WHAT IT IS: This simple open-source press for relief printing is basically a rolling pin and a shallow box with an 8.5×11-inch opening. The device requires ≈ $70 in materials and uses common tools. One version makes use of a laser cutter, and the other is all parts that can be purchased at a hardware store. It’s not quite professional quality, but it works pretty dang well!

Full instructions may be downloaded here:

HOW IT WORKS: With the finished device, you’ll place your printing block inside the tray, on top of a sufficient amount of supporting wood, then place your paper on top of the block, and pass the roller across the frame while maintaining contact with the frame of the tray. Like a professional relief press it allows for a quick transfer with consistent application of pressure, though it’s probably not as precise from print to print, and it also probably isn’t suitable for engraving.

On a professional press, you set the height of the roller so that the pressure is the same for every pass. With this press you to add or remove wood beneath the block, raising its height in relation to the height of the frame and roller, achieving the desired pressure for your print.

These plans are open source! As noted in the PDF, I’ve published the plans under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Under this license you may sell prints you make with this press, and you are allowed to sell a press you build with these instructions, but you are not allowed to sell the instructions themselves or any adapted version thereof.

Thanks to Steve Garst at Provisional Press for providing the inspiration to create my own model in the form of his own open-source press plans, and whose design is the direct inspiration for mine.

Printed something cool with this press? Send it to me at, and I’ll add it to my gallery of prints, coming soon!

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