can anyone suggest a small letterpress machine for a beginner? It's for personal use only. I absolutely love this print technology and have been watched countless videos on youtube. Can anyone suggest a good machine for a beginner if they are still in production?

This is some of the work that I wanna try to make myself:

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  • 1
    Hot type and a hammer :)
    – Scott
    Jan 25, 2019 at 19:59

4 Answers 4


If you do not need the pressed bumps inside the surface, you can try to transfer the metal color from a piece of laminating foil to paper. I haven't tried it, only seen some web stories of it. One promising idea was to run through a laminating heater machine a normal black laser printing face to face with a piece of metallic laminating foil. It was this: https://www.mybluprint.com/article/diy-gold-foil-prints-are-too-beautiful-to-be-this-easy.

And here's another: https://bydawnnicole.com/diy-foil-prints-two-ways/

Finally there's metallic ink printing such as this: https://www.rolanddga.com/products/inks/eco-sol-max-metallic-ink-printing I bet this is a little costy when compared to the previous methods. But obviously it's a bargain when compared to automatic mechanical metal stamping machinery

Late add due the comments:

The questioner seemingly wants no hi-tech machines, but a a simple mechanical press and has found how he gets strong enough types, typesetting frame and custom shapes. The press itself can be a hobby construction project. Here's one idea which doesn't need precision mechanic works and surely generates enough force:

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Scissor jack is fastened to the moving plate (blue) and to the ceiling. There's available jack models with bigger plates than my example

Book binding presses are generally available. They can be sturdy enough also for this purpose:

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One possiblity more to think: Get a laundry mangle. Put the things between two rubber coated metal plates and let go.

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(a Wikipedia image)

  • I liked this idea and it's definitely something I am gonna try but it doesn't give me that nice emboss and deboss effect that you get with letterpress. Do you think a 3d printed plate can help me with that? Jan 23, 2019 at 9:58
  • @NikhilChaudhary Surface deformation needs real mechanical pressure or some special material. I do not know materials which can be thinned or thickened with heat only in one direction. But that does not make them non-existent. Mechanical pressure needs high cost metal stamping machine or it must be made manually like gold leaf artists obviously have done centuries. Handcrafting like that is a light year beyond my skill level and knowledge. But web seems to have plenty of receipes. Some of them can show the deformatings. Here is one to check gold-vault.com/download_page.html
    – user82991
    Jan 23, 2019 at 10:18
  • @NikhilChaudhary (continued) 3D printing can make a tool which can be used to compress materials soft enough. Definitely a good idea! But I'm afraid low cost printers with 0,2 ...0,5 millimeter accuracy are far too coarse for fine works.
    – user82991
    Jan 23, 2019 at 10:27
  • Like i said in the post of gabriel, you can laser engrave dies out of derlin. These work quite well for embossing the paper, trotec lasers have this feature engraving design built into their driver but i have done the same with epilogs too, a bit rougher and takes longer to make but works. You can also use foil with these but then you have to alter the design. @NikhilChaudhary you can print these dies, its just that the printed dies are a bit fragile, and the printer needs to have quite good quality or your embossings are very crude.
    – joojaa
    Jan 23, 2019 at 15:20
  • Here is a pure embossing example. THe derlin engraves wery well and is mechanically really really strong so you can do all kinds of pressing stuff with this easily.
    – joojaa
    Jan 23, 2019 at 15:25

Note that not all of the examples you provided are simple letterpress. The second and the latter are hot stamped, which means that a thin metal sheet is being lightly melted into paper fibers through heat and engraved zync plates, which usually are pretty expensive them alone since they require precision machinery and CNC metal working. The machines are also pretty expensive for normal business, so I don't think that any manufacturer is actually making them for hobby purposes.

However, if you are interested in little production and the only effect you wish to achieve is the bump on the paper, you should be able to look for some little, old pedal-powered letterpress machines from specialized antique trades; they should need metal types, however, which are harder to work with than one can immagine; another option is to look for a small letterpress machine which works with polymer plates. Polymer plates are cheap, affordable, they can emboss various shape and don't cost too much (there are even some on-demand services that make them with your designs) and are perfect for small editions. However, machinery that gives good results would make it a pretty expensive hobby.

Depending on where you live, you could look after a FabLab or Cooperative Workspace and see if they possess such a tool - this would be the best option since you could work at your project with an "hobbistic-friendly budget" without having to buy the whole thing.

  • yeah you can make these small one with a laser and derlin. Cost almost negligible, but tha laser needs to paid for off course.
    – joojaa
    Jan 21, 2019 at 20:25
  • @joojaa yes, but then it's not letterpress, since the laser printer can't bend the small paper fibers, and the op explicitly asked for "letterpress". Jan 23, 2019 at 7:15
  • Thanks for taking your time and answering my question, Do you think a 3d Printed plate can help? I can't seem to find a letterpress machine and the one I am able to find are way to expensive after shipping cost included. Jan 23, 2019 at 10:01
  • @GabrielRambaud Tha laser does not bend anything, the pieces of derlin act as dies, those bend the paper. It costs around 2 euros to make one of these. They are small but big enough for a embossed logo at the edge of the paper. Designing them so they accept foil is a bit tricky but not hard.
    – joojaa
    Jan 23, 2019 at 15:13
  • 1
    @GabrielRambaud I did find a manufacturer in my area that produces brass and metal stamping dies and also photopolymer dies for $0.02 per sq.cm. Jan 29, 2019 at 11:25

It somewhat depends on what exactly you wish to imprint, but there are placed which manufacture custom seals and embossers - Like this one.

They aren't generally cost effective for one-offs and it's a die so different art would come with a die charge again. And there are general limitations regarding format/size. But who knows.. it might fill some need.


There are some hobby machines that cut vinyl letters and logos that could do it. Go to a Michael's or Hobby Lobby and check them out.

They are used to decorate t-shirts but it could go on paper.

  • But how does this help to deboss the letters into the surface?
    – Wolff
    Apr 6, 2020 at 16:56

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