Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 2
   November 2011
   Featured Patents

The "Bling" Factor Bevel
Brass bevel

For many years, the fall season in North America signaled the debut of new automobile and truck models and the vast array of options that could be added to change the seemingly mundane appearance of any vehicle. Automobile manufacturers aggressively up sold new models with power-module additions, interior-accessory combinations and other extravagances that gave a higher profit. "New", "improved" and any number of adjectives brought buyers into the salesroom to personalize their purchase. (Now, automotive manufacturers provide a never-ending stream of new models and options throughout the year.) The practice of up selling has never been limited to any particular industrial sector, and it would appear that the toolmakers of the 19th century understood and used these advertising tactics still practiced in today's fast-paced and evolving marketplace.

Leonard D. Howard of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, sought with his patent #70,570 dated November 5, 1867, to improve the usability of the common bevel in marking out and recording angles. The patent claim was that a recessed section on the tool body allowed the instrument to lie flat against the workpiece, while still allowing for adjustment. Much like the employers of the above-mentioned automobile-sales tactic, Howard was not happy with just one patent for this type of device; further patents #111,746 (1871) and #324,323 (1885) addressed modifications and improvements. L.D. Howard was a prolific inventor with some 10 to 20 registered patents, ranging from a clothesline (111,747) to a power hammer (657,114), over a 30-year period. Unlike many other entrepreneurs of that time, Howard was an inventor only; it appears he never became a recorded manufacturer. Other companies, presumably under license, produced his inventions.
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