Using a Cigar Press for Bookbinding

Cigar presses are usually smaller than book presses, and often just half-arch, rather than full-arch.  As such, they cannot generate as much pressure as a real book press. The one I purchased seems to have the compressional force of a typical copy press, which is adequate for the most common bookbinding tasks: firm adhesion of pastedowns, casing-in, and tray attachment when boxmaking. It wouldn’t be too difficult to modify a large C – clamp to make something similar.

Since they are lightweight, this one is about 30 lbs, they are great for teaching and travel.  They usually have much more daylight than copy presses, again, useful when teaching, or for a secondary press. The main disadvantage is they only can be used for small format books.

Since cigar presses were originally used for pressing hand rolled cigars in long wooden molds, they often don’t have a top platen.  I made a 7 x 9.5 inch aluminum one for this machine.  Will I end up in conservation purgatory for drilling two holes in a historic machine?

Unmarked half-arch cigar press. I mounted a 7 x 9.5 inch aluminum platen on it.

7 thoughts on “Using a Cigar Press for Bookbinding

  1. Jeff Peachey Post author

    Good idea. I’ll stick a scales in it this weekend and see what happens.

  2. bookartz

    Well, if you do burn in hell for it, at least you will be able to make a proper cigar. Lighting it won’t be a problem.

  3. Jeff Peachey Post author

    This was a quarter inch, but I also glued it to the birch plywood. Likely overkill.

  4. Jeff Peachey Post author

    I tested my Hickock 001/2 book press, a generic cast iron copy press, and the cigar press with a 7.5 x 4.25 block as a standard size. All three exceeded the limit on my 300lb max bathroom scales. Someone with more engineering/ math skills might be able to figure out this psi.

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