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The Amateur Mechanic's Workshop by James Lukin, 1870



"OLD FILE" need hardly inform the readers of these pages that he has long occupied a place at the bench, and has, in spite of certain asperities of his nature, been received with all honor into every workshop in the three kingdoms, and far enough beyond their confines.

Being of a practical turn of mind and naturally sharp, and of temper irreproachable, he has been allowed an insight into various mechanical operations, and has noted down his observations.

Overhauling these notes, he finds that they would have supplied answers to at least half the queries addressed to the editors of our mechanical and engineering periodicals, and as the present state of his teeth remind him that he must soon become a useless old fellow, he has determined while there is life in him, to publish his "Annotations" and "Reflections" in the form of "Hints to Amateurs on the general Operations of the Workshop."

The design is not indeed "pretentious," and as to criticism of style or matter, "Old File" need only repeat that his skin is hard, and almost impermeable, while his temper, in common parlance, leaves nothing to be desired.

"Old File" has made his bow. The amateur mechanic is certainly of the order composite; his trade absolutely indefinable. Blacksmith and carpenter, turner and missfitter, he has to acquire a vast amount of practical skill, without the advantages of a regular apprenticeship.

 The wonder is not that he sometimes fails, but rather that he ever succeeds in turning out even decent work.

Nevertheless, that he does so is beyond question, not indeed always, nor perhaps generally, but "Old File" himself has seen such work as would shame many a professional, executed by men whose birth and education, mind, body, and estate, entirely precluded the necessity of applying their right hand to the workman's hammer.


And "Old File" set himself to inquire the character of these successful amateurs, that he might learn, if possible, the origin of their success. The result of his inquiries may be written in three words - "patient," "persevering," "intelligent."

The amateur in general lacks one at least of the above qualifications, most commonly the first. He is in such a hurry to drive the last nail, or to enter the last screw, that he splits his wood with the first, crosses the thread of the other, and spoils the whole concern.

A good workman never hurries, nor again does he begin a piece of work without having first conned the details and with pencil and compasses sketched his design in its completeness.

J. L.

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