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L.A.Van Royen Twist Drills and their Grinding

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Rubin06/01/2019 13:34:15
5 forum posts
1 photos

Hi People,

I have been looking for the article by L.A.Van Royen

published in The Model Engineer on 14th August 1913,

Volume 29 - issue 642 - Page 153

I've been trying for years to get a copy from eBay

or digital copy from M.E. all to no avail.

All I want to do is read his article and see what he actually said, as

he's always being referenced, quoted and interpreted.

If anyone has the article and could email me some photo's or scans of it

I would be really greatful.

With thanks... Tim

paul rayner06/01/2019 18:22:30
145 forum posts
40 photos

Hi Tim








Rubin06/01/2019 19:37:59
5 forum posts
1 photos

Hi Paul,

You are a scholar and a gentleman, and I couldn't be more pleased.

Thank you very much, I really appreciate the photo's.

Best regards... Tim

Marcus Bowman06/01/2019 22:20:29
162 forum posts

Once you have digested the Van Royen article, you might like the book by Professor J. Hugel, which the SMEE are currently selling. It was mentioned in ME a few issues ago. It is a much more mathematical analysis but also contains a CD with a useful Excel spreadsheet.

It's entitled: Twist Drills - Geometry and Performance

If you are mathematically inclined, it is well worth reading.


Neil Wyatt08/01/2019 09:18:08
17742 forum posts
698 photos
77 articles

Thanks Paul.

In our defence, the work of scanning 4,500-odd issues, most of which would have to be unbound from larger volumes, to a merchantable standard to provide over a century of back issues is unlikely to pay for itself...

As Marcus suggests, Jorg's book will surely be of interest to you.


DMB08/01/2019 10:37:54
992 forum posts


Could the company not produce books that included all the construction articles of the most important/prolific/interesting writers? Some already done, e.g., Geo. Thomas, certain loco designs by LBSC, boiler designs by K.N. Harris.

I think Duplex has already been covered.

How about some of the older ones like Geo. Gentry? 

Maybe some of the interesting series of articles in one or more books like the long series on loco building by Keith Wilson.

All the various clock designs together.

All stationary beam engines together including Geo. Gentry.

Just a few thoughts on alternatives to scanning everything.


Edited By DMB on 08/01/2019 10:40:37

Andrew Johnston08/01/2019 11:03:02
5425 forum posts
631 photos
Posted by Marcus Bowman on 06/01/2019 22:20:29:

you might like the book by Professor J. Hugel, which the SMEE are currently selling........

I can't find any mention of it on the SMEE website and a general web search doesn't find anything either, so it's going to be difficult to buy?


JasonB08/01/2019 12:26:06
17882 forum posts
1954 photos
1 articles

ME says to contact Norman Billingham at the SMEE office address presumably by snail mail which would be in keeping with the age of the book.

You could also e-mail them if interested, contact details here including e-mail

Andrew, you may still need a postal order, Stamps in an envelope or carrier pigeon as I doubt they are set up for e commercewink 2

Edited By JasonB on 08/01/2019 12:27:34

Andrew Johnston08/01/2019 13:49:35
5425 forum posts
631 photos

Good grief. I wouldn't expect e-commerce, but if they don't even list it on the website they're not likely to sell many copies. And there was me thinking we were in the 21st century. sad

Are postal orders still going? Must be 10+ years since I saw one. Actually I had two; I tried to pay them into a bank in Morpeth along with some cheques. The cashier didn't know what they were. I explained, and said that since they were crossed they needed to be paid into a bank. She had to go and consult a senior (older) menber of staff before accepting them.


Marcus Bowman08/01/2019 19:38:33
162 forum posts

I emailed the Secretary, Norman Billingham, via the website. Norman gave me instructions as to how to pay via bank transfer. The book arrived shortly thereafter. I recognise the text as being based on earlier papers, but the book comes with a CD which contains an accompanying program which has not been available before (or at least for some considerable time). Nicely bound and presented hardback, whcih I am pleased to have in my collection. Did I say you need to love maths? The book takes a different tack to analysing the geometry than the Van Royen article, but geometry has moved on since Euclid and Van Royen.

