Making type evenly print

I’m such a new printer. I just got my new rollers in last night and set my first chase of type. The results were not so great—very uneven printing as far as the letters are concerned. Every other letter dropped out and weren’t inked. (so it’s not a problem with the press, but with the type).

Please send me any suggestions if you can. I have a new (old) Kelsey 5x8. I assume there are some tips or tricks on how to ensure that they’re all at the correct height for printing, I just don’t know what they are.

Thanks in advance!

Log in to reply   4 replies so far

Have you got a really flat imposing surface and did you use a “planer” to keep the type against it as you were locking up the chase? If you did then you need to fiddle with the pressure adjustment and finally use small bits of paper to build up the makeready on the tympan to increase the pressure where it seems to be lacking.

Don’t give up, it can take a long time to get it right, but a logical approach to the problems will give you the result you want (unless your type is hopelessly worn)!

I have the same press you do, and one way that i’ve adjusted the pressure settings is to set evenly spaced semicolons in as large an area as i can manage in the chase, spend a good deal of time making sure that they are locked in at the same plane and then using printed scraps to determine where the low areas are.

If you have letters that are straight up not printing, they are either damaged or not locked in straight.

If only the sides of some letters are printing, your lines are probably too short, and locking them in pushes them out of perpendicular.

I’ve had some frustrating moments with the 5x8.

A proper lock-up should not push letters “out of perpendicular.” A properly leveled (planed) form should print clearly across each letter. A form with uneven type will not print without extremes in make-ready. A properly packed platen should be level & exert only enough pressure so the type kisses the paper evenly across the form without punching through. Properly inked type (with rollers adjusted to roll across the face) should print evenly across the form.

All this & more is in Polk’s two books: Elementary Platen Presswork and/or The Practice of Printing. Available now on
Polk’s Elementary Platen Presswork

Polk’s Practice of Printing

The Tagalong Press

Thanks so much! I think I was making a series of errors—too tight on the quoins, and setting the type on my antique kitchen table. I printed something last night that was much more spot on. You can check it out at

I’ll have to check those books out!
Thanks again! I’m sure it won’t be the last time I have a rookie question.