ink scale recommendations

Can anyone recommend a reliable and precise ink scale for weighing Pantone inks (for mixing)? I’m looking at triple beam balances and electronic scales, just not sure what approach to take with this.

This scale seems to be reasonably priced:

Also, do any of you premix a larger amount than needed and store for future use? If so, how do you store? I recall reading that someone stores in syringes. Any ideas?

Sorry, just haven’t found any solid answers in the archives here.



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Here’s a photo of mine.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

image: beam scale.jpg

beam scale.jpg

Rich, I shouldn’t read your posts with a mouthful of tea. This is beautiful!

Joshua, if you subscribe to the Letpress list there are also a few discussions over there about storing premixed ink. Was it possibly tubes and not syringes that you heard about?

Also, I don’t think that mixing precise formulas that were intended for offset printing will provide the same effect when used for letterpress. I’m probably a slouch about this, but I’ve just used the Pantone formulas as a starting point. I put roughly equal-sized dabs of ink on the slab, one dab for each indicated Pantone part, somewhat rounded off, of necessity. Then I make draw-downs with my — ahem — finger on the intended paper, eyeball the result, and make adjustments until it looks real close. Then I run a trial print on the intended paper and make any necessary further adjustments. The more you do this, the better you get. I think it’s one of those may-the-force-be-with-you processes.


That’s a brilliant reply Rich! And for Joshua, try to mix inks the old fashioned way, forget about Pantone and scales. Unless you’re running a commercial printing plant, the best way is to get to know the basics of mixing inks. With a few cans of ink (yellow, magenta and cyan, plus transparent and opaque white) you can make up nearly every colour. Use your eyes and your thumb (to stipple or dabble some onto a piece of paper that you’re going to print on) and judge. Be creative!

image: IMG_0922.jpg



I have always used Pelouze scales, usually a dual read with a 25lb capacity. The larger scale has a bigger platform which is handy, and you don’t have to mess with adding weights. You can find them in most cooking stores and online. Plus, you can use it to weigh small packages when necessary.


Thanks for your responses! Rich, I’m guessing that’s not a Pelouze scale? :) I’ll explore both the scale and dab approaches to see what works best. I’m sure each will be good for the other side of my brain.

Thanks again.

Hi! How high a resolution do you usually use for measuring out inks. I find that 1 gram resolution is a bit high for mixing inks for just one run. Do most of you just mix up larger amounts or do you have a more accurate scale? I found this one that I might get:

Ohaus TAJ602 Gold Scale Multi-functional jewelry scale with 100th gram resolution 600 gram capacity x 0.01 gram resolution

They have it here:

image: taj-gold-large.jpg


Trying to mix inks with less than a 1 gram resolution can be very trying (mixing grays for example). Even on a O’hause triple beam, you’ll be down to using the grains scale to get the mix. The newer digital scales have a lot going for them in that regard.

Remember that whatever Pantone color you mix, you’ll probably have to cut the mix with mixing white to get the color from printing too dark, as the ink film laid down by letterpress is far greater than that created in offset printing.

Please see my comment below. I posted two comments by mistake and don’t know how to delete this one.

A digital kitchen scale comes to mind……..probably locally available or available on line, and low cost. They may or may not be suitable, but it may be worth evaluating whether they can be used for the purpose under discussion here.

Looking into getting a scale finally. Looking at advice here and elsewhere, I’m only looking at scales that measure less than 1 gram. Another thread recommended Pelouze scales but they don’t have increments that small.

I was hoping to get something that I could use for ink and mail and packages, but it seems like there’s a correlation, you either get a scale with small increments and a low capacity, a larger capacity with larger increments. If you want both, suddenly the scale costs 1,000 dollars.

I’ve narrowed down to three models and was wondering if anybody had any experience with these or feedback/suggestions about these or otherwise. They’re all also counting scales, because that seemed like it might be practical, though I’m wondering if anything I’d want to count would weigh more than the max capacity.

1. Ohaus Scout Pro SP401. Capacity 400 grams (.88lb), readability .1g, about 128$

2. Adam LBK-6a. Capacity 3000 grams (6lb), readability .5g, about 115$

3. Qtech X-Res 3. Capacity 1360 grams (3lb), readability .05g, about 179$

Ohaus is the best known/trusted brand it seems. The Adam is well-reviewed on one site. Qtech seems like it may be a shady company…or just one with a really sloppy and confusing website. They have a page promoting the scale as an ink scale specifically:

but the same scale appears on different pages as if it’s a different scale, when it’s clearly the same, as if they thought having a page that says “Ink Scale” will reach one market and another saying “Counting Scale” even though the scale and information are identical.

