Articles about Letterpress Printing Instruction

Quick vocabulary lesson: Printers are people. Letterpresses are machines. The best way to learn how to print (and avoid misconceptions like the one above) is to learn from a real-live printer. If classes are not to be found in your area, these articles and resources aim to be the next best thing. There are nearly as many acceptable ways of accomplishing a goal in letterpress printing as there are printers. Please add your two cents!

Workshops and Classes

Taking a letterpress workshop or class offers hands-on experience on a press. Depending on your goals, taking a class may satisfy your letterpress curiosity or it may encourage you to purchase your own printing press. In times past, printing was an craft passed on from printer to apprentice; many experienced … Continue reading

Vandercook and Similar Cylinder Presses Instruction

More than 30,000 Vandercook presses (some ninety different models in all) were manufactured in Chicago between 1909 and 1976. Today, more than 1,800 presses representing forty models have been identified in an on-going, worldwide census compiled by Paul Moxon at This article provides basic information for the operation of … 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

Treadle-operated / Motorized Platen Instruction

Whether the platen press is driven by a motor or a foot powered treadle, be safe. Your hands should always be clear of the platen as soon as it begins to close. Gordon-style presses, like the Chandler and Price, have a “dwell”–a brief pause–when open, which allows sufficient time to … Continue reading

Die Cutting

There are many methods for successful die-cutting; the most important thing is to protect your press, specifically the press bed and the platen, regardless of the method you use. The press in the illustrations below is a 10×15 C&P, but you can follow the same process on both larger and … Continue reading


In the letterpress market you will find products with varying depths of printing impression. On one end of the spectrum is the traditionally-favored “kiss impression,” in which the printer applied just enough pressure to the type or printing plate to give adequate ink coverage on the paper, but the resulting … Continue reading