Keenan Ornamental Turning Lathe Photographic Essay
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.
Fitted with what appears to be a complex, self-reversing table drive by a central loose pulley with fast ones at each side, the Kennan & Sons Bench planing machine was obviously of sound design and construction. In the unfortunately blurred photographs below, on the left-hand face of the machine can be seen the input pulley with its belt strikers in place - the rest of the automatic reversing mechanism being neatly enclosed below the table's central feed screw. The table's feed screw, exposed at both ends to the wearing effects of dirt and swarf, was machined with a single-start thread of a very short lead, the aim being to obtain a rapid drive forwards and backwards. Automatic power feed and reverse on such a small bench-top planer is probably unique, most machines made of a similar size being hand operated. The owner reports that cuts as fine as 0.0001" are possible and that the finish obtained is mirror-like. Small planers were once a popular addition to the better-equipped amateur workshop: the tooling is inexpensive and remarkably large jobs can be machined to a surprising degree of accuracy and finish. Today they are highly sought after as both a useful tool and interesting atrifact and, unsurprisingly, command a premium price.
Of unusual though not unique arrangement, the tool holder of the clapper box was a two-part affair of rather slender construction - though obviously adequate as it remains unbroken and unmodified.
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
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 (especially if you own the lovely little planing machine below….).