The Wonders of Industry (1873-1877)

the wonders of industry

“Les merveilles de l’industrie, ou description des principales industries modernes”, Louis Figuier (1873-1877). The 4-volume book is in French, but the engravings are indeed wonderful: Part 1 (750 pages), Part 2 (736 pages), Part 3 (687 pages) & Part 4 (744 pages). A sample of the illustrations of part one and four can be found here and here. Below: salt mines in Wieliska, Poland (extra large illustration). Related: Three thousand pages of 19th century technology.

Primitive Technology Handbook

primitive technology handbookPrimitive Ways makes use of the internet to teach us the lost knowledge of our Stone Age ancestors: making fire, tools, weapons, cooking utensils, musical instruments, shelters, and much more.

Not everything is that useful in the 21st century, but the site contains a wealth of information and many of the diy-projects sure look like fun. Moreover, they also combine traditional skills with modern materials, like in this four-hour kayak. Some articles are extremely short, but very useful – see the Inuit Thimble, for example.

Primitive Ways is also available as a book or a dvd, but all information is freely accessible on the website. Articles also appeared in the “Bulletin of Primitive Technology”, a print magazine from the Society of Primitive Technology.

Another good resource is “Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills“, available on Amazon. Update: “The origins of invention: a study of industry among primitive peoples“.

Three Thousand Pages of 19th Century Technology

The manufacture of money The “Dictionary of arts, manufactures, and mines containing a clear exposition of their principles and practice” by Andrew Ure (and many others) is a 3,000 page illustrated encyclopedia packed with useful technical and statistical
information relating to industrial development in the nineteenth

The paper version can be yours for a mere € 1,248 (or $ 1,760, including a discount), but the Internet Archive has made the entire seventh edition (published in 1875) available for free: Volume 1 (A-C), Volume 2 (D-I), Volume 3 (J-Z). Some volumes of earlier editions can be found at Google Books.

Illustration on the left: the manufacturing of money (see “Mint”).

Related: The wonders of industry (1873-1877).

Online Multimedia Museum of Machine Motion

steam turbine

Reader Mathew Lippincott (check out his mutoscope) points us to Kinematic Models for design (KMODDL), an open access, multimedia resource for learning & teaching about kinematics and the history & theory of machines.

The core of this wonderful museum is the Reuleaux collection of mechanisms and machines, a set of 19th century models built to demonstrate the elements of machine motion (more collections here). Also of interest are the tutorials and this extensive list of online references.

KMODDL also has 3D-printable models (see the multimedia section) and some of these have stereolithography files. They can be viewed with Meshlab. Thank you, Mathew!

507 Mechanical Movements (1908)

507 mechanical movements

507 Mechanical Movements, embracing dynamics, hydraulics, hydrostatics, pneumatics, steam engines, mill and other gearing, presses, horology, and miscellaneous machinery, and including many movements never before published, and several which have only recently come into use“. Henry T. Brown, 1908. Via Doug Berch.

How To Make Everything Yourself – Online Low-Tech Resources

how to make everything yourself

Energy Bulletin pointed us to the website of Practical Action (previously known as the Schumacher Centre for Technology & Development), an online resource devoted to low-technology solutions for developing countries. The site hosts many manuals that can also be of interest for low-tech DIYers in the developed world. They cover energy, agriculture, food processing, construction and manufacturing, just to name some important categories.

WoodworkingWe would like to add to this the impressive online library put together by software engineer Alex Weir. The 900 documents listed here (13 gigabytes in total) are not as well organised and presented as those of Practical Action, but there is a wealth of information that is not found anywhere else. The library is also hosted here (without search engine).

Energy saving cooker Other interesting online resources that offer manuals and instructions are Appropedia, Howtopedia and Open Source Ecology. These are all wiki’s, so you can cooperate. The Centre for Alternative technologies has many interesting manuals, too, but the majority of those are not for free. Previously: The museum of old techniques / A do-it-ourselves guide.