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The Young Mechanic

400 pages
Library of Alexandria
There never was a time when a taste for practical mechanics was so general among boys as it is now, in this year of grace 1870. There are comparatively few homes in which evidences of this hobby are not apparent in every odd nook and corner, in the shape of carpenter’s tools, not always in first-rate condition, nor by any means generally in their proper places. A saw here, a hammer there, a gimlet, bradawl, or chisel elsewhere. This probably results from the giant strides which have been made of late years in mechanical enterprise, and the introduction of machinery into every department, as a means of saving labour and facilitating the production of the various necessaries of life. Man is an imitative animal, and in this as in other things “the child is father to the man;” and hence it comes to pass that the boy whose eyes are continually resting upon machinery of one sort or another (agricultural implements, if a villager; engines for planing, sawing, turning, and so forth, if resident in a town) sooner or later feels an innate desire to construct models of these gigantic mechanical labourers, by whose incessant but unfelt toil our several daily needs are so cheaply and plentifully supplied. Even if the youthful mind does not always display highly-developed inventive faculties, there is very generally manifested a desire of personally constructing some one or more of those articles which conduce to the gratification of a particular hobby. If the boy has a taste for natural history, cases and cabinets will be made, for the reception of eggs, butterflies, and insects, or to contain stuffed specimens of animals and birds. If he has within him the elements of a sailor, his ingenuity will be exercised upon model boats and ships. If fond of dumb pets, rabbit hutches, dove-cots, or cages will afford him opportunities for the exercise of his constructive powers, and thus the young mechanic frequently lays the foundation of future eminence in that particular line of life to which his tastes naturally lead him. There are few boyish hobbies in which assistance has not of late years been given by instruction books and guides of a high degree of excellence—natural history, botany, gardening, rearing and breeding all manner of pets—to each of these, well-written volumes have been devoted by able and experienced writers, but mechanical and constructive art has been somewhat neglected. Here and there, in periodical magazines, a few pages are dedicated to the subject, but no book about practical mechanics, written expressly for boys, has yet appeared. The author of the present volume, himself father of four lads, all of whom in turn occasionally try their hands at this kind of work, and who has himself for many years practised the mechanical arts of carpentry, turning, and model-making, hopes that the hints contained herein may prove valuable to those young friends whom he now addresses. Some of the following chapters will be arranged for very little boys, some for those who are older, while it is believed that other parts of the work may not prove altogether useless to those who have dropped jacket and knickerbockers and rejoice in the vigour of manhood. Thus the little boy, who receives the book as a present, will find it a fast and faithful friend as his years, and, we trust, knowledge and bodily powers increase. “Small boys need few tools, but much perseverance.” Let this be their motto, as it will stand them in good stead. A pocket-knife, gimlet, hammer, and a few nails will generally serve their purpose; but there is one other tool, namely, a square, which is of great importance, and of which it is well to learn the use as early as possible.