Book Press

The term book press is not an official bookbinding term. It has entered the popular vocabulary to describe what binders would call nipping presses or standing presses.

Book pressOn a functional basis, any device where the book lies flat on one flat surface while another surface is pressed down on it can be considered a book press. Most "real" presses have a screw on top to produce even, firm pressure. But the crucial elements are the intensity of pressure, however it is produced, and the smoothness of the pressing surface. My first book presses were a little unusual in that they were also my sewing frames.

The book press is used in numerous binding steps. It can be used to flatten signatures when repairing them in rebinding, when laminating boards for covers, and in all steps where the entire flat surface of the book is to be pressed (for instance, after applying cover material).

Make Your Own Book Presses

These are the designs for home-made book presses that I have tried or considered:

A stack of heavy books or bricks
Free in most homes. A good hint here is to put a magazine above and below the book to be pressed to ensure a smooth pressing surface. If you're using bricks, wrap them in paper to keep the grit from getting into your books.
Clamps and boards
Use woodworking clamps to apply pressure to pull flat boards together. Either line the boards with hardboard, or use magazines to ensure a smooth pressing surface.
Wooden press
A good initial press design, but inexpensive materials will eventually be prone to warping. Ideal for a temporary press until you are sure you want to invest more in the hobby.
Metal press
A refinement of the wood press, requiring some fairly inexpensive work from a blacksmith or metalworker. Suitable for all but the most high-pressure requirements.