Modern Beginner’s Guide to Letterpress

It has been suggested, many times, that the letterpress hobby could do with a modern guide-book aimed at the absolute beginner.

I have made an attempt to produce such a guide. Aimed at the beginner who would like to start printing from home “First Steps in Letterpress” runs through the purchase, setting up and running of a table-top platen press.

It gives the beginner an idea of the range of products that can be produced using the letterpress process, and the various methods of producing them. Traditional typesetting, photo polymer and lino printing are covered.

The book has a “Reference Section” listing suppliers of everything the beginner may need, both in the USA and UK.

The book also lists places that the beginner can look for further help and advice to take the hobby further.

Available now on Kindle at Amazon US: and Amazon UK:

Dave Hughes

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Not meaning to be dis respectful but this is the funniest thing ive seen here yet ! A traditional craft, dedicated toubleshooting and ideas forum for printing physical objects , how to do it , ah yes a kindle !!!!!!
What …. not even a paper scented scratch and sniff thing so you can at least smell the ink and paper ???

Are you seriously suggesting that letterpress is an appropriate process for producing this book?

Now that’s funny!

maybe a nice compromise would be Amazon’s Createspace or some other self-publishing print-on-demand service? Then you’d have a physical object as well, (digital) print on paper at least…(not quite) best of both worlds?

I suppose Createspace could be an option, however, I’ve heard mixed reviews of their quality.

I do not have a Kindle.
Please, someone who does, read it and give a good (thorough) review.
This could be a very good thing for new entrants to the craft. I agree that it would be nice to have the printed text in hand. That not being real practical, I think we will agree that substance is more important than form.
Educate so there will be more of us.

The medium for delivery in todays environment is really very good as the younger people have good access to the info , i just thought it rather masochistic that a hands on craft gets instructions from the other end of the graphics yard ! I saw a copy of the british printing society a while ago and although gracefully upholding the value in history of letterpress it is produced on a digital press .
Having worked in letterpress and producing manuals for all sorts of purpose in my past i dont see letterpress as unable to produce a booklet how to do , the heidelberg hints manuals are all produced on cylinders ,well were, and we didnt have photopolymer plates to make it easier .

I do not know who Dave Huges is, or his qualifications (sorry, Dave), but I certainly do not see anything wrong with utilizing the available possibilities of internet media to publish his book. I’ve have the same intention for my monograph Printing digital type on the hand-operated cylinder press which I announced about a year ago. I am just to lazy and misdirected to finalize it. When this first came out in 1998 it was criticized not only for what it was about (photopolymer plates for god sakes) but for the fact that it was laser printed (the first to the trade actually) rather than letterpress printed. It has since been credited as having a significant influence in regard to the current letterpress revival. Yeah, this one.

For folks here on this internet discussion list to complain about the lack of physical substance is a bit ridiculous. Type a letter on your typewriter if you want physicality, and send a copy to each and everyone of us on this list. And we will get back to you, well, maybe not, it cost 45 cents to send a letter and most of us no longer have typewriters. Do you get this?


Gerald, Dave Hughes runs a websight about linotypes and hot metal, seems funny that someone who is trying to save linotypes publishes a book this way, i think Peter is just kidding Dave.

Thanks all for your interest in the project and comments.

As I mentioned, the book is aimed at the person who is considering taking up letterpress printing at home.

To that end, I have kept the price of the book low, given a broad overview of the various techniques, and pointed the reader in the direction of further help and advice.

Photo polymer is covered, as is deep impression printing. Both, I guess, controversial in certain quarters.

I was first trained in letterpress in the 1970s, when it was (just) current, and have kept an interest in the subject ever since.

As mentioned, I do run the “Metal Type” website.

A non-Kindle version is available now at Smashwords:

Just a quick note on this, in the US we call it packing not padding. Is that a UK usage?

I’ve used both padding and packing to describe the covering of the platen. It was unintentional, I guess they are both valid. Both words are used here in the UK in general usage.

The word padding is used in my c1975 Adana 8X5 instruction manual. So I guess, I may have (unintentionally) used versions from both sides of the Atlantic.

Gerald: I live for ( well, sort of) your replies on here. Keep up the good work!

I forgot the point i was going to make and it has come to me again .
If you produce a booklet for the folks of a forum like this it would be of course useful and everything else of great good . Would printing it utilising the very process you can also include in it in the best form of errors that can be seen in the flesh as it were . an example of poor underlay is best shown in its original state along with the progression to correcting it all in physical form . example of slur is best seen on a sheet that is slurred .. Thats where i was going ..