The Thick & Thin of Hensley & Gibbs 4 Cavity Handles
©2007 Thomas Dugas
I had always thought that there was just one size of Hensley & Gibbs four cavity handles, until I purchased a #15 George A. Hensley mould off of eBay. When I received the mould I was delighted to see that it was a very early, circa 1938 or so, 4 cavity mould that contained features I had only heard about, but never seen. One of these features was the very early style “woodscrew” style machine screws used to secure the blocks to the handles. Here is a photo of this style of screws:
There are some interesting features of these early style screws. Note that the edges of the flat head slotted screws protrude past the edge of the block. The edges of the flats were milled to contour the screw heads to match the contour of the block, and the screws were marked to indicate which screw went with which hole. In this case, two dots were punched on the block, and in the blue circle in the photo inset you can faintly see two corresponding dots on the screw head. The milling of the screw edges does not match up in this photo, as in using this mould I discovered that I need to keep the screws slightly loose to make the blocks close properly as the handles were not the original handles that came with the mould. Which is how I discovered that thick and thin four cavity Hensley & Gibbs handles exist. Looking through my spare sets of 4 cavity handles, I was surprised to discover that none of my spare handles fit this mould, all the handles were too thick. Here is a comparison photo showing the difference in handle thickness:
Here is another photo showing the measurements:
After this discovery, I examined my collection of 4 cavity moulds and discovered additional sets of thick and thin handles. After studying the issue for awhile, I haven’t made any definitive observations as to when this started, but it appears from my initial observations that the thick 4 cavity handles started about the same time as the thick two cavity handles. I think Wayne Gibbs was attempting to standardize the two and four cavity handles, and I’ve long suspected that thick two cavity handles and thick four cavity handles are interchangeable. This is my next project and another page will appear to reveal what my research has discovered.
The thick handles appear to have started with the last style of markings on the moulds, which is the style that has the serial number stamp.
Here is a photo showing the final style of mould markings (these are thick handles):
As I have stated before, make every attempt to purchase handles with your blocks, as the odds of finding handles that work is always an additional risk.