Temperature in workshop etc.


I am getting my first press, a Kelsey 5x8 up and running! It will take a while…

I live in Northern Vermont and normally keep the room where I will be printing at 55-60 degrees. Sometimes I turn the heat off completely for a few weeks. What are the issues here?

I know I will get rust if I leave the temp too low. I can move the press into another part of the house if I’m not using it for a few weeks.

If I need the temp at 70 degrees to print is it ok to heat the room up a few hours before?

Finally—what about the ink. I have bought rubber-based ink. Should I store that in another part of the house.

Finally a question about furniture. My husband does a lot of woodworking and can make some furniture—is there a recommended type of wood to use? Should it be finished? What is the correct height?

Thank you for any help you can give me!!

Ann just south of Quebec…

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Ink and your rollers don’t like the cold, i keep my shop at 50 degrees and when i’m printing a lite a wood stove to bring it up to about 70. wood for furniture could be oak, maple, or even cherry. If you have to buy rollers get rubber, they are better with temperature changes and last a lot longer than other rollers. I have a 5x8 kelsey, i pulled it out of the trash at a local dump about 45 years ago, these machines can do some great work once you get the hang of it. good luck.

I try and keep my shop at a stable temperature, so the cast iron doesn’t “sweat” and rust. It’s easier for me, since the shop is in the basement and the weather’s not too cold in Seattle.


to Aschaffner and others:

The end result is: go by what works, but certainly changing temperatures may lead to humidity changes; touch your machines, if they have dew on them, obviously something is wrong. I’ve told that basements in U.S.A. can be moist, and water supply pipes sometimes show moisture on the outside from condensation. [Cold water inside the pipes, warm moist air in the cellar.]

Where I worked, we had no air-conditioning till the engineer tried to keep dust out; the air-conditioner was greeted with enthusiasm, but when a Lino operator put hot slugs on the thermostat housing, I nearly froze across the other side of the room; the engineer moved the thermostat into his locked office.

I was told experiments were carried out in Europe, and it was recommended a temperature of 25 Celsius (75F), best for machines, but I would guess too warm for European-born workers.

We found that we expected perfect conditions, but those who were active (such as U.S. people who pedal platen presses) preferred a lower temperature, while sedentary Lino operators liked a couple of degrees more. When we travelled by a-c train [in Aus, compartments (small cabins) are separate, accommodate 2 to 6 people], we put a couple of suitcases (portmanteaus, shortened to ports) to block the exit of the a-c air (slowed the flow of cool incoming air), and then that was comfortable; probably 70 degrees F for the rest of the passengers. I saw proofreaders at another newspaper provided with electric radiant heaters in their room, which had a closed door (which improved accuracy of readers). Another site of “our” newspaper chain went to computer-assistance of typesetting, one day the air-conditioner failed, and as the temperature went up, the computer started to make more and more mistakes.

I would suggest it’s a matter of experience, and what the “other fellow” has found successful. As mentioned in other posts, changing temperature and as a result humidity makes paper change its characteristics, and that results in press-feeding problems sometimes. I vote for stable climate, which means money unless one is fortunate. If you have problems with paper during feeding, I suggest dividing the paper into small stacks, several days before printing, at least that would give the same flexibility of paper throughout the whole run?

In Australia a biscuit (cookie) manufacturer moved to another town, left older workers behind; had problems, called in older workers who had worked in changing conditions of humidity and temperature to solve problems of standardisation of product (to meet consumer preferences), even though new premises air-conditioned.


Aschaffner and others:

Apology; that should read

I have been told

near the beginning


I’ve told



My shop is in my basement. I am in Iowa and it could get humid down there in the summer so I generally have a few dehumidifiers going around the clock (I have 1,500 sq. ft of floorspace). In the winter it can get very cool down there unless I fire-up the woodburning stove that is near my press. I have found that the ink generally does not want to behave if the temperature down there is 60 degrees (F) or lower. Your humble servant also prefers it to be a little warmer than 60 degrees also!!!

The real beauty of having a wood-burning stove in the basement is that any heat that escapes simply goes upstairs into the house. I also bring all of the wood that I think I might use over the winter into the basement in the fall. A pain in the rear while doing that, but oh so nice when I don’t have to trudge outside in the winter snow to get wet and frozen wood.


I’m installing a wood-burning stove next week in the garage/shop.
Oh the charm!
In addition, I’m going to be using an extra metal slant top mounted vertically to the wall from the floor up to act as a heat barrier/radiator behind the burner.
You know, one of those that go on top of four (4) Hamilton metal type cabinets. Should work out pretty good.
I’m sick of not being able to work out there in the dead of winter without heat. I’ve got one of those torpedo kerosene heaters; it works really good, but way too expensive and stinky.


Ahhh…double post…

When I was a kid in the mid 1960s, I talked my parents into taking me to Al Frank’s warehouse on Cullerton Street in Chicago. It was late Fall and Al was throwing wood furniture and old wood type in a burn barrel to keep the area around his “office” warm. He had huge mail bags filled with wood stuff he thought was fit to burn.

It was an interesting place. He would buy up old shops and just pile the stuff into his warehouse. He would pick over the things he knew would have great value to folks, but everything else just went in helter-skelter. For many years it was THE place to visit in Chicago if you were interested in letterpress stuff.

John H.