Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 1
September 2008
 
From the Collection
 


Wrench Pattern

Wrench pattern

When one comes across an object that resembles a commercially available item but is of such gargantuan size that it seems unlikely to be usable, the question arises as to whether it is merely the subject of construction whimsy or simply a technical exercise. Such was the case when this wrench pattern was added to the Lee Valley antique tools collection.

In some instances, the most economical manufacturing method is the foundry system, in which a mold is created and items are produced by pouring molten metal into the form. There is no need to create special jigs and fixtures for machining when a small quantity is required. The sand-casting method is always employed for small or special runs, as well as for unusual and complex shapes. This requires a pattern (a true replica, allowing for shrinkage) of an item to be pressed into a flask, removed and the resulting depression filled with an appropriate material. In the case of this wrench, it was probably cast steel; ordinary cast iron would not have been a practical choice given the force the jaws would have been subjected to during use.

Insert numbers and label   Incuse stamp

Close examination shows "114" in insert numbers placed on the pattern and a somewhat faded label below. This barely legible label gives the following information: the company name "H.B. Underwood", the order number "09509", the date "11.10.16", the pattern number "Wrench 114", "No. C.B." (unmarked) and "No. Loose Pcs." (also unmarked) and, finally, the "No. Wanted 9". The other side bears an incuse stamp of the company name. The pattern is 40" long, and the jaw opening is 6-9/16" wide.

H.B. Underwood & Co. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was in business until at least 1922. The company advertised as makers of portable tools. Given the final size and weight of this wrench, it would be somewhat optimistic to describe it as portable.

D.S. Orr

 
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