Cyrus Durand was born in 1787, in Essex County, New Jersey. His grandfather moved from France to Connecticut in 1750. When he was seventeen, Cyrus began to make silver spoons by casting the silver in ingots and forging them. He also started to make tools for clock manufacturing.
In 1808 when Durand married and British embargo was laid on all trade, John Taylor, a president of one of the Newark banks, advised him to make a turning-lathe for jewelry. In 1814 Durand moved to Newark and was engaged in silversmithing. Local factories were booming so Durand started to build machines for spinning and carding. He made a machine for ruling straight and wave lines for bank notes. The next year he made two other machines: one for making water marks, and the other for plain ovals that may be regarded as the beginning of a series of his geometrical lathes mahines.
In 1823 Cyrus moved to New York and entered into a partnership with C. C. Wright, in a bank-note engraving. In 1824 Cyrus invented the geometrical lathe, by which was able to cut circles and ovals. In 1846 he invented the routing machine for cutting figures on type-metal rollers for oil-cloth printing.
Durand has been occupied in bank-note engraving, and in improving the geometrical lathe. He has produced several machines that were capable of producing a great variety of figures.