IF YOU KNOW HOW TO PRINT, but don't have access to a press, then you should consider Lead Graffiti's press rental. And if you need space or special equipment to perfect a personal book- or box-making project, maybe our workspace rental would help you make it a reality.

At Lead Graffiti, press rental helps you maintain your printing skills, and helps you control job costs by keeping more money in your pocket. Our workspace rental gives you room to prep your project and the use of a wide variety of associated equipment. Drop us an email if you would like a 30-minute tour of our studio.

Email us with your desired date & time. Be sure to allocate enough time for your project. We realize that for many people, letterpress is not your day job, and we will do our best to accommodate your print schedule. We don't mind you needing less time than you anticipate, but needing more can be tricky. We've got our own work and workshops to consider. You can rent presses over top of bookmaking workshops.

A word to the wise : Do not run yourself up against a deadline and expect us to be able to accommodate you on the spot.


PRESS RENTAL REQUIRES that you complete the associated technical workshop on the equipment to be rented OR obtain our prior approval. For approved rental, you need to present evidence of your technical skills from classes or other workshops. Email jpg photos of 3 - 5 of your projects (limit images to 1000 pixels in either direction) that highlight your proficiency at printing via letterpress and let us know where you learned your skills.

  • You should be able to work on our equipment with minimal input from the Lead Graffiti staff.

  • If you are a novice printer, we are quite willing to oversee you through your first couple of projects, BUT the point is for you to be able to do your work on your own.

  • As a novice, you need to take responsibility for maintaining your new printing skillset in a timely manner.

What you get

EXCEPT FOR PAPER AND PLATES, Lead Graffiti will typically supply you with everything necessary to walk in and print. In addition to printing with your desired press, you have access to:

  • 2 paper cutters (digital & hand cranked) and a board shear,

  • our wood & metal type collection and associated gear (NOTE : Use of wood & metal type is available ONLY to those who have completed our Letterpress 101 workshop.),

  • printing gear for photopolymer forms,

  • ink (in moderation) and gear for mixing and hand rolling,

  • solvent (we use odorless mineral spirits) and rags for clean up, and

  • several pieces of equipment for post-press finishing of your print job (see Workspace rental below for details).

Your responsibilities

THINK ABOUT YOUR PAPER ahead of time and bring it with you.

  • We may have what you want in-house, which we will sell (if we can spare it) with a markup and with advance notice.

  • With advance notice, you may order paper, envelopes, and photopolymer plates and have them sent directly to our studio, which may reduce your shipping costs slightly as we are in an industrial park, and reduce your effort in hauling them to the studio.

  • A word to the wise : If you are using envelopes, design your enclosures in a size that comfortably fits.

  • See the bottom of this page for suggested paper sources.


  • Show your respect for often-irreplaceable metal & wood type by taking extra care during hand setting and redistributing.

  • Opt for photopolymer plates or copperplates when you desire a deep impression, or you are printing on paper stocks with inclusions such as seeds, bark, or other coarse recycled materials.

  • See the bottom of this page for suggested sources for photopolymer plates and copperplates.


  • Return all tools to their proper place, clean and redistribute all type and spacing material, and clean up all ink usage and any paper scraps or offcuts.

  • You get a clean and freshly oiled press when you rent, and we expect it to be left in the same condition.

  • Allow time in your schedule for proper cleaning of the press, typically about 30 minutes of solid work, especially after using metallic ink, which requires an application of Pomade roller cleaner. If you think it is clean, go over it one more time.


⬆ Lindsay from Gingerly Press utilized Lead Graffiti's studio space rental to provide her with a ample room to build 22 15" x 18" clamshell boxes for her "Printed Walk" broadside series which spread over a couple of weeks. She also needed access to a large cutter and our board shears to cut the 220 pieces of board, 50 inside sheets, and yards and yard of bookcloth required of the project.


Equipment specs & rental fees

YOU MAY SELECT from the following 5 presses (that you have been approved to use) to produce your project.


WORKSPACE AND TABLE TOP PRESS RENTAL : $10 per hour (charged in 15-minute increments if you are only cutting paper). Associated equipment use with workspace rental includes : 

  • use of two 6" x 9" table top platen presses plus associated chases, metal / wood furniture, quoins for locking up your form, and various sizes of bases for photopolymer plates. NOTE : Use of the table top presses is available ONLY to those who have completed our Letterpress 101 workshop or can show proficiency.

  • a 30" x 40" light table with a gear-driven parallel bar to prep your photopolymer plates, check print alignment, etc.

