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    A DIY letterpress I built for the purpose of printing whatever I want.
We all know that you can create digital products all day that only exist in the ether of of ones and zeros, but as soon as you print something, it becomes real. The slickest user interface feels exactly the same as the clumsiest to the tip of a finger on a piece of glass.
I built this letterpress machine to give myself a break from the computer and get back to the craft of hand made design, but mostly so that I could print my own business cards whenever I want!
The design is based on one that you can find anywhere on the web, but with a few modifications. The substitution of evenly spaced springs for bungee cords ensures equal tension on the return of the platen to the top position, and the addition of registration pins keeps the platen from moving laterally.
Because the platen is fixed to the press by the pins, I used a removable drawer for changing out paper stock. I borrowed the idea from this guy's screw-type press.
Here is a blind impression (no ink) to show the depth of the bite. This is print you can feel. I'm using Crane's Lettra 110# Fluorescent White, which I purchased on Etsy here.
Applying different amounts of pressure on the jack can result in some interesting textures.
Smaller type proves to be a challenge; the key is the amount of ink applied by the roller and the pressure applied to the jack. I've only used Speedball block printing ink so far, which presents it's own set of challenges, in that it dries quickly and the consistency is unreliable. The italic type you see here is around six points.
Larger areas of solid color have a tendency to not print uniformly, creating a really cool worn texture.
Two color registration is a matter of trial and error. The shape of these coasters adds a rotational aspect to the challenge.