*Shop Size for Vandercook

I haven’t been around in a while, and I’m happy to discuss why off line, but my question today is:
I have the opportunity to use a very small space 6’x7’ for a shop, and I’d like to put a Vandercook in. I could only put it on the small wall (6’). Thus, I think I can only use an SP-15. THUS, (1) am I correct, that I can only use an SP-15, not another Vandercook, and (2), will this give me enough space to access the machine? I figure I’ll have 4+ feet in front of the press for me to move around, but limited space on the sides and back…..is this problematic?

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Well i don’t think you will be able to oil the press if you are that tight.

Well i don’t think you will be able to oil the press if you are that tight.

Dick: How much space would you recommend around the press to get to oil it?


That’s a lot of press for such a small space, but it should fit. The Vandercook literature lists the SP15 press footprint as 2’8″ × 5’9″, so you’d only have 3” to spare in the 6’ dimension.

You should have it away frpom the back wall about 6-12 inches if possible so you can have room to tip the oil can up to reach the spots which need oil. You might have to kneel on the press bed to do it.

Luckily there are no spots to oil very far below the bed. at the back on that press.

You also would have to move the press straight back after entering the space as you will not have room to get a bar in at either end to move it along. That might be your greatest challenge.

John Henry


I can’t imagine trying to print in such a small space. Having some surface close by to mix ink, cut paper, stack paper (before and after printing), type storage, cleaning supplies, etc, seems a minimum. Is there another room very close by that you can use? I have a SP 15 in a 10 x 12 space and its tight - i must store paper, etc in another room

U could put the press on wheels so that it could be moved a little bit within your space. I am sure there are those who will tell that wheels are not a good idea, but being able to move the press, even a little bit, might be useful.

good luck


Is there any height to the space above your head for shelving? A LOT can be done with shelving if you ask me (and there are no other alternatives). Even shelving that is slightly above (8” or so) the area the cylinder travels across. If you had some lighting underneath said shelving (fluorescent tube fixture) you could potentially avoid the only real ill effect of having it there (lack of light on the bed of the press). If you simply intend to work on a base and use digital plates or engravings or cuts, you’ll be fine….

However- I’m curious: Does the footprint listed above take the feedboard into account?

Uh, oh…..I got the measurements of the SP-15 from the web as 5’9”….does that include the feedboard?

I’ve thought about the space some more, and if I move a demising wall, I might be able to get 3 more feet to make the space 9’x7’. (I could put the press on the 9’ wall). HOWEVER, there is a door which would be obstructed by the press if it covers the whole 9’. Thus the 9’ space would allow movement AROUND the press, but wouldn’t be satisfactory to use if the press covers the full length of that wall…I really only have 6’6” of space on that wall for the press to back against.

Here’s a schematic from an SP15 brochure (I see it’s too small to be useful on BP), but 5’ 9” is the overall length.

I agree with John Henry about the space on the far side for oiling and cleaning.

image: SP15-footprint.jpg


to equitas

Would the following be helpful?

Suggestion is to access some sheets of plywood or masonite or other building board, find a way to hold them up to be dummies for the walls of the room where you propose to site your press, to give you the physical dimensions of that room. Then try to move your body around the press. Might it save you some frustration, and possibly strained muscles or something?

Corollary: At the 7-days-per-week newspaper in Brisbane, it was necessary to shift a machine from one site to another with a tight time schedule. The mechanics made up a dummy machine and carried it by the route. Success.

At the same newspaper, the semi-trailers bringing in the newsprint rolls went to an unloading dock, or that was the intention. Unfortunately, someone did not understand that the practical radius of turn while reversing a 22-wheeler (18-wheeler in US) was different to the radius when driving forward; using a forklift in an open space solved that, but increased the handling resources needed and did not give protection against rain which was part of the original plan.

At the home-town daily, on a Sunday I watched a 22-wheeler try to reverse turn into our narrow laneway, the tyres kept hopping sideways because of the throb of the engine at idle speed; after about 6 attempts, I left.

