Yes, I finally did it. I’ve been going on and on about making a letterpress and I finally did it. While looking for invitations for my wedding, I totally fell in love with letterpress. It’s such a great combination of pretty yet tactile. I took a class on it and you can see the results of that in this post. But I wanted to be able to do my own stuff when I wanted.
I found two tutorials on making your own letterpress. The first is from instructables here: letterpress tutorial. This is a good one but I was concerned that the winding would really be very tedious. The second was from Readymade magazine here: second letterpress tutorial. This one used a bottle jack to apply the pressure rather than veneer press screw. Not sure if one is actually better than the other, but I favored pumping the bottle jack versus twisting the screw.
Unfortunately I only have a couple of pictures from the creation which was last week. In this post I’ll show the creation and in the next one I’ll show the results.
If I had to do it over again here are some of the changes I would make:
- I would buy a bigger bottle jack I think. I only got the 2 ton one.
- I have planned some augmentations to make such as making the bottom part of the platen (with the corkboard) slide out. I’ll post about them when I do make them.
- It also would have been very useful to have a drill press for this. We only had a regular hand-held drill. But my husband turned out to be very adept at getting the holes to go straight through while I looked from the side to make sure it was keeping course (except for one that we jiggled into place).
- You’ll note in the picture above that the top set of 2×4’s has another 2×4 on top. That 2×4 is not actually attached in any way. There wasn’t enough tension on the bungee cords (and we ended up using these heavy duty ones rather than real bungee cords). More tension is needed to actually push the bottle jack back in so that’s why we added the extra 2×4 on top. I think if we had the bigger press it would work better for this tension reason (though of course we’d have to raise the whole top section by a bit).
- The plexiglass for attaching the plate to was a bit hard to cut (maybe I just don’t know the correct way) and you’re supposed to draw even 1″ lines across it to help with centering. I think I will probably just order one from Ponoko. Again, I will post some pictures when I get it. I need to design and order it first.
Here we have the platten. There is wood glue between the two layers and hence the clamps as we screwed in the angle brackets which also held the two pieces together.
Again, a clamp since there is wood glue holding these together. We put 2 screws into each pair of 2×4’s. We could have done more but there were also going to be threaded rods holding them together so didn’t matter much. We only lost one drill bit drilling the holes for screws into them 🙂
Next to these you can see the 24″ angle brackets. Contrary to what the instructions say, 24″ does not seem ot be a common length for angle brackets. Fortunately 48″ is and we could cut them in half with a hacksaw (or rather my husband could). I covered the ends with electrical tape since they were kinda sharp.
And here are those threaded rods I spoke of. The instructions call for 8 5″ threaded rods. Well, the best I could find was 24″ threaded rods so that meant mor efun with the hacksaw.
More on actually using it in the next post . . .