Albert D. Goodell's 1873 Chuck

One July 29, 1873, Albert D. Goodell was issued United States Letters Patent No. 141,345 for a drill chuck fitted with jaws loosely attached to a bow spring. The idea behind the design was to allow the jaws enough flexibility to grip round, square, flat and tapered shanks. The flexibility was especially important to breast drill users who were likely to use their tool for drilling both wood and metal. Round-shanked Morse twist bits were increasingly preferred for work with iron and drills and traditional square-shanked bits for wood. Two variants of the chuck—each incorrectly stamped with a patent date of June 10, 1873—have appeared. The chucks were out of production by the early 1880s, if not sooner.

Type a

Although these chucks have been labeled a and b, the labels do not imply a chronology, and it's possible that both were in production at the same time. The type a chuck is the one illustrated in the Millers Falls catalogs and the one more frequently observed. The ends of the bow spring are doubled back to hold the jaws in place, and the shape of the of the jaws is similar to that depicted in the patent drawings. When the chuck is assembled, it looks much like a standard Barber Improved model, and inattentive observers tend to misidentify it. The lubrication hole drilled into the shell is not typical of the Barber Improved Chuck and can serve as an invitation for a closer look.

Type b

The type b chuck is the more uncommon of the two and somewhat of a mystery. The extra machining required to produce the socket would have made it more expensive to produce. The jaws are not fastened to the bow spring but simply fit into holes drilled into their ends. When the chuck is disassembled, they are prone to falling to the floor and getting lost. Although the chuck functions at least as well as the type a, its obvious disadvantages may explain its relative scarcity.

Photos by author.

Patent drawings

These drawings formed part of Goodell's application for a patent for his chuck. They illustrate two of the several ways that its jaws could grasp a bit. The illustrations have been modified to improve legibility.