Kelsey 5x8 Printing

I’m successfully printing on my Kelsey 5x8 I purchased last year, but I have one question that maybe somebody out there could help with.

I’ve watched videos on the web of people using their small tabletop presses and the process seems a lot more effortless than mine. Whenever I go to make a print, it seems that I have to push down with a lot of weight versus an easy compression. Releasing the press handle is even a bigger ordeal. I have to brace one hand the desk the press is mounted to and pull up on the handle with a lot of strength. In the videos I’ve seen, it looks like a simple clamp and unclamp process.

I’m not using a lot of packing and my image area isn’t that large. I’ve mostly printed on 111# Wild Paper. Not sure if it’s something with the platen or the platen spring or any of the bolts being too tight in different locations.

Any information would be greatly appreciated and thanks in advance.


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This is a characteristic of Kelseys with the impression a bit too tight. If you’re trying to get a deep, or obvious dent in the paper, and your image is at all bold or with areas of solid (not regular book type in a relatively small area) your press is operating normally. However, there is a danger of pushing the impression just a bit too far and breaking something — usually the handle as it’s sort of the weak link. So be careful!


like AdLib says your impression bolts sound like they are too tight, you say you are not using much packing, you should have some in there, at least a press board and 2 to 4 pieces of 20 lb bond (copy paper) your impression can be adjusted by removing a piece of bond, if you aren’t using packing then you can’t adjust the packing and the handle gets hard to depress and release.

Thanks guys! I’ve read stories about breaking handles and definitely want to avoid that. I normally use a piece of pressboard and a couple sheets of copy paper for my packing.

To clarify when you say impression bolts, you mean the ones on the back of the platen, correct? After reading a few more posts, seems like I might need to take a step back, loosen those bolts and realign my platen.

you are right, I’d realign the platen.

There does come a time, on a Kelsey, when the forced clamp/unclamp action is necessary for a good solid print on larger forms or textured paper, or when noticeable impression is desired. No way to avoid it (in my experience) on some jobs, even with careful makeready. But it should definitely not be a default behavior on basic packing. You can always add in a few sheets behind your pressboard when a extra pressure is needed. So, yeah, your best bet is to loosen the impression screws a bit more, allowing yourself to resort to extra “umpf” only when needed.

Just finished realigning and it made all the difference. I was able to get a great impression with minimal effort. Thanks for all the feedback.