DIY Large Format Book Press Puts On The Pressure

For those in the audience who aren’t well versed in wrangling dead trees, a large press with a lot of clamping pressure can be used for binding books or printing. It can even be used to squeeze the water out of homemade paper. It’s an important tool for anyone looking to make or repair books, but they also tend to be fairly expensive. Which is why [Paul] decided to make his own.

Despite the preconceived notions you might have about the type of guy who binds his own books, it seems like [Paul] is a rather modern fellow. He actually designed the press in CAD and made many of the parts for it on his CNC router. That’s not strictly required, though we do think cutting out the hole for the monstrous lead screw nut would be a bit tricky if you had to do it by hand. But beyond that, the design is pretty straightforward and the video after the break provides a very clear step-by-step guide on how to build your own.

In the past we’ve seen how a similar, if much smaller, book press can be used to make bound books of all those PDFs littering your computer. These sort of projects are getting more rare in an increasingly paperless world, but we always like to see people keeping the old ways alive. If the revolution comes and we end up needing to publish Hackaday on hand-pressed paper, we’ll know who to call.

12 thoughts on “DIY Large Format Book Press Puts On The Pressure

  1. Nice build, but if you have the money, IMHO you do a lot better with a hydraulic jack than with the lead screw. For small amounts of pressure it does not matter, but if you really want to press something, you will wind up putting a lot of torsion on the vertical rods. With a book press having any twist between the top and bottom may take things out of alignment.

    I got the idea for using a hydraulic jack from my cider press. The top and bottom twisting a bit are not a big issue, but the entire frame twisting is. An inexpensive hydraulic jack keeps everything nice and centered.

    1. Bottle jacks are actually cheaper than decent lead screws. $20 for a few tons vs $40-100+ for a shoulder vise kit or press screw. ($20-30 press screws are also widely available but aren’t capable of much.)

      If anyone’s thinking about it, hydraulic jacks are… a lot more powerful than you need from a book press. On the downside they’re awkward to operate and it takes a long time. A good vice screw will have three or four threads per inch, very fast. Pumping for two or three minutes might not sound all that bad but it would get old quickly. You also have no direct connection through which to gauge pressure and have to rely on your eyes. And most jacks will have about half the extension you’d really want.

      Jacks have revolutionized etching presses and other high pressure studio presses, which used to be prohibitively expensive. They’d be a good option if you can’t afford a shoulder vise kit or if you want more functionality from a single device. It’s amazing that you can make something for a couple day’s wages that can serve as both a casing press (1 psi) and an etching press (10,000+ psi).

  2. Very nicely press. I especially appreciate the debriefing at the end, laying out what could be improved or merely changed in building a similar press. People are so generous with their time!

  3. OK, I’ll be the guy to say it looks pretty but….

    A CNC router handy, and leaving all those hard corners and edges?

    I’m amazed those little Allen screws & collars are rated for the 900 kg load he says they are.

    A bit of a mystery why he embeds that massive nut in that thick laminated slab, leaving just one layer to take up the compression load, and praying the glue holding the laminations together is up to the task (or, rather, the wood itself which will probably yield first). I doubt that kiss of JB-Weld is going to help much.

    1. Hey Paul, thanks for the input, this was my first engineering project/cnc project so I know the design could be improved. Ideally you’d you use all metal but this was the easiest way I could think of to create a nut housing from minimal tools. I wanted to create a press that other could make with basic hand tools.

      I’m a beginner to CNC and I did think about chamfering the edges but my cnc only has a cutting area of 20cmx30cm and I’ve tried to do it in the past by rotating the part around to continue the chamfer but it never comes out good. I suspect I need better work holding which will all be upgraded soon hopefully.

      I might even get round to making another one in the future so will definitely try and do something about the one layer taking up all the load. I was thinking of driving 2 bolts either side of the name plate and bolting them from the bottom. What do you think?

      For bookbinding though you dont need too much pressure and so far its held up fine, even today I’m flattening some tree bark for creating some print textures and im cranking the handle and I dont hear any cracking or see any deflection.

      I added plenty of JB Weld in the inside of the plywood that you cant see in the video, so fingers crossed :)

      1. 2 bolts either side of the name plate and bolting them from the bottom. What do you think?
        Better still: Enlarge the nameplate, put four holes in the corners, have a similar plate on the bottom, with four countersunk screws passing through the whole stackup. The force pushing the nut up through the nameplate will be transferred to the bottom of the stack by the screws, compressing the whole stack of laminations instead of it trying to rip the nameplate off through the single top layer (which is closer to half a thickness after you’ve milled out the pocket).

        So instead of a ghost-like wish of 6 millimeters of wood (half the top layer) under tension holding the thing together, you’ll have the strength of the whole stack under compression, albeit compromised by how skinny that compression bar is and little thickness of wood is left along the sides of the nut.

  4. I have scored an old office chair with a central metal screw and large nut on it for adjusting the height. I am planning to put the nut below the four legged metal base, and have the screw push downwards when cranked, with connections between the four legs and a baseplate creating the frame. They certainly don’t make office chairs like they used to.

  5. I built something similar to laminate skateboard decks a long time ago. Like [reg] said above, a hydraulic car jack works a treat, but you will have to use a welded steel frame to withstand the pressure – in my case the jack was rated for 10t of lifting force. I guess the press [Paul] made looks like it does primarily because it resembles traditional book presses. Also, yeah, round off the edges dude.

  6. As long as it works, but it’s interesting to compare the heft of the beam carrying the nut to the thin bed at the bottom and the thin pressing plate to distribute the load. Compare to the metal version where there are substantial gussets on the press plate. I suppose the equalizer is that the majority of the heavy beam is cut away at the highest stressed location.

    I’d suggest

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