Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 5, Issue 1
   September 2010
   What Is It?

What Is It?

Much like the whip-manufacturing business (see Volume 2, Issue 2), the wagon-construction industry underwent serious downsizing with the advent of the horseless carriage. The wainwright was the master builder who could perform each process involved in building any wheeled wagon or carriage. The tradespeople who focused on a particular aspect of wagon making included wheelwrights, coachbuilders and numerous others. Members of each trade used distinctive tools made specifically for that part of the building process.

Early horseless vehicles were basically composed of a wooden frame with a motor, wooden wheels and a decorative metal covering. In a strange form of industry transference, some of the tradespeople described above went on to work in the automobile industry, although the advent of the modern assembly line lessened the need for such highly skilled workers. No longer was a product built entirely from scratch by a group of workers; now it was assembled using premade standardized pieces.

  Cutters, front view
  Cutters, back view
Having what appear to be as many teeth as a T. Rex, this coachbuilder's router was obviously manufactured to be a multi-use tool. The four (there may have been more) remaining cutter attachments provide a broad range of choices. They vary in size from the customary slotting function, to a gouge tool, to what is perhaps a very large roughing-out cutter. All of these assemblies are affixed into the slotted center section of the tool body, allowing each edge to be manipulated laterally on the frame. This gives great flexibility in positioning the cutter. Only one cutter would be used at one time, and the clever clamping system provided for an extremely tight locking of the cutter during use. The manufacture of the body and the knives is highly refined, which leads one to believe this was a commercially made tool. Examination shows no identifying marks. The tool is approximately 22" wide.
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