The press and tub is now complete, again following the plans from the Aldren Watson book. i used pine for the tub and some hardwood off-cuts from the local DIY shop for the press. I had some trouble finding the bolts, or rather finding bolts that were threaded full or nearly full length. In the end they came from a local timber merchant where I went to look for hardwoods and spotted them unexpectedly lying on the counter.

It was challenging for somebody of my fairly modest woodworking skills to get the tub exactly square. In fact it isn’t critically square but seems to work well enough. The hole for bolt to pass through in the jaws needs to be a lot larger than expected (my bolts are 10mm and the holes are 12mm/13mm in diameter) otherwise the bolt action is so stiff that the jaws cannot be moved. I was concerned that they would be wobbly but once in place with one side fixed to the tub the action is smooth and perfectly solid.

The jaws using 200mm bolts with the fixed jaw 50mm and the moving jaw 35mm thick give a maximum opening of 100mm which is larger enough for my purposes and should allow for a book of 50mm thickness with room for backing boards.

Tub, press and piercing board
Tub and press with piercing board.

Tub and press side view
Tub and press side view.

Press threaded bolt
Close up of threaded bolt. I cut a groove in the head of the coach bolt with an angle grinder to allow a screwdriver or coin to fully tighten the jaws.

Close up of threaded bolt
Close up of threaded bolt from the back show the inlaid nut held in place with epoxy glue.

4 thoughts on “Bookbinder’s press and tub

  1. Great that you’re pleased with your efforts, but looking at the design of your press, I ask myself why you didn’t pop down down to Wilkinsons or Wykes and buy yourself one of their portable workbenches. I got one for my birthday! They’re £19.99 reduced to £9.99 and they would seem to do everything that your press does. Am I missing something?
    P.S. I’m just trying to get back into bookbinding after a short break of 50 years. Hence me looking at your website.

    1. There are a number of reasons which would deter me from using the workmate, Malcolm.

      The first is one of aesthetics. I enjoy using tools and, although my press and tub probably wouldn’t win any woodworking prizes, the pleasure I have from using it is many, many times greater than I would experience when using a cheap, mass-produced item.

      Second, there are times when I would doubt my ability to tighten a workmate without damaging the book in its jaws.

      Third, the press and tub takes up a much smaller space than a workmate and given that it often has to be left in place for periods of time this is a definite advantage.

      Finally, it is made from recycled material (off-cuts) which for me has its own value.

  2. I’d have to side with Mark here purely on the side of ‘pleasure of use’… Working with something you’ve made yourself, especially out of wood is much more pleasing than using manufactured goods bought from a supermarket.

    For me, bookbinding is about the enjoyment and pleasure of the work.

    Great guide though, I’ll link from my site.


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