Finally! Found a Kelsey 6x10 and it’s red! Advice for a beginner?

My only printing experience has been on a Vandercook Universal Press, using removable type. This is my first platen press and I plan to use it mostly with polymer plates. Am I still going to need furniture or is there some sort of block I lock into the chase? I have been reading through the various discussion topics here, and the manual posted on Boxcars’ website. So, I feel fairly good to go once I have replaced the rollers and trucks (NA Graphics). And have cleaned the rust off the ink table. Just a few questions…

I am curious about what people have found successful for packing quantities and materials, and what is the best way to buy tympan -in a roll?

Does anyone have a suggestion for finding a used pantone formula guide? At almost $100 they are so unbelievably expensive new.

And finally I have been reading that this press tends to be a little heavy to use. I am still shopping around for a table, but at 5ft. 4” tall does anyone have a suggestion for whether I want a short or taller table for proper leverage?

Anyone who has advice to offer on using this press—it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

image: kelsey.jpg


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Good Work Gigi! The 6x10 is probably the best of the Kelsey tabletops. If you take care of it, it’ll serve you well for a long, long time.

To get started, I’d recommend reading the Kelsey Printer’s Manual. (There are several pdf versions online such as the one on Don Black’s website. ) It is a basic text on how to set up your press, set type, and print using movable type. Then after you’ve read that, go to the Boxcar site and read it. Between the two, you can get a rather complete run-down on the process….. including proper tympan packing and so forth.

For the table, I’d recommend that the tabletop be at or just above waist high. That’ll put the lever at a good height for printing.


Read your comments in Briar. Here are my brief comments…
Forget the color of the press…it means nothing! What is important is this; What is condition of press, and is it setup right? You have a Kelsey, (press size is good) not a Pilot or Craftsman so there is a difference and every press is limited! Of course, the equipment is as good as the operator….if you know what you are doing and understand letterpress, then you can do wonders on any press!

Yes, you should have some wood furniture, quoins, etc to lock up your forms. Printing from plates on boxcar is not
like printing a few lines of type. Good to have new rollers and trucks…now making sure everything is right is the next step.

You do not need to buy a roll of tympan (too costly) you can buy some cut sheets and pressboards for your press, etc.

Forget the Pantone for now, you can get almost any color you want if you know the primary colors and learn to mix your own colors.

As for tables, etc. The work table should be the right height
based on your height. You can build your own worktable.
Remember, the press has only so much pressure as long as you can “push” the handle down completely. The pressure is only so much, and at times may not be enough
(that’s why they make larger presses). Kelsey’s were made for hobbyists and not for professional printers.

It is most important that you know the basics of letterpress,
and understand what you are doing and why! Much fun and excitement is yours if this is the case, otherwise there
will be problems. Remember…”Knowledge is Power”!

Feel free to email me. I do have new wood furniture for
sale and also some tympan papers, etc. My advice is free to you and Good Luck with printing!


Thank you for the good advice. I will likely build my own table with your considerations in mind. And I hadn’t considered blindly mixing colors, I suppose that wouldn’t be too hard…

I also like to put skeptics’ minds at ease and say, I have no plans to break into the world of printing with this press. I use professional letterpress printers often enough to realize that I have no want to print larger jobs. This is strictly a hobby press so that I can play around and making cards and such.

That being said I am still eager to learn as much as possible about this machine so that I can use it to it’s fullest potential.

Much thanks again for the good advice, and enthusiasm.