Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 23

Thread: Historical Treatises: No Mention of Clamps?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Tokyo, Japan
    Posts
    433

    Historical Treatises: No Mention of Clamps?

    Reading Historical Treatises -- weather in the context of Reenactment, HEMA, or Woodworking, is something of a hobby of mine. I like to know how things were done in the past.

    And, it occurred to me after reading a few on woodworking:

    No mention is made of clamps -- at least, not that I have come across.

    There are, of course, vises and holdfasts. But using auxillery clamps, or clamping while gluing up, doesn't seem to be mentioned.

    Am I missing anything? Or did they simply not rely on them to the same extent that we do in modern times?

  2. #2
    I know they had more ways to use wedges than you could count, Luke. Could that have been a substitute?

    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    2,457
    What period are you talking about? I seem to remember some big panel clamps in Roubo, 18th century. Should have to look it up though.

    But I do think they typically didn't have those gigantum clamping racks you see in the modern shop. They did have different techniques:

    - The rub joint. No need for a clamp if the hideglue acts as a kind of a clamp itself.
    - Drawboring for all mortise and tenon construction
    - Rope tricks. You still see this used for example in Japanese furniture making.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    2,457
    Felibien!

    Felibien clamps.jpg
    Nr. E, left in the background.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Tokyo, Japan
    Posts
    433
    Quote Originally Posted by Kees Heiden View Post
    What period are you talking about? I seem to remember some big panel clamps in Roubo, 18th century. Should have to look it up though.

    But I do think they typically didn't have those gigantum clamping racks you see in the modern shop. They did have different techniques:

    - The rub joint. No need for a clamp if the hideglue acts as a kind of a clamp itself.
    - Drawboring for all mortise and tenon construction
    - Rope tricks. You still see this used for example in Japanese furniture making.
    I'll have to take a look at Roubo again, I guess. To be fair, I haven't thoroughly read all of the treatises just yet -- I skimmed through Moxon and Roubo, stopping on the parts that piqued my interest. Also reading a few lesser known works, such as "The Boy Joiner & The Model Maker".

    Interesting point on "rope tricks". I've seen brief snippets of this, but never anyone showing or talking about the technique or how to execute it. I saw one person using wedges in combination with ropes, and another using what I thought was some kind of elastic band, but may have been mistaken. This seems like something potentially quite useful to know, as I always am finding myself lacking a clamp in the right size and place.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    2,457
    I don't have much time now, but when you go to youtube and find yourself some video of a Japanese box maker or furniture maker, you most probably see them using rope to press parts together for glueups.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    2,457
    There is a ropetrick in this picture. Look how the beam is clamped to one of the poles of the resawing contraption. They use a toggle to draw the rope tight.

    Wierix.jpg

  8. #8
    This picture from Felibien (1676) shows three types of clamp.
    felibien dbl screw.jpeg
    The one on the left is called a crochet or sergent; the movable arm would have worked by being canted enough to provide a wedging action.

    The one in the middle would have been one of a pair of estraignoirs. One could put a pair of boards in the in these and hold them tight for edge gluing by adjusting the upper pin and using wedges and battens. This is also illustrated in Roubo (1769). I made a pair in 1979 and used them for a while but they do not work as easily as a pair of clamps.

    The one on the right is called presses de bois. This style is called a double screw by Moxon a few years later. Sort of a forerunner of what we call handscrews today.

    Clamps would not have made a high priority list in the 18th century. Edge joints were routinely made my rubbing hot hide glue. Dovetails and mortise and tenon can certainly be made with no clamps. Eighteenth century cabinetmakers could make a sophisticated piece of furniture with no clamps at all. Hide glue was a part of that equation.

    Kees posted while I was getting my illustration together.
    Last edited by Warren Mickley; 08-28-2018 at 9:59 AM.

  9. #9
    Here is Roubo's pair of etreignoirs. The spelling changed more in a century than did the clamps.

    roubo etreignoirs.jpeg

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    2,457
    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Mickley View Post
    Kees posted while I was getting my illustration together.
    But you added a lot of interesting info. Thanks.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Posts
    207
    Yes, Warren did add interesting info. I was also intrigued by the comment of the Moxon vise being the forerunner of handscrews. As I use a pair of wooden twin screw cabinet makers clamps, in place of a Moxon.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    US Virgin Islands
    Posts
    3,285
    Blog Entries
    6
    As others have stated, they used a lot of rope/twine with a toggle to twist the rope tight or wedges to wedge it tight, or both. There were also springboards that would be wedged against the piece and the ceiling or a wall. This was used by luthiers for gluing tops, and I want to say I saw a plate from Roubo, but it may have been elsewhere, showing springboards in use. I have used this method in boatbuilding, and have seen it used in building traditional clinker boats with boards sprung from ceilings, walls, and even screwed to floors and sprung.

    I don't know how long ago they started using them, but lapstrake boatbuilders have for a long time used a type of "C" Clamp where you have a slot cut in a piece of wood. The wood slips over the strake, and a wedge is driven to draw the strake up to the previous strake. That evolved into a type of "C" Clamp that is hinged on one end, and has a screw that draws the two pieces together. Another version is the slotted piece of wood with a cam on one end that is lifted to draw the two together.

    I think since hide glue was the preferred glue, a lot of furniture builds were done one piece at a time and held while the glue cured, or the joint itself locked the piece together without need for clamps. I'm not saying this was the way it was always done, but I'm saying perhaps there was less need for clamps with hide glue.

  13. #13
    I bet they didn’t use them as much as we do now because the glues didn’t need extended clamping.

    Hide glue sets really fast. REALLY fast.... The challenge when using animal glues is to keep the joint warm for long enough so you have sufficient time to get the clamps set and tightened before it sets.. It’s nothing like Titebond which requires a couple hours to dry enough to handle the piece much less 24hr epoxies which require clamping for a day.

    The challenge is getting your act together to get it all put together fast enough in 1 try so you don’t have a glue joint set while it’s half assembled.... Because if you move too slow - you end up sawing apart a messed up joint.

    In that regard - it’s almost like gluing stuff with superglue where “clamps” are more often used to prevent the pieces from shifting during glue up...
    Last edited by John C Cox; 08-28-2018 at 1:52 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    20,307
    Blog Entries
    1
    Did someone mention rope tricks?

    Quite a few lend themselves to wood working.

    Much of my learning about rope and knots can be traced back to The Ashley Book of Knots.

    This book was published in the U.S. then reprinted by a pirate press overseas. It is now available online as a .pdf:

    https://www.liendoanaulac.org/space/...Book_Knots.pdf

    One clamping knot many woodworkers are familiar with is the windlass. It is what tightens the frame on so many wooden frame bow saws.

    Another knot that can come in handy is the clove hitch:

    Clove Hitch on Octagon.jpg

    Here it is holding an octagon during gluing. In use with the clove hitch is a truckers hitch:

    Octagon Rope Trick.jpg

    It isn't real clear in the image. The truckers hitch makes a loop in the rope to allow the rope to be leveraged against it self. It could be called a multiplier knot since it exerts more pull on the rope than a straight pull would create.

    Used this way it also tightens the grip of the clove hitch. The other end of the rope is held securely in the tail vise.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  15. #15
    I'm sure pinch-dogs have been around a long time. I've bought some, and made some from flat bar stock.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •