Kiss Impressions on the L (don’t hate me)

Sorry I know this is generally a looked down upon method of printing, though good for us getting our feet wet!

I was wondering if there was a way (using a boxcar plate) to get more of a ‘kiss impression’ instead of a deeper one? Sometimes i’d love to just do a print that might not necessarily need a deeper impression or much of an impression at all.

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Getting a kiss-impression is a balanced combination of form, stock and press packing.
In my experience, harder photopolymer plates just don’t do a good kiss impression, they may actually need more impression than does a typemetal form, but the softer durometers do it very well. Then it is a matter of choosing the right stock and adjusting packing on the press to suit.
You can’t kiss soft cotton stock, but normal book paper does very well, and a kiss is exactly what hard cover or coated stock requires.

Actually, a kiss impression is the kind of print which is desired, it is only an unhelathy new-fashioned buzz about deep impression in letterpresss.
So it is the other way around, deep impression is the kind of printing old fashioned printers look down upon.
But the consumer is the boss and they want it as deep as possible.
@ parallel_imp: do I need less or more packing for kiss impression?

No hate from me; the L was my gateway drug into letterpress printing (well, okay, it was my step-up after graphic design school introduced me to letterpress)!

Anyway, what kind of paper are you using? You can lift up the plastic on the base of the L. I just tape it back down (it helps to tape near the hinges and near the front of the base anyway, even if you never open it). I have put paper under there as “packing” if I want to do a blind impression. I’m not sure about making a kiss impression with the L just because it wasn’t designed to make kiss impressions at all.

If there was a way to take the grid part completely off the gray plastic base and then pack it yourself, that would be the best way to do so. Unfortunately, that can’t be done.

Thinner paper takes less of an impression, but that’s the only solution I can think of off the top of my head.

The L was made to bite into paper since lots of people use it for embossing and die-cutting.

Have you looked into the new Evolution? I’m not sure if there’s a bit more ability for depth customization on that one or not …

Are we talking about a toy plastic press here? I have no idea what a “L” letterpress is. If this is a toy press, then trying to apply traditional letterpress methods is somewhat moot. We may as well include a discussion about how to build the studio for this press out of Leggos and Lincoln Logs.



You’re a funny guy!


If I ever end up with kids, that comment will be my inspiration to get them thinking about printing. And all these derivative comments about this thing being a ‘toy’ are rather funny, but not terribly helpful, so I’ll try my best.

For the rest of you using this device, perhaps the thing to consider here is the space between the ‘impression cylinder’ and the ‘floor of the press’; you need a way to accurately gauge what this ‘space’ is.

You could try slip-testing.
You need stock that is gauged in the thickness, like .002” tissue or .004” newsprint or something, and need to be able to put it on the bed in a small pile and run the cylinder over it but to ‘stop’ while it is still holding the pile down. Then give the pile a tug. Start with a few pieces of tissue paper or newsprint, and keep ‘adding’ newsprint or tissue to the pile and moving the cylinder over your pile until there is some resistance when you tug. This is a good way to gauge the space between things you cannot see or easily reach with a micrometer as well.
Paper is not usually the best thing to gauge this sort of ‘slip test’, the best thing would actually be a more rigid object like thin brass spacers that are designed for this purpose; but you probably don’t have them! So try newsprint or some good tissue.

Once you know how many pieces of newsprint it takes to make ‘contact’, you know what the space between the cylinder and the bed is.

It is then a simple matter of calculating how much space there is for the plate and paper to fit on the bed, ‘floor to ceiling’; floor being press bed, ceiling being the cylinder as it would contact the back of the ‘paper’.
Let me give you an example: Would you expect to fit a 12’ tall lamp in a house that was 9’ tall interior, floor to ceiling?
So you must buy an 8’ tall lamp instead.
The same is true for your space within which paper stock you wish to work with and the plate material you wish to print from (and even, in many precision cases, the layer of ink you wish to put between them!) will fit.
Printing in relief is really kinda basic physics, when it gets down to it.

