Help Setting up Small Tabletop Card Press

At this point, I am at a lost as to how to add padding to the platen, and, once that is figured out, how to keep the card I am printing on from sliding off. Would it make sense to tape padding to the platen, then add a frame of some kind open on the top to keep the card secure?


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An elastic band on each side of the platen under which you could slide the packing and the card to be printed?

Expanding on what platenprinter said, you could elastic band the packing with two stout elastic bands and then print one on the packing. Then you could take the packing off, figure out where the card should be relative to the print, and draw horizontal and vertical lines on the packing where the bottom and side edges of the card should be, to line up the card. Then you could make three small gauge pins out of card stock and tape them to the packing before reinstalling it. If you didn’t want to make gauge pins, just attach the card to the platen with two lighter elastic bands and line it up with your horizontal and vertical lines. Even if you did want to make gauge pins, printing one or two with elastic bands first would probably be a good idea to make sure the card was in the right place before taping the gauge pins in position.

Check the sides of the platen to see if there are a couple of holes close to the top and bottom edges. Most small presses usually have attachment pins for the bails that hold the timpan and packing. See a closeup of my small rail- press:
If you are handy you might attach some bent coat-hanger wire to those pins, once set.

Dave Greer

I had not thought of elastic bands. That should work fine and is a great workaround idea. I just checked the platen and it lacks any sign of holes to hold the bails.

BTW, what could I use for packing material? I had thought of using an old beer coaster, but think that would be too soft.



For hard packing we traditionally use pressboard, which is a very hard, smooth paperboard, (which also used to be sold in office supply stores for report covers, etc. It is usually brown, but has been made in other colors as well). As a more modern replacement, some people use sheets of Mylar (which is Dupont’s tradename for polyester). Normally when packing the platen, it would be one or two sheets of paper on top (like printer paper), a sheet of pressboard, and then maybe one or two more sheets of paper if needed. On a normal press, this would all be covered over and locked in with a sheet of tympan paper, which is a smooth, oiled sheet which makes it easy to slide sheets in and out of the press when feeding. The tympan paper would be held with the tympan bales, as Dave Greer shows in the link in his post, above.

If you want to buy some pressboard, NA Graphics carries it. I’m sure they are in the yellow pages on this site, or you can Google them.

I consider pressboard an essential supply! I always keep a stack trimmed to size, ready to go.
It looks like NA Graphics is under the governor’s ban, so they aren’t shipping. BarPlate has it in their online catalog, I would call first.
For the size of your press, you might be able to find a pressboard folder at Office Depot and cut it down to size.

As luck would have it, my order from NA Graphics just arrived. If I had known, I would have included some pressboard in my order. Once I get some, how would go about attaching it to the platen? Masking tape?

Masking tape would work, however, I always cut mine the same size as the platen, so it fits snug under the tympan sheet.

Unfortunately, the press lacks bales, so I guess it is going to be masking tape.