Hand inking, even coverage, and cleanup.

I ran a poster on a Challenge proof press I recently acquired. It’s nonsense, just making words from the incomplete wood type I have.

The impression is uneven, and I wonder if it’s my inking (by hand with a brayer) or the makeready or the packing on the cylinder. How does one get even coverage when hand inking with a brayer?

I built up some spots with newsprint under light areas, and put differing layers of newsprint on top of the sheet I was printing to increase the impression.

At the end of the cylinder travel, it got really “tight” feeling, there might be a lump in the packing. Otherwise the impression is light, and I’ll build up the packing a bit more before trying again.

Just fishing for thoughts and observations?

And cleanup. I’m a rank amateur. Wasted half of the weekend’s New York Times and two rags. I’m using type wash, which looks green when I put it on the rag. It took a long time and made a huge mess, and things aren’t all that clean in the end.


image: poster DSC03550smaller.jpg

poster DSC03550smaller.jpg

image: inkstainedwretch DSC03554smaller.jpg

inkstainedwretch DSC03554smaller.jpg

image: bedbetterDSC03552smaller.jpg


image: makeready and ink DSC03553smaller.jpg

makeready and ink DSC03553smaller.jpg

Log in to reply   3 replies so far

i would strongly recommend a pair of gloves, not only does it keep most of the ink off your hands it keeps the wash off your skin, myself i use gasoline, kerosene works also. you are printing the full size of your bed, try about half of the ares and see if it prints better. hand inking is tricky, you must spread out the ink evenly on the plate, then with the larger type reink the brayer and type several times, larger brayers will carry more ink. it takes practice, the larger area you are trying to print the more pressure it will take to make that print. i try to never print with a full chase, it just is too hard to get a good print. good luck dick g.

You might try dampened paper. I am not familiar with the Challenge, but on my Line-o-scribe I have used a piece of pressboard or posterboard between the paper and the impression roller.

Clean up
Gloves are a must! Gasoline is too flammable for my liking, and, though it works well, the smell of kerosene gives me headaches. Typewash is too expensive for general use. I recommend blanket/roller wash (used in offset printing).

To clean the glass or plates where you roll-out the ink:
Buy a package of cleanup mats for a small offset press, like an ABDick350. After removing the bulk of the ink with your ink knife, place a cleanup mat on top of the ink and pour some roller wash onto the mat (not too much!). Now roll the brayer all over the area where the ink is. This will liquify and soak-up most of the ink. What’s left is fairly easy to wipe up with a rag.

Sounds like the bump at the end it the type is hitting pretty hard.

I have some wood type that is higher than other fonts in the cases.

I would suggest that you back off your packing till you get a good ink coverage on the wood type that is high. Once you have a good ink coverage on the high letters then pad the underneath sides of the other letter to bring them up. Once they are all at the same height then you should be good to go.

When you get more experienced you’ll have less ink on your hands. Always use gloves like the other posts have noted

Use GoJoe on a rag to clean your hands. I keep a lot of Go Joe on a rag when my finger tips get soiled. i pick up the rag and wipe them off then it will insure the paper isn’t soiled when you pick up to place on the feed board.

What Challenge press do you have. I ran a 15 MP for years.

Inky Lips Letterpress
McKinney, TX