Using blockprinting ink

Hi all,

I recently built one of those DIY hydraulic jack presses (sorry), because that’s just what I can afford and I like to make things. It seems to work fine, aside from some fine tuning I still have to do. I’m very excited to print invitations on it!

But my question is: Is it possible to use water-based block printing ink for letterpress?

First of all, it’s way cheaper than buying pounds of real letterpress ink. And second, cleanup is way easier because it’s water based. I understand that there is a quality difference. I won’t get the super crisp lines.

Aside from that, is there any other real reason I can’t use blockprinting ink?

I experimented with it a little bit. Inking the plate is tricky with a simple hand brayer, but I imagine there is just the same difficulty with any ink. Is the consistency much different between the two types? Anyone know?

Thanks so much, I’d love to know what you all think.


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I’d love to see some pics and descriptions of your bottle jack press, and how it was built.

You’ll have a better experience using true printing ink, or lithography ink. It has more body to it than the block printing ink (I’m assuming you mean speedball?) and is easier to apply evenly with a brayer.

If using the speedball ink, prepare to have ink everywhere and for the resulting prints to look blotchy! It’s truly an evil product, in my opinion. If you do decide to move forward and try it, use only a minuscule amount and be sure to roll it out evenly before inking your plate/block/etc.

Oh and for megahurt. The bottlejack press has been traveling around the internet. I believe Instructables has a few designs hosted.

I’ve seen several, just looking to see some more that people have actually built.

Thanks for the comments. My first few tries with the blockprinting ink did turn out blotchy, but I wasn’t sure if it was a matter of it being that ink or something else. I guess I’ll have to get some real ink to compare!

As for my press, it’s sort of a combination between the bottlejack press and one that uses bungee cords. The base is stationary on the bottom, while the top moves up and down. I’ll post pics as soon as I get everything figured out!