When my wife designed our house, I set up some boxes and similar dummies to show her that her kitchen needed to be another 3 feet longer. Unfortunately, we forgot that walls have thickness, so one room ended up being a foot narrower than we wanted it to be, there was no alternative.

At the hometown daily morning newspaper, when we acquired a new Linotype, we found a room had been built below the entrance to the upper floor intended for machinery, had to knock out some brickwork on the other side of the building.

An Intertype arrived at the same site, we found the case was a couple of inches too wide for the (new) upper floor doorway, had to unpack from the wooden crate in the laneway, and it was raining very lightly; a couple of weeks later a bearing seized, a drop or two of rainwater caused that.


Many thanks to all, especially John Henry for the advice about keeping the machine 6-12” away from the back wall, and Paul for the diagram.

PS: Paul - you ran a great program in Toronto in May 2012, I was there and learned a lot (obviously I didn’t remember the answer to this question though…)

Here is one of the options I have about the placement of the press in my basement. You’ll see from this layout I’ve got 7’3” in width before I get to the furnace, and 6’7” (8’7” - 2’ for the sink [which I’ll move from it’s original placement to closer to the wall]). I wonder if this will have enough room for the press.

This layout will allow me to have a nice long work bench, and a nicely shaped work-out room with a door directly from the hall. Having the door directly from the hall will allow me or future purchaser to turn this room into a basement bedroom.

Thoughts on this layout?

image: work room layout - content.jpg

work room layout - content.jpg

I would never locate a press next to a furnace or hot water heater. The temperature fluctuations would play havoc with the paper, and the explosive factor of having to clean the press with solvents next to a flame source (especially in a more closed-off space than previously existed) is very dangerous.


Any time you position the non-operator side of a Vandercook againt the wall it is a very bad idea. You will never have appropriate access to lubrication points (even a press as simple as an SP-15 has some) or gain any understanding of how the working mechanisms operate when things go wrong, or have working space for adjustments.
Put your work table against the wall and give the Vandercook the space it needs.

Parallel - Imp: I thought if I had 6”-12” behind the press that might be enough space….I took that from what John Henry said earlier.

Devil Tail Press: Please look at this 2nd layout. It puts the press in the “hallway”. It makes use of the hall as a room and keeps the press in a separate space from the furnace.

The only down side to this layout, is there is no longer a direct door from the hall to the workout room (thus the wife wont like that and it can’t be readily changed into a bedroom) and it also cuts the workout room up a bit. Lastly, it makes the work room smaller (smaller work bench, etc…).

I realize that I’m trying to put a lot into the basement…..but I do appreciate the suggestions.

image: work room layout2 - content.jpg

work room layout2 - content.jpg

12” might look sufficent until you actually try to squeeze in and do something. If you can’t walk behind a press. bend over. and have enough room to move your arms with a wrench, an oilcan or a rag, you really don’t have enough room to do anything. Otherwise you are limited to lubricating with a mirror and a long-neck oilcan and luck and hope and bending over until you pass out.

What if I took CarolinaPrinter’s idea (see above) and put the press on locking casters which don’t raise the level of the press, AND build a wall around the furnace room w/ a door? It would look like this. Then I could move the press to a comfortable spot in the room and work there.

image: work room layout3 - content.jpg

work room layout3 - content.jpg

I suggest you teach your wife to print with the Vandercook and then get a large order. Should be all the workout anyone needs!

puting wheels on the press makes it moveable, but not something that i would want to do routine. A SP-15 weighs 700-750 +/- lbs depending on whether it has power inking.

Once its on wheels, it will be some higher than if it sits on the floor. Depending on how tall you are, a few inches should not be a problem.

Because this is a basement, you should powered ventilation, not merely passive.

Finally, have you figured out how to get the press into the basement? Most of the Briarpress posts about basements have been about how to get a press out - and none have described the process as easy. Down will be just as hard.

