Vice fixed to Lathe, with punch attached by string


1 Vice fixed to Lathe, with punch attached by piece of string

This item is part of the contents of the workshop that Scottish engineer James Watt developed at his home, Heathfield, at Handsworth, Birmingham. 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 leg vice, of early pattern, in which the piece fixed to the bench has a tenon passing through mortices in both the fixed upright and the spring, which are held on by a cotter or wedge. The plan of fixing a vice to a lathe bench was not uncommon, at least for the amateur. The centre punch, an article which would have been needed very frequently for making the depression for starting drills and which can very easily be mislaid, is tied to the finial of the “box” (nut) of the vice with a length of fine gut.


James Watt's Garret Workshop
Object Number:
steel (metal) and string
Major J.M. Gibson-Watt