Hulot’s ‘Twin Press’ for a Workbench


Five years after the 1770 publication of “L’ Art Des Expériences” by Jean-Antoine Nollet, came M. Hulot’s “L’art du tourneur mécanicien,” an influential book among turners especially.

In it, Hulot describes a “twin press” for a workbench in some detail. Jeff Burks offers this translation on what Hulot wrote about the press.

XI. Description of a press that is attached to the side of the joiner’s workbench; & which serves to hold the wood while we prepare it for turning.

AB, fig. 11, same Plate, represents a twin Press that attaches to the side of the Joiner’s workbench: it is about 3 or 4 feet long, two inches thick, and 4 to 5 inches wide; make 2 holes entirely through [the bar], through which pass all united, without threading, the wood screws C or D c d, fig 12; the ends of the screws D, enter into a threaded hole in the side, and in the middle of the thickness of the workbench Pl. 31, fig. 5. (Editor’s note: the twin press is not visible in this plate.) The nut  E G F is tapped, and rotates freely on the screw; the middle of the nut G is left thicker than the ears E F, e f, fig. 11 & 12, so that these ears do not rub on the bar A B. G E F, c D, fig. 11, represents the screw and nut seen in perspective; Figure 12 shows the same screw and nut in profile: I, represents the end of the bar A B. It is an accepted usage in drawing and engraving that wood seen by their end are marked with two diagonal lines, as we see them here.

This Press is very convenient for holding workpieces that we can not put in a vice (étau); the large gap that exists between the two holes through which pass the screws, gives the freedom to place parts of large diameter: it is easily seen that the side of the workbench forms one side of the Press, & the bar A B makes the second. We will have the opportunity to speak often about it in the subsequent portion of this work.

This press is remarkably similar to Nollet’s vise (check it out here), with the exception of the length of the screws. Nollet’s screws look at least 2’ long. If I made one of these twin presses (and I probably will), I’m likely to make the screws similar to Hulot’s, which are shown about 8 pounces (French inches) long.

Next up: More unusual German workbenches.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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2 Responses to Hulot’s ‘Twin Press’ for a Workbench

  1. joelkevinjones says:

    Is it me, but are plates 1 and 3 fold outs that weren’t completely scanned?

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