type of plate is a mark of Nathaniel Dominy IV and first appears on his docks about 1785. It is intriguing to speculate that this plate may have been [p. ]
Description A: Length, 7 11/16; width, 5 1/4; depth, 1/8. Brass. B: Length, 7 13/16; width, 5 5/16; depth, 1/8. Tulip wood. Both made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.502, 57.26.524.
PENDULUM SPRING BLUEING TOOL
Nathaniel Dominy IV and Felix Dominy used this tool quite frequently in the clock shop; their accounts indicate that they often had to replace the springs of watches they repaired, and this tool would have been essential. An identical tool, but with a wooden handle, is shown in Ford, Whitmore and Brunton's catalogue of tools for clockmakers and watchmakers (ca. 1800) and is also pictured as a watch tool in Martin's Circle of the Mechanical Arts (1813). Fortunately its name and purpose are described by Martin: "Pendulum-spring blueing-tool. This is to hold the spring over a candle to temper it, and has a small wheel held on the spring to prevent it from warping or getting away."119
In his memorandum book Burnap noted that "a spring of any kind" was to be tempered to a blue heat. The purpose for tempering springs to this color is noted by James Smith; such tempering "has a remarkable influence on its elasticity."120
That this tool was much used by the Dominys is evident from the frequent repairs to its handles. [p. ]
Description Length, 7 3/16; fixed plate diameter, 1 1/4; wheel diameter, 7/8. Iron plate and wheel; brass handles. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV and repaired by Felix Dominy. Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.84.66.
PLIERS, CLOCK- AND WATCHMAKER'S
Shortly before he ended his craft activities in 1835, Felix Dominy made a list of watch and clock tools that he needed. Included on the list were "pliers."121 Notched pliers were required for wire cutting; flat, rough-jawed pliers were required for gripping; round-nosed pliers were useful for bending wire and springs; and long-nosed pliers were necessary for working between the plates of a clock.122
It would be better, of course, if observations on the use of these pliers were based on eighteenth- or early-nineteenth-century sources. Unfortunately, they are merely illustrated in books of that period without description, except C, which is similar to a pair of "Pendulum-pliers or long-nosed pliers" [p. ] shown by Rees.123 Diderot has three types of clock- and watchmaker's pliers whose jaws relate to A, B, and D, without commenting on their function. Ford, Whitmore and Brunton's catalogue showed pliers quite similar to B, C, and D.124
Pliers of this type were not very expensive; cost depended upon size and on whether they were "bright" or "black" finished. Lancashire-made pliers were shown in seven different sizes in an English tool catalogue of about 1798. The cost for black finish ranged from 14 to 24 shillings per dozen and for bright finish from 16 to 27 shillings per dozen.125 Originally the Dominys' pliers were all polished in a bright finish.
Description A: Length, 3 1/2. B: Length, 4 1/8. C: Length, 4 1/16. D: Length, 4 1/8. All pliers steel. All probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. A, C, and D, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.84.61, 57.26.491, 57.84.62–63.
SAWS, BOW OR FRAME
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
These saws were metal cutters—indispensable to the clockmaker and watchmaker and to metalworkers in general. They were employed to cut slots in screw heads, to cut bolts or rivets to a desired length, and probably to cut or remove some of the bars in the pierced clockplates used by the Dominys (No. 155). In effect, they were to eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century craftsmen what the hack saw is to twentieth-century metalworkers.
In his American Mechanical Dictionary Knight states that a smith's frame saw usually bore ten to fourteen teeth per inch.126 Tool A has fourteen teeth to the inch and is, of course, a frame saw. It was probably used to cut iron and steel in the Dominy shop for many years because it shows signs of hard usage. Its winding stick is missing; the left arm of the frame is a replacement; and its present blade, stamped WORRILL & CO / NEW YORK, could have been acquired at any time between 1839 and about 1895. This firm is first listed in New York City directories in 1839, at 24 Elm Street. They were "ironfounders, machinists, printing-press and saw manufacturers." Henry Worrall was one of the owners, and the other was probably Noah Worrall, who is listed at a nearby address as an ironfounder.127
The small iron saw frames are probably the earliest survivals in the Dominy Tool Collection. Blades for these frames fit into a slot and are held in place with a pin. Notches cut into the front end of the frame of C enabled the blade to be raised or lowered. A blade of the same size must be used in each of the frames—a principle consistent with seventeenth- and eighteenth-century practice. As late as 1798 an English catalogue, showing Lancashire-made metalworker's bow saws, listed a frame for each length of blade to be used, from 4 to 8 inches.128 About 1800, however, clockmakers were using metal saws with adjustable frames as in D, which could accommodate several different blade lengths.129 The Dominys' saw was probably acquired between 1800 and 1820.
Because the blades of these saws were quite thin, it was necessary to maintain tension on them or they would buckle and snap. The winding stick, pins, and adjusting screws on the different frames serve to keep tension constant.
