Lasers and letterpress

Like many others, we here have been filling our time waiting for our Glowforge by researching all the things we will be doing once it arrives.
My co-purchaser has been doing letterpress for some time, and as an anniversary present a few years ago I bought and fixed up this little Kelsey 5x8 press for her.

It works, and is cute, but the max impression area is so small that she has still had to go rent time on a bigger press whenever she want to do “real” work.

So, after 8 years of looking we just bought this beauty…

It is an “old style” Chandler & Price 8x12 press, probably manufactured in the late 1890’s or early 1900’s. It works and came with a type cabinet, a boat load of type and all kinds of associated “stuff”. It needs a lot of cleaning, and a few small repairs, but that is why I have a machine shop. :slightly_smiling:

I am really excited about experimenting with making prints using delrin , woodblock, or linoleum plates for this thing on our Glowforge. Now we just have to figure out how to get it home and into the basement…


I’m looking forward to see what you do with this and the GF together!

What a magnificent old machine!
It would be great to dig into it and clean it up. Nice find!

Edit: meant to reply to @jkopel… oops.

Way cool. How much does that beast weigh? What do you use to drive it (big electric motor? Apprentice?)

Wow, I used one of these in high school when I took a printing class. My brother took all of the printing classes and spend more than 20 years in the printing business. It’s wonderful to see that you are taking time to fix and use one of these beautiful old machines. Good luck moving it this is a big hunk of iron.

How are you going to power it? I can see the drive belt still hanging on the right side.

I think it weighs between 1,000 and 1,500 lbs. Fortunately I have moved a few large machine tools in that weight range and have a bunch of gear to help.
And friends. :slightly_smiling:
It has a working electric motor that looks not much younger than the press. I will probably just clean it up and we will run it on that, but if it fails almost any 1hp electric motor will do.

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Keep us posted on how this goes. I’ve love to see some pictures or video of the moving process as well as seeing the press work once you have it setup.

Good Luck!

I’ll fly (or drive… i love road trips) from Clearwater Fl and give you a hand. or maybe a sturdy winch and pully set :wink: would give me a chance to be a stones throw away from the GF team

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Oh, wow. I used a Chandler&Price for a few years in college. If you get the makeready right you should be able to print halftones. Have you got a pile of wood that’s type-high minus the thickness of a piece of acrylic?

We are thinking the same… that is the first experiment!

I am concerned that acrylic will be too brittle, but I have some acetal (delrin) and a milling machine with a flycutter. My plan is to try making typehigh acetal blocks. If that works well we have a boxcar base for polymer plates, and I want to see if I can make thin sheets of delrin that we can stick on the base and then run though the laser.

Not really the best time of year to visit the pacific NW from Florida, but hey, it is sunny today! If you can get here by next weekend I can use all the help I can get. :grinning:

The Glowforge offices have large glass windows though, so I don’t think we will be throwing any stones.

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Maybe this will be of help!

Thanks, that looks great for its intended purpose, but a bit expensive to buy in quantity.

You can get the same material in large sheets online for a lot less money (i.e. 12x24x1/16 $9.31)

I have actually acquired a large box full of scrap from a friend, so I think I have enough for my initial experiments.


good point :smiley: Tell you what, I will sit on the beach drinking margaritas and think very deeply about moving a 1500 lb piece of awesomeness (and of not throwing stones at the GF team lol) :wink:


Fun, congrats on the new press. I have a C&P, 2 Vandercooks and 2 Windmills. I’ve done woodcuts by hand out of Shina and my thought was to laser this then build to type high. It’s nice because it’s two sided so you get more bang for your buck (assuming you don’t permanently fix it to your type high solution).

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I have never heard of that, thanks. I can certainly see the advantage for hand work, but I wonder if something manufactured and homogenous would work better on the Glowforge. We will have to compare results!

I am reviving this old thread since I finally have something to show off.
Not that we are printing yet, but we are SO CLOSE!
After working on it for months I have finished cleaning and repainting Hazel (the press), moved her down into the basement (that was an adventure), and gotten her motor running. :smile:

SO excited!


Remarkable! Very nice - much quieter than I imagined it would be watching (listening to) that clip ! How soon before you are printing? (Glowforge newsletters?)


Josh - I was just thinking about you and this press earlier this week and wondering how the restoration was going. Looks like your about ready for some rollers and ink :slight_smile: She’s a beauty!

Thanks for the update.

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She’s gorgeous! So envy.

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