getting an even print on a table top press

I’m new to letterpress printing and recently aqcuired a Golding Official No.4 8 1/4 x 12 1/2 hand press. I have read lots of instruction on setting up the press and have spent hours upon hours squaring the platen. For packing I have used three magazine pages, a red pressboard, and tympan. After all this I am still not getting an even impression, especially when printing larger pieces. I am wondering if this is a draw back of the press itself, or if I am still doing something wrong (using worn type, wrong paper & ink combination, if my compsing stone is uneven …). Is it possible using a hand press to get an impression comparable to an impression pulled from a larger press, like a C&P windmill, a Heidelberg, or a Vandercook?

image: Golding Official-No_4.png

Golding Official-No_4.png

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You have one of the best presses ever made for table-top printing. Unless the press is damaged (either bed or platen not absolutely flat) there must be a problem either with your type or your lockup surface. Are you planing the form before tightening the quoins? Also, be sure the lockup surface is dead flat and clean — a speck of dirt under a piece of type will push it up a lot.

You can try my method for evening impression without extensive makeready: Get a piece of old offset press rubber blanket (a damaged blanket from an offset printshop works well) the size of the platen and a piece of heavy acetate plastic the same size. Put the rubber blanket on the platen, with the plastic on top of it, under your tympan drawsheet. Then put a piece of large type in each corner of the chase, lock up, and adjust your platen until all four are printing evenly. From then on you should be able to simply add a little packing under the rubber blanket for a larger printed area. The rubber absorbs the uneveness of a form and the acetate spreads the pressure so the type doesn’t punch through the tympan. I’ve used this system for many years on my 6x9 Sigwalt imitation of the Golding Official.


Hi Jeremiah,

First, let me echo Bob that you have a press that if set up correctly can produce fine work. Second, let me just kindly let you know if your chase dimensions are accurate, you have a No. 6 as the No. 4 is a 6x9 press. I own several Goldings and can produce nice work on my No. 9(also a 6x9) tabletop with proper adjustment. I use mine primarily for letterhead and do not look for deep impression because I have the luxury of choosing three other Golding
floor models. Your press is however capable of reasonably deep impression. You don’t say how large a piece you are trying to print. I trust you have read about the limits compared to chase size. Also remember when you adjust the bed for proper pressure, and then put in some 300 GSM paper you probably will need to readjust as the thick paper will see a heavier impression toward the bottom hinge of the press. I suggest you start with something smaller and simpler and get it printing to your satisfaction. Then slowly work up to larger work.


I also have a No. 6 Golding and its a beautiful table top press—one of the best in my view. I’m not a subscriber to the rubber blanket but then again whatever you prefer.

I do find that with most every job you have to do some tinkering with the impression screws. It’s the nature of most table tops and the Golding is no exception. Once you get the platen squared away, most of the tinkering with the screws will be the top ones but then again many times I find it is with all four.

I have done what I consider fine work on the press with sometimes a chase pretty much full. It’s just a great press. Play around with it and as John suggested start with smaller, simpler jobs.

Thanks for the feedback, and you’re right it is a no. 6 that I have. John, I haven’t run across anyting in my reading about limits to chase size, at least not that I remember. Can you say anything more about that or direct me to some reading.