Description A: Length, 10 3/8; height, 7 7/8. Hickory frame; white-oak stretcher; steel blade stamped WORRALL & CO / NEW YORK. B: Length, 7 7/8; height, 1 1/2. Iron frame; steel blade. C: Length, 7 5/16; height, 1 3/8. Iron frame; steel blade. D: Length, 11 3/4; height, 3 3/4. Probably European beech handle; brass ferrule; steel blade (broken) and frame. A–C probably made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. D probably purchased by Felix Dominy. A, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.84.7, 57.26.423–425.[p. ]
SCREW PLATES OR DIES
America and England
Tools for threading brass, iron, or steel wire were vitally necessary to early metalworkers. Because so many screws of various sizes are used in the construction of clocks and watches, these screw plates were important tools to the Dominy craftsmen. Both in Diderot's Encyclopédie and Rees's Cyclopaedia, "a Screw plate with different holes tapped" is shown as part of a clockmalker's equipment.130 The catalogue of clock- and watchmaker's tools issued by Ford, Whitmore and Brunton about 1800 shows five screw plates of different sizes, each tapped with a multiplicity of die holes.131
None of the screw plates pictured in those sources resemble tools used by the Dominys. At least two of their implements were made in East Hampton; on July 21, 1773, Nathaniel IV paid 5 shillings to "Samuel Sheril [Sherril] by forgeing a Screw plate," and on September 14, 1786, he paid 1 shilling to Deacon David Talmage for a screw plate.132 It is probable that the largest tool illustrated (E) was the one made by Samuel Sherril.
The other screw plates were also locally made with the exception of the latest example, a small watchmaker's die plate shown with three of its taps (C). It was probably purchased by Felix Dominy because the excellent quality of its steel and finish indicates manufacture by a professional European tool firm of the early nineteenth century.
Roman numerals have been cut into the edges of each screw plate, the lowest number denoting the smallest hole and ascending to the largest. Tools D and E bear rectangular holes. These openings permitted the screw plates to be used as wrenches on the rectangular heads of taps when an internal thread had to be cut.133
Description A: Length, 5 7/16; width, 1 1/4; height, 1/4. B: Length, 6 7/16; width, 1 1/16; height, 1/8. C: Length, 3 5/8; width, 9/16; height, 1/16. D: Length, 7 7/8; width, 1 7/16; height, 3/16. E: Length, 14 15/16; width, 2; height, 3/16,. All made of steel. A, B, D, and E probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. C probably purchased by Felix Dominy. A, B, and D, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.84.73, 57.84.72, 57.26.472, 57.84.71, 57.26.470.
America or England
A pair of heavy shears was essential in metalworkers' shops for cutting sheet metal or thick wire. Powerful in itself, its force could be increased enormously when its bent tang was inserted in a hole in a bench top or an anvil or gripped in the jaws of a large bench vise. By pushing down on the long arm of the shears a worker could exert great pressure on the metal to be cut.
Diderot does not illustrate metal-cutting shears of this type in his discussion of clock and watch work. In the later, smaller Encyclopédie méthodique published by Panckoucke between 1783 and 1791134 Among the tools offered for sale to clock- and watchmakers by Ford, Whitmore and Brunton was a pair of hand shears obviously smaller than the Dominys' and more like the "Tinners or Goldsmith Shears" illustrated in Cutler and Company's catelogue of about 1833. The jaws of the Dominys' tool resemble those of "Platers Shears" in the latter firm's book, but its arms are like those of a "Tinners or Braziers Stock Shears."135
There is little doubt that shears of this type were meant to be used on a bench, an anvil, or in a vise. In the plates of Panckoucke's Encyclopédie they are shown in use in that fashion, and Diderot illustrates similar shears among the bench tools of the blacksmith and coppersmith.136
The shears are nicely wrought with a loop on one arm for hanging them when not in use. A steel facing was welded onto the cutting edges of the jaws and the division between this steel and the tool's iron base is visible on the lower jaw. There is no evidence in the Dominy manuscripts indicating the shears' place of origin.
Description Length, 20 7/8; height, 5 3/4. Iron tang, shaft, and blade; steel face on cutting edges. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.390.
SOLDERING IRONS OR COPPER BITS
Probably East Hampton, N.Y.
These tools melted solder and heated metal joints in order to distribute solder along their edges. Brazing (soldering with a fusible brass) and soldering were known to Moxon, who stated that smiths used this technique to join metal "when their work is so thin or small that it will not endure welding."137
Unfortunately, illustrations of eighteenth-century soldering irons are not available. It is unlikely, however, that they changed their shape very much, and two soldering irons illustrated in the Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts (1854) show copper heads quite similar to those on the Dominy examples:
For slighter and neater works,…the soldering is performed with the assistance of the copper bit or bolt, two forms of which are shown,…and consisting of a piece of copper, of from 3 or 4 ounces to as many pounds, riveted into iron shanks, and fitted with wood handles. For works in tinned iron, sheet-zinc, and many of those in copper and other metals, this tool, called a soldering-iron is used for melting the solder. For this purpose it is tinned by raising it to a dull-red heat, filing it clean, rubbing it on a lump of sal-ammoniac, and then on a copper or tin plate containing a little solder.138
Traces of this tinning process are still visible on the heads of the Dominys' irons.
