Simplifying complexity

Spread the love

Joseph Rogers Brown was born January 26, 1810 in Warren R.I. He followed his father David into the clock making business and operated the business himself from 1841 to 1853. Brown proved to be a talented problem solver and innovator. He invented a precision gear cutter in 1855 to produce clock gears, a universal milling machine in 1862 and a universal grinding machine in 1877. He also refined the micrometer caliper and developed the Vernier caliper. The modern versions of those measuring tools may be the most widely used instruments in manufacturing today.

In 1853 Joseph formed a partnership with a business leader and visionary named Lucien Sharpe. Lucien was noted for his efforts in seeking improved working conditions for laborers. Among other responsibilities he served as President of the Providence Journal Company for thirteen years. The Providence Journal remains one of New England’s leading news organizations to this day. As is often the case, the combination of pragmatic problem solver and visionary idealist proved to be very powerful. Brown and Sharpe thrived and became a leading producer of industrial machines and measurement devices.


One of Joseph Brown’s 1860s inventions was a modified lathe to cut spirals in metal materials. The machine was dubbed a screw machine and patented in 1865. Joseph Brown passed away in 1876 and the screw machine department was taken over by Oscar J. Beale who continued the legacy of innovation. Amongst other developments Beale added a cam system to the screw machine and invented the automatic screw machine in 1880. The automatic screw machine would allow fast and inexpensive production of fasteners and other machined components which in turn would help the United States through two world wars and a rise to world superpower. In 1951 Henry D Sharpe Jr assumed responsibility for Brown and Sharpe from his father and placed a focus on mass producing automatic screw machines and marketing them for use in a variety of manufacturing applications. Brown and Sharpe automatic screw machines became so ubiquitous that a few of them found their way to Jackson, Wyoming in the mid-1950s to help Teton Machine Company serve manufacturers in Utah and the western United States.



About the same time Joseph Brown was working on machines and measuring tools that would revolutionize American manufacturing Jakob Schweizer was struggling to produce smaller and smaller watches and clocks in Bienne, Switzerland. One of the issues Jakob faced was deflection. As parts and raw materials became smaller the pressure of a tool working the surface became more likely to deflect the material or cause vibration compromising quality. Jakob is credited with inventing the sliding head stock and guide bushing. Those innovations allow a lathe to hold tooling very near the collet and feed bar stock into the machine as features are being produced. This method proved to be extremely successful and the Swiss reputation for accurate clocks and watches was born.

Logical development

A few years before Henry D Sharpe Jr. began guiding the Brown and Sharpe company to mass produce automatic screw machines John Parsons and Frank Stulen were seeking to capitalize on the burgeoning helicopter industry in Traverse City, Michigan. At the time helicopter rotor blades were constructed of wooden stingers attached to a metal spar with a combination of spot welding and screws that proved to be problematic and unreliable. Solving that problem required inventing a machine that could cut the complex stringer shape from metal instead of wood. Stulen’s brother who worked at Curtis Wright Propeller introduced them to a method of performing engineering calculations with punch cards and a computing machine. Parsons and Stulen adapted the method to guide a machine tool and CNC machining was born.


Today Teton Machine Company stands on the shoulders of these giants. From our Brown and Sharpe automatic screw machine beginnings in Jackson, Wyoming to our current facility in Payette, Idaho operating CNC mills, CNC lathes and CNC Swiss machines we have benefited from the application of these concepts. The CNC Swiss Machines we operate combine the repeatability and speed Joseph Brown built into his screw machine, the sliding head stock and guide bushing developed by Jacob Schweizer that made Swiss watch accuracy famous and the CNC controls originally developed by Parsons and Stulen. The modern refined version of those concepts combined with sub spindles, live tooling and multi-axis movement allow us to produce very complex parts with extremely tight tolerances quickly, efficiently and very cost effectively. We’re honored and thankful to utilize the latest technology from Marubeni Citizen-Cincom to produce components for the aerospace industry, the medical device industry, the gas and oil industry and many others.

Teton machine - machining services

If your business would benefit from fast and efficient parts manufacture with repeatable results to very tight tolerances please reach out to us. We would appreciate the opportunity to contribute to your success.

Located in Payette, Idaho, Teton Machine provides a wide range of precision machining services for leading companies across the United States. As an employee-owned company, all of us have a vested interest in providing the highest quality service in our industry. Companies who work with us recognize and appreciate this commitment, which has played a major role in our ongoing growth. 

Whether you need CNC milling, CNC turning, Swiss machining, product consulting, or are unsure what machining process best suits you, we’d love to hear from you. We know and understand manufacturing, and will be happy to share our industry knowledge with you.


Please like or Share our article

Spread the love
Scroll to Top