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Stanley Trammel Points

Figure 1 (left). An 1874 Stanley advertisement showing its nos. 1, 2, and 3 trammel points.

The Stanley Rule & Level Co. of New Britain, Connecticut, began making trammel points in 1874. Trammel points are a pair of sliding points that are attached to a wood or metal beam or bar for scribing or drawing circles or arcs larger than what can be done with a normal compass. They were a very useful tool for millwrights, machinists, carpenters, pattern makers and mechanics for laying out work. 

Stanley first introduced its bronze trammel points in three sizes numbered 1, 2, and 3 (Figure 1) in 1874. All three sizes were made of bronze metal with a scroll design on the side and had removable steel points. The no. 1 size was made for use on a 5⁄8-inch high straightedge or beam. A 1-inch high straightedge or beam was the correct size for Stanley’s no. 2 trammel points. The no. 3 size, Stanley’s largest, required a 11⁄4-inch straight edge or beam. Stanley only supplied the trammel points and the user supplied the straight edge of proper length for the task at hand.

Figure 2 (top). Stanley no. 1 trammel points, early style with original green box. Note the spelling of trammel.

The Stanley Rule & Level Co. of New Britain, Connecticut, began making trammel points in 1874. Trammel points are a pair of sliding points that are attached to a wood or metal beam or bar for scribing or drawing circles or arcs larger than what can be done with a normal compass. They were a very useful tool for millwrights, machinists, carpenters, pattern makers and mechanics for laying out work. 

Stanley first introduced its bronze trammel points in three sizes numbered 1, 2, and 3 (Figure 1) in 1874. All three sizes were made of bronze metal with a scroll design on the side and had removable steel points. The no. 1 size was made for use on a 5⁄8-inch high straightedge or beam. A 1-inch high straightedge or beam was the correct size for Stanley’s no. 2 trammel points. The no. 3 size, Stanley’s largest, required a 11⁄4-inch straight edge or beam. Stanley only supplied the trammel points and the user supplied the straight edge of proper length for the task at hand. 

Figure 3 (above). Stanley no. 2 trammel points, the later style with checkered panel.

Figure 2 shows an early pair of no. 1 trammel points in their original green box. It is interesting to note that the label on the box spells “trammel” with two “l’s” but in its advertising Stanley used the correct spelling with one “l” at the end of the word. Except for their size, all three of these trammel points were the same. The scroll design, which is known in the Stanley collector’s world as “Type 1,” was manufactured until 1908.

A pencil attachment was provided with each set of trammels (see Figure 1). By unscrewing and removing one of the trammel points, the pencil attachment would be screwed into that place. A hole in the steel points was provided for removal (see Figure 2).

Figure 4 (above, left). Stanley no. 3 trammel points from circa 1898 with a pencil holder, shown on the left trammel point.
Figure 5 (above, right). Henry Haslam patent of June 7, 1892, for the pencil holder attachment seen in Figure 4.
Figure 6 (left). Justus A. Traut’s patent of June 14, 1887, for a trammel attachment for folding rules.

In 1908, the design on the side of the trammel points was changed to a checkered design. Figure 3 shows a no. 2 trammel point, which was still being made of bronze metal, with the new design.

In 1874, all three sizes were supplied with the pencil holder shown in Figure 1, but in about 1898, the pencil holder was changed to the type shown in Figure 4, which was Stanley’s largest set of trammel points with a pencil holder. The pencil holder was first manufactured of cast iron and was made up of two pieces screwed together. Henry Haslam’s pencil clasp patent no. 476,380 (Figure 5), granted June 7, 1892, was the pencil holder Stanley used beginning in 1898. These pencil clasps were also sold separately as Stanley’s no. 8 pencil clasp, which could be used on any compass leg, allowing the craftsman to use a pencil instead of scribing a line.

Trammel points no. 1 and 3, with the checkered design, remained in the Stanley line to November 30, 1943. The no. 2 was discontinued August 3, 1948.

On April 6, 1887, Justus A. Traut, one of Stanley’s top inventors, filed a patent application for a trammel point attachment that could be attached to ordinary carpenter’s folding rules. The patent was granted on June 14, 1887 (Figure 6). Figure 7 shows this attachment, the Stanley no. 99 trammel points, with the pencil on a four-fold boxwood rule. The Stanley no. 99 was offered from 1888 to 1935.

Figure 7(below). Stanley no. 99 trammel point on a boxwood folding rule.
Figure 8 (above, left). Stanley 1909 catalog illustration of no. 4 trammel points

In 1898, Stanley introduced another style of trammel points, designated as no. 4 (Figure 8). This type of trammel point was manufactured of nickel-plated cast iron and could be used on any strip of wood up to 11⁄4 inches in height. It had a provision for a regular carpenter’s pencil to be attached to one of the trammel points. Early models had a cast design in the frame and are known to Stanley collectors as Type 1 of the no. 4 trammel point.

Figure 9 (above, right). Andrew Turnbull’s patent of March 2, 1909, for trammel points.

Andrew Turnbull, one of Stanley’s engineers, patented on March 2, 1909 (Figure 9), an improved adjustment system whereby the user could do a fine adjustment to the point setting without moving the trammels on the beam. This was accomplished by two side screws which, when tightened or loosened, would bend the point in or out. This resulted in Stanley offering two models of adjustable machinist’s trammel points—no. 5 and no. 6. The no. 5 (Figure 10) had four points (two long and two short). The no. 6 (Figure 11) had two long points, two short points, four outside-inside curved points, and a roller scribe. The no. 5 and no. 6 were Stanley’s most sophisticated trammel points and were offered until 1935.

In November 1947, the no. 4 was redesigned with a more modern look. Figure 12 shows a redesigned no. 4 made of bronze-plated cast iron with blued screws. The pencil holder was an open slot with a side set screw. In 1949, the no. 4 was nickel-plated, including the screws, instead of the bronze-plated. And in 1953, Stanley stopped plating and changed to gray enamel. The no. 4 had 15⁄16-inch long points and remained in the line until 1975.

Figure 10. Stanley no. 5 trammel points.
Figure 11. Stanley no. 6 trammel points.
Figure 12. Stanley no. 4 redesigned bronze-plated trammel points with box.
Figure 13. Stanley no. 14 trammel points have the same body as the no. 4, but with 3-inch points.

Also in 1953, Stanley introduced its no. 14 trammel points (Figure 13). These trammel points have the same body as the no. 4 but with 3-inch long points instead of 15⁄16-inch lengths. Also, both castings—the no. 4 and the no. 14—were the same and are marked no. 4. The 3-inch long points are stamped with Stanley no. 14. There is no pencil slot on the no. 14. This model was discontinued in 1964.

Stanley trammel points were in the product line for just over one hundred years—from 1874 to 1975—the golden years of hand-tool manufacture.

Walter Jacob writes a regular column on Stanley tools for The Chronicle. A collection of his columns from The Chronicle will be published in October and is available at www.eaiainfo.org.

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