Held in a simple yet historic building in a bucolic Vermont town the American Precision Museum, a collection of machining tools and the under appreciated history of the United States’ devotion to quality through detail.
The American Precision Museum is housed in a building that has stood since 1846 and holds special significance for the collection itself. The building once housed a gun factory and machine tool owned by Richard Lawrence and Samuel Robbins, the two men who were pioneers in the development of repeatable parts, which laid the foundation for the entire machine tool industry.
Their firearms workshop was one of the first to use custom metal lathing machines to create parts so precise that they could be interchangeable, a major advance in not only weaponry but also manufacturing in general. Before too long, machine tools that created the precise custom parts for all manner of machinery were standard kit across the entire country, helping earn America itself a reputation for sturdy, detailed craftsmanship.
Today, the museum housed in the former shop is a celebration of this proud legacy. Countless machining tools are on display, as part of the story of major events in US history – the Civil War, the rise of the US as a manufacturing power in the buildup to the World Wars, and the development of today’s consumer culture.
There are also a number of exquisitely created miniatures showing off just how precise things can get. Summer visitors can see demonstrations on historic machines by high school student interns. Future exhibits will make more connections with advanced manufacturing today.