Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 5
June 2009
What Is It?

What Is It? Patternmakers and foundry workers have always made copies of tools in the same manner as glassblowers, who create "end-of-day pieces" or complicated whimsical examples made with the sole intention of displaying an individual's skill. Additionally, the practice was adopted in the foundry to utilize the full melt of material and create working copies of expensive items that were beyond the average worker's financial reach. In some shops, apprentices were required to perform these copying tasks as a rite of passage on the path to becoming a journeyman. Making these copies for resale was frowned upon, and the fruits of this clandestine work remained within the walls of each particular establishment. The item was always used as the pattern, so the resulting copy was proportionately smaller, due to the shrinkage rate of the material used in the pour. Retirees often received gifts of similar copies that were well embellished with coworkers' names and engraved inscriptions.

What Is It? When first examined, this example displayed all the characteristics of a one-off piece. It was cast of brass or bronze with rough surfaces and showing many file and grinding marks; no commercially made resale tool would ever have such a poor finish. There are no identifying markings on this example; however, something about the utilitarian aspect of the tool swayed this researcher to undertake a patent search.

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