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Verschoyle Lathe
The Verschoyle "Patent Mandrel"

Verschoyle Mandrel Page 2 Photographs

William Denham, the fifth son of Richard John Verschoyle, was born in 1868 (died 1944). He was educated at Westward Ho and then worked as a mining engineer in New Zealand, China, Canada and Alaska. He became a self-taught inventor and writer* and developed an extensive workshop at his home where, amongst other items, he invented The Verschoyle Patent Mandrel - a multi purpose hand-operated lathe that was put on the market in 1918 but failed to find commercial success.
Like many other modest lathes aimed at the amateur market and intended to become 'all things to all men', the 1920s to 1930s Verschoyle was available with a wide range of accessories to permit sawing, hand turning of wood and soft metals, spinning, drilling and eccentric turning. It was designed (by William Denham Verschoyle, 1868-1944) to be fastened to the edge of any convenient bench or work top - but if a self-contained unit was required amongst the list of extras was a twelve shillings and sixpence (12/6) length of wood with two star-shaped feet which enabled the whole machine to be kept together, mounted on a baseboard, ready for use.
No motor was provided; instead a drum, with a gear formed on its inner surface was turned by a handwheel. The drum-mounted gear engaged with another cut on the end of the headstock spindle - and so provided a geared-up drive in the manner once very common on bench-mounted hand-powered grinding wheels and on early watchmaker's lathes of the 'English Mandrel' type, from which, presumably, the machine's name originated. Instead of the usual external spindle-nose thread, the Verschoyle had the bore tapped; whilst this limited the spindle's load carrying capacity for the light-duty work the lathe was intended for it was entirely adequate - with even the backplate offered for mounting a 3-jaw chuck located in this way. In order to provide some momentum a 5-inch diameter faceplate was permanently attached to the spindle - this faceplate (in the best tradition of early metal-turning lathes) was provided with four T-slots, screws and jaws to convert it into a 4-jaw independent chuck. With no slide rest, or tool clamp, metal turning on the Verschoyle was limited to what could be accomplished by hand. Sets of suitable metal-turning hand tools (gravers) were offered, together with a short, narrow, hardened Tee rest to fit in the standard tool holder.
Continued below:

Verschoyle mounted as a self-contained unit on the optional bench feet with a length of wood 24" long, 23/4 " wide and 17/8" deep providing the beam strength. The feet were necessary to provide clearance for the handwheel to rotate.

Quite how difficult it must have been to use the Verschoyle - especially to the extent illustrated in the wonderful instruction book - can only be open to conjecture; with the left hand whirling away at the handwheel, the right was in sole charge of everything else.
The Verschoyle was not the only hand-operated lathe; also marketed was a version of the Damaco 5 (sold as the "AM" in some markets) and in 1947 the Rollo Elf was introduced in a version with a self-contained, hand-turned drive unit; details of the ordinary Elf can be found here.
A book about the Verschoyle family has been produced:
Ges van der Scuylen: 600 years of the Verschuijl and Verschoyle Family" by Virginia Mason
320 pages, including extensive charts, maps and illustrations
Verschoyle Mason Publications, 2001, ISBN: 0-9540759-0-0.
V. Mason, 4 Plantation Way, Whitehill, Bordon GU35 9HD, UK
*Verschoyle wrote a number of scientific books, including,
'Electricity, What is it?' 1908; ' The Evolution of Atoms & Isotopes', 1922; ' The Soul of an Atom. The Physical Basis of Human Survival', 1932; ' The Economic Lathe, 1931 Model', 1932; ' Fearon, William Robert: The New Atomism, being a review of 'The Soul of an Atom', 1933;  and 'Natural Vibro-Massage', 1937.
In 1910 he married Lole Hyla MacDonnell, the daughter of Hercules MacDonnell of Glen Lodge, Dundalk. The family settled in London in 1932 and Lole died in 1941. William Denham Verschoyle died in 1944 at 26 Riverview Gardens, Barnes, Middlesex. His will was dated 9th September 1943.
     An obituary for William Denham in the New York Times, 27th May 1944 states:
'In 1929 Mr. Verschoyle applied for a patent on an invention he claimed would make possible construction of a machine capable of flying 600 miles an hour. The scientific theory behind it, he said, was largely in accord with modern mathematical theories of gravitation as propounded by Dr. Albert Einstein and the electronic theories of Sir J.J. Thomson. Mr. Verschoyle held that gravitation was similar to magnetism and therefore controllable by electricity. His machine would have been able to rise and descend vertically, without the use of wings, lighter-than-air devices or other recognised means. He was to have called his machine an aerometer but there is no record that it ever got beyond the experimental stage'.
Verschoyle Mandrel Page 2 Photographs

