This article was written for the Maker's Atelier Magazine 2018
When I first had the idea to launch Beyond Measure, I knew I wanted to find the best and most desirable tools for makers. A few weeks after launching, some of my customers started to ask if I stocked the Japanese Screw Punch. It seemed that this particular tool had achieved a kind of mythical status among makers, particularly paper artists and bookbinders.
Intrigued, I decided to do some research and it led me to the Nonaka Manufacturing Company in Japan, creators and still the manufacturers of this wondrous product. Founded by Kijyuro Nonaka in 1908, the company originally produced various machine parts and thread winding systems for sewing machines. In 1972, a friend of the company president requested that they develop a hole punch that was soundless. The friend was a tailor and felt his hammer and metal punch made too much noise, especially if working at night. After a period of development, the product was successfully launched in 1976 and was nicknamed the Screw Punch. It was revolutionary as it used a torque action to punch a clean hole through paper, fabric and leather, using minimum effort and with little noise. You simple position the punch wherever you desire, hold it vertically and press down with the tactile wooden handle. Voila, a beautiful, crisp hole. The punch waste builds up inside the brass head and empties itself when full through a small channel. Simple but perfect.
Fast forward nearly 40 years and the Screw Punch still maintains the original design. Various interchangeable bits are now available, from 1mm to 5mm, which offer amazing flexibility and possibilities for using the punch. I have sold many over the last 6 years and am always delighted to discover how people plan to use theirs. Some use them for paper and bookbinding, others for felt and fabric. It is ideal for punching holes for eyelets and rivets when making bags or jeans. One artist uses it to create patterns and stitching holes in birch bark. The punch works well in fine leather too, and I was thrilled to see how Frances of the Maker’s Atelier has used it to create a brogue effect on her designs – what an amazing way to customize your clothing.Image by Bethany Hobbs for The Maker's Atelier
My own favourite use is to create dart points and markings when tracing or drafting paper patterns for clothes, but I am sure that there are 100 other uses for this beautiful little machine.
Nonaka lost the patent for the Screw Punch in 1992 and as a result, there are many cheap imitations on the market but the original Nonaka punch is streets ahead of the competition. This is not a cheap piece of kit but it is built to last. You won’t regret investing in a Screw Punch, this is a tool that will last you a lifetime – good design and quality manufacturing will always win through and my many hole punching customers will testify to that.
The original Japanese Screw Punch is available here