In the old box presses, cables were used to drag a heavy board, known as the ‘monkey’ down to compress the wool.
The two boxes were filled with the same line of wool (fleeces with closely matching characteristics) then set one on the other. Steel rods or pins, which were inserted through holes to form the base of the top box while it was filled, were then removed, creating one large box .The bale cap was set in place on top of the wool, and the monkey attached over that.
The monkey was dragged down through the top box either by a screw, operating like a capstan, or by cable which wound on to winches by means of long handles, which is generally back-breaking work. When the wool had been compressed into the bottom box, the cap was fastened with short curved pins to retain the wool, and the monkey was removed . The flaps of the bale were drawn across the cap and fastened with sharp, gripping bale fasteners before pins in turn were removed .One side of the bottom box could be removed to roll out the pressed bale ready for branding. After all this is done the wool is distributed to be treated prior to use.