Etching press modified to do relief printing- registration needed

Hello All.
This is my first time posting, so go easy on me. :) I bought a Conrad etching press.
I like it for it’s versatility in doing intaglio, monotype prints- and now relief prints. I have a type cabinet filled lots of wood and metal fonts (some of the smaller I need to sell on ebay) and tons of cuts, furniture and the like. I have purchased two types of quoins/keys and inks and everything else I can think of. The total size of the bed of my press is 12x18, some of that I can not use, as the bed can not go all the way through without becoming unbalanced. I am having a friend (nice to know people, make me a custom sized steel, chase to get the most I can out of the bed size. I plan on putting it on top of the current bed to print (as to be able to remove for other printing). Question is- registration. I read this post (and tons other) trying to find a registration method that may work. I like the pin idea and it may work as is. Is this the best way to get registration for my press? I also came about these while trying to find a more permanent solution to printing different size papers. Could I use these retractable registration pins- drill holes in the before mention furniture put in these pins, punch small holes and line up the paper (with added paper allowed for pins)? Thoughts on this- or any better method of registering my prints. Thank you for your time and knowledge. :D


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Ops… here is the link to the pins (the retractable at the top) P100.

They run about $0.99 each.

I don’t know about the Wagner Supply pins, but pins are the easiest way to get perfect registration on an etching or proof press. The Tamarind School’s Lithography textbook shows in some detail how to make simple needle registration pins and how to use them.

Thank you winking cat. That is the second time I have seen that book suggested. I also saw it is near $100. Anyone want to scan me the page(s) on pin registration? ;) So, you think that using furniture at the top of the lockup will be enough? What if I need to replace some items in the lockup, for a second color? Won’t it get out of register? Or do I just have to be extra careful? Thanks.

And if anyone else has suggestions or experience, let me know. :)

And what kind of “pins” should I use?

Check out this link. It shows a pin registration system using a cheap three hole punch from Walmart for pins.

Here is someone who is using the system

Boundstaff- thank you. The second post is interesting. I don’t think the three-hole punch will work, as I need it to be able to go under the roller. I have had custom, fabricated chase built to be able to lock-up my wood and metal type. So, I just need something simple to be able to position the paper the same way each time, esp. if I do multiple colors. I am going to look into the second post. Pins may still work if barely over type high (if I use blankets).Thank you again.

Pin registration is a handy method to know, but look out if you use a soft paper along with printing several plates. Sometimes the constant switching out of sheets works the holes loose. Not too serious of an issue if you’re doing less than 5 press runs/plates. We had some trouble in the past, and mostly keep pin registration as a method for deckled paper.

Pin registration will work, but it’s kind of overkill for one color, and you have to trim afterwards — you can also use a method called t-bar that is often used in hand litho shops. On the back side of the sheets, lightly mark the center with a “t” extending to the edge of the sheet at the top and a center line (bar) at the bottom. Use a bit of tape on the furniture to allow you to mark the top edge and another bit to mark the bottom. Place the paper as you would when printing an etching. The top edge will always be exactly located and the bottom can float a little up and down, but square will be assured because you are operating off of the centerline of the sheet.. (I am assuming that you’re aiming at something more like printmaking than printing….) Also, you really, really want to use roller bearers if you print type material on an etching press — it’s far too easy to crush stuff without the engineering in even a proof press that maintains nominal type high between the cylinder and the bed.

Vroooooom and Jeff- thank you for your comments. :) Jeff, I have had a chase built to give me the maximum space to lock up type. Could you explain further about the roller bearers- and their need. I am thinking I will need something like that to hand ink them (so that the ink does not roll to the edges of the type. I was considering using the blankets over the type/paper- after setting the roller to a bit over type-high +paper. I will post a picture of the chase I had made tomorrow. Any advise is awesome. As for the “t-bar”, I am kinda familiar with it- as I am a Art Director. My question, is if the marks are made on the furniture (I have wood) that are lower than type high- “how can I line it up with marks on the paper, which will be on the type- and type-high+?

extra info- the chase I had made it half-inch high welded steel, a bit smaller (w) than my 12” wide bed. It is a few inches shorter than the bed length, so that a registration method could be attached at top (maybe?) and because it really can’t print to the end of the bed without become unbalanced. The welded bars do have small holes in them (they were previous scrap-metal). I have considered just using pins, tacks, nails(with short head) to register the paper.

image: Press2.jpg


image: Press1.jpg


I have also contemplated building up top horizontal bar (and maybe the top portion or the right, vertical bar) of the chase to be just less than type high and then adding cork board to it. Then I could tack paper to it (with the extra .5 in of paper on the top and right). Then I could lock up type starting in the upper right, print, re-register with the pin holes (would have to use marker to mark in cork-board) and then trim the final .5 in of paper on right and top. Thoughts anyone? Thank you all for your time and expertise. :)

Would love to move up to a Vandercook one day (if I can get my hands- and finances on one) ;)

Additional info on roller bearers: I found this- for a poco press. Does anyone have opinions on if this is best for my situation? Or any info on the two sources he quotes.

Thank you. :D I love this site- and all the cool people

I started to post a sketch of my simple pin-registration system here…… but since the topic has come up on other discussions as well, I made it a topic all it’s own.

If you’re using maximum chase size for type, the t-bar system will be problematic, though I have done it with lithos by taping chunks of 2x4 to the bed to extend the effective size of the stone (or in this case chase.)
Regarding roller bearers — the way I’ve learned to deal with this requires 2 sets — one set to use when inking to keep the ink off the shoulders of the type. These will get ink on them — when I print relief on the etching press I use 2 strips of varnished plywood on either side of the block to support the roller. You could do the same with 3/4 ply shimmed up to 0.918 with pressboard. I would then do the same on the press bed, making them long enough to be captured by the roller (full length of the press bed.) These stay clean.
Printing goes like this — ink the type on a flat surface using your roller, transfer the chase/form to the press bed and locate it appropriately, lay your paper and roll it through. If you’re doing multiple pass work where registration is important, always run the form through the press in the same direction (i.e. turn it so the top is always nearest the roller.) Print using only the sizing catcher and very light pressure. (Using an old sizing catcher isn’t a bad idea, either…)

PIctures posted (note that the chase is not bolted to the masonite in the picture).

Jeff- thank you for your input. :D

Ops, I never posted a completed image of the chase for my press. I know it is way late… but can maybe help someone else. Thanks again to this great group of print makers.

image: press.jpg


What did you end up using for registration?

@ your photo “Aww” ;)