Platen Leveling

Hello, Newbie of the Newbies here with another ?

Well I tried making an impression today, my first, albeit missing some key components and really the wrong ink, rubber stamp ink, but right now all I had. Anyway,

I have some die cuts in various sizes, chased up a 2x2 on my 5x8 Kelsey and made a pretty good looking print. Okay going brave, now chased up a 2.5 x 3ish, made a good impression on one side, so I adjust impression screws, to where it looks level, made an impression and it was very hard to get the handle locked down and very hard to get it up, and I have fairly strong hands and forearms. Made the impression but not the greatest. I know my screws must have been too tight to make such a hard push down.

My question is, once you level the platen, does it have to be releveled for each new job?

How hard should it really be to push down the handle to get an impression?

I appreciate the help and smiles as you read this o seasoned ones! Thanks much!!!!

Log in to reply   5 replies so far

Once your platen is level, you shouldn’t have to touch the screws again.

Level it properly by placing a large piece of type, such as a 72pt “M”, in each corner of your chase and printing it until those four “M”s are all clear and solid. Then you can back off.

To fine-tune and adjust impression in order to compensate for low-spots on your cuts etc. you use makeready under/over your tympan…

There are a hundred threads on here, as well as websites on the Kelsey and other platen presses, that explain how to level the platen correctly, and on doing proper makeready, the search engines are your friend.

Congratulations on getting ink on your press, good luck!


Pilgrim, go immediately to any printer and ask them for some ink, most shops have something that they will share with you, rubber stamp ink is way toooo watery to get any kind of a print from, when you adjust your platen i use 36 point type on my smaller presses and the 72 point on the c&p’s. To adjust the platen you need to start with a normal packing, a top sheet with a press board and 2 or 3 sheets of a copy paper , your impression handle should be fairly easy to push down, the larger the image you are trying to print the harder it will be to push down, too hard and you can break the press. Once you set the screws you really don’t have to fool with them, like Kim says there are hundreds of threads on leveling your platen and for doing makeready. Dick G.

Make sure you are locking up your blocks or type so the center of the printing area is in the center of the chase — if you are very far off center that will give you the result you got.


Hey folks thanks for your help! We have several print shops in town, don’t know if any of them still do letterpress anymore, mostly all digital offset, but will try to make contacts. Thanks for the platen leveling tips! I really really appreciate this forum and everyone’s help!!!! Blessings.

Pilgrim, offset ink will work just fine for letterpress. Dick G.