The Millers Falls Co. in Massachusetts was a prosperous tool company founded in the 1860’s. The innovation and inspiration of the early founders laid the foundation for over a hundred years of excellent manufacturing. The company developed many products and one special hand tool has found its home in the Madsonian Museum. The Universal Angular Bit Stock is an eye catching tool designed and patented in 1875 by James Anthoine. It was produced in 1890.
What is attractive about the Universal Angular Bit Stock is that it is designed like a riddle, the complexity of interlocking pieces boggle the mind when you go to pick it up. It turns and bends, parts move in and out, what is it for?! Then there is an “ah-ha” moment when you finally understand the unique solution to the simple purpose of this tool. Two handle ends respond to different functions, one end opens and closes to clamp onto a bit and the other has a simple driver. At the center, the universal joint continuously turns and flexes, easily transferring the hand’s twisting through to the end without the handle moving. Amazing! The universal joint and a locking lever allow you to adjust it to any angle, and that is its trick.
The ease of this tool’s handling creates a pleasant feel; both sides of the tool are designed to fit in the palm of your hand and the metal has a sturdy, well balanced weight to it. When you grip the Universal Angular Bit Stock, it is a magnetic sensation! It feels like you’ve found a friend, so to speak, when the tool immediately becomes an extension of your body. In today’s world of noisy, fast spinning electric tools, this meditative hand tool’s time has past. But it remains as a small icon of how to create a mundane object that is fun to use, ergonomically pleasing, and all out of long lasting, indestructible materials.
Article and photos by Sarah Gastler