The Verschoyle set up for light-duty metal turning with a three-jaw chuck mounted on a screw-in backplate, the short, hardened Tee rest - and a lever-action tailstock.

Headstock unit with mounting brackets and 4-jaw-cum-faceplate.
Very similar units were once employed as the basis of bench-mounted hand-powered grinding wheels.

End bracket to support the bed - additional units could be used at intervals  to stiffen very long beds.

The Eccentric Chuck Attachment (at 2 : 10s it cost nearly half as much as the basic lathe) consisted of a screwed spindle and indexing plate to fasten in the T slots of the standard faceplate, a screw-feed stop and swinging bracket (shown behind the tailstock), a tailstock-barrel-mounted toolholder - and the brass "chuck plate" shown resting against the lathe bed; the latter carried the work to be engraved - it being secured by wood or metal screws, glue or solder, etc.
Although the owners of real ornamental turning lathes may gnash their teeth in despair, it was claimed that, with care, the Verschoyle was able provide the amateur with a good deal of fun and turn out respectable work.

Cutting Tools for use in conjunction with the Eccentric Chuck

Ornamental work carried out with the help of an eccentric chuck.

Standard screwed centre

Wood prong centre

Wood screw centre

Backplate for mounting chucks.

Two-jaw chuck to hold taper square-shank bits and drills.


Plain Chuck (B) to fit the headstock and tailstock - the screw retained drills (the arrowhead set below) or centering drills.

Set of arrowhead drills to fit the plain "chuck" B above.

Wood parting chisel in use on the long hand rest.

Narrow flat wood chisel in use on the long hand rest.

Hand-rest assembly - several could be fitted to the bed.

Soft metal can be turned by hand - and this narrow, hardened Tee rest designed to allow close access to the work and the minimum of interference, was provided for just that purpose.

Fixed steady - ingenious, but limited to supporting a rather large minimum diameter.

Instant long bed conversion - detach the headstock.

Extra long-bed conversion - just buy a bar of the required length
together with a selection of bed supports and tool rests.

Bench foot

Above and below: a series of self-explanatory pictures showing the saw bench accessory for the Verschoyle

Emery or sand paper glued to the
faceplate to made a sanding disc.

Spinning on a lathe is an old-established and well recognised craft - and even today craftsmen in Sheffield turn out pewter tankards and other artefacts on heavily-built but basic plain-turning lathes. The operation consists of fitting a suitable steel "Former" to the spindle nose (the Former can be in wood for short production runs which require only a reasonable surface finish) and then clamping a sheet of suitably thin and soft metal between it and a rotating centre. By dint of strength, dexterity, a keen eye, a fine feel for the deflection of the material - and a seven year apprenticeship - the spinning metal is spread over the former using various tools levered against one or more fulcrum points.
Although spinning is a 'black art' simple jobs are well within the capabilities of an amateur turner - though with the caveat that to successfully produce larger and more complex shapes does requires considerable experience and knowledge.

For light-duty metal spinning the Tee rest could be replaced by a special unit fitted with holes into which the fulcrum pin could be fitted. Although only one pin is shown, the use of two is more common.

Hardened and polished burnishing tools; these were used to spread the work into tighter corners whilst imparting a good surface finish.

Rim Beader - this was used to form the all-important stiffening rim to a spun vessel. The horizontal bar was formed so that different sizes of ball - halved and held on stems - could be inserted into each end.
When a rim was needed (as in the illustration at the top of the page) the ball was manoeuvred into position and a burnisher used to close the metal over it; because the ball was only of half section, it could then be wriggled out.

Simple but effective Rotating Centre for use when spinning

Verschoyle Mandrel Page 2 Photographs

Verschoyle Lathe
The Verschoyle "Patent Mandrel"
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