Turning & Mechanical Manipulation, Vol. 1

Charles Holtzapffel, Materials: Their Choice and Preparation (and Various Modes of Working Them, Generally Without Cutting Tools), First Published 1846, 462 pages, profusely illustrated.


Review | Holtzapffel and Co. of No. 64 Charing Cross, London, Manufacturers of Engines, Lathes, Mechanical, and Edge tools was one of the finest makers of a wide variety of products of very highest quality during the Industrial Revolution. Foremost among those products are their lathes for ornamental and complex turning. Right now on eBay is a Holtzapffel lathe with tooling priced at $47,900. This will give you some idea of the incredible quality of their products. Their lathes were made in that era when ornamental turning was popular among royalty and the wealthy. Some aristocrats even employed full time turners to assist them in producing complex turnings of ivory and rare woods. In part this book was to assist turners to understand, select and work materials suitable for ornamental turning, but it covers so much more.

The author has divided the book into the following sections:   

In part this book was to assist turners to understand, select and work materials suitable for ornamental turning…

Introduction: Importance of the Lathe, and general arrangement of the work.     

Materials from the Vegetable Kingdom: Useful characters of woods, Ornamental Character of Woods, Permanence of Form and Combination of Woods, Descriptive catalogue of woods. 

Materials from the Animal Kingdom: Shells, Horn, Tortoiseshell, Whalebone, Ivory of all kinds, etc. 

Materials from the Mineral Kingdom: Earthy and Metallic materials, Clay, Meerschaum, Amber, Jet, stones, Ruby and Diamond used as tools,   

The Metals, Forging Iron and Steel, Hardening and Tempering, Metals and Alloys, Melting and Mixing, Casting and Founding, Works in Sheet Metal Made by Joining, and by Raising, Processes Dependent on Ductility, Soldering

Charles Holtzapffel was both a highly educated man and an experienced artisan who could understand and convey the precise details of mechanical processes. He sought out the finest experts in each field of knowledge and workmanship and put down in writing and illustrations this treasure trove of detailed information about how things were made in the 1840's.   I have used this book for 22 years in my own studies and work, and just purchased another copy because the first one is coming apart after years of use. If you are interested in the history of mechanical processes during the Industrial Revolution, this book is a must see. —J. B.