  • a manual cutter for cutting paper up to 31" wide and a digital cutter for paper as wide as 21"

  • a 39" board shear for cutting bookboard

  • electric paper drill with holes ranging from 1/8", 1/4", and 1/2"

  • a treadle-operated Rosback perforator (24" wide)

  • a double wire punching & binding machine (13 " wide)

  • compressor and air brush for edge painting cards (you should supply your own water-base paint for spraying)

  • all the basic rubber-base inks for mixing PMS colors (in moderation), PMS ink color formula book, ink scales, ink knives, ink mixing stands, and hand brayers

  • solvent and paper / cloth clean-up rags, rubber gloves, and Pomade for roller / press cleanup

  • our collection of wood & metal type (about 40 and 600 cases, respectively), including dingbats, borders and copperplates, plus composing sticks, leading and spacing material. NOTE : Use of wood & metal type is available ONLY to those who have completed our Letterpress 101 workshop or have proven proficiency.

  • galleys for temporarily storing your active type for ongoing projects

  • amenities such as refrigerator access and free parking.


VANDERCOOK SP15 PRESS RENTAL : $25 per hour. This cylinder press is a hand-fed and hand-cranked model with a motorized inking drum for even ink distribution.

  • Maximum sheet size of 14.75" x 20" with a print area of 14" x 18".

  • Allow a standard 1/2" gripper edge.

  • Printing speed of about 200 sheets per hour when you have some experience under your belt.

  • Any pre- or post-press prep you need to do will be charged at the workspace rental fee of $10 per hour.


VANDERCOOK UNIVERSAL III PRESS RENTAL : $35 per hour. This automatic cylinder press is hand-fed and prints at the push of a button.

  • Maximum sheet size of 18.75" x 28" with a print area of 18" x 24" .

  • Allow a standard 1/2" gripper edge on your paper.

  • It can be set to run in 3 modes (manual, cycle, or run) with a controlled delay between removing and inserting sheets.

  • Tower system with attached cloth tapes allow for enhanced registration accuracy.

  • Top printing speed is about 240 sheets per hour.

  • Any pre- or post-press prep you need to do will be charged at the workspace rental fee of $10 per hour.


CHANDLER & PRICE 10 X 15 PRESS RENTAL : $25 per hour. This is a motorized floor model old-style platen press.

  • Maximum sheet size of about 12" x 16" with a sweet-spot printing area of 6" x 9".

  • Has a fixed speed of about 750 sheets per hour.

  • It is also capable of die cutting, perforating, and scoring using commercially available creasing matrix.

  • Any pre- or post-press prep you need to do will be charged at the workspace rental fee of $10 per hour.


IRON HAND PRESS RENTAL : $15 per hour. Printing high quality work is physically challenging on these platen presses, especially if you want to work with dampened paper.

  • The 1928 Albion has a platen size of 21" x 29."

  • The 1869 R. Hoe Washington #5 has a platen size of 25" x 38".

  • Inking is via hand brayer.

  • Any pre- or post-press prep you need to do will be charged at the workspace rental fee of $10 per hour.


Payment / cancellations

RENTAL MUST BE PAID IN FULL at the end of your printing session.

  • You may use credit card, PayPal or check payable to Lead Graffiti, or cash. Email to make sure any adjustments to that policy are acceptable.

  • If you need to cancel or reschedule, we need a phone call, text or email 24 hours ahead.

Student specials

YOU ARE WELCOME to bring a helpful friend at no additional cost when you rent press time. You get some help, an extra pair of eyes, and the two of you get the experience.  The friend must remain a helper or observer and not a printer during your time.

You can continue to rent our presses and workspace after you graduate and get a job, which may improve your marketability, add to your freelance options, or add a little side income.

If you are using photopolymer plates, we would be happy to look over your digital files ahead of time for your first couple of orders to see if we detect any problems. You should work in InDesign or Illustrator with vector-based images and use spot colors with proper overprinting or knockouts for colors.


Sample projects : timing and costs

THESE COSTS AND TIME ESTIMATES listed below are probably high. You will get faster as you get more practice, which will lower your costs. You can also compare the cost of buying larger plates to print 2-up (higher plate charge) versus reducing your on-press time (lower press rental charge). This can let you be more efficient trimming paper out of the parent sheet, reducing your paper costs, and also simply reduce the amount of effort you spend.

The fact that these would be your first letterpress projects has been taken into consideration when calculating the times. With some practice you could likely do the work in half the time with proper planning.

Sample project No. 1  

PARTY INVITATIONS OR BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT : You can inexpensively design this small project using only hand set type and printer's ornaments loaded into a table top press.

