Although threaded rod and wing nuts will do for the construction of a basic working press, they result in a press that takes about three hands to operate properly. You need to hold the press with one hand, the book in the press with another, and tighten the wing nut with the third. A better solution would allow you to turn the rod into an embedded threaded hole.
I needed to remake my working press anyway - the cheek pieces were not level when the clamp was closed. This caused my plough to cut the pages of all of my books at an angle. As my cutting technique improved, the defect was more and more marked. It seemed the perfect chance to make something easier to use into the bargain.
I looked around the hardware store, but found nothing that would allow me to turn the rod rather than the wing nut. Then I found an old-fashioned solid oak clamp, which had wooden threaded rod and threaded holes for it to go into. Such clamps turn up from time to time in junk shops and car boot sales in the UK - I don't know where one would go for one elsewhere.
The original clamp. The screw on the left goes all the way through; the one on the right pushes against the top bar of the clamp. It is worked by tightening the screw on the left and loosening the one on the right, causing the very front of the clamp to pinch down.
The wood is extremely hard and close-grained - probably oak or walnut.
The press was designed in much the same way as the threaded rod working press, with two threaded rods on either side of a pressing plate. Only this time, the threaded rods are made of wood. To tighten the press, I turn the rods in threaded holes attached to the press, rather than turning nuts on the rods.
I did make a structural alteraton, due to the thickness of the press pieces. Only the inner pieces of the press run the full width of the press. The others only serve to fill the space between the threaded blocks of wood from the clamp.