Hydraulic jack letterpress

From MidsouthMakers - Memphis Area Hackerpace
Revision as of 23:46, 7 May 2010 by Dan9186 (talk | contribs) (→‎Building Instructions)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Hydraulic Jack Letterpress is a press designed to deboss designs into paper much like old movable type letterpresses.

Hydraulic Jack Letterpress
Owner Dan9186
Version 1.0
Status In Progress
Started On 2010-01-31
Cost $120


This project is the result of my fiancee wanting to have nicely made letterpress invitations to our wedding. Upon looking up the prices for such types of invitations, we were looking at about $900 to $1000 for just 100 invitations. As we started to look into it we realized that we could do this much cheaper on our own. All that was needed was the plates with the design, the ink, and something to press them with. Looking online for others' attempts, we found several where people had simply made them out of wood and were using leverage and their own weight to press them. We decided that we could make something similar with a few improvements, mainly the hydraulic portion to improve how even it is.



  • Hydraulic jack for pressing force
  • Made from simple hardware store pieces
  • Means of quickly inserting/removing printing plate and paper
  • Even distribution of pressure on the printing plate

Building Instructions

Image Instructions
Letterpress Plywood Pieces.JPG Cut the 2 ft (0.61 m) x 4 ft (1.2 m) into two 12 in (30 cm) x 12 in (30 cm) and two 15 in (38 cm) x 15 in (38 cm) pieces.
Letterpress 2x4x18 Pieces.jpg Cut the two by four into four pieces at 18 in (46 cm).
Letterpress 2x4x18 Pieces Glue.jpg Glue the pairs together to make the top and bottom piece for the press.
Letterpress 2x4x18 Pieces Clamp.jpg Clamp them until you have the chance to bolt everything together.
Letterpress Press Clamp.jpg Glue and clamp the 12 in (30 cm) x 12 in (30 cm) and two 15 in (38 cm) x 15 in (38 cm) pieces and screw them together with 2.25 in (5.7 cm) wood screws.
Letterpress Press L Brackets.JPG Place the L brackets on the top of the pressing plate to provide something to pull upward with for the return on the hydraulics.
Letterpress Base Glue.JPG
Letterpress Base Clamp.JPG
Letterpress Base Screw.JPG
Letterpress Base Centerpiece Measure.JPG
Letterpress Base Centerpiece Drill.JPG
Letterpress Base Centerpiece Rightangle.JPG
Letterpress Base Centerpiece Glue.JPG
Letterpress Base Position Centerpiece.JPG
Letterpress Complete.JPG
Letterpress Removable Plate.JPG


The black bar is the replacement metal piece.
  • RESOLVED: The press does not apply pressure to the plate and paper evenly causing portions to not indent into the paper.
    • SOLUTION: Use a minimum of 1/8" thick steel or iron sheet metal to provide a harder pressing surface.
  • RESOLVED: The metal piece for the bottle jack to push against is indenting from the pressure causing the pressure to disperse unevenly through the plate.
    • SOLUTION: Replaced the fence post anchor with a thicker piece of metal to push against.

Bill of Materials

Item Metric Cost/Item Qty Sub Total Distributor
Birch Plywood 3/4 in (1.9 cm) x 2 ft (0.61 m) x 4 ft (1.2 m) $15.76 1 $15.76 Lowe's
Two by Four 2 in (5.1 cm) x 4 in (10 cm) x 104 in (264 cm) $2.45 1 $2.45 Lowe's
Hydraulic Jack 6 Ton $16.99 1 $16.99 Harbor Freight Tools
Bungee Tie Down N/A $1.39 2 $2.78 Harbor Freight Tools
Hex Bolt 5/16 in (0.8 cm) x 4.5 in (11 cm) $0.50 8 $4.00 Home Depot
Hex Nut 5/16 in (0.8 cm) $0.10 8 $0.80 Home Depot
Cut Washer 5/16 in (0.8 cm) $0.11 16 $1.76 Home Depot
Lock Washer 5/16 in (0.8 cm) $0.16 16 $2.56 Home Depot
Metal Fence Post Cap 4 in (10 cm) x 4 in (10 cm) $7.54 1 $7.54 Home Depot
Small Tie Plate N/A $0.50 2 $1.00 Home Depot
Acrylic Sheet 3/32 in (0.2 cm) x 18 in (46 cm) x 24 in (61 cm) $9.77 1 $9.77 Home Depot
Corner Bracket N/A $2.98 4 $11.92 Lowe's
Slotted Angle N/A $9.23 2 $18.46 Lowe's


Pictures and words to come