Spelter was a hard solder made of two parts of zinc and one part of brass; it performed when work to be joined was brought to a red heat. Soldering irons were used with soft solders which fused at a low temperature, and it was the tool that was heated instead of the object. Common soft solders in use during the Dominys' working period were composed of three parts of zinc and one of lead or two parts of tin and one of lead.139
Before being soldered, the edges to be joined were covered with resin or borax to act as a flux and prevent oxidation. The Dominys kept a supply of both in their shops, and Nathaniel IV paid as little as 6 pence for a pound of resin as early as 1766.140 The process of soldering was relatively simple. The hot iron was rubbed against a cake of solder causing drops of it to fall on the joint. Next the tool was applied to the joint—to heat it and distribute the solder. Generally, two soldering irons were employed —one kept hot in a fire and the other in use. Although the steps of the process were simple, performance was not. Great skill was required in using the tools; they had to be hot enough to bring the edges of the joint to the fusing temperature of the solder, but not hot enough to make the solder fluid or to burn off their own tin coating.141
Description A: Length, 16 1/8; handle height, 1 13/16; handle depth, 1 5/8. Hard-pine handle; copper shaft; copper head. B: Length, 15 1/8; handle height, 5/8; handle depth, 7/8. Iron shaft; copper head with brass and copper rivets. Both probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions; 57.26.57–58.
America, Probably East Hampton, N.Y.
The seven taps shown here are only a small part of some forty-four similar examples that have survived in the Dominy Tool Collection. They were made to be used with screw plates (No. 159), and their purpose was to cut threads on the inside of holes drilled in metal. Thus, they could be used to cut [p. ]
Metalworkers in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century used two kinds of taps. If cylindrical in shape, they were called "plug" taps. If cone shaped or slightly tapered, they were called, appropriately, "taper" taps. The taper tap was employed first, followed by the plug tap.142 Both types were owned by the Dominys and both are illustrated.
These taps, and others that survive, help to explain the absence among the Dominy tools of the steel bits that originally fit into the pads of iron braces or wood-and-brass spring braces which have survived (No. 19).143 It is obvious that the Dominys made these taps from woodworking bits of that type. Taps C and F were designed to cut two separate threads in holes of different diameter. Since the length of all of these taps is under 3 inches and the thread is only a small part of that length, they were used in shallow holes.
Description A: Length, 2 7/8; width, 1/2. B: Length, 2 1/2; width, 3/4. C: Length, 2 9/16; width, 5/16. D: Length, 2 3/16; width, 1/4. E: Length, 2 3/16; width, 5/32. F: Length, 2 3/16; width, 3/16. G: Length, 1 5/8; width, 3/8. All made of steel. All probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV from English bits. Museum accessions: 57.26.478b, h, c, g, f, d, e.
East Hampton, N.Y.
Some idea of the number of casting patterns and templates for wheels needed by a clockmaker is obtained from these templates and those in another group (No. 154). Four of these wheels are probably templates for a strike train, because they are stamped with the letter S and with a number, the largest being No. 1 and the smallest No. 4.
The two rough castings (C and E)—note the pitted condition of their surface and edges—may have contained flaws and have been set aside for remelting. Certainly no scrap of brass was ever wasted in the Dominy shop.
Description A: Diameter, 1 5/16. Lead. B: Diameter, 1 1/2. Brass. C: Diameter, 1 7/8. Brass. D: Diameter, 2 1/8. Brass. E: Diameter, 2 7/16. Brass. F: Diameter, 2 15/16. Brass. All made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchases from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.84.28, 57.84.27, 57.84.26, 57.84.25, 57.84.24, 57.84.23.
Hour- and Minute-Hand Templates
East Hampton, N.Y.
Five of the objects illustrated here are templates, or
Tool A may have been used by Felix Dominy to provide rough guidelines for making a finished hand. It could also, of course, represent an unfinished hour hand rather than a template.
These patterns do not cover all the clock-hand designs employed by the Dominys. They were used on clocks illustrated in Chapter VI, as were additional designs for which the templates have not survived. The survival of these templates is most fortunate; they illustrate another technique for making clock parts and provide additional evidence that standardization in producing certain parts could be—and was—achieved.
American clockmaker colleagues of the Dominys used similar hands, but exact parallels have not been found. These hands, therefore, are as unique as were the Dominys' own fingerprints.
Description A: Length, 3 3/8; width, 1 3/16. Copper; stamped with the initials FD. B: Length, 2 9/16; width, 1 1/8. Copper. C: Length, 2 13/16; width, 1 1/8. Copper. D: Length, 4 1/8; width, 1 11/16. Brass. E: Length, 3 7/16; width, 9/16. Brass. F: Length, 4; width, 11/16. Copper; stamped with the initials FD. A and F made by Felix Dominy. B–E made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 63.156.20, 63.156.22, 63.156.25, 63.156.27, 63.156.21, 63.156.26.
