Originally formed as Ormerod Brothers the Company advertised themselves as manufacturers of Shaping Machines and Machine Tool Accessories - the latter including surface tables, plain, tilting and box angles plates, tilting T-slotted tables, machine vices, lathe carriers (drive dogs), vee blocks, and fixed steadies for lathes. By 1918 they had become the Ormerod Tool Company and, in 1931, were taken over by Kitchen and Wade and renamed Ormerod Shapers Ltd. In post WW2 years they were bought out by the Asquith Machine Tool Corporation who, in turn, were acquired by Staveley Industries (a buyer of much of the UK machine-tool industry). The factory closed in 1967.
While the vast output of Ormerod was in the form of industrial-sized shapers and slotters (some of which were seriously large and can be seen lower down the page) the relatively small machine shown immediately below is a typical hand-operated model from the 1920s or 1930s with no unusual or ingenious features. However, as hand-operated shapers go, it is relatively large with a ram stroke of 11", a cross travel of 9" and able to take work up to 6" deep below the tool. With three substantial T-slots in its top the 6" x 8" box table also had open slots down each side - but, like many of those intended for use by an amateur, the front was not supported in any way.
Driven by a 6 t.p.i. 'cack-handed' screw, the table cross travel movement had provision for automatic feed in both directions - the drive coming from a ratchet wheel driven from a rocking shaft moved by a pin fitted to the underside of the ram. The pin fitted into the slot formed by a Y-shaped lever that pivoted from inside the base casting. Vertical movement of the table was by a square-threaded shaft that had to be turned by a removable Tommy bar - and, typically, for a machine of its age, there were no micrometer collars fitted to either the vertical or horizontal feeds. The tool slide could be rotated 90 degrees in either direction from central, a clear scale, graduated in degrees, being provided around the end of the ram. The clapper box could also be rotated (by about 20 degrees each side of upright) though this lacked any engraving to measure the inclination. In order to ensure that the ram operating handle was always in a position that gave optimum leverage, a combination of 6 pivot positions were provided on the lever and 3 locations on the ram casting. Substantially built, the machine did seem to reflect something of a proper Ormerod heritage and weighed in excess of 112 lbs.
Ormerod produced a wealth of well-illustrated and detailed advertising literature, some of it presented in hard-bound books, but non mentions this machine, nor has a trawl through contemporary copies of the 'Model Engineer Magazine' produced any references (though the shaper was mentioned in some letters to the editor). Could the Company have aimed the machine at the small workshop or garage trade and built a small batch for distribution by the one of the larger agents who existed to service those trades?
An examination of the shaper appears to indicate that each was constructed on an individual basis, rather than production line. For example, the ram gib block shows evidence that the bolt holes were marked out by hand - each having a ring of punch marks around enabling the driller to demonstrate that the holes had been bored in accordance with the fitter's marking out (they had).
And now, the mystery: below is a scan from a booklet 'Planing and Shaping Simply Explained' by Alfred W Marshall, dated 1932. This contains an illustration of the 'Norvic' hand-shaping machine stated to have been manufactured by Messrs Arnold & Co. of Hempnall, Norwich. This machine and the Ormerod are, save for a very minor details such as the tool-slide handwheel, identical to the Ormerod and with the stated dimensions tallying exactly. In addition, a very similar model appears in some editions of the 2.5-inch thick, loose-leafed Buck and Hickman catalogue of 1931 showing, quite clearly, a machine with "Ormerod" cast into the base; although the box table appears to be of different proportions. Other similarities are also evident, even though the Buck & Hickman illustration appears to have had some details "art worked" out. Arnold &Co advertised their shaper occasionally in the amateur engineering press during the 1920s, and also made (or marketed) the 'Norvic' hand-planer in two sizes, one slightly smaller and the other somewhat larger than the 'Senior' No. 3. Although Arnold have disappeared, they must have been sufficiently well known at the time to feature in the booklet alongside the well-known 'Drummond' and some rather more ephemeral makers such as the 'Polygon' (by Messrs Hunters Ltd. of 16-18 St. Bride Street, London, EC4), and the RHM power shaper by R. H. Morse of Elder Place, Brighton. As a point of interest, one Polygon model was claimed to be the largest hand-shaper made in the UK with a stroke of 12", a cross feed of 12", a 12 "x 9" table and a weight of 224 lbs when fitted with a machine vice.
Industrial Omerod shapers had the following recorded Serial Numbers: no other data appears to have survived: