Help to setup a small press for first timer in the UK.

i hope you can help me out, I am looking to set up a small press, but i am looking for books to help me out or advice

Nearly all of my artwork will be produced digitally, and i only have a room about 3 x 3.5 metres to set everything up in..

i wanted a way of creating my own plates? to print from..

i have alot of experience of screen printing, but i am very ignorant on other forms of printing..

i had heard the ‘pilot presses’ were a good one to start on..

any help you can give me would be very much appreciated!

also i am based in gloucestershire in the UK… thanks in advance..

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Pilots are good presses but harder to find on that side of the Atlantic. Adanas might be more common there. I’d be tempted to farm out the plate making, but there are some who manage to make photopolymer plates in their kitchens, etc.

Join one of the British printing organizations and look for museums and printers in your area. Visit them and see what works and what everything looks like. Besides other printers are your best sources for leads on presses for sale. And all the other thinks you need.

Good luck. I’ve seen presses in small spaces like that, but not often. They tend to take over 1.5 times the space that’s available.

An Adana 8 x 5 would be a good press to start with, and a couple of cases of type. Printing for pleasure by John Ryder and Introduction to Printing, The craft of letterpress by Herbert Simon are good books to start with. Copies of Printing for Pleasure are still available from St Bride’s in London. Join the British Printing Society and check out their newsletter. It could be done in a small space, but you have to be very organized. Good luck.

You are unlikely to find a pilot in the uk - the adana would be the way to go; they come up on ebay quite regularly for a start. You may have to budget for new rollers for whatever you get.

is a very useful source of information for uk letterpress printing. If you want to print from digital artwork using plates then you need to read up on photopolymer - you will have to send a high res file to a service bureau to have polymer plates made, unless you have oodles of cash and can buy your own machine (i realise some people are experimenting with solar exposure but i don’t know much about it).

You will also need a base to mount the plate on to bring it up to type high - some people use wood, others use metal, it’s all been discussed on this site.

Good luck and happy printing

many thanks for the advice, will start reading up.. cheers

As a recent convert to letterpress myself, I agree with all comments above. Ebay UK has a constant flow of Adana Eight-Fives available. There are the smaller Five-Threes as well, however you may find the printable area of these somewhat restrictive (I did).

Alternatively, if you can afford it, Calson Ltd sell superbly reconditioned Adana Eight-Fives for about 500-600 UK Pounds, as well as accessories, spare parts, type inks etc. They are at

As well as type, you will also need to obtain ‘furniture’ (small strips of wood to help pack out your type within the chase), leading, quoins etc - again all available via Ebay.

I notice you are based in Gloucestershire. I am based in South Gloucestershire / North Bristol. Send me a private message if you want to get in touch …

Good luck with your new letterpress venture !


I am wondering how you are getting on… I have just bought my first Adana and so I’m trying to find good books, advice etc.

I’m fairly local to you (Bristol) so I’m wondering if you have found anyone nearby who makes plates or somewhere to buy materials to make your own own plates. I’ve seen a few videos on you tube and it seams fairly straight forward.

So much to learn!


Hi Lucie,

Have not found a local platemaker in Bristol but have found some info on the web. I’ve sent you a PM / Email with details…