I could use some help!

Hi everybody! I’m going to apologize in advance if I sound like I don’t know what I am talking about - truth is I dont!

I am building a shop in my house for my SOs christmas gift. I am currently looking for some of the things other than the press itself that I need to make it so she is on her way to printing!

I have been trying to do some research but I don’t know what the essentials really are (this is her thing. not mine!)

So short of the press and everything that came with that to make it work, what should I get for the work benches? I am looking for a papercutter, but no go so far - would a normal swingarm style one work?

I know I need to make a surface where she can put everything together, would a slab of granite work as long as it is flat?

any other suggestions would be great!

thanks :)

Log in to reply   8 replies so far

If the press didn’t include any type or type cases or stands for the cases, those are considered by many to be essential. Also, a small galley cabinet with galleys is very handy for storing type forms or plates, or other such things. The “stone” for locking up the type or plates or whatever, for the press, needs to be very flat — I’m not sure a granite countertop slab would be flat enough but you can check — a sink cutout from such a countertop would be a large stone. Another possibility is a granite surface plate such as are used in machine shops — I have one just large enough for my 7x11 Pearl chases. They’re flat to about 1/10,000 inch.

Other than that, shelves to store ink, paper, etc are necessary. And good lighting over the press, composing area, and stone.


A light table, even a very small one, is quite a big help. especially when doing multicolor registration. If she does not have a furniture rack or reglet rack, those are very nice, too.

Not sure of the press in consideration, or whether you are going to go with polymer/plate or metal but if building from a clean sheet, the following are handy to have:

Shelves! You can never have too many shelves. Ideally (to make room for whatever you acquire) you don’t want to tie up the walls, but you can put them all around the room up high (over 5 feet) where they generally won’t get in the way of typecases or presses.

A desk/computer/media center or some other space that can be used to keep track of what’s going on. If you consider workbenches, have them be portable so they can be moved around to where they are needed. It might be handier to keep the bulk of the space open and use folding tables to create working space. Alternately a drying rack might be a nice investment.

Plenty of lighting. Alternately, make it so fixtures can be moved around (fluorescent shop lights plugged into switchable ceiling out lets. Painting the walls a reflective light color will reduce the amount of lighting required.

Undercounter trash bins, perhaps segregated for recycling. Also a “safety” rag can (the step lid variety) to reduce fumes, or a ventilation fan.

Floor mats, it saves the operators feet, back, and anything that takes a dive to the floor—especially handy if hand settting.

I am sure there’s more, but I’ll let others come up with those ideas.

In no particular order…

Prep bench w/ cutting mat
Imposing surface
Finish bench for sorting/counting/packing
Paper cutter
Light box/table
Shelves for ink
Flat-file for artwork
Shelves & pegboard for tools
Bins for clean rags, inky rags, oily rags, powder rags
Rack(s) for extra chases
Apron hooks
Adequate lighting & neutral tone interior
Exhaust fan
Flammables container
Fire extinguisher
First-aid kit

I’d start with the book Letterpress Now by Jessica White.
I has everything you need and pictures too.
Good luck, Steve V.

Many rush in to buy a press and ‘things’.
The first thing a prospective printer needs is lessons and a feel for all that is needed in addition to the press. All the ink and paper and tools will not make a printer unless she or he has developed some skills and an understanding of the press.
If this sounds like an old teacher on the soapbox; it is.
Oh, the old school room board shear may be OK for cutting one sheet of paper.

Thanks everyone! This certainly makes life a little easier for me!

I should have mentioned she has been printing for a few years now at a community print shop, so it’s not just running into it!

Have an oil can handy these machines require some oil every day and if they don’t get oiled parts wear. This is a continuing problem with old machinery. Make a rack for it and keep it handy and full. Have a specified clean area for paper storage. Paper has a natural attraction for soiled hands. A handy wash up area is important clean hands are critical. Customers don’t like your finger prints on their work. Dave