Charles H. Norton

Machine Tool Builder

Machine Tool Hall of Fame

Charles H. Norton (1851-1942)

The creator of production grinding was first exposed to grinding at Seth Thomas Clock Works.He joined Brown & Sharpe in 1886 and was assigned to discover the reason for problems with Brown’s universal grinding machine, producing a machine that was heavier but still not capable of using the full width of available wheels. In 1890 he went to Detroit with Henry Leland, and in six years as a partner in Leland, Falconer & Norton (later became Cadillac) he gained experience with production machine tools and the problems of making automobiles. Back at Brown & Sharpe, he designed a plain cylindrical grinder, then wanted to design a heavy machine with wide wheels and high horsepower that could eliminate the final lathe cut before grinding. Unable to sell his ideas, he left and joined the Norton Emery Wheel Co. (whose founder was no relation) where he proceeded to develop production grinding machines that proved critical to the development of the automobile industry The machines made plunge cuts and had micrometer movements so parts could be ground to specified sizes on a production basis.

Elected 1990