I have a fairly sizeable collection of different types of device for sharpening drills, and the Van Royen article allowed me to appreciate the geometry of the devices, especially the differences between those which require a drill projection proportional to the diameter, and those which have a fixed projection (like the difference between the Reliance and the Picador sharpeners), as well as admire the way the drill jigs have simplified or transformed the way the drill is presented to the wheel, as is common with many present-day designs.

The Van Royen geometric explanation has been repeated and cited by many writers in ME and related places, over the years. Duplex (Ian Bradley) for example, cited the analysis when he presented the reworked Potts design in ME Nov 1963 onwards (issues 3237, 3239, 3240, 3241, 3242, 3244, 3245, 3246) - ME Plan WE19). Also of interest is Ian Bradley's HoneDrill in ME Nov 1961 Vol 125 beginning with issue 3151) (a nice example of which can be seen on GadgetBuilder's site). Bardley was half of the Duplex team.

There are others of interest, such as the design for sharpening small drills, by 'Inchometer' in ME Oct 25th 1934 pp397; and the Lammas design for a four facet sharpener in ME 5 Dec 1986 and 2 Jan 1987 (although that does not deal with the geometry of conical tips, of course).

There are lots more, but the further away one gets from the Van Royen work, the more tenuous the link becomes.

You might also be interested in the article by Mazoff, freely available on the web. Not a geometric analysis in the style of Van Royen, but some interesting assertions nevertheless.

What I would like to know is: if Van Royen produced an analysis, who devised the original geometry to enable the first accurate tips to be manufactured?


Rubin09/01/2019 00:03:41
5 forum posts
1 photos

Hi Marcus,

I do actually already have Hugel's pdf files & xls sheet, but thanks for the tip.

It was the fact that Hugel left out the potts caliper angle from the paper

that originaly piqued my curiosity, but his 3D cone and parabola view

are beyond my ability to internalise. However I found Van Royen's comment

about viewing the "grind" with a stationary drill and rotating grinder very helpful.

(Much like peeling a potato)

Mattew J. Russel's paper (link below) pretty much nailed the sliding offset

question for me. ( I found it a very lucid explanation.)

I am still digesting at the moment and probably will be for sometime, but i'm

starting to come to the conclusion that there is no such beast as a perfect cone

grind, but if all of the angles & offsets remain adjustable a useful lookup table

could be created for a number sizes and situations.

Regards.. Tim

Rubin09/01/2019 01:46:05
5 forum posts
1 photos


Looking on the net I saw that "Stephen A. Morse" patented the twist drill in 1863, but It didn't

become widely accepted until the advent of high speed steel. But it must have had a fairly sensible

tip geometry in that first patent. But it probably wasn't worth spending a huge amount of time with

exotic geometry if it turned to mush quite quickly.

HSS was patented in 1910.

If the above is true, then Van Royen (1865-1946) is pretty close to the beginning.

The fact that his article was "published" in 1913, and he must have been working

on the problem for some time before being published.

Just some guesses...Tim

Chris Trice09/01/2019 03:49:07
1362 forum posts
9 photos

Logic would suggest that tool steel existed before HSS and that drill geometry could still be finessed when manufactured from that material. Lathe tool angles have remained largely unchanged between tool steel and HSS so presumably the efficiency of the actual cutting shapes still apply.

Michael Gilligan09/01/2019 07:03:21
15501 forum posts
670 photos
Posted by Rubin on 09/01/2019 01:46:05:

Looking on the net I saw that "Stephen A. Morse" patented the twist drill in 1863


Here we go: **LINK**

... it's only two pages.


Norman Billingham09/01/2019 09:52:52
32 forum posts

I still have copies of Jorg's book available and SMEE can accept payment via BACS or Paypal - we don't do enough trade to warrant e-commerce but we are in the 21st century!

I can be contacted via the meetings address at SMEE (meetings AT SM-EE DOT co DOT uk)

The book is quite densely mathematical but maths methods have also moved on since 1913, with the availability of Excel and Maple

Incidentally if you are close enough to London to visit Marshall House, SMEE also has all back issues of ME 


Edited By Norman Billingham on 09/01/2019 09:53:17

Edited By Norman Billingham on 09/01/2019 09:55:12

Andrew Johnston09/01/2019 10:12:09
5425 forum posts
631 photos

Norman: Thanks for the heads up; I'll email this evening when I'm at home. The maths should be no problem; be interesting to see if it uses non-Euclidian geometry as hinted at by Marcus.


