banner ad

Make Handmade Paper Press

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

 

The Finished Press

The Finished Press

John Butterworth sets out to make a handmade paper press – a necessary bit of kit if you are looking to make your own paper.

(All measurements are imperial, except where they involve the threaded rod, which comes in metric sizes).

MAKING A PAPER PRESS

A crucial step in papermaking is compressing the sheets to get the water out and bond the fibres together, and for this we’ll need a press of some description. I made one for less than £40, and here’s what it looks like.

THE BASE

The base needs to be dead flat and must be made from a material that doesn’t warp. A thick piece of kitchen worktop would be ideal, but I couldn’t find any offcuts, so I used a 2¼in-thick piece of blockboard, which was almost as good. Blockboard is made from lots of little blocks of wood that are glued together and laminated, and it doesn’t warp, unlike plywood or solid wood. If you want to make A4 size paper (the best size, as it will go through a printer, if required), cut the base to about 12in x 15in. Veneering the edges makes it look nicer, but isn’t strictly necessary.

The base

The base

 

 Cut four 33mm lengths of 12mm (M12) threaded bar (for suppliers see Further Info). Drill a 12mm hole about 1in from each corner of the base and countersink them to suit the size of your washers. Put a nut and washer on one end of each rod and poke them up through the countersunk holes. A really useful tool for a neat countersink, and also to drill large, neat holes in wood, is a ‘Forstner bit’ as shown in the photograph. They are highly recommended, and there are loads of them on eBay.

 

A Forstner bit

A Forstner bit

THE TOP ASSEMBLY

The top could simply be another solid piece of blockboard, but that looks a bit unwieldy – I had some pieces of oak in my firewood pile, so I used those. I cut two pieces of 1¾in x 1¼in to 15in long, then drilled 12mm holes in them at the same spacing (13in apart) for my vertical rods.

I cut a bigger piece, 6in x 1½in x 12in long, and cut a hole right in the centre, 1¼in in diameter. I bolted this crosspiece to the two smaller pieces, as shown.

 

Bolting the top together

Bolting the top together

THE SCREW

The only place I could find that wanted to sell a steel screw rather than an entire press was Axminster Tool Centre, so obviously I recommend them! This is actually a shoulder vice screw, and is a really solidly made item, ideal for our purposes (and it looks perfect for making a cider press too). The threaded hole part (I don’t know its name, so we’ll call it a ‘screw receiver’) fastens underneath the top assembly, as shown.

The top assembly with the 'screw receiver' in place

The top assembly with the ‘screw receiver’ in place

THE PRESSURE PLATE

Again, blockboard or a piece of kitchen worktop would be fine, but I had a length of scrap oak door-frame, 4½in wide, so I cut two 14in lengths (just a bit longer than A4 paper) and dowelled them together, then I rubbed it flat with sandpaper. Like blockboard, as the grain goes in different directions it shouldn’t warp.

 

Clamping the pressure plate together

Clamping the pressure plate together

There’s a cast-iron piece at the end of the shoulder vice screw with two holes in it − that screws onto the top of the pressure plate.

Paint all the parts with good waterproof varnish, as there’s lots of water involved in papermaking. I also laminated the two surfaces that will press together with a sheet of grey plastic rescued from a skip, but any laminate would do − Formica springs to mind, or if you’re using kitchen worktop, it’s already laminated and perfectly flat.

BOLTING THE PRESS TOGETHER

Slip four 8½in long pieces of 15mm copper tube over the threaded rods, then top with washers, as shown. These tubes act as spacers and keep the top and bottom parallel.

 

Copper tubes and washers in place

Copper tubes and washers in place

The whole thing should now just bolt together − the top slips over the threaded rod and is bolted down with four nuts and washers

The top assembly bolted on

The top assembly bolted on

The shoulder vice screw then screws through the top, and the pressure plate, with the cast piece screwed to it, simply slots onto the end of the screw. Four little squares of cork tile glued underneath act as feet.

The T-bar would cost extra, so I made one out of a 12in piece of broom handle − not quite large enough in diameter, but it works.

FRAMES

We’ll need a mesh screen, like a flat sieve, on which to form our sheets of paper. At its simplest you can just use a stiff piece of mesh (car repair mesh is good) if you’re making small pieces of paper and don’t mind rough edges.

A better way is to use a mould and deckle. Wooden frames can be bought from craft suppliers, but they’re dead easy to make, simply comprising a pair of similar rectangles with inside dimensions the same as A4 paper or very slightly larger. I used yet more firewood, oak again, and planed it square(ish) to about 1½in square. Get a piece of A4 paper and make the frame’s inside dimensions fit round that – about 11¾in x 8¼in. The joints are simple lap joints. I glued and clamped the frames, then drilled and glued a wooden dowel through each corner.

Clamping the deckle

Clamping the deckle

One frame (that’s the mould) needs a piece of mesh fastening to it − plastic will do, pulled very tight, or non-rusting metal. Attach it with stainless steel staples or the staples will rust. The other frame (open frame) is the deckle.

The mould and deckle

The mould and deckle

Posted in: Papermaking, Tutorials

About the Author:

Ruth Tott is the publisher of Home Farmer Magazine, and together with her husband, Paul Melnyczuk, Editor,is founder of the company. But her background is far removed having specialised in Costume History with a Post-Grad diploma in Museum Studies to boot. A far cry from looking after chickens, growing veg and making bread!

Post a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This