Anyway, any thoughts? The cheaper scales, like the one I have in my kitchen, all seem to be at least 1g or higher readability.

I have an old( 20 years at least) triple beam balance that i use for mixing , increments of 0.1g takes a max of 2.6kilo or about 5lb .
Any scale that doesnt have tenths of a gram or equivalent in imperial scale will require you produce bucketloads so you are looking a bit more upmarket than kitchen kit but not quite the science lab .
It is an american scale, OHAUS , the plate is marked Florham Park NJ 07932 U.S.A I hope that is of use
Well having done a ssearch they are made in switzerland and the dealer was in america , the firm still exist but i am lost when it comes to the price ,not as good with a computor as i need to be .!
The Ohaus site is a bit odd as widmark describes and i think its because of the system of wheedling out of you info to help get the right scale for the job ,a sort of all roads lead home eventually attitude !!

I’ve used this scale for 8 years and it works great.

That scale only measures in 1g increments. Does that make it hard to measure out inks that require 1/4 portions? For instance yesterday I was mixing Pantone 400 (I think, if not, this is hypothetical), which called for 16 parts Trans White and 1/4 Black. To measure that on a scale with 1g increments, I’d have to multiple x4, and measure out 64g of White and 1g of Black?

The Ohaus site is fine. It’s the Qtech one that makes me weary.

I have always found it easier to use the percentage measurements in the Pantone book instead of the parts measurements. But you do want as sensitive a scale as you can afford. The clunker I have at The Arm is not ideal for measuring small increments with accuracy. It is the weak link in the chain- time to replace it!

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Makes sense. I just brought down my Escali scale from my kitchen (which is almost never used). It’s readability is 1g. To mix pms 400, I’d have to multiply the parts by 4 as mentioned, and seeing how much trans white just 16 grams is made me pretty sure I don’t want to measure out 64 grams. The capacity was really good, so I can definitely use that for postal purposes (as well as food).

If I used the percentages for this color, it’s 1.5 black and 98.5 Trans White. I think this will have to be an eyeball situation.

A little more expensive than the scales mentioned above, more in the 210-230 range, is the A&D Newton series, which has a readability of .01 grams, compared to the .1 of the Ohaus and .5 of the Adam and .2 of the Qres. The capacity ranges from 120 to 310 grams. Or they have one at .1g with a capacity of 1500, making it more practical than the Ohaus.

In the spirit of sharing, here’s the spreadsheet I came up with:

I’m thinking that while more expensive, the Newton EJ-1500 might be a sweet spot, since it’s .1g but can weigh up to 3.3lbs.

Or I may go with the Newton EJ300. There’s also the Ohaus TAJ202 and TAJ604 Gold Scale series, shown above. The Scout scales have more features (summing when counting etc) but to get .01 readability you up into the high 200$s.

Yes, I can be excessive when researching gadgets.

and those prices are rough. Some are from Amazon. Some from which seems like a great site.

Once you have the scale, you’ll also want to check to see that it is accurate. You’ll need a set of calibrated brass weights to check it.

My father was a Gemologist and so he had a set of these perfect lab weights and he was constantly re-calibrating his scale with them.

I just mention it because- Spending the money on an accurate scale does not always guarantee accuracy. It’s also in the hand of the user. So, don’t geek out as much on the gadget side as you are. Just find a good scale with a good value at your chosen resolution and get used to how it works.

Yeah, I’ve definitely hit my wall regarding “research”. I’m just going to go with my gut and get either the Ohaus or A&D. They both seem like reputable companies.

I went ahead and ordered the A&D EJ-1500 for The Arm. It looks like it’ll be arriving today. I’ll let everyone know what I think of it!

Thanks to Mr. Selzer for his research.


I ordered the EJ-120. It’s basically the same as that one but has a lower max but finer measuring, .01g.

I think maybe I should’ve gone for the one you got because I like that move of putting a 1lb can on the scale and measuring the ink I remove, but that’s a higher capacity than I can handle.

In any case, I got it a few days ago, haven’t had the chance to really use it but feel really great about it. Looking at photos, all these scales look cheap, but this one does not feel great. I’ll tell you how I finally decided on this brand. All the other ones had a 1 year warranty. This one has a 5 year warranty. That sounds confidant to me! Anyway, judging from the packaging, the display, the feel etc, it seems like real quality.

Whether it can actually weigh anything, I don’t know.

Actually I tested out the counting feature for fun. Put on 5 stickie notes, set it so it would count the weight of 5. Then every time I added a sticky note to the pile, it increased a number. That was pretty cool.

sorry, should read “this one does not feel cheap”