The timeless process of printing can be intimidating, as it requires a lot of specialized equipment and tools as well as a designated space in which to work and properly transfer your designs. A handy way to print that is both economical and space-saving: Use a tabletop printing press, which sits neatly on a flat surface and can be stored away in a small space when necessary. Because these tools are a lot smaller than traditional printing presses, they are limited in their output size, but they can be just as high-performing and precise as their larger counterparts. Browse our picks, below.
1. Creative Mark Basic Etching Press
This all-steel press is capable of printing works up to 9 by 15 inches. Solidly built and easy to assemble, it can be used for a range of processes, from block printing to monotyping to collograph printmaking, with adjustable upper and lower rollers. It takes a bit of time to learn how to use this press, so we recommend it for artists who have some experience with printmaking and an understanding of the different pressures required for various techniques. We also advise installing it so it is completely anchored to a surface; this will allow you to smoothly crank the arm with necessary force without causing unwanted movements.
2. Akua Pin Press
If you favor printing processes that require relatively light pressure, we like this sleek rolling press. Made of aluminum, it is best used atop a durable glass surface for consistent, smooth, and even coverage. Crescent-shaped handles on both ends offer ergonomic supports for your palms as you roll back and forth, and it’s finished with a flat edge to keep it from rolling off your work surface. We also like that this roller is long so you can print from plates with edges that measure up to 19 3/4 inches.
3. Speedball 4136 Block Printing Press
Don’t let the minimal design of this press, which weighs just six pounds, fool you: It’s incredibly sturdy and capable of producing good-quality small prints—up to six by eight inches. To use it, you simply pull the handle so the upper plate meets your material and presses it against the base. While it can take some experimentation to achieve the precise results you could get with a rolling press, this machine offers students a feel of the printing process and is a great tool to learn on. It can be placed on any surface and is portable, easy to operate, and easy to clean.
4. Jack Richeson Light-Weight Metal Block Printing Press
Richeson makes a good press that’s another under-$100 option—perfect for artists who aren’t sure if they’re quite ready to invest in an upscale product. It weighs the same as Speedball’s press, at six pounds, and can also make prints up to six by eight inches; however, it is not height-adjustable. The all-metal design is durable, with the added protection of a powder-coated finish, and the baren features a nylon surface that is responsive and evenly transfers ink, so you can achieve prints with subtle textures with ease.
5. Blick Baby Printing Press Package
This solidly constructed press strikes a winning balance between convenience and capability. Having a small footprint, it is great for cramped spaces and can be packed up for travel. Yet it’s durable and built to last for years, featuring a solid steel roller, tough but easy-turn handle, and hard-wearing steel bed plate. All components work together seamlessly to ensure uniform, even pressure with every pull.