Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 5, Issue 3
   January 2011
   What Is It?

What Is It?   What Is It?

In the 3rd century BC, Greek mathematician Archimedes invented a device consisting of a screw inside a hollow tube used to move water between two levels. There's also some evidence that a version of this apparatus, used in olive presses and as a rudimentary clamping mechanism, existed 200 to 300 years earlier. In the late 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci created drawings of a threadlike rod passing through an opposite-mated half to create a force for moving objects either through tension (pulling) or compression (pushing). The basic definition of a screw thread has not changed in over 2,000 years: it is a helical ridge running around the outside of a cylinder or cone.

The transition from wooden to metal screws began in the 1500s, as evidenced by hand-cut examples of the screw and worm produced in Nuremberg, Germany. Metalworkers found a way to accurately cut repetitive forms, thus allowing greater force to be applied to the flank (the side of the thread). Around 1800, Henry Maudsley developed the screw-cutting lathe, which allowed for standardization of screw thread sizes. Prior to that, individuals created threads that varied in pitch, diameter and thread angle, according to each maker.

Commonly called a screw box with tap, neither part of this tool can function without the other. (In fact, trying to identify the coarsely made thumbscrew without its mate proved most difficult.) The artisan-built tool was used to create wooden screws and functioned much the same as later-made commercial sets.
Previous Page
Go to page:
Next Page
   Other Articles from this Issue
  • Cut a Stopped Chamfer with a Lamb's Tongue
  • Micro Turning
  • The Making of a Lee Valley Catalog Cover
  • Return to Newsletter Home
        What's New in Woodworking
    Laminate Roller

    Autosol® Metal Polish

    Metal Polish
    Mortise Pal™ Jig

    Mortise Pal™
    Easy Wood Turning Tools

    Easy Wood
    Turning Tools
    Stanley/Record Cap Irons

    Cap Irons
    Magswitch® System

    Mini Cable Clamp

    Cable Clamp
    Polypropylene Shims

        News & Events  
         Mailing Soon

       Upcoming Tradeshows

       Lee Valley Seminars
      From the Collection
    Featured Patents
    From the Archive
    Customer Letters
    What Is It?
        Subscriber Services

    Privacy Policy

    Newsletter Archive