This is a post not for admirers of letterpress products, but for the folks actually doing letterpress printing. Crafting high quality work is all about the details. Sometimes the littlest things make a really big difference. The black arts ain’t always easy. In order to letterpress print professionally you need the right tools for the job. These are some of the things that we use daily in our shop. Individual items range in cost from $5 to $60. Granted, they are not items found in letterpress shops a hundred years ago, but that is a bonus you get for being a letterpress printer in the age of the glowing screen.
1. Schaedler Combo Ruler
This ruler is used across every step of production in our shop. It has really tiny increments. So small that you can measure the lines on your typical ruler. They have it all on this one ruler: points, picas, metric, standard and decimal inches.
2. Depth Ruler
This is the perfect tool to quickly square up your artwork to the press sheet. We don’t use them for increments. We use them as a tool to slide the gauge and compare side to side on a press sheet.
3. Digital Thickness Gauge
To adjust impression and do proper makeready you have to KNOW exactly what thickness you are putting in the press and adjust your packing accordingly. This is the tool to do just that. Find the overall thickness of materials in metric and decimal inches.
4. #99 Heidelberg GTO Suckers
These will change your life if you run Heidelberg letterpresses. They are specifically useful if you have ever struggled with warping, wavy cover stock or heavy board stock. The accordion body on these offer a little additional reach beyond the disc type suckers, without double sheeting. We use them on both Heidelberg Original Cylinders and Heidelberg Windmills.
5. Dogwood Coffee
Drinking on the job is almost a requirement in our shop. For consistently great coffee we love the micro-roasted batches from Dogwood Coffee. It’s a daily ritual from folks that embrace craft like we do. They have sweet little holiday brewing bundles available on their site.
6. Linen Tester Magnifier
See what is going on on your press sheet close up. You can then more quickly diagnose your print issues. Overinking, plate problem, impression, etc. We like the open body style of the folding linen tester magnifiers.
7. LED Magnetic Flex Light
Have a hard time seeing an enclosed part? Ever drop something inside a press. We have. This bright little light is perfectly small and has a magnetic base to keep your hands free.
8. Precision Oiler
We use a heavy weight press oil in this little guy to get a precision drop of oil right where it needs to go. Perfect for oiling the small parts around feeding and delivery, especially on Heidelberg Windmills.
9. Rosin Bag
Originally a product used to add gripping precision in many sports, this little bag works well to add some stick to the rails your roller trucks ride on. Gets rid of that pesky little ghosting start mark by slapping this sack on your rails a few time. This is an especially good tip for Heidelberg Windmills.
10. Super Soap
Sometimes is feels so good to be dirty. But to handle cotton paper you better get clean. This soap is easy on the hands and has a little sawdust grit for scrubbing action.
11. Teamster Shop Apron
This is one mother of an apron. This is an extra long apron that We love the split leg design that allows you to get up and down to worship your iron beast.
12. Pressroom Creed Poster
If you want your studio visitors to better understand your letterpress neurosis, hang this in your shop. (yes, this is a shameless promotion of our own product) It is a 13 x 20 sheet size, heavy 220lb cotton stock. “This is my printing press. There are many like it, but this one is mine…”