After releasing our newest size book, the HUGE sketchbook, we needed a press that could actually handle a book this massive. The two cast iron presses were too small, and our handmade wooden press, shown below, was large enough but just barely - about a 1/16th of an inch stuck out of each side. Not to mention filling it with more than one at a time was impossible. Serviceable, but not preferable.
So as usual, I took to Craigslist hoping to find a large press - it wasn't looking pretty. There were some pretty busted presses showing up in the gallery, literally and figuratively, with big price tags and long distances away. Decided to head over to eBay and it's the same scene...except there's this bizarre looking plywood and iron book press... but with a large working surface area and...under $100?? *swoon* Okay, it was pretty ugly and looked like it might smell, let's say, a bit aged. Now it's time to head to Etsy and see if they might have one. And they did - for $10 cheaper and in much better shape! Yass.
It arrived safely yesterday. I admit, it was a bit worrying how tedious it was to turn each of the two screws so to make contact with the plate's iron brackets. But with a bit of oil, they now spin freely. It's much easier to use than the handmade wood press, as this top plate lifts off easily revealing the plywood base below. It also has several inches of daylight (a bookbinder's dream as more daylight = more books can be pressed at one time) and is much lighter than a traditional book press, weighing in at only 13lbs. Yay for portability.
Despite its age (guessing 1940s) the wood has not warped or split, not even where the brackets have been screwed into place. There are no mysterious smells and it sits level. One could guess it may not have seen much use. That is about to change.