My Favourite Tool: Alberto Campagnolo’s Japanese screw punch

The Japanese do it better! Starting from the very first days of my book conservation training, every time we were introduced to a new tool it became clear to us that when there was a Japanese version of the same, the latter would work much better – no matter how weird it might have looked at first sight: from Japanese saws that, unlike their European counterparts, cut on the pull stroke, to the elegant and clever Japanese Screw Punch.

The Screw Punch, a fast and efficient hole puncher, was invented in 1976 (and patented in 1977) by Mr. Nonaka Kiichi (野中機一) of the Nonaka Manufacturing Company Ltd, who named it Screwpunch (スクリューポンチ). Unlike conventional punches, which have to be (noisily!) hammered in order to produce the desired holes in the material, the Japanese Screw Punch makes holes through controlled torque force, silently and efficiently as downward pressure causes the bit to spin, thus drilling a hole. With just one handle, one can make a variety of different-sized holes (1mm to 5mm Ø), since the tips come in varying sizes and are removable and interchangeable.

My classmates and I were introduced to this tool by Christopher Clarkson during his limp vellum binding class. It was the first conservation tool I ever bought (besides the basic kit inherited from the conservation course), and one that I keep using, even beyond conservation jobs.

Alberto Campagnolo trained as a book conservator at the Foundation for the Preservation and Conservation of Library Materials in Spoleto (PG) Italy. He has worked as a conservator in a number of institutions, including the National Museum Wales, the Guildhall Library and the London Metropolitan Archives, and the Vatican Library. He is now turning Digital Humanist (but still loves and uses his Japanese Screw Punch!).

Have you got your own favourite tool? Then tell us and the rest of The Gathering’s followers all about it! Just drop us a line with either a finished piece or your preliminary idea, plus a photo or two, and we’ll be happy to share the love.

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