Raising, Shearing And Pressing

Raising The Nap

In the cloth dresser’s workshop, the piece of cloth was hung over a perch

A teasel hand

 (bar). The surface of the cloth was brushed using handles of teasels thus raising the nap of the cloth. A handle was a wooden, cross shaped hand tool which held several fullers’ teasels (Dipsacus fullonum). Cleaning and repairing the handles was done by the preemer, usually a boy. One cloth would be raised and sheared several times. A mechanised teasel gig was developed and introduced into this area by 1770. The museum has a full size teasel gig on display.

Raising the nap by hand

A teasel gig
 Shearer

After the cloth had been brushed to raise the nap using handles of teasels,

Hand shearing

 the piece of damp cloth passed to the shearman. This very skilled man was  able to shear the cloth by cutting off all the very fine fibres which had been raised by the teasels. He used a huge, heavy set of shears on a table with a curved top. One blade of the shears remained still and the other was pulled towards it by the shearman, helped by a wooden lever. One piece of cloth took many hours to finish. In 1677, the shearman earned 6 shillings a week.

The shears weighed 30 pounds, 14 kg, (shears did come in different weights) and were ground to a fine edge. The first cut was called the kerf after which the cloth was raised again and sheared again until the right finish was obtained. When Arthur P Stancomb started his business in 1841, hand raising and shearing was still common in Trowbridge.

George Lansdown with a pair of hand shears

After the cloth had been brushed to raise the nap using handles of teasels, the piece of damp cloth passed to the shearman. This very skilled man was able to shear the cloth by cutting off all the very fine fibres which had been

A powered shearing machine

 raised by the teasels. He used a huge, heavy set of shears on a table with a curved top. One blade of the shears remained still and the other was pulled towards it by the shearman, helped by a wooden lever. One piece of cloth took many hours to finish. In 1677, the shearman earned 6 shillings a week.

Presser

Finished cloth was brushed using a flat whisk-like brush. It was then pressed to give the cloth a slight gloss and to set the finished surface. The cloth was carefully folded between sheets of paper or parchment in a screw press. Hot iron plates were inserted to give a smooth finish.

Later, cloth was treated in a blower, a machine with perforated rollers through which steam was blown.

Blowing steam into the cloth using blowers

A selection of shearman's tools. Have a look at the display of finishing tools in the museum