Craftsman 12 x 18 operators? Advice please.

I am considering purchasing a Craftsman 12 x 18 press that seems to be in mostly great shape. My only serious concern is a small amount of platen “wiggle”, suggesting (as far as I’ve been told) some wear in the bearing on the wheel to the pressman’s right (when facing press) - the one with the small cam follower that is always harder to find for oiling. Perhaps the press had been worked hard at some point, i.e. lots of die cutting etc… The “wiggle” is present with the platen wide open as well as more minimally when closer to closed. Once it is all the way to impression position with the “gate” or “cradle” locked in place beneath it, it is totally solid and not going anywhere.
I have also heard different things about printing with this type of press. On one hand, I have heard that the adjustable rails help enable the press to manage very clean, fine work as well as the press’s hallmark ability to handle larger areas with relative ease. On the other hand, I have also heard that with this large and powerful of a press, fine detail work can be somewhat compromised.

If anyone is willing to comment on either or both of the two main points above (or anything else that comes to mind), I would be grateful.


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I’ll leave the “wiggle” question to someone else, but can respond with the question regarding sacrificing fine detail.

The size of the press or its impression strength has little to do with reproducing fine detail. The essence of getting the best image from your type and plates is careful makeready of the form and ink roller settings, particularly on a platen press.

If mechanically sound, a heavier and larger press can be a real benefit to the careful printer.

John Henry


Is this one of the earlier Craftsman models or the later, auto-feed machines? The early models were fine presses, but the later machines with one-piece base, impression control knobs, etc. are incredible.


Hi Brad, this press is from 1947 and has the auto feeder, although I actually hope to be able to use it at least part time as a hand fed. I’m hoping that it is not too awkward using such a large press for hand feeding, as I’m used to hand feeding only my 10 x 15 C&P.


I’d say get it. You’ll love it. It’s a beast of a press, but it can hold up to the most demanding work. You can strip off the auto feeder if you don’t want it or you can just set the press up for handfed work as needed.


You can rotate the auto feeder out of the way on these, correct?

HavenPress, yes that is my understanding.