This section is from the "Modern Machine Shop Construction, Equipment, And Management" book, by Oscar E. Perrigo. Also see Amazon: Modern Machine Shop Construction, Equipment, And Management.
A field for a good system of management. The poorly created shop. Its proper location and importance. Organizing the working force. Various kinds of labor necessary. Classifying the work. Qualifications of a skilled pattern maker. Selection of pattern lumber. A lumber drying room. Storing pattern lumber. The kind of lumber for patterns. How the lumber should be cut from the log. Economical use of pattern lumber. Caring for short lengths of pattern lumber. Working up scraps. Discrimination in the use of lumber. Fillets and dowels. System of marking and testing patterns. Making pattern letters and figures. The proper style of letter. Applying them to the pattern. Case for storing pattern letters. Care of wood fillets. The pattern maker's cabinet. Keeping wire nails, screws, etc. A color system for varnishing patterns. The pattern loft. Handling patterns. Overhead trolley tracks and trolley hoists. System of storing patterns. Pattern records. Card system for recording, issuing, and recovering patterns. Handling the card system. Time and cost keeping. Material and cost card. A complete system. Methodical and orderly management. Individual duties and responsibilities. The ideal pattern shop.
There is no department connected with the modern machine shop in which a good system of management, administered by a careful, methodical man, in a quiet and orderly manner, will be of more benefit to the establishment in general than the pattern shop. It is too often the case that this department is looked upon as being non-productive; a source of continual expense; not producing anything which may be sold at a profit; and consequently should be managed as cheaply as possible.
Therefore we see the pattern work done in a part of the shop not at all fitted for such work, possibly in one end of a machine room and subject to the iron dust and dirt which is not shut out by even a board partition, and sometimes by one only half the height of the room. We find it poorly equipped with inadequate and often obsolete machinery, supplied with poor lumber, and lacking many of the essentials for producing good work. Often men are employed because of the low wages they are willing to work for, rather than those of the requisite ability in their chosen trade.
There is always a vast difference between cheapness and economy, as the terms are generally understood, and these false ideas of economy generally result in the expenditure of more money finally than if such short-sighted ideas gave way to the policy of seeking for the best, being willing to pay for it, and then expecting high efficiency of employees and the production of good work that would stand the test of hard usage, rather than that which must be frequently repaired and strengthened in order to keep it in use.
While these facts should be strenuously adhered to as to the regular work of the pattern shop intended for permanent use, we should not lose sight of the occasional jobs of pattern work intended for only a few castings, and therefore should be made with this end in view, and often at one half the expense of a thoroughly made, permanent pattern.
That there has been a good deal of improvement along these lines within the last few years is undoubtedly true, yet the fact remains that there is still in many shops room for more changes for the better, both in matters of economy of expense and a higher standard of workmanship.
The following plans and systems of handling the work are the result of practical experience as well as years of observation of this and kindred work, and it is hoped that they may offer practical suggestions to men having the responsibilities of administering the affairs of such a department.
In arranging the working force of the pattern shop a definite plan should be followed. This plan will depend to a great extent upon the kind of work that is to be done. That is, whether it is to be for large, medium, or small pattern, or perhaps a portion of each. Also, whether it is to be a good deal of new work, or a large proportion of the work is in altering patterns, or changing standard parts of them. In any event the one essential point to be considered is, to employ skilled or high priced pattern makers only on such work as need such ability, while all work that can be done by apprentices, or less skilled men, shall be done by them. For this as well as other evident reasons, getting out dimension lumber, making core prints, bosses, varnishing and marking patterns, and similar work, may be done by men at from half to two thirds of the pay that the skilled pattern maker receives. Therefore such machines as the planer, jointer, circular saws, etc., may be handled by the men who may be classed as "mill men," who, while they are not conversant with pattern making as a trade, can get out such dimension lumber as the pattern makers require in less time and at much less cost.
The same will be the case with the man running the band saw in getting out segment work and then laying it up. Being employed on this class of work continually, he can not only do just as good work, but sometimes better, than a man who only does it occasionally, and of course do more of it and do it more economically. Putting in fillets, puttying, plugging screw-head holes, varnishing and rubbing down patterns, etc., is the work of an apprentice and not that of a skilled workman.
To obtain the most efficient and economical results from this department, assuming that the work will be in the usual proportion of new work, alterations, repairs, etc., its force and the duties of the men should be classified somewhat as follows: A force of fourteen employees would consist of say one foreman, six skilled pattern makers, one lathe man, one planer man, one circular saw man, one band saw and segment man, one finisher and varnisher, one man for keeping pattern records, lettering patterns, etc., and one laborer.