A New Twist on an Old Idea
There are many home-made varieties of a hydraulic letterpress printing press on the internet, with various sets of plans to build your own. I took the best ideas I could find and created my own version.
Like many of the products on this site, this Hydraulic Letterpress Printing Press began as a custom order for a customer who wanted to print her own wedding invitations. Because this press compliments the Letterpress Proofing Press I build, it fit well with my passion for building quality, modern versions of tried-and-true equipment at an affordable price.
If you want to start printing soon, using a letterpress with no breakable parts, nothing to maintain, easy to use and at a price that’s fair, then this press is for you. As with all my equipment, orders for custom sizes are always welcomed. This size should be suitable for most needs.
Comes with Chase and Tympan
This press now comes with a chase/tympan which makes it very easy to use. This video shows what it looks like and how it is used. Inside open area of the chase is 9-1/2″ x 12″.
Compact and Easy to Move
This Hydraulic Letterpress Printing Press is compact, taking up little space in the studio, making UPS shipping and transport simple and relatively inexpensive. It’s portable, too, meaning it can easily be moved from one part of the studio to another. At the same time, it’s heavy enough to keep from sliding around on your bench. Non-skid rubber feet also insure it won’t move.
It’s built from oak, maple or beech, and Baltic birch plywood, with 3″ thick Formica-covered laminated Baltic birch/cabinet grade plywood platens.
Platen area is 13″ x 13″.
Hydraulic Letterpress Printing Press Pressure and Lockup
With this press, printing would be done by either the provided chase and lead/wood type or photopolymer printing plates, both of which are loose in the press so you can remove it to ink and place the paper. A base for photopolymer is not provided (1/4″ thick plexiglass works great for polymer plates).
This is a pinch type press, where the pressure is created by a hydraulic 4 ton jack, which is sufficient pressure for just about any printing job.
Important Note: Your lockup should be centered on the bottom platen, directly under the hydraulic jack. This will ensure you get even pressure over the whole area of your print. If your lockup is anywhere other than center, the upper platen will tend to tilt a tiny bit and not give even pressure to your print.
Type-High Doesn’t Matter to the Hydraulic Letterpress
“Type-high” means nothing to this press, as it adjusts from 0″ to about 2-3/4″. This opens up a wide range of uses and makes the press more flexible for different mediums and type sources than just whatever will fit under a type-high cylinder.
Too Good to be True?
I don’t think so. The tests I have done with this press show that it will print very well with a variety of mediums.
Because of the pressures involved, this press will do deep impressions, so deep, in fact, that if you aren’t careful with your packing, you will almost push the type right through the paper!
As with any printing press, large entirely-inked areas are always a problem, making it difficult to consistently pull totally flawless prints with no skips. Again, this is a function of paper, ink, packing and make-ready. Pressure is also part of the equation, but with 4 tons from the jack, this can probably be ruled out. Whether it will print lino cuts or wood block cuts I have no idea as I have not tried them. These are usually printed in a carrier run through pinch-rollers, but they might work in this press too. Again, packing is the all important variable with any letterpress process.
With a little practice I am confident that you will be able to produce decent-looking prints, even if you are inexperienced.
Purchase the Letterpress Printing Press – $680
Note: This product is a build-to-order purchase, unless one is in stock when you are ready to buy. I make these one at a time.
Download the Affordable Hydraulic Letterpress Printing Press Guide
I’ve also prepared a PDF document for download providing additional details about the hydraulic letterpress printing press.