Tools for Pattern Makers archive
Tuesday 22 October 2013
Anthony Bailey shows us three tools that demonstrate a fraction of the special skills required for pattern makingError loading Partial View script (file: ~/Views/MacroPartials/cwsGalleryImages.cshtml)
Ever since mankind has needed to make exact or near-exact copies of an original item with the method we call 'casting', the pattern maker has had an essential role in the process. Different materials can be used to create original patterns and different materials can be cast, such as iron or non-ferrous metals. The Industrial Revolution could only have happened because efficient methods of casting metal were developed. This led to a huge iron and steel industry in particular. The pattern maker would create the shape of the desired object in wood which was finished to a good standard so when it was imbedded in casting sand and the sand heated, the by-now moulded sand would separate in two halves from the pattern. This left a perfect impression in the sand ready for casting the metal when the newly created mould was rejoined and sealed tight. There needed to be special rods placed with the pattern when the sand was compressed around it, which would then allow the liquid iron to be poured in and air to escape. Once the iron had set the sand mould was broken open and the casting was ready to be machined and 'fettled'. While this was going on, the original pattern was already being set in more casting sand to thus repeat the process as many times as necessary.
The pattern maker required his own special set of woodworking tools. Some were ready-made items familiar to woodworkers, but others were made either by or for the pattern maker at the foundry. Unsurprisingly, these tools sometimes come on the market and do not tend to get the highest prices as they are of special interest compared with more serviceable everyday woodworking tools. Nevertheless, they have an important place in history, before folded and welded sheet steel, plastics and carbon fibre happened along. They are fairly usable for general woodworking but are not usually first choice, being more of a collectable thing. Changes in manufacturing methods and the decline of heavy industry in the UK mean these tools are largely irrelevant now.