Lathe steady


1 Iron lathe steady

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 boring collar or cone-plate, forming part of the original equipment for the lathe which is positioned beneath the workshop window. The boring collar was used in place of the moveable poppit (tailstock) to support the right end of the workpiece when its face was to be operated upon or when it was to be bored up. The shoulder at the right end of the workpiece was first turned true. The base was put on the bed-bar to the left of the tool rest, and a hole of a size suitable to the shoulder of the workpiece was selected and brought in line with the axis of the lathe. The base was then secured so as to hold the workpiece without shake.


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