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2001/85/1-1 Mouse trap making machine, metal / wood, AW Standfield and Co, Mascot, New South Wales, Australia, 1925-2000. Click to enlarge.

'Supreme' mouse trap making machine

This mouse trap making machine is part of the Museum's Standfield collection of trap-making machines and associated items which are an unusual, indeed curious, ensemble of purpose-built machines and products that defined an Australian industry for sixty years.

The collection exemplifies a 'making do' approach to manufacturing in that the machines were built from secondhand parts from a range of sources; it also exemplifies the notion of technological stasis in that the machines were always …


Object No.


Object Statement

Mouse trap making machine, metal / wood, AW Standfield and Co, Mascot, New South Wales, Australia, 1925-2000

Physical Description

The mouse trap making machine is made from a variety of metal and electronic components, painted white for framework and left plain for working parts. The machine can be divided into two segments consisting of the mouse trap assembly line and the spring and hammer making mechanism.

The front section of the machine features the assembly line from right to left. This section contains an intricate series of levers, pulleys and gears which feed the wooden mouse trap platforms through the production line. On the right is the platform feeder, filled with wooden platforms. From here the bases are pressed in a stamper, leaving the imprint, 'Supreme / MOUSE TRAP / MADE IN AUSTRALIA' on the top. The next phase involves the the catch or baiter and the holding bar both being stapled on to the platform. Once through this process, there is an open section in the centre for a worker to manually attach the spring and hammer device to the mousetrap and then place the traps back in the conveyor channel. The traps then pass through a plane or sander to remove any points on the base, and the process is complete. The power switch for this portion of the machine is positioned just below the sander, with a speed switch also present in the machines centre. On each side of the production line segment are different coils of metal, for each of the components used in constructing the mouse traps. Each of the coils is labelled with different specifications, based on their thickness, with some spare coils placed underneath. A counter, in a red casing, can be seen in the centre of the machine, indicating the number of traps which have been processed. Above the counter are two lamps, plugged into a powerboard at the top of the machine, for providing additional light in the dark workshop.

The back section is designed with the specific purpose of constructing the spring and hammer mechanism for the traps. This section also works like a production line with two sets of metal coils, suspended on metal poles, on the right and left sides of the machine. The wires are fed through a set of gears, pulleys and levers, which bend, coil and shape the wire to create the spring and hammer. The finished product reaches the end of the production line and is released down a slide or ramp, into a white tray at the front of the main production line for the worker to retrieve. A power switch can be found on the right side of this section

At the front of the machine is a black and white image of Arnold Wesley Standfield woking on the machine, with the final mousetrap that the machine made stuck to the front. A number of finished and half finished mousetraps as well plain platforms can be found on a wooden shelf on the machines right.



1950 mm


2470 mm


1500 mm


830 kg



Formal patent applications were taken by Arnold Wesley Standfield for the 'Westan' all metal rodent trap, and the Kyogle cow-tail clip. The patent documents are supplemented with schematic designs, which illustrate the operational requirements of the products. Interestingly, no formal machine design or patent was ever taken on Standfield's principal item, namely, the mouse-trap machine. The Standfield archives hold the patent applications for the 'Westan' mouse trap and Kyogle cow-tail clip, as well as other documentary accounts of these items.

The machines, traps, and the cow-tail clip, were entirely the creations of Arnold Wesley Standfield (1901-1990), the founder of A.W. Standfield and Co., 'Supreme' Mouse and Rat Traps. His sons Dave and Ron Standfield assisted their father with the repair and maintenance of the machines, and the sons became the owners and managers of the firm upon the death of their father. Knowledge of the machines and its products was passed to the sons by their father, and in turn they passed on knowledge and skill to long-term employees of the firm.

A.W. Standfield made the machine from wheels, gears and pieces of metal taken from scrapped machines he found in scrap-iron yards around Sydney. Although Standfield had no formal training in machining or associated trades, his accomplishment does suggest that he had an innate ability to build production machines. In a single operation, a mouse trap can be assembled in 1.5 seconds. The standard production rate is "over 1,000 traps per hour" ('Mouse-Trap Making Machine', n.d. probably composed by A.W. Standfield, Standfield archives).

