Cummins "do-it shop" Model 440 Woodworker
One of many similar conversions of a portable electric drill into a wood lathe and "universal" woodworker, the Cummins Model 440 was current during the early to mid-1950s - but had disappeared from advertisements by late in that decade. Similar in design to those by Bridges in the United Kingdom, Bosch in Germany and Black and Decker in the United States, the Cummins was built by the John Oster Manufacturing Company - the Cummins-Chicago Corp. being a division of that organisation. In addition to the "do-it shop", Cummins offered a wide and diverse range of small, portable electric power tools that included hand drills, saws, jig saws, sanders, food blenders, hair clippers and soldering kits, etc. At the time when it was making good-quality, all-American goods, the Company was a relatively large one, with production plants in Milwaukee and Racine in Wisconsin, McMinnville in Tennessee - and another in Mexico.High-resolution pictures - may take time to load
Unlike the Black & Decker - probably first in the field from the early 1950s with their cleverly designed and inexpensively model built from welded sheet steel stampings - the Cummins was based on a steel tube and solid bar of hexagonal section, the hand T-rest being supported across both elements. The bed-support, motor-frame holder, saw-table and other castings were in die-cast aluminium, a process relatively expensive to tool-up for but resulting - as no further machining was required - in a very low cost per unit once production had started. An important part of the design was the sliding headstock, the tailstock being formed as part of the bed's end support and so fixed. The arrangement involved two in-lie lugs on the underside of the headstock casting through which the round bed-bar passed, these able to be locked and unlocked with a lever provided to allow the unit to be position as required. To make the headstock useable as a drill press, a coil the return spring was provided, this being neatly wrapped around the bed tube and trapped between the two mounting lugs.
Also differing from the simple, single-function models from Black & Decker, Bosch and Bridges, the Cummins was advertised as 7 in 1 outfit, capable of being used as a lathe, saw bench, vertical drill press, disc sander, shaper and, by stretching the description a bit, a "horizontal drill" when set up as a lathe. The conversion to a drill press was especially well done, the supporting foot at the tailstock end of the bed forming a hinge around which the whole machine could be pivoted until vertical. The motor-carrying assembly was then unclamped and moved up and down by the built-in lever. In place of a separate table, the top of the saw bench was used instead, this, mounted on a swivel base, allowing it to be turned through the required 90 degrees. The makers also mentioned that the unit, could - quite obviously - be used as a hand drill, the particular model supplied being the 1800 r.p.m. Type 44 Ball-Rite with a capacity of 1/4". However, while the claim that this was: "A whole furniture factory in 31/2 square feet"- might have taken liberties with the reasonable limits of advertising puff and that it could be set up on a kitchen table might have caused serious problems with the lady of the house - the Cummins "do-it shop" would certainly have been a useful outfit for the impecunious and inexperience wood-working enthusiast. Designed by a Mr. Paul C. Jones, a patent was applied for the "do-it shop" on the 13th of October, 1953 and granted, with Number 2,768,663, three years later on October, 30th, 1956. Offered in 1953 at $79.95 complete and ready to run, by taking into account inflation, today's price (in 2018) would have risen by a factor of ten to $800 - not quite the bargain it appears to have been viewed from 64 years on.