Blacksmith's and Metalworker's Tongs
East Hampton, N.Y., and England
Tongs were vital to blacksmiths and other metalworkers. Their long handles permitted the Dominys to work on and retrieve hot objects from their forge without being burned.
Blacksmiths required a variety of tongs, and these are shown in their eighteenth-century form by Diderot, Du Monceau, and J. Didsbury.144 The heavy pair of tongs with rounded jaws (A) is described by Diderot as "beating tongs" used to hold a flat object on an anvil (No. 119) while it was beaten or shaped by the blacksmith's hammer.145 Initially it was assumed that the other tongs illustrated here (B, C) were used to hold bar iron while it was being heated and performed the same function as the crooked or bent tongs shown as a blacksmith's tool in Plate LIII, Figure 39, of Diderot's Encyclopédie. A late-nineteenth-century work, however, illustrates spring tongs of the same design as the Dominys' and states that they were "cupel" tongs. Cupels were shallow receptacles used to obtain pure silver for assay purposes.146
It is more likely that the Dominys used their spring tongs to manipulate graphite crucibles or lead-melting pots. Nathaniel IV purchased two crucibles in 1775 (which he called "Black pots No. 3 & 4") at a cost of 2 shillings 4 pence for both, and two more, "No. 5," at 1 shilling 8 pence each in 1789. Felix Dominy paid 30 cents for a "Round No. 5" black lead pot in 1822 and 20 cents for a square one.147
On June 14, 1786, Nathaniel Dominy IV purchased "a pair of forging Tongs Wt. 2 1/2 lb" from Deacon David Talmage at a cost of 2 shillings 6 pence. Unfortunately none of the five tongs that survive in the Dominy Tool Collection are this weight. The beating or forging tongs illustrated weigh only two pounds.
Description A: Length, 15 1/4; closed width, 2 5/8. B: Length, 18 7/8; at rest width, 2 7/8. C: Length, 27 5/8; at rest width, 4 1/2. All made of iron. A probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B and C probably made or purchased by Felix Dominy. Museum accessions: 57.26.501, 57.26.522, 57.26.588.
Sliding or Buckle Tongs
These tools were used primarily by dock- and watchmakers to hold pins, arbors, or other small objects while they were being filed. The qualifying term "primarily" is used because this useful hand clamp is also shown by Roubo to have been used by cabinetmakers (Illus. XXVIII).
They are called several different names in eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century sources. In his section on clockwork Diderot refers to this tool as "Tenailles à boucles" (ring or buckle tongs). An English tool catalogue of about 1798 shows them in a group of Lancashire-made implements and refers to them as "Sliding Tongs." Rees includes them in his plates depicting clock tools but calls them "clamping-pliers for holding pins, &c fast in filing."148 A wide variety of this kind of tongs is shown in Ford, Whitmore and Brunton's catalogue of clock tools, but features of Nos. 170 and 172 are similar to B and C and to A illustrated here.149
If the ring which encloses both arms of this tool is pushed upward, this enables a spring to push the arms outward, thus automatically closing its jaws and exerting a clamping pressure on anything gripped by it. The jaws of B and C are obviously broken, but the notched grooves in their remaining jaw show where pins were placed. An advantage of the sliding tongs was that an artisan did not have to hold this tool to make it maintain its grip. It could be placed momentarily on a bench and would still hold whatever had been placed between its jaws.
Description A: Length, 4 3/8. B: Length, 5 1/8. C: Length, 4 1/8. All made of steel . All probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. A, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.84.43, 57.26.404, 57.26.403.[p. ]
TWEEZERS, CLOCK- AND WATCHMAKER'S
America, Probably East Hampton, N.Y.
Watchmakers usually owned several pairs of tweezers, referred to as "spring tongs" by Martin in 1813. Tweezers enabled artisans to pick up small parts, especially highly polished brass or steel pieces that "should never be touched by the fingers."150
Tweezers constructed and shaped like example B are illustrated in the clockmaking section of Diderot's Encyclopédie; they were offered for sale in the tool catalogue of Ford, Whitmore and Brunton.151
These little tools are still a very useful part of a clock- and watchmaker's kit, and the criteria for their selection today are probably similar to those of the Dominys'. According to Gazeley, the arms and spring action of tweezers should be firm, but not too strong, and their ends should be long and thin with the inside surface roughened slightly.152
Description A: Length, 4. Steel. B: Length, 2 7/8. Iron and brass. Both probably made or purchased by Felix Dominy. B, Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.26.497, 57.84.44.
This small bottle survived in the Dominy Tool Collection with a history of having been used by Nathaniel Dominy IV and Felix Dominy to store acid. Its shape and the color of its glass indicate, however, that it was probably used late in the nineteenth century by Nathaniel Dominy VII.
Watchmakers and watch repairers had to use a number of acids. Dilute nitric acid and sulphuric acid for etching clock faces or dissolving metals were most frequently used. Nitric acid usually appears in eighteenth-century records as "aqua fortis."153 The design of the brickwork of the fireplace wall in the Dominy clock shop (see Illus. IX) suggests that cubbyholes were placed where heat rising in the chimney would keep warm whatever was stored in them, thus preventing freezing during cold weather.
