Steel chuck with four screws


1 Steel chuck 4” dia. with four screws

This item is part of the contents of the workshop that Scottish engineer James Watt developed at his home, Heathfield, at Handsworth, Birmingham, from c.1795 through to his death in 1819. Although Watt is best known for his work on the steam engine, his workshop contains a wide variety of objects from many different projects, from chemistry to sculpture-copying.

The description of the item was written by Edward Collins, the land agent responsible for Heathfield when the workshop was given to the Science Museum in 1924. Collins could not always identify what he was looking at, but always described what he saw clearly. This has allowed his descriptions to form the basis of subsequent research.

This is a cast iron four-screw “bell chuck”, named for its shape, and with the four screws holding the workpiece in position while it was rotated in the lathe so that material could be removed with a sharpened tool. It comprised part of the original equipment for the lathe which remains in the workshop, positioned beneath the window so the user could work by the light it provided.


James Watt's Garret Workshop
Object Number:
Major J.M. Gibson-Watt