email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Kennan & Sons Machine Tools

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In addition to Kennan & Sons only two other lathes makers native to Ireland are known: the Sheane Brothers in Wicklow, who produced a simple, plain-turning machine and the Booth Brothers whose only known offering was very similar: a plain turning lathe of quite ordinary construction with a centre height of around 4 inches and a between-centres capacity of 20".
Established in the 1790s, Kennan & Sons survived until the late 1980s - they exhibited a range of machine tools at the 1962 London exhibition - and were based at their "Engineering Iron Works" in Fishamble Street, Dublin, Ireland, one of the oldest parts of the city. Next to the works was the personal residence of Mr. Kennan, a house modified in the 1820s but surviving today, beautifully restored                    , as the  Contemporary Music Centre and retaining its typical-of-the-period columned door case, embellished lead fanlight, graceful windows and elegant staircase.
Kennan & Sons offered a wide range of metal items from simple hand tools to cast-iron manhole covers, street furniture and lamps and even larger structures such as bridges and pylons. Their machines tools were, however, all aimed at the amateur (or small workshop) market and included a small bench planer, plain-turning and very fine quality ornamental turning lathes and accessories (including their complex
universal geometric cutter) drills, a circular sawing machine and what was described as a:  Machine for copying works of art, etc.,  from the round or flat, upon any scale, in ivory, wood, alabaster, etc. It is easily worked by one person. The movement for copying proportional straight lines is unique. The cutting is performed by a revolving tool, mounted on a bar with universal centre, and guided by a tracer applied to the original. It will copy the most intricate forms.
A few of their ornamental lathes are known to have survived together with the odd planer and a number of their plain lathes. Should any reader have a Keenan machine tool or advertisements or literature about the Company, the writer would be very interested to hear from you.


Kennan & Sons "Engineering Iron Work" in Fishamble Street, Dublin, Ireland (by permission National Library of Ireland)

Kennan & Sons Plain lathe on its original, twin-flywheel wooden treadle stand

Kennan & Sons Bench planing machine with what appears to be a complex, self-reversing table drive by a central loose pulley with fast ones at each side. The two belt strikers are in place externally, with the rest of the automatic reversing mechanism neatly enclosed below the table's central feed screw. The feed screw is a single-start thread with a very short lead, the aim being to obtain a rapid drive forwards and backwards.
Automatic feed and reverse on such a small bench-top planer is probably unique; the owner reports that cuts as fine as 0.0001" are possible and that the finish obtained is mirror-like. Similar planing machines covered in the Archive include: T.Taylor, Milnes, Senior, Fomm, Selig Sonnenthal, Kennan, Hesketh Walker, Brittain, Britannia - as well as some by unknown makers


A superb (if presently neglected) Circa 1850/1860 Kennan & Sons ornamental turning lathe with attached drill stand and overhead drive


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Kennan & Sons Machine Tools
email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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