The vial is made of clear glass and was produced in a mold. Vertical mold marks appear on its cylindrical body, and its flange shape and lack of abrasion inside the flange indicate that a cork stopper was placed in it, a practice common after 1850.
Description Height, 4 3/4; base diameter, 1 9/16; mouth diameter, 1 3/8. Glass vial; brass wire. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy VII. Museum accession: 63.156.33.
Large objects to be cut, filed, bent, or simply held in place for a period of time required the use of a fixed, heavy bench vise. The triangular support of the Dominys' wheel-cutting engine (No. 136) was gripped in the jaws of this vise.
A similar example is shown by Diderot as the product of the edge-tool trade in 1771 and also in use by saddlers and coachmakers.154 Roubo pictures this implement as a cabinetmaker's tool (Illus. XXVIII). Apparently it was employed by a number of craftsmen.
There is excellent evidence for both the use and the position of this vise in the clock shop. A shaped bracket like that pictured as Figure 7 in Roubo's plate had originally been fastened to the underside of the bench. When the tool collection was catalogued, the profile of this bracket was clearly visible beneath the bench, and a bracket was found that fit the markings perfectly. In addition, the vise required a wood support for stability. This red-oak member also survived and helped to confirm the height of the bench top and the placement of the vise in the clock shop. The frequent use of this heavy vise is confirmed by the fact that the adjusting screw for its jaws had to be replaced with a screw from another old example.
Description Vise height, 27; height from floor, 41 5/8; depth (jaws closed), 9 3/4; depth (jaws open), 15. Iron vise; red-oak support. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.521.
Martin considered a bench vise one of the watchmaker's principal tools, and he included it in his discussion of the most used implements of that craft.155 It functioned as a clamp or grip for other tools, such as a small lathe (No. 173), in holding parts for cutting, polishing, and filing. The arbor of a barrel drill (No. 123) could be placed in one of the holes drilled in the side of the vise jaws, a standard practice for metalworkers. Rees pictures one in his discussion of clock tools but merely gives the derivation of its name (a "vice to be clamped to a bench") without describing its function.156 In practice this type of vise would have been useful to any of the eighteenth- or early-nineteenth-century craftsmen who used a bench. Roubo shows a bench vise of the same type as this one employed by the Dominys among a group of tools used by cabinetmakers (Illus. XXVIII).
A broad date range has been assigned to this tool in the absence of any specific records in the Dominy papers. It was probably made, however, before 1800. Burnap owned an almost identical bench vise.157 Very similar tools are also shown in the Birmingham catalogue of Ford, Whitmore and Brunton.158 Vises like the Dominys' were still being sold about 1818.159 From prices entered in a Book of Patterns (ca. 1798) it is evident that a bench vise was an expensive piece of equipment. Six different sizes were listed, ranging in price from 4 shillings 6 pence to 10 shillings. A middle-sized vise therefore cost the Dominys about one day's wages.
Three sharp prongs are attached to a plate which is in turn fastened to a screw under the bench (Illus. XXVIII). Adjusting this screw will loosen or tighten its grip on the bench. At one time the rectangular opening in the bracket on top of the bench held a small anvil which is now lost. The original adjusting screw for the vise was replaced by the Dominys with a heavy screw bolt and nut. An advantage of the small bench vise was that it could be used on benches of a different thickness in the same shop or stored when not in use.
Description Height, 7 1/8; width, 4 3/4. Iron. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.398.
This tool was held in the hand and assisted in the filing of small arbors, pivots, pins, and other clock parts. It is called a "hand-vise" in Rees's Cyclopaedia and is so designated in English tool catalogues.160 In his Panorama of Science and Art (1816) Smith describes how this tool was used in conjunction with the large bench vise: "The hand vise is used to hold small articles in the act of filing; it is held in the left hand, and the parts of the iron, while pressed upon the end of the bench, or upon a bit of wood or bone in the large vice, is successively turned to the file, which is held in the right hand. A nick is made in the wood or bone, to keep the work from being carried aside by the file."161
A wing nut on the adjusting screw appears on a hand vise shown by Roubo in a group of cabinetmaker's tools of about 1769 to 1775 (Illus. XXVIII), and it was still in use on English tools sold by J. Belcher and Sons about 1818. A concealed joint, instead of a rivet, is used to join the arms of B, a practice that did not become common until the [p. ]
Description A: Length, 4 3/8; width (jaws closed), 2 3/8. Steel. B: Length, 4 3/8; width (jaws closed), 2 15/16. Steel; shaft stamped A.S. Munger. A probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B probably purchased by Felix Dominy. Museum accessions: 57.26.397, 57.26.428.
East Hampton, N.Y.
This small tool, weighing just under one pound, was used as a clamp for brass wire to be filed and hammered into a rivet head. No source book illustrates a tool of the same design, but in his illustrations of clock tools Rees shows a spring clamp with three circular holes that was used for "holding pieces of metal to be filed or riveted."162
Pressure marks on both the wide and the narrow
Description Length, 4 1/2; height, 3/4; depth (closed), 1 5/16. Brass. Probably made by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accession: 57.84.53.
