A Small Printing Office

The requis­ites for a small print­ing office

Big type founders used to sup­ply ‘com­plete print­ing offices’ described in great detail in their cata­logues. They might include hun­dreds of pounds of type for a news­pa­per set com­pletely by hand.

Smal­ler con­cerns have more mod­est needs; and the require­ments for a print­ing office for the cur­rent small print­er aren’t dra­mat­ic­ally dif­fer­ent from those of fifty years ago. This list is adap­ted from both Print­ing for Pleas­ure by John Ryder and oth­er book­lets on small printing.

A Small Press

Ryder sug­gests Adana machines (espe­cially the Adana QH), or Mod­el presses. Rollers will be needed


The wide­spread advice is to choose one face and stick with it.  Once you have a settled view of the type you want, the recommed­a­tions are –

  • From Print­ing for Pleasure
    • Two ‘card founts’ of 12pt, 18pt and 24pt Roman (for 12pt, this would be around 20A 32a)
    • One ‘card fount’ of 12pt, 18pt and 24pt Ital­ic (at 12pt, this would be around 10A 16a)
  • From Basic Print­ing: Let­ter­press for the Begin­ner by the BPS 
    • 2kg (c. 9A 18a) of 18pt Bold
    • 2kg (c. 20A 40a) of 12pt Bold
    • 2kg (or 4kg of fin­ances allow) of 12pt Roman
    • 2kg of 12pt Italic
    • 1kg (c. 22A 44a) of 8pt Roman

Oth­er things from type founders that are needed are –

  • Spa­cing (c. 1/2kg per size)
  • Quads
  • Hair spaces
  • Leads
  • Bor­ders:

Other Items

  • Fur­niture: alu­mini­um, plastic (Resal­ite) or wood — 2 or 3 times are area of the chase of the machine
  • Quoins: expand­ing met­al.  May also need nar­row mar­gin quoins
  • Print­ing rules (brass or from the type founder)
  • Reg­let


  • Com­pos­ing stick
  • Bodkin
  • Tweez­ers
  • Plan­ing block
  • Types­cale
  • Impos­ing surface
  • Lead cut­ter
  • Ink knife
  • Hand rollers


  • Type cases and cabinets
  • Gal­leys