Homemade proof press

I am a printmaker from Québec city. I speak french so I will try to be clear.
I was searching for a kind of showcard or line-o-scribe and never find near my place so I decide to build one based on a plan find on the web.

Finally with great work I finish to fix it on level with enought room between the roller and the types. I think I will need to use felt like I use with my etching press.
My question is: Does the roller have to be hard ?
A little bit to late for this question but I only find a Heidelberg rubber roller near my place.
The prints are not to bad but I did not think about the fact of the weight and the durability of the roller.
I appreciate any suggestions.

Thank you !

Here’s some images.

image: presse à épreuve, proof press.jpg

presse à épreuve, proof press.jpg

image: presse-dessus.jpg


Log in to reply   12 replies so far

Hello Lise!
Presses built on the Showcard style can print quite well. I built one very similar to yours a few months ago. Here is a link to my small press:


I used a hard urethane roller that was a left-over test part from a larger press I’m working on. I posted a discussion on it, too. Just search my name here, and you’ll find it.

I think that your soft roller will work ok for softer papers, but may not be able to press hard enough for thicker or harder papers. What king of print media are you using? Unmounted linoleum? Lino blocks? woodcuts?

Also…. there is a forum for Printmakers that might be helpful for you:

www.wetcanvas.com / printmaking

It’s a bit slow, but the members are more into artistic printmaking.

aka Winking Cat Press


When I post my photos and request yesterday I did not remember where I found the images which really gave me the taste to build my press. One was yours…I am a little shy and happy that you answer to my post.

Mostly I will print texts ( letterpress) for my artist books. I tryed to print a woodblock yesterday, it was not equal and too light. I will try again.
My goal is to print more larger format. I have a Adana 8x5 and as I do short edition it is easier to ink by hand. I am not an expert and I learn by myself

Where did you find your roller ? Did you mount the bearing by your self ?
Now that my fisrt one is build maybe I will do an other one more effective to have good prints.

Thank you !


Congratulations, Lise, on your ambitions and considerable skills evidenced by the self-made press. It is heartening indeed to see the spirit of tenacity and purpose continues to flicker in this age of “I want it Now!” Well done.

As to your communicating in a language other than your primary, well, don’t give that concern a second’s attention; there are many on this list not having the ability to convey thought in any tongue. :o)


Thank you. My artistic freedom passes by the knowledge of various techniques which I may adapt to my purpose. It is the same for tools which serve my ideas.


Lise- the roller is the heart of a proof press. You need to use the best one you can come up with. To answer your question, I made my own roller. I posted a complete description about how I made it here:


The bearing that I used were bought at a local bearing supply house, sized to fit the roller shaft. They come already mounted in the housings, and all I had to do was bolt them in place.

IF you make another one, I have two suggestions:

1- make the side rails out of 1” square hardwood. you can get it at home-improvment stores.
2- then make your press so the the roller itself (not just the core) rolls on the top of the rail.

If you do that, the bottom of your roller will roll just slightly higher than “type high”. You can then shim under your printing block to adjust the impression pressure. that will help your printing quality considerably.

Since your roller is relatively soft, you may want to use roller trucks on the ends.

Like forme said, it’s good to see folks taking the time to learn and do things for themselves. you are off to a good start.


All my tests are bad. The roller is too light and soft. I would like to do it again as you wrote with a 1” hardwood but the roller will be a problem.
I see this roller on eBay:

Thank you again !

Lise…. I was afraid of that. BUT please wait before you buy the roller on e-bay. while it might work,it’s not the best idea. I’ve come up with an better solution for you and anyone else who might be building a similar press.

I’m working right now, but later today or tonight I’ll post a of the easiest, best way to make a sign-press style roller. It’s so easy I must slap myself on the head for not thinking of it sooner.

How would a roller 3 1/5 inches in diameter x 15” long, made of metal with built in bearings, and is machine-turned to very accurate dimensions….. that is really cheap work for you? Yeah?

Then be patient, Grasshopper. The knowledge you seek will be revealed soon. (like this evening when I’m done working)

aka Winking Cat Press


I’ll be patient.
I love your burst of enthusiasm Dave.


Bonsoir Lise, mon nom est Robin et j’habite sur la rive-sud de Montréal. J’ai lu que tu n’avais pas trouvé de presse près de chez toi et que tu t’en était faite une. Je ne sais pas si tu es toujours intéressé par une presse mais j’en ai une à vendre. C’est une Showcard avec un lit de 25.5X42. Elle fontionne très bien. Montréal-Québec ça se fait très bien… Si tu est intéressé, tu peux m’appeller au 514-349-5576 ou m’écrire [email protected].

Have you any ideas or suggestions for inking evenly?

I will do hand inking by pressing my roller on two forms of the same height as type. I am doing small editions of artist books so It does not disturb me to make more prints to choose the best.
I am building my second press with Dave’s recommendations.

Sounds like a good plan. I have an old Vandercook number 2 and I basically do the same thing, although I’ve added a few extras. Good luck on your new press. I look forward to hearing about it.