Whenever my grandkids come into the woodshop, the first thing they do is to make straight for the hand crank grinder attached to one of the workbenches. They can’t resist standing there turning and turning and turning that silly thing, watching the little two-and-a-half inch wheel go round and round.
The very next stop is the shelf holding my collection of various eggbeater drills. They try out each and every one, fascinated with all the mechanical wizardry happening before their very eyes.
Then it’s off to the wood and machinist’s vices for a go at turning the handle and watching the jaws go in and out.
Oh, and let’s not forget the vintage pencil sharpener hanging on the wall. It’s not quite as fascinating as the other devices because it has no visible mechanical movement aside from the crank handle itself. It just makes a lot of noise, but it’s fun, nonetheless.
Kids just love these things.
So do I, for that matter.
I would wager that most other people, woodworkers or not, would share the same fascination. I’ve often thought it would be fun to take an old cast iron and wood crank handle, attach it to a wall in a high foot traffic public area, and sit back to observe. I would be willing to bet that at least 90% of passers-by could not resist giving it a few turns to see what it did! (Yeah…OK…these are some of the kinds of weird things I think about from time to time).
Anyway, back to the handsawgeek shop….
Given my own fascination for such devices, I am always on the lookout on Craigslist for one of those old post drills that were popular in the olden days. The ones that not only turn the drill chuck, but also automatically feed it into the work. That would be a really nice up-grade from my Ryobi drill press! Maybe in the meantime I can attempt to convert that old breast drill hanging on the tool wall into a sort of drill press.
That hand crank grinder I have attached to the workbench is scheduled to be converted into a small sanding disk driver when I get around to it. It should be perfect for finish shaping the edges of small wood toy parts. Maybe I could have the grand kiddos over on sanding day. They would love the opportunity to have some quality time with that hand crank, while actually doing something useful with it!
I suppose the beauty of these types of devices lies in the ingenuity involved with converting human power into useful functions via all manner of gears, cams, levers, and pulleys. You can watch the many parts work in harmony…see the work being done.
Hands down, though, the coolest hand crank device I own is this:
It’s not a woodworking tool (even though the manufacturer is Goodell), rather it’s a kitchen tool.
An antique apple peeler to be exact.
The idea is to clamp the device onto a table top, impale an apple on the tines, and turn the crank. This sets in motion machinery that rotates the apple while sending a blade around the perimeter of the fruit to shave off the peel. I’ve never tried it to really peel an apple, but I do get a kick out of operating it just to watch this ingenious device go through its motions.
Yep……kids and hand crank thingies……