Book Press From Scratch




This build was developed out of a desire for affordable college textbooks coupled with a willingness to learn a new skill and apply it to our needs. Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes, so here it is - a truly affordable, highly functional book press that is both easy to build and effective to use. This entire build costs less than $50 USD and all parts are either repurposed used objects or are easily obtainable at the local hardware store. Although mainly meant to press books, this build can also be used for other purposes, such as flower pressing and paper making.

All of the wood used was repurposed scrap. Knobs for securing the Paper Alignment Stop were formally the adjustable feet from a metal desk. The size and thread of the brass threaded screw inserts can be adjusted match the thread the of knobs used. All threaded items used here are the same size and pitch to maximize interchangeability and reduce complexity of assembly.

Tools required: (2nd picture)

-Screwdriver OR powered driver with appropriate bits

-Drill with ¼” and 5/16” bits

-Wood glue


-Wrench OR ratchet & socket matching hardware bolt head size

Materials: (1st picture)

(1) ¾”x12”x17” Base (Optional: Plywood spacing strips on the bottom) [base piece of wood]

(1) ¾”x12”x12” Platen (The flat horizontal part that presses down directly on the paper.) [long board in back]

(3) 2”X4”x 12” Spacer blocks (To adjust for varying book thicknesses & to match working distance of pipe clamps.) [block of wood placed horizontally]

(1) ¼” x 4” x 12” Paper Alignment Stop (For alignment of paper to a straight edge.) [darkest piece of wood]

(8) ¼”-20 x 1 ½” Stove Bolts with Nuts and washers (For attaching the pipe flanges to the base.) [green bags]

(2) ¼”-20 Brass Screw Inserts (Attachment points for the knobs holding the Paper Alignment Stop. [white bags]

(2) ¾” Pipe Flanges (Attachment points for threaded pipes.) [discs]

(2) ¾” x 10” Threaded Pipe (Width of the usable pressing distance.) [rods]

(2) ¾” Pipe Clamps (To apply pressure to the platen.) [orange things]

(2) ¼”-20 threaded knobs (To hold Paper Alignment Stop secure while gluing and easy removal after.) [T-shaped looking things]

*Altogether, this build costs will cost an average of $50 USD.

Pipe clamps $15

Associated hardware $20

Reclaimed Wood FREE-$15

With the average cost of a college text hovering around $100, the return on investment can become quite significant. Purchase the e-book, print it and bind it. Binding it this way yields better results than using 3- ring binder or plastic comb bindings.


Brass screw inserts are used so the knobs are removable with no wear to base.

Step 1) This places the pressure from the Platen near the book spine (the part that is glued during the bookbinding process) to maximize holding pressure and minimize any angling of the Platen that might happen. Depending on the style of binding you select, angling could be an issue.

After the Paper Alignment Stop is used to align the spine and is removed, replace the knobs into the brass inserts. This is to prevent excess glue from entering inserts during pressing and becoming difficult to remove later

Insure all wood pieces that contact the book paper are smooth so no imprints are left in the paper.

Knobs were used for the Paper Alignment Stop so no tools are required install or remove it.

All wood parts are left unfinished to avoid stain or paint damage to book surfaces or pages.

Step 1: Mark Location of Flanges

1) Position and mark the location of the flanges. Mark all four holes on both flanges ensuring the flanges are set back an equal 3 inch distance from the front edge of the Base.

Step 2: Drill Holes for Flanges

Drill all eight holes for the Flanges. Use the ¼” drill bit.

*Ensure safe drilling procedures are followed and no hands or fingers are under the Base during this step.

Step 3: Attach Flanges to Base

Attach the Flanges to the Base using the ¼”- 20 x 1 ½” Stove Bolts with washers and bolts on the underside of the Base. The washers prevent the nuts from sinking into the underside of the Base.

*In this step, the optional 1”x2” plywood strips can be attached to prevent the bolts from scratching the table top. Any sort of stick-on or threaded feet can be used provided they are taller than the exposed bolts.

Step 4: Drill Holes for the Bolts

Position the Paper Alignment Stop on the Base and drill holes for the bolts. The clamp to hold the Paper Alignment Stop in position during drilling. These holes were drilled to two diameters and depths.

A) Drill the first hole ¼” in diameter, through the Paper Alignment Stop and approximately 2” into the base to accommodate the length of the knob threads.

B) Remove the Paper Alignment Stop

C) Drill the original hole to increase the diameter of the hole to 5/16”, drill only the first ½”.

This this section of the hole will accept the Brass Screw Insert.

Step 5: Install Brass Screw Inserts

Install the Brass Screw Inserts in the 5/16” holes.

A) Clamp the Base on either side of the hole before installing Brass Screw Insert to ensure the plywood does not separate

B) To install the Brass Screw Insert, an extra bolt from the flange is inserted in the Brass Screw Insert with a nut tightened against the Brass Screw Insert. This ensures the installations of the Brass Screw Insert with no damage or distortion by driving the bolt head

Step 6: Install Paper Alignment Stop

Install the Paper Alignment Stop using the ¼”-20 knobs. Insure it is flush and at a right angle to the base.

