Maybe slightly off topic? Hopefully though someone can help. I want to block print from lino cuts… and was wondering if I could use my old book press to do this. It is one of those antique screw presses with the large cast iron frame. Is this enough pressure to give me a clear print? Alternatively I was thinking of making a press with a bottle jack… Any advice is appreciated.

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Depending upon the size of your linoleum block, you may have better luck burnishing by hand. If your block is bigger than like, 8X10, it’s going to be a pain in the ass to torque enough pressure with one of those old book presses- though you COULD I wouldn’t personally recommend it, especially depending upon the press you have.

A bottle jack press would be a better route, and I’ve seen those put out enough pressure to die-form annealed metal sheets between pieces of urethane for jewelry prototypes (when the press was properly built out of welded metal frames).

Do you mind if the image is a little salty? If not, you may be able to pull it off, especially if you have the right packing to distribute the pressure around on the ink. I would recommend using oil based ink, some good cotton rag paper (dampened), and experiment with different packing, even like a rubber blanket or felt etching blanket.

Dampening the paper before you print will help.

Just a note on printing large blocks (or just about anything else in general). A cylinder press is vastly superior to a flat platen press for trying to print a large/dense area. With a platen press all the pressure created is applied to, and spread over, the entire area at one time. With a cylinder press, the pressure is more concentrated just under where the cylinder itself moves across the block/area and is therefore capable of applying much more pressure after it is done passing over the entire area for a better result.


Having read that, I don’t think (s)he has access to a cylinder press. Which is why I suggest looking into a bottle jack press, as it will print most anything that you can ink up and put between the two platens.

WOW! Great feedback. Yes, I would love to have an old proofing press hanging around in the basement but no such luck… and no coin to drop on a new piece of equipment.

So I think I will play with hand burnishing, then try the book press and various backing. SInce these will be one colour imprints, I’m not overly concerned with plate to plate registration, but I would like a highly detailed and clean image… “salty” need not apply!

Mmmm, cylinder and pressure… my last attempt might be to drive over it with a truck!

Thanks for all your help!

I have used a baren before many times. It was actually quite effective, but not consistent or uniform if that is what you are going for, i wasn’t.

Real barens made of bamboo are very special, extremely rare and take 6 months to get made. I have a real one, but I used an plastic one from the art store for my prints. The real baren is a work of art in itself.

An etching press or cylinder press is not mechanically very complicated. Precision is the key to a cylinder style press.

BulletProof - What kind of images do you usually make? Do you primarily make images consisting of thin lines, or do you you prefer large areas of solids? Your book press may be able to print an image made up of thin lines. Dampening the paper will help with making any printed area more solid.

Check out the pawn shops and craigslist for your area. You might find a hydraulic press that could modified to print relief work. Another option is to build a press like the bottle jack press or a wringer press. Here are some ideas for you to look over.
Speedball wringer press - Like a washing machine wringer

Instructables fancy bottle jack press.

Hydraulic tool press

Natalia Moroz

image: newpress3.jpg


Bulletproof, check out the web site of The Museum of Printing in Massachusetts, every year they do printing with a steam roller, it does a nice job, the photos are under the link to the printers fair. Good Luck Dick G.

Bulletproof -

As Dick says, they do print using a steam roller once a year at the Museum in MA, but I think they “borrowed” that idea from Seattle. But even at that the idea goes much farther back.

In the late 70’s or early 80’s I did a catalog for an international print contest. One of the winners was an absolutely stunning piece from South America. Someone had used an ornate sewer lid for their submission.

As I recall the sewer lid was located on a commercial street and was initially covered with something fairly thin to keep the print paper clean. The heavy paper to be used was then laid on top of that and then covered with other materials and several layers of cardboard. It was all taped in place and then the normal day’s traffic was allowed to drive over the piece. At the end of the day everything was taken off the road, and sandwiched near the bottom was this beautiful pristine sheet of white paper with the ornate sewer lid deeply embossed into it. It was indeed a winner!