Bookbinding Press

During a visit to my crafty mother, I came across a good build to support her habits.  She showed me a series of bookbinding finishing presses.  I am not super familiar with how they work, but they looked a lot like a moxon vise.  I am planning out a moxon vise build of my own, so this would be a good learning experience and make a great gift.



Traditional books have a lot of layers of material that need gluing together.  This helps keep it all clamped for various operations.  The side wings let you clamp it to a table, and with it hanging over the edge, any length book can be held.  The jaws will open to accept a 3″ thick book, and there are 13 inches between the screws, allowing for a very tall book.  5/16″-18 hand screws should provide plenty of clamping force.  The hand screws come out, so it can be disassembled and packed into a smaller space.

I started with the backbone and dovetails.  If something was going to get screwed up, it was the dovetails.  I need to cut a lot for an upcoming project and I am beyond rusty.  Mark, saw edges, fret away waste and pare the rest.

My dovetail transfer jig has already come in handy.  The pins look pretty rotten, but they should be very structurally sound.  Sorry mom!

With that taken care of I glued up two pieces for the front, and added another to the backbone.  One piece was taller than the other which eventually got planed to an angle.  That gives your fingers easier access to the book spine.




I assembled the dovetails and put on side wings that let you clamp this jig to any table or workbench.



When all the glue was well cured I put on a few coats of polyurethane in the hopes that bookbinding glue wouldn’t stick to it.  Felt pads on the bottom should keep it from scuffing any tables.  I pounded in some threaded inserts meant for wood.  They should hold just fine, but to be sure I sank a few screws beside them.

To run the threaded rods in and out you are going to need a stout handle.  I chopped some maple dowels down to size, drilled out for a 5/16 threaded insert, reduced the entry shoulder for a brass sleeve, then flipped it around, threaded it onto a 5/16 mandril, and smoothed out the back side.

The bare wood got multiple coats of spray polyurethane, then when cured, I epoxied the brass sleeve on the handles, and the threaded rod in place.  DSC_1276.JPG

Cutting Corners

This was a fun collaboration with my dear madre!  She does bookmaking along with letterpress and about 100 other hobbies.  See where I get it from?  When making a hardcover book you have a solid material that is covered with something like fabric or heavy paper.  I forget all the terms, but in order for it to get covered nicely you need to cut the corner off the cover material so it folds in well.  It is kind of like wrapping a present.

I was directed to check out the cool 3D printed corner tool here:

It was a good looking tool, but the tall wall used to protect fingers made it a lot harder to use.  In woodworking we use guides like this all the time to cut knife lines in wood.  You want it to be low so you can get a flat single beveled knife up against the guide.  I made a few changes and came up with this.


It sits on the corner of binding material up to 1/8″ thick, and provides a 45 degree standoff of 1/8″ from the very tip of the corner.  I added that funny circle cutout to make sure the printer didn’t round the corner to the inside any.  This sits snugly.


Here is an example of a binder board and the cover material.  The tool sits on the corner of the hard binder material.


With fingers sufficiently out of the way, you can run a knife along the outside edge and trim the corner off.


With all corners trimmed you can do a little fold and crease and get a smart looking book cover.


Mom was happy and requested a dozen.  Easy enough!  Thingiverse link for those that want their own copy