Step 7: Install Threaded Pipes

Install the ¾” Threaded Pipes in the Flanges. Tighten pipes to Hand-tight only.

*(Use of adhesives or overtightening will make disassembly for storage difficult.)

Step 8: Twist on Pipe Clamps

Twist the pipe clamps onto the top of the threaded pipes.

*Ensure the working surface of the clamps are perpendicular to the Platen when tightening.

Step 9: Glue on Spacer Block

Glue one of the 2”x4”x12” Spacer Blocks to the Platen.

Step 10: Clamp the Spacer to the Base

Clamp the spacer to the Base using the installed pipe clamps and additional spacers while drying. Allow the glue to dry overnight. The attached Spacer Block provides a handle for moving the Platen.

Step 11: Admire and Use Your New Book Press!!

*When using your book press, place 2 extra spacer blocks on top of the spacer block attached to the platen, because the orange pipe clamps only twist down so much (they don't reach the spacer block attached to the platen).




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    18 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Obviously an insider only Instructable. From the pictures I have no clue how this is used. It is probably quite useful if you already know how to do bookbinding.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    This may be partly a web page error. The last image that shows it in use didn't appear until I posted my comment. It could still use a few more pictures of the different steps. For example it is not clear which edge has glue.


    2 years ago

    Your book press is interesting but over engineered. Threaded rod is cheaper

    and much faster to assemble. You will also find your pages will hold together if

    you feather edge them for the adhesive to penetrate between the pages. Look at for inspiration.

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Disregard my "smartnuts" question (& my misspelling smart nuts because i clicked your icon, aft I posted my ? to your reply, & I saw your video. Totally a thrill bc you foresaw the need to explain them. Thank you.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks, the old reel was a classic & well-done. Narrator said "smartnuts" on the threaded rods; I'm guessing they're called locknuts today? It's ok to guffaw, I don't yet know names of all things; I read up recently on o-ring vs gasket for instance, so the demo of how smartnuts work triggered me to search Amazon Shopping bc the noun is unfamiliar. I guess they are locknuts, yes? I think of locknuts as associated with threaded bolts, so similar to threaded rods, but maybe wingnnuts, for their ease of tightening & loosening, is what they were in the video. What did you see they were? I got no farther than their demo, so don't know if another noun was used later. Thanks.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Great tool. When a kid inTexas at my dad's print shop we used the same idea. The boards (top and bottom ones) had eye hooks on them. Jack chain was used in place of the pipes. You could adjust the length for the thickness of the stack of paper, and twist wing nuts at the top to tighten the chain up. We scored the stack of paper and applied a coating of padding compound (glue). Let that dry and then add another layer of padding compound. While the last coat is still wet, we applied a piece of cheese cloth. Pressed it on evenly, and let dry. If we needed to another coat of glue was added. This made a good pad or book. By the way. If you place a piece of folded paper on the board so it covers the edge of the boards,(top and bottom ones), the paper pads will not be stuck to the boards. Then we cut the pads off with a knife. Hope this helps.


    2 years ago

    Great, realworld, doable press. Are there instructions on here for how you do the binding?

    2 replies
    Mo PoppinsHawgdad

    Reply 2 years ago

    This YouTube channel (Sea Lemon) has detailed tutorials on how to do bookbinding:

    HawgdadMo Poppins

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you... Iooked in bookbinding and there were lots of methods most of which didn't seem to go with the press.


    2 years ago

    This is very impressive, just two quick questions and a suggestion. For the suggestion, you can vary the lengths of the pipes you use. Get different lengths of pipe, that way you won't need those pieces of lumber to fill up the space. Most hardware stores will be able to put a new thread on any scrap piece of pipe thay have lieing around. Another good way to keep your costs down, or you can even invest in your own pipe threader. They are fairly cheap.

    Also, I would LOVE for your next entry to actually show you using your creation. A quick instructable on bookbinding 101

    And finally, as I'm going back to college to get my degree as well, I'm curious as to how this really helped you save money on your text books. Did your school bookstore actually have used textbooks in such bad condition that they needed rebinding? Or was this just so you could have cool looking schoolbooks vs your classmates? Was this just more for bragging rights?.


    2 years ago

    I made one very similar to yours many moons, I'm 73 now, ago when I worked for the local newspaper in the press room. We made note pads for the different offices, we printed papers for 3 newspapers (Seaside, Tillamook and Lincoln City, OR) press room was in Tllmk.. It worked real good as I'm sure yours does.


    2 years ago




    Not much more to say :)

    Thanks for this :)


    2 years ago

    Cost might be further reduced by using threaded rod in place of the pipe and pipe clamps. This makes it slower to adjust and is a trade-off between efficiency and cost.

    1 reply
    spark masterarvevans

    Reply 2 years ago

    heck use a couple of wood clamps , you can remove them for other projects. As a kid I used a big vise to rebind a few old books.

    A very nice build for a dedicated piece though!