This is a device for cutting big round "wheels" of cheese. It dates from the 1910s, and would have been used in retail outlets selling cheese. In those days cheese was sold wholesale in big "wheels": round blocks of cheese weighing maybe 70 or 80 lb. (High-end cheese is still sold this way, if you really want to buy that much of it).
A retail customer would ask the counter-clerk for 6 oz of Gorgonzola, and he would pull out one of these big wheels, probably with a segment already cut out for previous customers, and slice off 6 oz.
Problem: how to get exactly 6 oz first time. Customers don't want a couple of little chunks added to make up the weight, and slicing off chunks from what you cut to bring the weight back down is wasteful because nobody wants the scraps. Solution: this machine. It has a lever for setting the original weight of the wheel, and another for the weight the customer wants. A nifty bit of mechanical analogue computer underneath rotates the cheese by exactly the right amount.
In fact, that's how most cheese is made in the first place: in wheels. They can be smaller, like a camembert (about 250 grams), or larger like a gruyere (that's about 40kg) but a cylinder is still the most convenient shape for any cheese harder than a cream cheese. There are some decent quality, usually semi-hard, cheeses made and sold in various kinds of oblongs though. And of course there's processed cheese which usually comes in slices, I guess.
Fellow handle polishers — this guy is probably aware of the danger I’m sure, but it’s easy to forget that getting a rag up near a drill chuck is very risky.
If the rag (or more often with this kind of accident, a glove) gets caught up in the chuck it might wrap your hand and bind it to the shaft and you won’t be able to stop it.
Skip the first... dang... 42 minutes and 30 seconds if you just want to hear about how it works.
I searched the Youtube because I wanted to share the video with my farmers market 'cheese guy'.
He cuts a wheel of cheese with the restored machine in the last 2 minutes and it really is amazing!
Some cheesy pie chart would be fine, too.
With coffee on the blockchain, of course.