Articles about Print Shop Tools

Document and discover the historical (and modern) ancillary equipment and tools used in a letterpress shop.

General Tools and Supplies

While no one can deny that the printing press is at the heart of every print shop, there are a multitude of print shop tools and supplies that are either incredibly helpful or downright necessary to a functioning shop. Some tools are “compositor’s tools,” useful for the person printing with … 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

Compositor’s Tools

Every letterpress printer—amateur or professional—uses compositors’ tools (tools used in composing handset type) that are essentially unchanged from those of the last century. It would not be too extreme, in fact, to say that some tools, like the composing stick itself, are essentially the same as those used by Gutenberg’s … Continue reading


Solvents are necessary for cleaning up after printing. Most solvents that were used 50 or 100 years ago would never be considered for shops today (think Kerosene and Gasoline). Unfortunately, the solvents which work best inevitably cause the greatest health concerns, and of course, the safest cleaning solvents do not … Continue reading

Early Printer’s Tools

Tools, conceived in the mind and made by the hand, become an extension of both. Nothing is more basic to the development of any craft. The best sources of information about the earliest printing tools are fifteenth-, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century woodcut and engraved images of the printing operation. The earliest … Continue reading


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