WATCHMAKER'S BOW, TURN, AND CASE
A watchmaker's turn is a dead-center lathe that was "indispensable for forming the pivots and all parts which are circular."163 In addition, it was, and still is, used to polish and to burnish pivots, arbors, pinion faces, and so forth.164
The Dominys' turn performed work that was too small for their clockmaker's hand lathe or turning bench (No. 149). Rees recognized the existence of lathes of a varied order of magnitude. He described a lathe with two vertical puppets as a "turning-frame, or cock lathe, of which there are various sizes and constructions, some going by a bow,… some by a hand wheel, and some by the foot."165 The major difference between the metal frame he illustrated and the Dominys' lathe was that both puppets were like the design of the left-hand one on the Dominys' lathe. As a matter of fact, it has been impossible to find an illustration of a lathe showing a puppet having a curved shaft like the right-hand example of the Dominys' turn.
Power for this lathe was supplied either by pushing on the grooved ferrules at the right with a finger or by using a bow of the type seen on the bench. The lower part of the lathe frame is clamped in the jaws of a bench vise. A sliding horizontal bar adjusts the distance of mandrel and puppets. An iron-and-brass tool rest may be placed anywhere on the horizontal bar, and a small adjusting screw permits the tool rest to be raised or lowered.
A mahogany case provides convenient storage for the lathe, a screw plate, and a set of taps. This type of lathe changed very little in shape, and about the only clue to its date is the octagonal box; it probably dates from the late eighteenth century. It would have been quite easy for the Dominys to purchase this tool in New York City. On May 26, 1804, for example, the New York Spectator carried an advertisement of the importation of watchmaker's tools "by the late arrivals from Europe." Included were "Finishing Turns with Centers."166
Description Lathe length, 4 11/16; lathe height, 2 1/16. Case length, 5 5/16; case depth, 2 7/16; case height, 1 1/16. Bow length, 14; bow depth, 7/32; bow height, 1/8. Horn or tortoise-shell bow; brass lathe and lathe parts; iron and brass tool rest and screw plate; steel taps; mahogany case. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 57.84.12a–x.
America and England
These tools were used by watchmakers to coil the mainspring of a watch in order to fit it into its barrel. From the number of times the letters "MS" were entered in the Dominys' register of watch repairs (see Appendix B), it is evident that the craftsmen must have used these winders frequently.
The working mechanism of B is quite similar to that illustrated in Diderot's Encyclopédie (Illus. XXIX). A toothed wheel, brake lever, and spring pressing against the lever prevented the spring's
ILLUS. XXIX. Detail of the tool used to put watch springs on their barrels ("L'outil servant pour placer les ressorts de montres dans leur barillets"). From Denis Diderot, Encyclopédie, IV (Paris, 1765), "Horlogerie," Plate XVIII, Figure 96.
Ford, Whitmore and Brunton's tool catalogue (ca. 1800) shows a more sophisticated model of this device paralleling the brass winder (A) shown here. Martin also illustrates a brass "Spring-tool" related to the Dominys' example.167 The brake lever of this early-nineteenth-century example is anchor shaped, and the spring resting upon it may be moved from side to side. This design enabled a spring to be wound with equal ease in a clockwise or counterwise direction.
Description A: Length, 3 3/4; height, 2. Ebony handle; brass frame and turning rod; iron cam lock and upright lever. B: Length, 5 1/4; height, 2 11/16. Dogwood handle; all other parts iron. A probably purchased by Felix Dominy. B probably made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. B Museum purchase from Nathaniel M. Dominy, estate of Charles M. Dominy, 1957. Museum accessions: 63.156.114, 57.84.60.
WIRE PLATES OR DRAWPLATES
America and England
These plates were used to draw metal rods composed of material softer than steel into cylindrical wire. Wire of a small diameter could be produced only after successive passes through the cone-shaped holes of the plate. Essentially the process was one of reduction.
Eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century treatises on clockmaking do not illustrate wire plates, although a rectangular bar pierced with holes similar to D is shown in Diderot. Unfortunately the exact function of this figure was not described in the plate's caption.168 According to one source, however; wire rods for clock pinions were still being made with drawplates in the mid-nineteenth century.169
Each of the two larger plates is quite bowed in [p. ]170 In contrast to the screw plates (No. 159), Roman numerals are used on these tools to indicate a progression from larger to smaller holes.
Description A: Length, 8 5/16; width, 1 3/4; depth, 3/16. B: Length, 7; width, 1 11/16; depth, 5/16, tapers to 1/8. C: Length, 3 3/4; width, 1; depth, 3/32. D: Length, 2 3/8; width, 1/2; depth, 3/16. All made of steel. All probably made or purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accessions: 57.26.441–443, 57.26.439.
America or England
This tool afforded the Dominys a heavy lever with which large nuts or bolt heads could be loosened or tightened. Wheelwrights, for example, would have needed a wrench of this type because, as Martin indicated in 1813, "the external ends of axle-trees…are generally formed into screws, to which are adapted nuts."171
A similar early-nineteenth-century wrench was purchased by Mercer from a descendant of a wheelwright. The loosening or tightening of a wedge permitted adjustment of the jaws on both tools.172 Some indication of the force involved in this process is seen in the battered condition of one end of the wedge shown here.
