height of press bed above floor?

Back when I was a younger man, the height of a press didn’t matter much to me. I could work with a low press just as easily as I could one that was a bit tall. So… I just put my press on whatever piece of furniture, and that was that.

BUT nowadays that is not the case. This last week-end while printing on my new Showcard Press, I developed a quite serious crik in my neck….. most likely caused by the press being too low. It was sitting on a worktable that was ~30 inches tall, so the bed was approx. 32 inches above the floor.

Later I moved the press up to a 34inch tall table and that seemed to be a lot better, but I’m not sure if it’s optimum yet.

Here is my question: If you have a flatbed press (Showcard, Vandercook, Nolan, Poco or similar) how high above the floor is the bed of your press? And does that height seem right for you?

Also…. how high is the bed of a typical Vandercook?

Log in to reply   7 replies so far

G’day Winking Cat;

I’ve a Vandrcook AP15 and, mounted on a couple of 2x4’s, the bed is in the vicinity of 34 or 35 inches off the floor. I’m pushing 60 and have more aches and pains than Carters have pills (as the saying goes) and I find it a really good height to work at. Mind you, I’m 5’10” and if you’re shorter/taller it might make a difference. When trying to figure out working height for things like presses, I usually base things on the height of the average kitchen counter-top…..cheers….db.

…..That’s supposed to be SP15 not AP15…..it’s been a long day and my eyes must be going too….again, cheers….db

The bed on our vandercook SP-15 is about 32.5” off the floor. at 5’7”, i find it a bit high, so i stand on two floor mats (stacked one on top of the other) that we bought at Lowes that total about 1.5” thick (.75” each) - i like the mats making me a bit taller and like the padding under my feet. it helps with back pain.


At 6 feet tall, I find that a working surface that is 38” to 42” is just about right, with 40” being optimum. I had a Vandercook SP20 that I raised 4” to keep from bending over too much, and at that it was still a little low. For a sho-card press you would want the height comfortable for inking with your arms bent at 90 degrees. Reaching up too high and bending down too low can be very tiring, and as I found out by operating Vandercook presses for years, it can be very damaging to one’s lower back. Since we are all built differently, you will need to experiment a bit to find what is the best height for your needs.


I do agree with everyone that the Press Bed Height should be commensurate with one’s overall body proportions. Since I’m 5’ 11” without my shoes on, I’m closest to David Brewer’s size.

I think I’ll do a test by setting the bed at 36” and see how that works before I build a new table.

Thanks all.

I got the largest Showcard and a Nolan #2 sitting on a table that is 45”. The Showcard is taller, it’s bed is probably at 50” and the Nolan’s bed is at 49”. I’m 6’5” with 36” arms and this table is perfect for my body, in fact it’s a huge pleasure to work at that height, I don’t hurt my back at all. My Vandercook sits on a wood pallet but even still its much lower, around 40” - it’s harder to work with. My bookmaking table is also really tall, it’s at about 46”. Why wouldn’t I have tall tables in my shop, I’m a tall guy. Make yourself comfortable - I wish I could get that Vandercook up another 10 inches or so, but…maybe in the next shop. I always think if I had a building I owned with a concrete floor I could then set up a form to pour a custom concrete base on it and get that press up to any height I wanted. That would be sweet.

OK…. I set my press at 36” and printed with it for a full day. It was better, but not perfect. So for today I blocked it up to 38” above the floor….. and it’s seems about right now. That’s where I’m going to keep it for the next few days.