SillyOldDuffer09/01/2019 10:37:56
5651 forum posts
1159 photos
Posted by Chris Trice on 09/01/2019 03:49:07:

Logic would suggest that tool steel existed before HSS and that drill geometry could still be finessed when manufactured from that material. Lathe tool angles have remained largely unchanged between tool steel and HSS so presumably the efficiency of the actual cutting shapes still apply.

Agreed. Carbon tool steel has been known for centuries. Good stuff up to a point. Made and heat treated properly it is harder and sharper than most High Speed Steels. For cutting metal it has one massive disadvantage - it loses hardness well below red-heat. It can do serious machine work but needs flood cooling, constant re-sharpening and skilled heat-treatment. In comparison HSS is much less fuss. Although once almost universal in knives, scissors, chisels, saws and razors etc. Carbon tool steel isn't ideal because it corrodes easily, for which reason we often use stainless today.

I suspect for woodworking a good carbon-steel twist-drill would outperform HSS, though HSS would keep it's slightly inferior edge longer. For metalworking, HSS is undoubtedly better. Carbide is the next step in production machining - it's harder and far more heatproof than HSS. Another important advantage of carbide is tool shapes can be accurately formed and mass-produced in moulds, making indexed tooling possible.

For the man who has everything, high performance twist drills are made of carbide. They are a little expensive - about £25 for a single 1.5mm jobber drill, but that won't put you off if only the best will do!


larry phelan 109/01/2019 11:24:29
669 forum posts
24 photos

Yes Postal Orders are still around,over here anyway.Strange to say,there are still a few places which will not accept cash [not many ! ],cheques or cards.

Some years ago when I went to tax my car,an import, I had to present it in person,to the Revenue so that they could check the engine/frame number,ect. and give me a new reg number. For this they charged 100 Euro,but to my surprise,would not accept cash,cheque,or card ! They wanted a good old-fashioned Postal Order,nothing else !

As it happened,the Post Office was just across the road,so I got one there. The Post Office teller was not surprised when I explained what it was for. He said "We gave up years ago trying to understand that shower,they live in a world of their own"

Fast forward a few more years to when Property Tax came along,this time around REVENUE had no problem accepting cards !! Maybe someone turned on the lights. ?

Neil Wyatt09/01/2019 12:41:36
17742 forum posts
698 photos
77 articles
Posted by Andrew Johnston on 08/01/2019 13:49:35:

Good grief. I wouldn't expect e-commerce, but if they don't even list it on the website they're not likely to sell many copies. And there was me thinking we were in the 21st century. sad

Well only 100 have been printed... it's not exactly a pot boiler!

From MEW a few months ago:

"Twist Drills – Geometry and Performance: If you have ever wondered why twist drills have the shapes they do and how to set up a drill grinder to achieve the best shape for a particular purpose, then a new book “Twist Drills – Geometry and Performance” by Jörg Hugel should be on your bookshelf. Jörg is a distinguished emeritus Professor of Electrical Engineering Design at ETH Zurich, and a well-known SMEE member.
The book has 80 pages, in a handsome hardback format. It contains a detailed analysis of the design features required for proper performance of both conventional cone-type drills and those with four-facet geometry. This is followed by a description of methods for accurate measurement of the tip profile of a drill, either directly or from photographic data. There is also a discussion of the advantages and limitations of the main types of grinding machines and jigs. The book is accompanied by a CD of Excel spreadsheets which allow you to calculate
the profile of the drill tip produced by any chosen combination of the various setting angles in the grinding equipment for either type of drill.
Copies are available directly from SMEE. Only 100 have been printed, so supply is limited. The price is £15 in the UK, including first-class postage. For destinations in Europe the cost increases by £3 and for the rest of the world by £5.50, to cover postage charges.
Copies can be ordered via SMEE by emailing, or contact Norman Billingham at Marshall House, 28 Wanless Road, London, SE24 0HW."

Rubin09/01/2019 12:52:28
5 forum posts
1 photos

I have only just realised that the Jig Van Royen describes is actually a "worcester" drill grinder made in the USA. Somewhere along the line the design seems to have been actually ascribed to Van Royen, at least that is the impression I have been under. Below is a more industrial version from 1907.

1907 Image-Washburn Shops, Universal Twist Drill Grinder

1907 image-washburn shops, universal twist drill grinder.jpg

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