I have one final option which might satisfy all the concerns mentioned…however I need to know the height dimensions of the press. Can anyone tell me the bed height from the ground and the height from the ground to the top of the feed board?

bed is 32.5” off the floor and the feed board is 41” off the floor.

good luck

The proper operation of your furnace depends on air intake. You had better consult with a furnace expert before you attempt to wall it off. You might consider using a folding table as your portable item rather than the press.


Devils Tail Press

We do not use many furnaces in Oystrailyer. We have a severe problem with supplying electricity for air-conditioners (cooling), difficult to explain.

Melbourne had maximum of 114 F some years ago. There is snow most of the year at Snowy Mountains.

We know little about furnaces, glad to not know.

Does your furnace draw air for combustion from the cellar? Does this air sometimes carry with it vapour from substances used for cleaning press? Is this vapour flammable? Curious.


PS Weekend newspaper reported that a (US) organisation promoting merging Aust with US has disbanded; we often talk about Aust being the 50, 51, 52 or 53 (according to number of States in US) State of US, but where geographically would it be positioned? — A.

Here is, what I hope, is a reasonable way of dealing with this.
I will put a wall around the furnace area (it has a separate direct outdoor air supply for the water heater, and the furnace is direct vent itself).
I will put my work bench on the left side, and put the press coming out from the wall against the furnace.
The YELLOW line represents a sliding glass (?) wall / door system that can be open most of the time, but when I am doing dirty work (woodworking, etc…), I can remove the handle of the press and close the doors - making the press area a “clean room”.


image: Basement.jpg


How on earth are you going to get the glass door out of the way when you print? The handle moves with the cylinder all the way along the press, rotating and taking up the same amount of clearance towards the operator- away from the machine- within the framework of your ‘sliding door’. So- unless your doors scoot over and take up that 2’3” space at the end of the press- I don’t see how this will work.
Either way, you’re printing in a doorway you’ll have to mind.

(Sorry if my comment about teaching your wife to print was ill-taken; meant it as a joke, for all I know your wife knows how to print.)

HavenPress - I planon having the glass wall slide into the wall next to the furnace in the same plane as the glass wall.
This will mean that everywhere where there is presently a yellow line, would be totally open.
It would only be when I want to close the glass wall that I would have to remove the handle, and the glass wall would occupy the yellow line space.

Don’t worry, my wife doesn’t print, but it would be good to get her into the art.

OH in that case, disregard my post. In it’s entirety.

It might be more convenient to orient the press so access to the storage is direct.

A roller curtain might be better suited than a pocket-door. The curtain can be sealed to the walls with velcro.

image: VCbasement.jpg


AnonyMouse: Thanks! I like the idea of the roller curtain.

Unfortunately, the wall against which you placed the press has my electrical panel (sorry, didn’t put it in this diagram). So I don’t think I can put the press there (the height of the panel starts at 32”, and the press feedboard is much higher).

Folks - an update…yes, 6.5 years later I’m still working on this.

I have the room configured pretty much as described in post of June 5/13 (without any sliding glass door). But do not yet have a press.

I’m looking for feedback on two issues:

1. Suggestions on the best way to properly ensure adequate ventilation. Especially since the furnace and hot water heater would be in the adjacent room.

2. Suggestions on a dolly / wheel system to allow me to move the press into the middle of the room to use and service, and return it to the wall at other times. Obviously would have to be a permanent feature, and allow the press to be in a non-movable position when in use.

Thx to all in advance!

My larger presses (C&P, Vandercook) are mounted on custom-made pallets, so I can easily move them with a pallet jack (usually stored in a shed outside). My C&P has a small fold-away pallet-height platform so I’m at the right height to treadle. I have found this quite workable over time.

Of course, the move-it-on-wheels approach presumes you have enough free space in the shop to move anything to. A lot of us find ourselves with just enough space to work and move around after a few years of finding equipment. There is one whole side of my Kluge I have to crawl around on the floor to oil.

Thanks BillWhitley & scottbaldwin. Much appreciated.

I don’t have space for a pallet jack…so does anyone have a suggestion about how to make something WITH wheels that I could use to move the press?