Since the typical JET brand 94FL plate I use is about .037” thick (.010” polyester base, .027” resin image layer) if memory serves me right, Add the adhesive that should be on the back and I think you get about a .040”-.041” thick plate.
That is forty one thousandths of an inch.

So, not being able to do the slip test as I do not have an L letterpress, I don’t know how much of the ‘floor to ceiling’ distance that particular plate would take up- but lets say, for this example, that it’s about .065”, or ‘sixty five thousandths of an inch’.

It is a matter of saying, “I only have .065” floor to ceiling; subtract my plate, and the leftover space is what I can use to fit packing and paper in.” In the case of my assumption that .065” is the number (mind you, this could be way way off!), you would only have .025” space for paper between your bed/plate and the cylinder; ergo, if your paper is thicker than .025”, you cannot achieve kiss impression if you use a plate that is .040” thick. However, if you use paper that is- for example- .018”, or eighteen thousandths of an inch thick, you can then add .006”- or six thousandths of an inch- worth of stock above your paper to make up the extra difference, and possibly have contact.

Most of the time, about a thousandth of an inch is enough ‘squeeze’ to get the ink to transfer; sometimes even less as the ink will take up some of the room!

Anyhow, good luck, and this type of practical puzzle isn’t too difficult to solve after you’ve enough experience with the tools and equipment; you just need to understand it before you can apply it.



Yes, a toy press, not even up to the standards of the old hobby presses, not even close. Promoted by the current photopolymer plate crowd selling plate to whoever for the dough-re-me. Don’t worry about it. This is the “new letterpress.” This has nothing to do with the quality concerns of the past.



Right you are; but some people can probably get some fun out of it without impinging on the pilot press and vandercook inflation market, right?

So, it may serve some kind of need yet.


Hey Mark

I’ve been hearing for years that the intro folks will eventually find the road. Quite frankly that ain’t happening. And no one even brings that up anymore.I don’t care about folks having fun. Heck, have all the fun they want. But when they start boasting about what they are doing, give me a break. Read the history, go to the frickin library and look at the work of their predecessors and maybe just be a little bit more cautious about what they think they know. A bit of humility would work.


Hey Gerald- eat a cookie and stop being so cranky. Everyone needs to dip their toe in the water before they jump in and swim.


Ever notice how many of the newbies aren’t here anymore?

Ever wonder why they abandoned it so quickly?


Gerald- Toes dipped in the water like tears in the rain. Didn’t I say the machine could serve a purpose?

I just looked up the L press to be sure of what it was. This summer I did a demo at the local library using a Columbian No.2 table top with lead type. At the same time, the library staff were also printing with two L presses and one 3-D printer. At the end of the 3 hours, the only press still working was the Columbian.

This is the only L press I could find.
I guess it has a dual purpose.

MMMMMMMMMMM. A bit of a Lemon maybe …or orange …

Dang…. I though the newbies left here due to a few cranky people who try to put down anything that is contrary to their way of thinking. At least, that’s what many of the newbies in our private letterpress group tell me.

BUT… wait….. didn’t we have this same conversation a few years ago about another little plastic press…. and earlier still about home-made presses? Each time something different comes up, some cranky person declares whatever it is to be stupid, or useless, or a “toy” or whatever and then argues that there is only one “right way to print”, which of course is totally bogus.

Sure, the L press is a simple, plastic device that is designed for the beginner…… but the truth is that it will indeed put down a fairly decent image if one is careful to work within it’s limits, whether anyone here likes it or not.

My niece used one to print her Christmas cards this year… and they turned out GREAT. Is she going to “learn the Fine Art of Letterpress” from this little machine? Probably not…. but she doesn’t want to. She wants to print Christmas Cards and invitations for her parties on it. That’s what it was designed to do, and it seems to do it fairly well.

Little presses like this are here to stay. Boxcar was wise to embrace them, and offer tips on how to use them effectively. If we as a group were wise, we too would embrace them and help the newbies if they ask questions…. instead of telling them they are stupid and sending them away.

Haven Press: thanks. I’m sure that many of the L printers will appreciate your help.

Nicely said, Winking Cat!