kelsey 5x8 printing with smaller base- can you go larger?

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Asking a Kelsey to print anything close the full size of the chase is generally asking to much. When I had an identical Kelsey, I found that 1/3 to 1/2, depending on the density of the image (the denser the area, the smaller) being printed was a practical upper limit. Beyond that your’re going to get increasingly worse impressions and I doubt you’ll be happy with the results. Then there is the real risk you’d damage your press by pushing too hard on the handle.

Kelsey presses can do some very fine work, but you have to live within the limitations. Larger presses are more heavily built and take up more space but they can print larger images.

the base needs to be a little smaller than the chase to allow room for gauge pins and grippers, if you hit the base with gauge pins or the grippers you could damage the base or the press. Good Luck Dick G.

Thank you! I’ve put the press up for sale… so I can find a larger one. If anyone knows of any larger presses around. 6x9 etc. please let me know. I still want to stay table top but larger.

I heard you found a press within an hour and a half drive of you—some cool cat named Andrew found it for you, didn’t he?—self aggrandizing type I hear—isn’t he Dave Churchman’s son? :)

I had the base made that was almost the size of my 5x8 chase. Since Kelsey chases have screws, there was no need to leave room for quoins. Had to abandon gauge pins when printing photo-polymer in favor of paper supports held together with scotch tape. Works for a hand-cranked table-top.


Arie makes a good point about image size vs platen size. Trying to print a large form on a small press does require some special techniques - and design of your print job.

But it can be done. - especially if you understand the limits and design for your press size and inking system. For example; avoid large solid areas; use thin lines in your designs and don’t expect deep impression on a small press with limited pressure.

As Arie points out - these presses can be broken if too much impression pressure is applied. Small presses were made for printing small items. Bigger presses give you more of everything you need to make a good impression.

I also have a solution for the polymer base issue on small presses. Boxcar supports larger press users; I support Kelsey & other small press users. Watch for an announcement about the new, larger polymer bases I am making for small presses here or on my web site

Oprion - I have flexible gauge pins that will NOT be crushed by grippers or the base itself. See the “flexible gauge pins” on if you want to use flexible - *uncrushable* gauge pins instead of scotch tape and paper supports. These pins flatten without breaking, then spring back up when the platen is opened.

I’ll be adding a page about this subject - with proven and provable solutions - on just as soon as I catch up with some other projects and commitments and can make the time to take some photos and write a page illustrating my solutions.

- Alan