Description Length, 21 1/4; width, 3 5/8; jaw depth, 13/16. Iron. Probably purchased by Nathaniel Dominy IV. Museum accession: 57.26.266.
10 Moxon, P. 3; Tomlinson, ed., I, 60. The latter source contains an excellent description of techniques used in making anvils.
11 M.L. Booth, New and Complete Clock and Watchmaker's Manual (New York, 1860), p. 204; Claudius Saunier, The Watchmaker's Hand-Book (London, 1912), pp. 52, 68–72.
12 Hoopes, p. 152. The reader is cautioned that anvils of this type were still in use in the twentieth century. Bick irons are shown in ten different sizes, 3 1/2 to 6 7/8 inches, in a 1909 catalogue. See Dixon Catalogue of Tools and Supplies (New York, 1909), pp. 416–17.
13 IV, "Horlogerie," Plate XII, Figure 1. The same anvil in 1765 is repeated in 1783 in the Encyclopédie méthodique: Arts et métiers mécaniques (Paris: Panckoucke, 1783–1790), II, Plate 1, Figure 1. An additional feature of Panckoucke's plate, however, is an interior view of a French clockmaker and watchmaker's shop.
15 Book of Patterns, Nos. 392–93. The example closest to the Dominys' sold for 30 shillings a dozen.
19 Knight, I, 535.The exception is an illustration in Salivet (1816), Plate XI, Figure 16. It is listed among a group of drills for piercing wood and metal.
20 Dard Hunter, Jr., "John and Caleb Vincent," Chronicle, IX (Sept., 1956), 27–28. Appleton, p. 173, states that "spherical cutters or countersinks known as cherries are used in making bullet moulds."
21 Diderot, IV, "Horlogerie," Plate XIV, Figures 47–51; Duhamel du Monceau, Art du serrurier (Paris, 1767), Plate IV, Figure 8.
23 Ford, Whitmore and Brunton, All Sorts of Files, Tools & Engines for Clock & Watch Makers (Birmingham, Eng., ca. 1800), Plate I, Figures 12, 12a.
25 Henry G. Abbott, American Watchmaker and Jeweler (Chicago, 1896), Figures 109–10, p. 130; Saunier, Plate IV, Figure 2, Plate XIII, Figure 3, pp. 225–26.
30 W.J. Gazeley, Watch and Clock Making and Repairing (London, 1953), p. 33, Hoopes, p. 114; Tomlinson, ed., I, 592–96. Emery paper was prepared by brushing paper with glue and then sprinkling emery over the paper. Emery sticks were made by brushing glue over pine blocks and then dipping the blocks in emery.
39 IX, "Serrurerie," Plate LII, Figure 4. The captions for Figures 3 and 4 are apparently reversed since the straight forge compass, shown as Figure 3 in the plate, is described as "a measure for thickness" in the caption for the same figure. This is obviously the caption for calipers.
40 Diderot, IV, "Horlogerie," Plate XV, Figures 56 and 58; Rees, II, "Clock Tools," Plate XIX, Figure 12; Martin, "Watch Work," Figure 15. An apt and amusing name for this type of tool, with its upward and incurving arms and outward pointing feet, is applied by Diderot to Figure 58. He called it a "Maître-à-danser" (dancing master).
41 Martin, "Watch Work," Figure 16; Rees, II, "Clock Tools," Plate XIX, Figure 10; Diderot, IV, "Horlogerie," Plate XV, Figure 55, "Huit de chiffre" (figure eight).
44 Book of Patterns, Nos. 876–81. In contrast, Daniel Burnap's locally made spring divider has a heart-shaped nut. See Hoopes, p. 158.
45 Abbott, p. 168. This author indicates that douzième gauges with millimeter scales were introduced in the last decade of the nineteenth century.
48 Diderot, IX, "Serrurerie," Plate LII, Figure 14, "Hart portant un ciseau"; Nicholson, pp. 332–33.
53 Antoine Thiout, Traité de l'horlogerie (Paris, 1741), I, Plate XXVII, Figure 1. For discussions of this engine, see K.R. Gilbert, "Machine Tools," A History of Technology, ed. Charles Singer et al. (Oxford, 1954–1958), IV, Figure 237, P. 420; Robert Woodbury, History of the Gear-Cutting Machine (Cambridge, Mass., 1958), p. 66.
54 Edwin A. Battison, "Screw-Thread Cutting by the Master Screw-Method since 1480," United States National Museum Bulletin 240 (Washington, D.C., 1964), Figure 3, p. 108; Diderot, IV, "Horlogerie," Plate XVIII, Figure 97; Rees, II, "Horology," Plates XXXVII–XXXVIII; Ford, Whitmore and Brunton, Plates 9–10, Nos. A84, B84.
