My Story of Bookbinding Presses and a New Book

presses in bookbinding are just one of the
tools that remain mostly unchanged for the last 500 or more years they’re the
backbone of any bindery and serve many purposes come in all sorts of shapes and
are incredibly useful for producing beautiful and functional books I
remember in the beginning when I didn’t have a press I just used some boards
with weights on top to apply pressure to a book this is a viable method if you
need to apply low pressure but it’s not the most comfortable way of doing other
more complex procedures at one point I set out to order a press from a local
carpenter as bookbinding in Bulgaria is quite the rare craft they didn’t exactly
understand the purpose of this contraption in the end it was just consider the
waste of time the project rejected it was the time to set out and try to make
my own at a hardware store I found on sale a couple of defective solid beech table
legs they seemed like a good enough shape and along with some metal screws
and the helping hand of a friend my first amateur laying press was made
never did I imagine that this first trial would prove so useful in time and
I happily continue to use it even now it’s not pretty but it’s sturdy and it
gets the job done I like to use it especially when I’m sewing on end bands as you can imagine now this certainly
wasn’t enough I quickly saw how this construction lacks many features needed
to help me produce my particular vision of a book so this time I decided to
entrust myself to a professional and ordered a finishing press and sewing
frame from a Dutch master carpenter before that I was sewing on a very sad
self-made frame and was happy to make this change finally the new press had a
larger surface a nice angled to help work and pegs for tying up I realized how
important it was for a tool to be touched by a master who knows what he’s doing
not only with his own particular craft but beautifully relating it to
bookbinding at the same time this press is invaluable for later processes such
as tying up when the leather has been applied other general work on the books
spine or just to apply some pressure when a part of the book is drying but later the tragedy in my mind was that I had this beautiful finishing press but I was
still using boards and weights for big books once again we set out with a
friend to try to construct something and the first nipping press was born
sometime later it did a marvelous job at first but we soon realized how we
didn’t calculate how much pressure the book needs and how the frame wasn’t exactly built to take such pressure it began to crack in his joints and even
though we tried to reinforce it at one point it was evident that a
replacement was needed that’s when I saved up some money and purchased this
ROBERTBUILT nipping press it’s a beautiful piece of
equipment with a proper screw a nice working surface I can apply just the
right amount of pressure without worrying of damage being done to it
I also use it to do some lino prints from time to time I still like to use
the old one however only for light pressure jobs
and at this point you might ask what else would you need aren’t these presses
enough well for a long time I was smoothing the edges of my books only with
various grades of sandpaper it produced an interesting finish sometimes rough
sometimes smooth but I wanted a quicker less messy and something that produced a
smooth surface in short I wanted to laying press equipped with a ploug or plane as some call it it consists of two devices one being the press and the
other holding a curved blade you can press the blade into the book while
cutting in both directions in page after page you get a nice leveled and smooth
edge I got a very large press from great carpenters specialising in book binding
equipment from England its size helps me work with much larger book formats it’s
very sturdy and almost hard to work with due to its size and weight but I’m quite
fond of it I happily used this press even for my smaller books until I got an
offer for smaller similar press this time with only one screw and raised on a
platform I was enchanted by the beautiful combination of mahogany and
oak, the one screw that helps me keep one hand free to manipulate the book and
its additional boards that extend it’s use even further as of now this press as well as the
nipping press are my most used pieces of wooden equipment they just cover a vast
amount of uses but that doesn’t mean that my other ones remain forgotten
every new book goes to almost all of them and I will feel quite the loss if
any of them weren’t available by my side the story may seem short and rapid but
in truth this collection of presses took me around seven years to complete
proper equipment is usually expensive and usually for good reason it’s a big
investment but with proper care it’s an investment made for life and maybe even
beyond who knows maybe my grandchildren will be leaving a few books to dry
overnight some decades down the line I’d also like to take this opportunity to
show you my most recent work as well finished with the help of my father of
course it’s a journal bound in red goat skin and decorated with something very
peculiar it’s a technique that I felt inspired to try when I learned about the
lake master book binder Philip Smith he used the material called maril and it’s
basically leather pairings and shavings molded into a solid mass that
when cut produced a marbled effect but from leather this book features a border
on both covers made with this material it’s also lavishly tooled in gold on the
spine as well as the colors it’s also clad with some decorative silver
fittings from my dad he did a marvelous job of making them beautifully fine
and all of their attachments hidden below the cover
on the inside the papers are from my own handmade paper decorated with original
lino print design again made by myself you learn more about this book through
some links in the description it’s available for sale and I’d be more than
happy if someone finds him or herself in need of such an item thank you very much
and I wish everyone a wonderful week

28 thoughts on “My Story of Bookbinding Presses and a New Book

  • I studied about bookbinding since 2016 and keep practicing on making book with my own inspiration. It took me a long journey as that I studied by my own from youtube. When i saw your channel, your mastery and everything, make me more interested to continue doing this thing. Thanks for this inspiration.

  • Hopefully theres going to be a video on how you made your new book! If there none then its okay, I still enjoy most of your videos even when Im rewatching them. More power to you brother

  • This is such a lovely video! Three weeks ago when I decided to start binding books someone recommended your channel and ever since I love watching your videos. In every video I can grasp some of your knowledge about book binding and adapt it to my own. I am only at the beginning of this journey but I am so excited to see where it takes me. Long story short; your channel rocks!

  • Really nice story. The Olive and Oak pygmy presses look really nice! It's taken me years to gather my equipment too, but after listening to you talk about yours I don't think I appreciate mine enough. And I think you've inspired me to pull New Directions off the bookshelf and give maril a go.

  • I am jealous and also love that you work with your Dad, I lost my Dad on New Years Day, I am grateful to have worked with him for 13 years and him living with my wife and I for the last 5 years. Cherish your time with him, I goes by in the blink of an eye! By the way, love your video as always!

  • Wow, this was such an insightful and wonderfully inspiring video! It was a real pleasure to listen to you reminisce on the tools you used earlier in your bookbinding journey and ponder on the possible future that lay ahead. I would love to see more videos like this. Listening to you describe your own techniques and processes while filming is most informative and quite satisfying to watch. It's a gratifying experience to watch someone work who is deeply passionate and dedicated to what they are doing. Thank you for sharing these things with the community, you are certainly a skilled craftsman and I hope you get the recognition and appreciation that you truly deserve. I greatly appreciate your work, and I 'm sure there are many more people out there that do as well. May you and your family find success and fulfillment in all that you do. Warm greetings from Oregon!

  • As an engineer, an amateur woodworker, and someone wanting to dabble in book binding, the more you show your tools and talk about them, the more I learn and the closer I get to having a go at it. Thank you for this, your time, and the inspiration that you give.

  • I found this video very peaceful and calming. I love your work and the tools you use. Such wonderful tradition and honesty in it.

  • Thank you for this video! I have been following your work for 4 years now, and I considered you great when I found you, however I had no idea that you would be getting so much more skilled in your trade. You continue to try new things, to expand your bag of tricks, increase your tool companions, and your books look far more beautiful the more you put into them.

  • I love your videos and have followed you for years. For now I have too many hobbies, but maybe some time in the future I might get into bookbinding. I just wanted to shoot in that for beginners, a press used to press meat called "syltepresse" from Norway could be useful. This press for example: and there are many other variants if you google the word.

  • Thank You Stopan for sharing this with us.
    You are such an inspiration.
    and you are doing such a great job with video editing!

    Keep going ! ❤️

  • Oh wow! That is a Gorgeous book! I love that you are sharing your craftsmanship with the world. Thank you for being here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *