What exactly is a ‘Nipping Press’?

Q&A: What is a Nipping Press?

A nipping press is a small press used by bookbinders for various bookbinding purposes. Originally the nipping press was designed to make the gutters or ‘hinges’ on the covers of hardbound books; the process of which was done in the following way:

A book was covered in material and as the glue was still drying, two nipping boards where placed top and bottom of the book and clamped in the press until dry. Nipping boards are made from roughly 1/2 inch thick wood with a metal strip attached at one end, this metal strip is slightly wider than the boards; when clamped, these boards pinched (or ‘nipped’) the hinges of the book and when dried, created the groove.

Nowadays the nipping press serves multiple purposes, often it is used to hold an unfinished book firmly in place so that a bookbinder can trim the edges of the text block. Nipping presses are also often used to flatten the folded signatures of your book. After casing in, bookbinders will often put their near finished books between the plates of the press and apply pressure so as to prevent warpage when the book is drying.

Nipping presses are often made from iron or steel and ‘true’ nipping presses have four pillars on each corner so that an even pressure is applied to the book during the trimming process.

The most common type of nipping press you’ll find for sale (either second hand or brand new) would be a manual press hosting a dual handle setup with a cork-scew action. The turning of the handles will force a flat metal plate (platen) downwards and thus securing the book to be worked on.

It is important to note how the groove in the screw is milled as a groove which is too steep will now allow you to give a good amount of pressure to the press. More information on this can be found here at Eden Workshops.

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Many people will mistake a copy press for a nipping press but generally speaking a copy press will only have 2 pillars and will not be capable of exerting the same amount of force as that of a nipping press. Copy presses were originally designed and manufactured for the copying of documents and small scale print making.

2nd hand nipping presses can often be found here on ebay.com but you can also find them from the following suppliers:

The larger version of a nipping press is called a Standing Press and feature a larger availability of daylight and increased pressing power.

Prices for nipping presses range anywhere from £50 to £2500 depending on condition, size and build quality.

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