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Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park
Woodworking Shop

Woodworking Shop Thomas Edison’s skilled woodworkers made models, parts of scientific apparatus, and patterns for metal castings of machine parts in the Woodworking Shop. Using traditional hand tools and a few simple hand- or foot-powered machines, they made the small wooden object needed by Edison’s laboratory operation. The woodworking shop is an illustration of Edison's reliance on traditional crafts to turn his fantastic ideas into realities.

In the center of the shop sits parts of the Combination Gas Machine from Detroit, Michigan. This apparatus provided
Woodworking Shop - Menlo Park illuminating gas used in the laboratory’s gas lights, Bunsen burners, and furnaces. A large copper drum was rotated by a cable attached to a large weight. Air trapped in the drum was combined with gas from an outside tank to create the illuminating gas.

Edison purchased the Combination Gas Machine in June 1877, but the delivery of the machine was delayed by that summer’s great railroad strike. The strike reminded Edison and his workers that transforming America into an industrial nation would be a difficult and conflict-ridden process.

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