In the course of a year spent working for an historical library, I did some research on paper-making and bookbinding with an eye towards the archival qualities of the materials involved. One of the volumes I came across was filled with designs for very simple tools for the paper-making craft.

One tool in particular impressed me; a very sturdy wooden paper press. I've modified the design somewhat to suit available lumberyard materials. As you can see, there are no precision moving parts in this press. Pressure is provided by a weighted lever arm. The amount of pressure can be controlled by the size of weight and its placement on the arm. If you use a bucket full of sand or water, you can adjust the weight easily.

Construction details and dimensions are deliberately vague. Build your own version to suit the size requirements for your projects. The upper and lower platens are plywood. You should use AC plywood at the least. A nice touch would be to use the plastic-laminate covered cutouts from sink installations. The arm should be hardwood, or be laminated from several piece of softer wood. The rest of the press can be built from clear softwood.

Using the Press

Remove the arm and upper platen. Place what you will be pressing on the lower platen. Carefully return upper platen into place. Engage end of arm in the press frame and the top of the upper platen. Hang a weight from the end of the arm

Dale Austin
All images and text copyright 1977-2003 Dale Austin

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