61 Ford, Whitmore and Brunton, Plate 2, No. 85. The engine illustrated in Diderot, IV, "Horlogerie," Plates XXI–XXII, is quite different; but one sold by Peter Stubs of Warrington, about 1790, is similar to the Dominys'. See George Kernodle, "Concerning the Simon Willard Legend," Antiques, LXI (June, 1952), 524.
66 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), p. 7; Rattray, EHH, pp. 484–85, lists Captain Ezekiel (1727–1819), Elisha (1713–1793), Ezekiel V (baptized 1764), and Elisha V (1749–1828).
69 Panckoucke, II, "Horlogerie," Plate 1; Martin, p. 573: "Some artists have a pedestal or stand to support it, while others apply it to their eye."
71 Diderot, IV, "Horlogerie," Plate XIV, Figures 27–39. See also Tomlinson, ed., I, 640–42. He states that watchmaker's files are of a more varied character than those of any other artisan.
77 Tomlinson, ed., I, 640. In 1773 Thomas Hatton stated in An Introduction to the Mechanical Part of Clock and Watch Work (London, 1773), that "the Tools made in Lancashire are the best executed" (p. 382). See also Rees, IX, "Clock Tools."
81 Thomas S. Ashton, An Eighteenth Century Industrialist: Peter Stubs of Warrington (Manchester, Eng., 1939), pp. 1–5, 27–28, 59, 139–41. Tools stamped P.S. STUBS in modern letters were advertised for sale in William Dixon's catalogue published in 1909. The firm was not owned by the Stubs family after 1841.
84 IV, "Horlogerie," Plate XVI, Figures 74–75, "Profil de l'outil pour les engrenages; L'outil à engrenages vû en perspective."
89 Pages 214–15. It would have been necessary to use the hole next smaller in size to select drills; otherwise the result would be a clearance hole too big to be tapped.
90 Panckoucke, II, "Horlogerie," Plate I, shows small hammers on the benches of a French watchmaker's shop, but they are a minor part of the plate, are not large enough to show the shapes, and are not described.
91 Allcraft Catalogue, p. 49. See also Gazeley, p. 16. Dixon Catalogue, pp. 416–17, shows hammers similar to A and C which he calls "Watchmaker's." He refers to D as a "riveting hammer," and F as a "ball pein, Swiss Chasing Hammer."
97 Mercer, pp. 238–40; "Nail Making Devices," Chronicle, XIII (June, 1960), 17–19; "Nail-Headers," ibid., XIV (Sept., 1961), 36; James Sorber, "Nail Headers," ibid., XVII (Sept., 1964), 31.
116 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), p. 3. A charge of 1 shilling 6 pence was made for each entry of flasks.
117 Hoopes, p. 96. The importance of hammering cast brass is stressed by Thomas Hatton, who scorned the use of sheet brass "flatted in mills," which was fashionable in England by 1773. See Hatton, p. 380.
124 Diderot, IV, "Horlogerie," Plate XVII, Figures 88, 90–91; Ford, Whitmore and Brunton, Plate 22, Nos. A135, 135, A136, 136, A138, 138.
127 Thomas Longworth, American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory (New York, 1839), p. 724. Although its foundry moved to Elizabeth, N.J., this firm was listed at the same address until 1892.
128 Book of Patterns, Plate 74. Diderot illustrates the same kind of saw frame—IV, "Horlogerie," Plate XII, Figure 8. See also Rees, II, "Clock Tools," Plate XX, Figure 1.
130 Diderot, IV, "Horlogerie," Plate XVII, Figure 92, "Filiere"; Rees, II, "Clock and Watch Tools," Plate XX, Figure 16.
143 Knight and Mercer refer to the opening that received the bit as a "pocket." James Smith refers to the lower end of the brace and its opening as a "pad."
144 Diderot, IX, "Serrurerie," Plates LIII, LVI; Duhamel du Monceau, Plate I; J. Didsbury, "Blacksmith's Tools—Smith's Tools," Chronicle, XIX (March, 1966), 14–15.
148 Diderot, IV, "Horlogerie," Plate XVII, Figures 84–85; Book of Patterns, Plate 73, Nos. 859–60; Rees, II "Clock Tools," Plate XX, Figure 5.
152 Pp. 14–15. Watchmaker's tweezers similar to A are listed for sale in a catalogue of craftsmen's tools published in 1965.
154 IX, "Sellier-Carossier," Plate XXIII, Figure 2, and "Taillanderie," Plate II, Figures 16, 17, "Suite de la fabrique des Etaux."
160 Rees, II, "Clock Tools," Plate XX, Figure 4, "a hand-vice for holding a small piece fast." See also Belcher & Hunter, Plate 30, Nos. 243–45; J. Belcher & Sons, Nos. 612–15; Book of Patterns, Plate 74, Nos. 864–68; Ford, Whitmore and Brunton, Plate 31, Nos. 225–225B,
166 As quoted in Rita S. Gottesman, The Arts and Crafts in New York, 1800–1804 (New York, 1965), p. 119.
Copyright © 1968 by The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc.
Additions and corrections copyright 2017 by Charles F. Hummel
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