View Full Version : Printing Presses. I want to buy a good one.

03-10-2009, 12:01 AM
I'm planning on buying a printing press within the month for my home studio.
I have been doing a lot of research and price comparisons on the internet, but I am feeling a little unsure at this point. Any advice would be appreciated.
There are 2 options I am looking at (within the US...I'm in Canada..can't find any up here)
with beds generally around 22" wide:

1. The cheapest one is at Jerry's Artarama - it's a FOME press
"medium unit"
(A side question about this product, in the product description, it says that all presses come with metal plates, and that synthetic plates are sold separately. What are the synthetic plates for?!)

2. Blick Master Etch Model II Press.
it's has only a slightly larger bed that the FOME press.

The price difference between these is considerable!
Is the Blick really that much better? Or should I say, is the FOME press worth buying? Representatives that I have spoken to a both stores haven't been much help at all - they don't seem to know their products very well.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations and general wisdom.
I'm excited to buy a press, I just want to feel like I'm getting the right one -it's a big purchase - I want it to last a long time.

03-10-2009, 12:25 AM
I don't know about FOME presses but I have a Richeson Baby press which is the same as the small Dick Blick press and I've been pleased with it.

My Baby press is very sturdy so far and I've pulled engravings, mezzotints and monotypes from it with no problems at all. I've had it for about 6 months and have pulled 20+ small editions.

The synthetic (sometimes called phrenolic) are supposed to last longer and take more pressure than a steel plate.

03-10-2009, 12:47 AM
I recently purchased two etching presses. I have one here, and another was just completed and is ready for pick up. As I was narrowing down my choices, I contacted the manufacturers of the presses that I was interested in to ask questions. When I made my choice, I bought directly from the manufacturer. I would really hesitate before buying from a retailer who doesn't know the product very well.

Have you looked into Ettan Press, Takach Press, and Conrad?

I had a list of 4 or so presses and narrowed it down to Ettan and Takach. I ended up buying a small Ettan Press from Ettan Press, and a larger Takach Press from Takach Press.

03-10-2009, 12:54 AM
Welcome to the forum.

I have known a few people that have used the FOME presses that Jerrys sells. They DO work- But as with most things, you get what you pay for. For one thing, They have small rollers- they are only about 2" in diameter- and one thing that you hear repeated over and over is when it comes to rollers, the BIGGER the BETTER. I think that they are also direct drive, at least in the two smaller units, which makes 'em a bit tougher to pull a print on.

The Blick master press is a lot of machine for the money. I have a smaller blick press (a 906), and have really enjoyed it. The bed width of the Master press is a full 4" wider than the fome. You could pull a 22" print with OK Borders on the Blick, the Fome will limit you to 19-20 inches or so.

Also- Look at the weights of the two. Although the Blick is only slightly larger, it weighs in at a full 100 lbs more- Due to its larger rollers and more robust construction. All in all, it is a lot more press.

But, It is more money- And you CAN get the other press to do what you need it to, with some patience!

The synthetic beds are much lighter and not as prone to warping as steel... They also don't rust. I have one on my blick press- It was certainly the way to go!

You COULD always build you own- It's not as daunting of a task as you might think. I just finished mine last month- http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=546138

You can have a LARGE press for far less that way- Mine has 24" rollers and can fit paper up to about 26" wide. If you are careful about where you get materials from, you can put something like that together for $1000 or so.... Possibly less (or you can go overboard like I did and spend a BIT more :) ).

The good news is, no matter which way you go, you will always have something that is worth some money- Presses tend to hold their value quite well. If for some reason down the line you decide to part with it, you'll likely get most of what you paid (and somtimes more!) back for it.


03-10-2009, 11:06 AM
I have one of those little presses from Jerry's. I would not buy one again. The main roller is too small. They are very fiddly to adjust, and in my opinion do not perform well.

As for the other small presses you mention, I have tried a couple, and am not fond of them. I think you will quickly feel cramped by their size. Have a look at Uber presses:


They seem like a lot of press for the money ... but I have no first had experience with them.

Other than that, on a limited budget, I would advertise widely in the papers. Check local universities and colleges ... you might find a good used press for less money.

