Dampening the paper (aka, miracle-working)

I was having a lot of problems with ink consistency and quality while printing wedding invites on my tabletop press yesterday—the color wasn’t coming out as vibrant as I wanted it to, and the text had a fuzzy look to it. Hard to read.


Thanks to advice I found on here on this lovely website, I tried dampening the paper (I picked up a warm steam vaporizer from Walgreens, and passed the paper in front of it for a few seconds, front and back), and WOW. Such a difference.

Granted, it pretty much doubled my printing time—but I’m hugely impressed with the results.


Log in to reply   3 replies so far

Wildwest…… on behalf of all those folks who have posted conversations about dampening paper, I’d like to say a hearty “you are welcome!”. It’s nice to know that folks read what us older printers write.

Dampening paper is one of the best things you can do to improve the quality of your impression, but unfortunately most printers don’t take the time to do it. Now that you are damp-paper convert, you can help evangelize others to it’s goodness! ;)

Any good links to more details about doing this in a good way? I’d like to try it.

If you can find a copy of Lewis Allen’s book Printing on a Hand Press, he has an excellent description of dampening a quantity of paper and a design for a humidor paper storage box to maintain it at the correct dampness for edition printing. Rummonds’ book Printing on the Iron Hand Press has an extensive discussion in chapter 24, “Dampening the Paper”. Both approaches are, of course, for the slower work at the hand press but can be adapted to printing on a hand-lever tabletop press or even on a very slowly-running platen jobber.