David Black

Lucky for the School of Visual Concepts and for mechanically impaired letterpress printers everywhere, David Black artfully applies his skills from his former career as a trained motorcycle mechanic to his latest obsession: letterpress equipment. He is the proprietor of 13 Black Press and cares for his own one hundred and thirty year-old printing press while scouting dusty basements and warehouses for more pieces of letterpress history.

David Black has been a major contributor to the following articles:

Wood Engraving

The technique of engraving an image in end-grained hardwoods for relief printing is called wood engraving. It differs from technique of woodcuts in that the wood is worked across the grain, rather than parallel to it as in a woodcut. Tools similar to and including those used in metal engraving … Continue reading


Woodcuts are relief printing plates made by carving marks in blocks of long grained planks or plywood. Long-grain refers to the grain following the direction of growth, i.e, parallel to the tree trunk/branch the piece of wood was cut from. Woodcuts vs. Wood Engravings While both are relief printing methods, … Continue reading


Linoleum is a material made from a composition of linseed oil, cork, wood flour (a fine sawdust), and powdered minerals such as calcium carbonate supported by a burlap backing combined under heat & pressure to form a sheet. Once a common flooring material, it was broadly replaced in common household … Continue reading


Paper is a layer of intertwined fibers formed into a sheet. This simple definition covers a seemingly infinite variety of paper available to the printer. Paper Types Paper can be separated into four general groups. There are papers that straddle one or more of these outlines. Commercial Paper Made primarily … Continue reading

Tabletop Platen Instruction

Manufactured to be relatively portable, simple to operate and even easier to maintain, the lever-operated table top platen press is an excellent entry point for the aspiring printer without the resources or space for a traditional freestanding letterpress. Definition of Table Top “Table top press” is a broad term generally … Continue reading

Maintenance Schedules

Discovering potential faults with your printing press before they turn into damage or failures is worth the extra effort and care. For the sake of simplicity the maintenance tasks described below are generalized and are not specific to make or model. Adapt suggestions as indicated; specialized maintenance tasks as required … Continue reading