Portable Press



I needed a portable press to travel with.  The challenge was to make it as light as possible, be able to use it without a tub, and make it rigid enough to back books and use a plough on.   The oversize, rubber knobs combined with a 1/2″ acme screw can be tightened by hand, without the need for a press pin.  The aluminum legs can be unscrewed to easily fit into a backpack, and rigidly clamp to a work surface for use.  With the plough, the entire setup weighs in at 6 lbs, 4 oz.



The plough on this press is a circa. late 1980’s Derick Beck model. It is unusual, in that the blade travels independently of the cheek on the right hand side, and the blade is angled downwards, so that the length of the blade doesn’t mar the edge of the textblock after a cut is made.  To advance the blade, the knob is rolled towards you, which is opposite the way standard plough works, and takes a little getting used to. It cuts very cleanly.

8 Replies to “Portable Press”

  1. Fantastic piece of work! I am very interested in ploughs, they look easier to accommodate than book guillotines. Do you use both, and if so, what differentiates your use of them?

  2. Historically, ploughs preceded and were used in place of board shears and guillotine cutters, which Middleton dates both to the 1840’s. It was the invention of the cloth case binding structure that necessitated the quickness of the guillotine, although the earliest case binding structures (1820-1840) were trimmed with ploughs. As late as 1870, Zaehnsdorf notes that a board shear is pretty much necessary for production work, although smaller shops still rely on ploughs. There are illustrations of ploughs dating back to the 1660’s.

    I mostly do conservation work, so rarely use either except for making historic models. The plough is slower to use, but gives a much better edge. A well tuned plough can trim an edge that can be gilded or colored without additional preparation. And for any type of in-boards binding it it essential.

  3. I’ve been meaning to return and say thank you for such a comprehensive answer. I’m sorry it took this long to do it — thank you. I really love this blog and your generosity with knowledge.

  4. Well that sounds very nicely.
    After a critical examination of my banking account perspectives I should contact you at the end of this year.

  5. Sounds good, maybe by that time I will have the plough I am working on finished!

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