Specifications : 

  • Quantity—50 copies

  • Finished size—5" x 7"

  • Format—one color on one side, printing from hand composition

Time and materials cost estimates :

  • Job prep and hand set type—3 hours

  • Set up and print on a table top press—2 hours

  • Clean press and redistribute type—1 hour

  • Total time — 6 hours @ $10 = $60
    (Workspace rental includes free use of table top press)

  • Materials—paper & envelopes—$25

Total cost for complete project = $85

Sample project No. 2

BLANK GREETING OR NOTE CARDS : By designing this on a computer, you can more easily combine  your type with original illustration art, and print using photopolymer plates on the Vandercook SP15.

Specifications : 

  • Quantity—120 cards and blank envelopes

  • Finished size— 5.5" x 4.25"

  • Format—two colors on one side, printing from photopolymer plates

Time and materials cost estimates :

  • Job prep and finishing (cutting, ink mixing, scoring)—2 hours @ $10 = $20

  • Press set up, register the 2 colors, print 2 colors, 2 press clean ups—5 hours @ $25 = $125

  • Plate estimate + shipping—$70

  • Paper & envelopes—$45

  • Total time—7 hours

  • Total materials—plates, paper & envelopes—$115

Total cost for complete project = $260

Sample project #3

BUSINESS CARD PRINTING IN 4 SPOT COLORS : This is a great self-promotional project for each of 4 students willing to collaborate and use the same paper and same 4 ink colors on one side. Each card would be designed independently on the computer and gang-printed from photopolymer plates.

Specifications :

  • Quantity—200 business cards each; 4 different cards gang printed on the same sheet

  • Finished size—2" x 3.5"

  • Format—4 spot colors on one side, printing from photopolymer plates

Time and materials cost estimates :

  • Off-press job prep and finishing (cutting paper, ink mixing, post-press trimming, etc.)—2 hours @ $10 = $30

  • Using the Vandercook SP15 : press set up and register the 4 colors (average about 2 hours per color), print 4 colors (1 hour each color), 4 press clean ups (30 minutes per color)—14 hours @ $25 = $350

  • Photopolymer plate estimate—$115 ($0.65 / square inch x 44 square inches x 4 colors)

  • Free shipping (UPS 2-day Air) for over 90 square inches

  • Paper estimate—Mohawk Superfine 100# cover = $25

  • Total time—17 hours

  • Total materials—plates, paper—$140

Total cost for complete project = $490 ($122.50 each)

Sample project No. 4

FOUR-CARD WEDDING ENSEMBLE : Every designer has at least 1 close friend or relative getting married who would be thrilled to have a letterpress suite of cards and envelopes for their invitations. It isn't unreasonable that this would cost $1500 from a retailer.

Specifications :

  • Quantity—125 invitation sets (4 cards per set), plus 2 envelopes per set

  • Finished size—5" x 7" or smaller per card

  • Format—2 spot colors on 1 side of each card, 1 spot color on each envelope, and printing from photopolymer plates

Time and materials cost estimate :

  • Off-press job prep and finishing (cutting paper, ink mixing, envelope prep, post-press trimming, etc.)—3 hours @ $10 = $30

  • Using the Vandercook Universal III : press set up, register color #1, and print (2 hours); set up and print 2 envelopes (1.5 hours); press set up, register color #2 and print (2 hours); 2 press cleanups (30 minutes per color)—6.5 hours @ $35 = $$227.50

  • Plate estimage—$125 ($0.65 / square inch)

  • Free shipping (UPS2-day Air) for over 90 square inches

  • Paper & enelopes (Crane Lettra 110# and matching envelopes in 2 sizes)—$180

  • Total time—9.5 hours

  • Total materials—plates, paper & envelopes = $305

Total cost for complete project = $562.50



Photopolymer plates


Paper / envelopes

  • Letterpress Paper / Legion Paper : printmaking papers (by the case only)

  • French Paper Company : good colored papers and envelopes (smaller sizes and amounts)

  • Dick Blick : printmaking papers

  • Katz Americas : blank beer coasters (cannot run on the Vandercook)

  • Talas : bookbinding supplies (paper, bookboard, bookcloth, glue, etc.)

  • Glodan : sells split cases

  • Song Papers : will sell split cases, usually in 5 or 10 sheet increments

  • Neenah : will sell samples and split cases

  • Mohawk : where we get most of our smooth, heavy white paper

  • Jerry's Artarama : there is one in Wilmington on Market Street

  • Utrecht : has a complete line of art supplies and specialty papers

Other supplies

  • NA Graphics : generally where we order equipment- and equipment-related supplies

  • Gans Ink : ink (we use rubber-based blending inks, also carries our favorite gold ink), have to order over the phone. You need to look at our chart which I cannot find online.

  • VanSon : ink (we use rubber-based)

  • Clearbags : packaging products and clear sleeves in hundreds of sizes

  • Uline : boxes, packing and shipping materials

  • Wire-O : Twin-Loop binding supplies (boxes of 100)

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