Machine Tool Pics


Recently I created a post about the history of machine tools. Here’s that post.

Since I did that post I’ve found some great pictures, links  and videos of the tools and how they  changed over the years.

A piece from the Smithsonian about the history of the screw cutting lathe.

Click to access 1966-Screw-ThreadCutting-1480.pdf

Another site on the history of turning.

A couple of Horological and instrument lathes.

Those are not true engine lathes as they do not have screw feed and threading capability.  Here’s a Practical Machinist thread on the engine lathe from medievil tools on:

Some pics of Maudslay lathes.

Old Centre lathe in Lond Science Museum

The Machinery Scans website has some great pictures from the 1870’s and 1880’s of various kinds of machines.  I’m going to include some pictures here, but you really should check out the site if you want to know what 19th Century machines looked like.  There are some catalog and ad pages from some long dead companies and some weird stuff too.


Milling machines.



Boring Mills

The vintage machinery site also has great pictures of early machine tools. The links have multiple pics of the same machine.

Milling Machines.

Site link.  A great site, check it out.

Keith Rucker of Vintage Machinery tours a home shop with line shafting.

This YouTube channel is created by a man with a steam powered shop

Some pictures of old machine shops that I found on Pinterest.


Some pics of the machines at Watts Campbell. More here.

That’s is for early machine tools for now.  I think I’ve covered most of it.


  1. MadRocketSci · December 22, 2016

    Thank you for the machine tool history articles. One of the things that was bugging me the other day was how you could start with hand-accuracy tools and end up with sub-mil accuracy tools?: What process allows you to correct for errors without the ability to make measurements at that fine a scale? (no micrometers: You don’t have machine tools yet to make them!)

    The articles you pointed to on Henry Maudsley contained part of the answer: Apparently blacksmiths, once they started getting their hands on enough metal to be able to experiment with had a process (Whitworth process) by which they could produce very flat surfaces. Like the lens-grinding process, it involved rubbing steel surfaces against each other. Unlike the lens-grinding process, they used three surfaces, alternated in cyclic order, instead of two: This prevented curvature from developing between two surfaces.

    With an accurate reference surface, you could build an accurate slide. Maudsley produced an inclined knife-lathe with the inclined knife on a slide that allowed it to move relative to a spinning work-rod. That allowed him to get his first accurate lead-screws.

    Reading about the other false starts was interesting too: The sort of rube goldberg stuff I was thinking of before I read how they actually did it.


  2. Pingback: More Research Odds and ends. | The Arts Mechanical

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