Making your own is not such a bad idea. Or, even draw up a simple set of plans and take them to a local machine shop to get a quote on having one made.

Cheers ...... Charles

Inky Fingers
03-10-2009, 12:00 PM
What is your intended use for this press? Are you an etcher or a relief printer? The reason I ask is that if you're going to be doing intaglio plates as large as 22" this puts quite a strain on a press. It's a lot of pressure over a wide range, which is to say it's probably a good idea to fork out for good quality. They roll easier, and won't break down just when you have a show fast approaching. I have a Takach and love. Can't speak for the others.

Good luck,

03-10-2009, 02:37 PM
Hi there
I am a fellow Canadian printmaker who purchased a Blick 906 a few years back (these are manufactured by Richeson Co. in Wisconsin I believe).
I noticed you were considering the Blick Econo etch II. This would be a Richeson press and see that phenolic bed (which is actually made from compressed multi layered nylon sheets) is included. However the stand and felts are sold seperate. I have worked it out that the unit with one cushion blanket would run around $3800 CDN. But then you would have to factor in taxes and shipping cost. If it is coming from US you have to pay pst and gst. Since press is made in US there shouldn't be a duty fee (but don't quote me on this...you might have to check first with Canadian Customs).
I see that Curry's in Toronto sell several Richeson presses that include phenolic bed, a stand and one cushion blanket in the selling price.
The model compriable to the Blick press you mentioned retails for around $5000 CDN. Don't know where you live here so if not in Toronto area I imagine then shipping would be extra to get press delivered to your address.
I do not know Fome presses as all, but given the feedback from others sounds like the Blick one might be the way to go.
Here is a link created by Ploverwing (Amie) one of our members from B.C. There are some press manufacturers listed that you could compare.

03-10-2009, 03:06 PM
Thanks so much for all the responses and information...this forum is huge ! I noticed more press info on past posts, which have also been helpful. While I take this all in.... more info in response: I will be using the press for intaglio printmaking (etching on zinc and aluminum plates), but mostly for monotypes (from plexiglass, glass and litho plates). Ken thanks for the tip about the strain of large plates. I have been trying to picture how large a plate I can use on various sized beds.
Takach's look great, just too expensive for me right now. Ettan and Conrad are also too pricey. Making my own press is way too much work (I can't make everything), but I saw the photos of yours in progress and it's impressive. I had a teacher at university who gave us all instructions of how to make a press out of car jacks. I never tried to make it, but I look at the instructions now and then. Also thanks for clearing up synthetic plates vs. metal plates.
Uberpresses look intriguing but foreign to me. I'll look into that more. It seems like it takes a lot of passes to print one plate. Can anyone recommend an Uberpress?
I will continue to weigh my options.
thank you forum,

03-10-2009, 03:17 PM
My Blick press (906) is made in Brazil- I'd be surprised if the Richeson presses are made in the US. I think that they come from the same place- They are pretty much identical other than the logos.

I would REALLY have to see the Uber press in operation before I could spend that kind of money on them- The rollers are only 3 1/2" long, so you make multiple passes over the plate to print. It seems like it would be tough to get exactly the same pressure each pass, and you could end up with streaky prints! Perhaps it isnt a problem, But I'd have to see it with my own eyes first :)


03-10-2009, 05:06 PM
Andrew you are correct about the presses being made in Brazil
not sure that the Richeson Company is involved in press manufacture anymore for Blick . I believe Blick subcontracted the Brazilian manufacturer to have thier own line of presses made there?

03-11-2009, 01:37 AM
Have you considered buying a higher end press used? Occassionally I see nice size table top presses come up on Craigslist in major cities in the U.S. I've seen them on CL Denver, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque and the ones I've seen listed have been fairly priced and under $2000. Finding one used might be an option if you aren't in a rush to buy a press. I just spoke with a photographer in Taos today who found his used press through Chemical Graphics. Chemical Graphics connected him with the seller. He picked his up for $250.

