Bench height for a hand letterpress

Is there a standard or suggested tabletop height for working with tabletop presses like Victor’s, Kelsey’s etc?

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I built my bench using mostly 2x4’s, with an 8’ long 4x4 cut to four equal lengths (just under 2’ long legs), and it works great! It’s low enough that I can look down into the platen to feed and adjust, but high enough that I am not crouching over. This is, of course, taking into account that I am only 5’4” so…. adjust accordingly!

Here are some pictures of my bench… no finish, just rough lumber… looks rugged.


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At the local center for the book arts, they have hand presses on tables about 40 inches high for victors and kelseys to maximize arm leverage when standing to get a solid impression. The C&P Pilots are on roughly 30 inch tables, given the longer arm and generally taller structure of the press. It depends on your height, and press you are using.

Generally, when the arm is down (press closed) with your hand on the handle it should ideally fall about navel height, which is where your maximum leverage strength is on your body. If the table is too tall, you’ll end up having shoulder and neck problems over time, and if it is too short, lower back problems. You might try some temporary positions (bolt your hand press to a 1” piece of plywood and then clamp it to various height tables) then use it for a day. notice if you feel any back or neck strain beyond the usual tiredness from operating a press and then adjust accordingly. Once you’ve found a height that works well, build out your table to that spec.

I have a vandercook #1 hand inking proof which I am planning on putting on a 32-34 inch table once I find one that will support the weight. It requires rotating a handle like a regular vandercook, but the press is 9” tall to the center of the handle pivot bringing my work height to 40+ inches which is comfortable for me when I’m standing. Much of it depends on your standing height.

One other thing, if you’re press room has a concrete floor, consider going to a local bar or restaurant supply and buying one of those thick rubber floor mats to put in front of your press to stand on, you’ll thank yourself at the end of each day…



Thanks Alan! This really helps. I am going to build everything except the press table and work on temporary surfaces until I test your various heights! I am 6’2” so who knows where it will end up. Home Depot sells exercise or fatigue matts as well, I haven’t compared them to the restaurant matts for cost.

Great ideas!


Hi Dennis,

did you ever decide on a table height? Lauri


Just worked with Alan a Excelsior Press in NJ with my Victor press. I will be building the table in the next week or so. I will let you know at that point, but it is unique to your height and comfort of loading and unloading the press and pulling the lever. The notes above from Alan are very inciteful. I am thinking of doing an adjustable table so my wife can use it also. She is a foot shorter than me.



Determined my bench height based on some of the above comments, my heoight and the press. I built the bench to 25 inches high for the press and 40 inches high for the work surface area for setting type etc. It worked out perfectly. I will post a picture later!

Let me know what you do!



Devils Tail,

Your right. My wife is 5’3” and I will have to have a platform for her to use the press comfortably. The beauty of being different!