Make ready suggestions for Craftsman Superior

Hi everyone,

Looking for suggestions for make ready for a Craftsman Superior. Specifically, I would like suggestions on packing (hard vs. soft packing), and what thickness of tympan paper is most appropriate for a newbie printer.



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Aidyn- apologies for a long post.

A range of tympan paper would be best, from thicker red pressboard to .060” manilla, and .002” (two thou) tissue paper. You really want to ideally be combining several sheets and your printing stock to achieve the desired thickness.

If you want to get the most out of your press, I advise hard packing. This makes less ‘guessing’ and ‘pressure testing’ happen, and the packing will stay more consistent over time.

You will also want to invest in a micrometer to gauge the thickness of the packing material, if you can stay organized and figure out your packing gap (basically the space between the metal of the platen and the face if the .918” type high form- printing plate, type, whatever), you’ll be able to then gauge paper thickness with your micrometer and have a good practice for determining how much packing you’ll need.
This keeps you from having such a head scratching time as you move forward through the makeready process.

You probably want to check to see what the platen gap is, and that can be as simple as a slip test wherein you put a form in the chase and put some long ‘feeler’ sheets of tympan in between the form and the platen, in differing thicknesses. A lot of platens I have come across are set to either .040 or .060, depending on the bolts and who had your press before you it could be another dimension as well.

If you put .040” worth of material in between the platen and form and then close the press, then give it a tug and it doesn’t really want to move much but it will slip a little, you may have determined your packing thickness. Add a tissue and try again, if it doesn’t move- you’ve got it.

So now you know how to gauge the thickness of your paper, estimate how much packing to add behind it to get it to ‘touch’ or ‘kiss’ impression, and then once you’ve got that figured out you can add suitable amounts of tympan to reach your desired impression depth.

Another tip I have -
You also might want to invest in some mylar sticker paper to put over your top sheet. A little piece of this keeps the sheet from staining up, and it can be wiped off easily if ink soiling happens. TEAM film makes this, you can get it from most any online art supply.

Have you read “General printing”? It’s a good handbook with some of the basic operation of (letterpress) printing equipment covered in a very informative way. Good illustrations to the points covered. Amazon it or sometimes copies pop up for sale on here even as well.