03-11-2009, 12:43 PM
I totally lucked out with used - I have a Conrad Combo press (http://burnishings.blogspot.com/2008/07/new-press.html) (etching & litho) that went up on eBay for US$800 last summer (it came with a press stand for that, too, and it is practically brand new). So it's worth trolling through the eBay & Craigs' lists near you; you never know!

03-11-2009, 09:19 PM
I have looked into finding a used press without luck. Considering that, I'm going to purchase one before the end of this month as someone has offered to drive the press I buy up here to me, on their return from florida which would at least save on shipping costs. This opportunity is what instigated this serious search for a press!
I didn't know curry's sells the richeson press - $5000 would be more expensive to buy it here than to order the blick master etch press that i am looking at from the states even factoring in the exchange rate. I have been turned off of the artarama (Fome press) now - partly from what i have read from you guys in this forum but also because you have to wait about 20 minutes to speak to someone there who doesn't really know the product and they haven't responded to my email questions in over a week.
The Uber press now has me intruigued. I spoke with Mel Whelan yesterday - the guy who actually designed it. I'm tempted to buy one (you can print large on it! it does not weigh a ton! it is less expensive!) but I'm a little hesitant (it's is a new product in general and a new system to me that i can't try it before i bite the bullet). The demonstration video on their site is helpful. I have a feeling it's the type of thing that just would take a few prints to get a feel for it. I will now try to get in touch with artists who are listed on the uberpress site as being set up with one.
this forum is addictive.

03-16-2009, 11:13 PM
I own the small blick press, but haven't used it yet, though it seems well made. The larger 906 seems like a good deal, under 1,000 US with the bed and blankets.

I know people who have used the Uber press by Whelan and have been please with it--one printer I know takes it into the field for workshops, doing multi-plate drypoint, plein air printing (see: http://www.makingartsafely.com/MakingArtSafely/Hugh_Bryden_Drypoint.html) (http://www.makingartsafely.com/MakingArtSafely/Hugh_Bryden_Drypoint.html%29).

In the studio where I print we have the larger Whelan X-Press that I use all the time--I really like that it gives consistent results and is easy to adjust and duplicate the press pressure settings (I do photopolymer intaglio printing, but this press would work well for monotypes also). It is more press than I can afford, but not as much as some others and it weighs 300 pounds, not thousands of pounds. Not exactly portable, but not a monster to move either--you could do it in the back of a pick up truck.

See http://www.whelanpress.com/ for both the Uber and X-press.

Best, David

Blick Art Materials
03-17-2009, 12:36 PM
Sorry to hear you didn't receive the help or information you needed. Just curious, do you know which department you spoke to? Feel welcome to call us in Product Information. We exist as a department to answer technical questions and would be happy to answer any further questions you have on our presses. The most knowledgeable person to speak to on our presses would be Jim Noble. I know he owns several models himself, and because we're also artists in our department, we can offer insight into workability of products as well.


04-28-2010, 05:47 PM
I prefer Conrad presses the most. They make a HUGE variety of both sizes and styles of presses. I believe they say that they offer more variety than any other press manufacturer. I know they manufacture Conrad, American French Tool, Rembrandt, and "Brand New" presses. Conrad presses also carry the longest warranty of any press manufacturer. I would check out their website.


04-29-2010, 10:20 AM
storaleigh, where do you live?

If you're doing intaglio-type printing, you're going to want something with some umf to it: geared drive, larger roller. You can get this with the larger Blick presses I think. I just ordered a Conrad 15x30, which has not arrived yet. Maybe more than you want to spend, but it was less than the Takach or Whelan presses.

Did you get your question answered about the "plastic plates"? Not sure, but I think they're referring to the press bed being made out of some type of composite/laminate material that's lighter than metal. The Conrad press I'm getting is coming with a Benelex bed.

04-29-2010, 01:23 PM
I have the Blick 999 press. I love it. For the money it is the best press. I agree with what was posted about the Conrad and Takach presses being excellent machinery. They just cost significantly more.
If money is no object, I would suggest either the Conrad or Takach combo presses.
Think long term. You may not be working with lithography now, but if you decide later that you want to, having a press that will handle it would be great. If you don't have the press, you'll likely never explore that option.
The same is true with press size. You may not be making large prints now, but you won't have the option if you buy a small press. You can always print small on a big press, but you cannot print big on a small press.
Best advice I received when I didn't have a press was, "Save $1000. Then you can START to look for a reliable high quality press."

winking cat press
04-29-2010, 03:26 PM
Storaleigh.... there are a lot of good presses on the market, and all of them will do you a good job if you take hte time to learn them well, and work within their limitations..... even little Blicks.

