Building a small working replica of a wooden hand press.

Hello. I am trying to build a tiny working replica of a Gutenberg-like press, but can’t for the life of me figure out a way to ensure that the turning motion of the screw does not translate to the platen and smudge the print. I’ve looked at a number of photographs of existing presses, but find them pretty confusing. There is always something hidden away in some kind of a sleeve.

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Simple ball and socket joint (well-greased) follows original design. Free-floating pressure pad ‘neath the ball stabilizes motion as well.

If it helps any, I think the term for the contraption on a wooden common press is called a hose. There is a book on the common press that was published by Godine. It has technical drawings on the construction.


It’s hard to tell from your description whether you are building from scratch or from the popular kit. The kit has pre-cut parts that are shown fitted together differently that most early illustrations show.

The hose on most early common presses was a wooden box sliding vertically in a square hole cut in a horizontal plank called the till, which prevented the hose from rotating. The hose had the tapered screw shaft passing through it with a clip or pin on the underside to keep it in place. The platen was attached to the hose. When the bar was released the screw retracted, lifting the hose and platen off the type form.