A picture story about building a pattern.
10 years ago, I was the CAD/CAM guy for a pattern shop. We also had a plaster molding shop and an aluminum foundry, where we pressure cast aluminum match plates.
10 years before that, I was on the bench, building the wood master patterns that went on to become match plates.
20 years before that, I was serving a Pattern maker’s apprenticeship in an iron foundry. The master I learned from once ran General Motors, “Tech Center” where the workforce was made up of 400 highly skilled craftsmen from the technical trades, toolmakers, model makers, pattern makers, designers, and engineers.
One day my boss walks in my office, shows me a drawing and asks me if I could machine the pattern out of a piece of aluminum billet. After a few seconds of study, I looked up and said to him, “Yes, I can make it, but WHY would we want to do that?” The amount of money in labor and machine time would be far more than if we just made the pattern “the old fashioned way”. That is, Have a pattern maker make it out of wood and use it to cast a match plate for it.
I think he was just testing me and had already made that decision. I decided to document an example of this “Dying trade” called patternmaking.
The pattern maker in the photos is Gerry Koenig. Jerry is a first class mechanic, trained by a well respected master by the name of Dick Boehm, outside of Reading, Pa.
I’ll start with some images of what Gerry will make.
Next up, “making the pieces.”