Several folks have brought up print size as a matter to be considered. This is the most important criteria. You need to decide how big you want your images to be, OR how small you can live with, and then get the next size larger press. I've got a number of presses in my shop.... and have found that for Art, I needed a minimum of 12" wide rollers. Thus I built my main press 14" wide.

If cost is a factor, you might want to follow one of the above writer's advice, and build your own. In cost per inch, and money for quality, many home-built presses are far superior to what you can buy..... especially at the lower end cost level. A quick search online, at Briar Press, and here will reveal a large number of very good machines that folks have made.

For relief printing like woodcuts or lino-cuts, you can easily make a free-cylinder proof press like the one I built. (It's posted here at Wet Canvas) It cost less than $100. For Itaglio work, look at some of the home-made etching presses like the one mentioned above, or at Dougforsythegallery's web page. Many of them are great machines and they cost far less than a comparable store-bought press.

PS.... no matter how you go about it, I think it's GREAT that you want to get a press. Once you do, you'll wonder how you ever did printmaking without one.

04-30-2010, 08:48 AM
I have the baby Blick (Econo Etch II) press, and it's perfect for what I need right now. I do mostly relief prints and some monoprints. I work on small pieces, 8x10 or smaller, and I have limited space. So I couldn't do large prints if I wanted to - nowhere to store them, nowhere to put them to dry, etc. It's portable, it sits on top of a storage unit, and I have just enough room to pull prints on it!

If I could have found one second-hand, I would have gone that route, but nothing was available in my immediate area and I was in a hurry to get it and start working. Eventually, I'd like to get a larger one, but that will only happen when we move into a larger house and I get a whole room to myself :)

04-30-2010, 09:08 AM
I have the Blick 999 and am glad I got a larger press as Brian said. After I got the press I started doing more monoprints on plastic plates, before I had been all intaglio. The bigger bed is great for large (not huge) plastic plates. I have the phenolic bed which has worked well too.

I have used more expensive presses in other studios and loved them but they were out of my price range when I bought. The gear ratio on the more expensive presses has been better making printing a easier than with the Blick. Still, for the money the Blick turned out to be a good buy although CDN$4k - $US4k which is a lot more than mine cost. I have had mine for I think 14 years.

Andrew etc. how do you know they are made in Brazil?

05-21-2010, 02:50 PM
I live on the Olympic Peninsula and want to sell my Griffin Etching Press.
bed size 32 1/2 x 55". Motorized. If anyone is interested, send me a pm or email I have been a member of Wet Canvas for some time, but unsure how to navigate the sites - so bear with me. Ursula in Western Washington.

EDIT I have removed the email address and phone number as it is against our policy to have personal information in the forum.


05-21-2010, 03:56 PM

Madison Art Shop

A lot of the better priced presses are "Out of Stock" and my guess is they won't be getting any more of those. Back in 2006 I was lucky to buy the Large Italian Press Package (20.5 in) including the stand for around $900 - I paid extra for a bigger roller. They shipped it to Canada by road transport for a reasonable cost and I went down and cleared it through Customs myself to save brokerage fees. It is a Richeson Fome press, made in Italy, and I love it. Sadly this special priced press is no longer available so I don't know why they still have it on their site. However I can highly recommend the friendly and helpful service I received from the staff.

I've posted the link in case you might like to compare their prices with others you've seen although the widest available press they list is a little smaller than your desired size.

I also have a small Richerson press which I think is the same as the Blick 906 I'm finding it a real challenge to get a decent print from it as yet. There's definitely a learning curve so I need to spend more time learning how to use it successfully. My bigger Fome was a dream right from the start and I can pass a plate through almost with one finger it's so smooth. I tried the small Fome from Jerry's and found it virtually useless (or maybe I just ran out of patience with it!).