The machine was made over a two-year period (1942-1943) and the first traps 'came off' the machine on 7 January, 1944. The machine is as it was first made, although broken and worn parts have been replaced over the years.

The machine itself makes all parts, and, as mentioned above, assembles a trap in 1.5 seconds. In operational terms, four strands of staple wire are fed, straightened, cut off, folded and driven into the base of the trap. The machine grounds off protruding staple ends. It feeds, straightens, cuts off, and forms into a trigger, wire of 3" (76.2mm) length of 17 gauge wire, which was supplied by BHP. The machine staples the trigger wire to the pine base.

The machine makes and assembles the bait holder. The machine selects the length of steel for the bait-holder, cuts it, punches and forms the steel into the bait holder and affixes the holder (under the staple) to the pine base.

The machine feeds, straightens, and cuts off 18" (457.2mm) of 17 gauge spring wire and forms this as the mouse-trap spring. In the process, the wire is turned and bent 23 times at varying degrees to make a spring.

The mouse-trap machine pushes the piece of pine along a slot and brands the base.

The machine turns the spring ends. The spring is fed through and stapled by hand to the base. This operation completes the assembly of a mouse trap.

The 'Westan' Mouse Trap was not made on the mouse-trap machine. The 'Westan' was Standfield's first mouse trap and it was patented in 1926. At that time, A.W. Standfield was living at 57 Baxter Road, Mascot, his factory was much smaller, and all production of the 'Westan' trap was manual rather than machine based. Production of the 'Westan' was limited, although the production numbers remain unknown. Nevertheless, the claimed advantages of the 'Westan' were: (1) it was everlasting, being made of metal; (2) a finger-hole, provided at the base, made setting safe and simple; even a child could operate it without danger; (3) it could be sterilised without fear of damage to the trap; (4) the mouse is released by unhooking ends of spring from 'L' slot; (5) a double spring was fitted, and was not found on any other trap; (6) it will not turn over when the rodent is trapped, thus avoiding a blood-stained floor; (7) an improved two-prong bait-holder was fitted; (8) the neat, rounded finishes were not so apt to frighten the timid mouse.

How is a standard mouse-trap made? The basic principles are as follows. The entire assembly of springs and trigger is placed on a Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) rectangular base. Hoop Pine was a widely used Australian soft wood, finding applications in joinery, butterboxes, shelving, flooring, plywoods, and veneers.

The Hoop pine was delivered by road transport from timber mills on the far North Coast of New South Wales and Gympie, Queensland. Each delivery comprised about 20,000 feet, which weighed about 20 tonne. The timber was re-sawn to the required width and thickness and the surfaces were dressed by a four-headed planing machine. A docking saw was then used to cut the timber to the exact length. At the same time, the bases were manually sorted for quality and defective pieces were discarded. The bases were then stacked on trays.

The first stage of assembly had the operator place the base in the magazine of the stapling machine. When the clutch of the machine was activated by the operator, a striker or hammer pushes the bottom base from the magazine to stage 1, where the name is stamped on by an electrically heated brand. At the next operation of the clutch this base is moved to Stage 2 by the action of the next base coming under the brand.

At Stage 2, the four staples are formed from four separate coils of wire and driven into the base. At the same time the tail-wire is manufactured from a fifth coil of wire and automatically placed in the exact position directly under the appropriate staple. The bait-holder is made from a coil of strip metal and is also placed automatically under the wide staple.

The next move brings the trap to the position of the operator, who inserts the spring through the staples on each side of the base. The trap then moves to the next position where the protruding end of the spring is folded under. The assembled mouse trap then drops onto a conveyor belt, which carries it to the packing table where they are packed into cardboard boxes and delivered (truck and train) to retail outlets.

Cite this Object


'Supreme' mouse trap making machine 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 13 May 2021, <https://ma.as/350480>


{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/350480 |title='Supreme' mouse trap making machine |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=13 May 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}