How to Use a Printing Press

By Juliet Myfanwy Johnson

Updated September 26, 2017

The printing press was invented by Johann Gutenberg in 1439. With the invention of the printing press came the explosion of books, scientific journals and authorship. Asian countries had already experimented with moveable type, but the labor was intense in producing work using the moveable type since the characters were mounted on heavy porcelain and metal plates. There are many types of printing presses in use today, one of which is a printing press for applying words and designs on t-shirts. Below are the steps for how to use a printing press with fabric, which uses the same ink and lettering procedure as in any traditional printing press .

Dedicate a flat table for your printing press. Mount an LCD desk mount arm at its lowest setting, toward the back of your table, to give yourself the most leverage with the LCD. An LCD mount will maintain the level it is pulled out and set, and can be easily tweaked in increments, and will hold steady. The face of the mount can also rotate upwards, to make adding ink onto the face easy.

Add an extra, flat piece of 4-foot-by-4-foot wood to your table to raise the working surface slightly higher. This will make your LCD able to reach and press down effectively.

Arrange your wooden block letters or foam cut designs to be inked.

Screw a flat piece of wood, approximately 2-foot-by-1-foot, onto your LCD arm. Use double stick foam tape to adhere your arranged wooden block letters or foam designs onto the wood piece.

Cut small pieces of sponge and dip into paints. Dab paint onto your design or wood block letters. Place a piece of cardboard into the shirt to keep paint from bleeding through to back of the shirt. Put the shirt into place on the table, angle the LCD arm to the desired spot, and press down. Lift and see how well your print has come out. Adjust amount of paint or pressure until you get the effect you desire.


Use scrap fabric to test the first few printings, to save t-shirts.