Articles about Setting Up a Letterpress Shop

If you’ve just fallen for letterpress printing, you may be surprised to learn that it takes more than passion (and a press) to set up a working letterpress shop. Lots more. Sourcing equipment, moving presses, and purchasing the proper tools can be an intimidating process. Here is what seasoned letterpress printers want you to know about setting up a letterpress shop.

Acquiring a Press

The variety of presses produced over the past 200+ years is astounding. It’s easy to forget how nearly everything printed before 1945 was produced on a letterpress of one style or another. Picking the appropriate press for your shop or studio is an important decision—trying to put a Vandercook in … Continue reading

Acquiring Ancillary Equipment

The supporting equipment and tools for your shop can often be found in the same places that you are looking for a press. The great news is that many of these tools are still being made new today, and many more still are available on the used market. Other Print … Continue reading

Equipment Moving

Moving equipment can be one of the most daunting parts of setting up your letterpress shop. Whether you hire professional riggers or convince a few knowledgeable friends to help you, here are some things to think about. Hiring a Professional First and foremost, if you’re not comfortable moving heavy equipment, … Continue reading


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Since we rarely have the luxury of beautiful north light in our shops (or for that matter the luxury of only printing during the day), good artificial lighting is essential. Luckily, technology has progressed from the kerosene lanterns and gas lights of our forebears, allowing us to print in well-lit … Continue reading

Water and Electrical Needs

Water and electrical needs in the letterpress shop are generally modest. All but the largest presses typically use motors under one horsepower, and unless you’re processing your own photopolymer plates, you’ll use more water making coffee than letterpress printing. That said, there can be surprises and obstacles when dealing with … Continue reading


While ventilation needs in the letterpress shop can be minimized through the judicious use of solvents, some solvent use is unavoidable. To minimize exposure to yourself and your shop mates, proper ventilation is key. Setting up a Ventilation System The first thing to remember when setting up a ventilation system … Continue reading


As with any activity that involves machinery, chemicals and people, there are risks associated with letterpress printing. But with thoughtful preparation and procedures these can be minimized. Here are some things to think about when you set up and work in your shop. And one general safety rule to start … Continue reading

Installing a Press

There is more to installing a press than rolling it into a space. A bit of planning and gathering of supplies will make your installation easier in the short run and printing more efficient and enjoyable in the long run. While this article deals with presses specifically, keep in mind … Continue reading