Design, instructions, and photos © Perry
Nigro, Chicago, IL
All measurements in inches
* Maple would be the preferred choice, but it may be difficult to find in
this particular size. I used ash, though oak would work as well
Begin by preparing wood. Cut maple crosspiece and one of the three remaining
1x12 pieces to the required size. Knock down edges, sand, and coat w/ at least 2
coats-preferably 3-of satin finish polyurethane.
The other two pieces should be slightly larger than the finished size. Glue
them together with wood glue in order to form a single piece 2" thick.
Clamp and let dry overnight. Trim to final size. Ideally this would be done on a
table saw, but a circular saw should work. It is probably too thick for a
jigsaw, though. Sand and polyurethane. This forms the press base.
Mount 2 of the pipe flanges on the completed base, centered along the short
sides. Drill pilot holes and secure with #14 screws. Thread pipe into flanges. (Fig
Take platen and place it on top of pipe ends, marking the pipe location onto
the platen surface. You'll need to draw a u-shaped cutout in both platen ends;
Start on the edge slightly to the left of the mark showing the pipe location,
come down, loop around the pipe, and end on the edge, slightly to the right of
the mark showing the pipe location.
This will serve to guide the platen as it rides along the pipe, minimizing any
Mark center of platen, and locate screw retaining flange on it. Mark pilot
holes. Locate stiffeners evenly on either side of retaining flange, drill pilot
holes and secure with # 14 1 1/4" screws.
Mark center of maple screw support and drill a large enough hole to just
accommodate the screw. This is best done on a drill press, because the hole
needs to be precisely positioned and must be perfectly vertical.
Place platen in place on pipes, and thread top flanges on.
Position maple screw support on flanges and mark screw positions. Place bench
screw in hole and mark mounting screw positions. Raise platen up and support it,
so that you can ensure that the bench screw, maple support, platen and bench
screw retaining flange line up properly. Once you are sure everything is in
position mark screw positions, or double check those marks you might already
Drill all pilot holes in maple support and platen, attaching screw retaining
flange to the platen.
Mount maple support to pipe flanges, and then mount bench screw to support
with #14 lag screws. (Fig 2)
Center dowel in screw handle, and secure in place with
You are done. Enjoy.
That is the procedure I followed; along the way, I discovered a few tricks
Although screws work OK, I found that the lag screws are much easier to work
with. It's far too easy to strip the screw head in the hard wood, (Fig 3) especially if the pilot holes are not quite the correct size. The torque
achieved in using a ratchet and lag screw makes it a lot easier, especially in
attaching the maple support to the flanges, as its tough to get sufficient
torque on a screwdriver. Or even to get a screwdriver in there.
Drill the correct size pilot holes. . .
The platen construction described above is pretty much permanent. You'd need
to unscrew the maple support in order to remove it. Alternately, you could cut
the platen so that it fits just between the pipes. Then, in order to prevent
lateral movement of the platen you will need to attach something to the edge of
the platen such that it rides closely against the pipes as a sort of guide.
Maybe a dowel on either side of the pipe, or a sort of U-shaped bracket cut from
1/4" plywood and attached to the platen. (Fig 4)
As constructed, there are approximately 5 1/2 inches of working area between
the platen and base with the platen fully lowered, and approximately 10 1/2 when
raised. This can be increased by using longer pipe.
A 4x4 sheet of 3/4" birch plywood can be cut in to 12 pieces, each 12
x16, which fit perfectly on the base for use as pressing boards. Sand them as
smooth as possible but DON'T polyurethane them. If you do, the force of the
press will make them stick together as if they had been glued. Don't ask me how
I know. . .
It's VERY important that the bench screw and retaining flange are positioned
properly and that everything line up correctly. Otherwise the platen may bind
against the pipes or the screw may not seat securely in the retaining flange.
Take your time and make sure everything goes where you want it.
All together, I spent about $100 for the project, not including the plywood
used for the pressboards. It's certainly not a Vaggelli, but it will do the job.
For about $ $5500 less.