The Nuts of “Ingenious Mechanicks”

While researching “Ingenious Mechanicks” Chris Schwarz and I found many workbenches with face vises and some of them actually had vise nuts.

In the montage above there are selections from paintings from Spain, Italy and what is now present-day Ecuador. As you can see, they range from the basic steering wheel to the curvy hurricane. The nut on the lower left is the shape Chris chose for his Holy Roman/Löffelholz workbench (and he provides the pattern in the book).

My particular favorite is a form that may have originated in Spain and made its way to Spain’s New World colonies: the double-bunny ear. The double-bunny ear provides an easy grip for tighting or loosening the vise.

The top right image is from a 17th-century Spainish painting. The next two vice nuts on the right are late 19th-to-early 20th century from Guatemala and Mexico. The vise nut on the left is of a similar date and also from Mexico.

“Ingenious Mechanicks” explores a multitude of workholding methods early woodworkers devised to enable them to work more easily and efficiently. The book offers the modern woodworker options, including what form or shape you chose for vise nuts.

-Suzanne Ellison

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7 Responses to The Nuts of “Ingenious Mechanicks”

  1. NR Hiller says:

    You are a naughty woman.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Preindustrial Craftsmanship and commented:
    Okay dammit. Now I have to make some of these…


  3. Double bunny ears were known to Roman woodworker’s as “lepus aures duplici” or LADs for short. As in “Give the lads another half a turn.” or “My lads have got stuck.”


  4. Bruce Lee says:

    I came across an illustration of a large ‘hurricane’ nut being used in a grape/olive press. Looks to be from the German parts around Switzerland. It was on Pinterest ( without a direct link, but the reference is:
    Monat September Kunstwerk: Federzeichnung koloriert ; Illustrationszyklus Naturwissenschaft ; Miniatur ; Süddeutsch Dokumentation: 1475 ; 1475 ; Wien ; Österreich ; Wien ; Österreichische Nationalbibliothek ; cod. 3085 ; fol. 8r Anmerkungen: Biblia Pauperum.


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