Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Build Your Own T-Shirt Press

The first diagram shows how to cut a shirt board/print area into a four foot square piece of plywood. The second diagram shows how to add screen clamps and finish your press. Note that the shirt board area needs rounded corners. Sand it smooth too! Cover the shirt board area with a smooth piece of masonite or pressed board, fasten it to the shirt board with brad nails by the edges, and wood glue.

Here are plans for a 3 color table top T-Shirt press. This is a simple design that can be build for under $200 in materials. It's no substitute for a good rotary press, but it works and it's cheap, a great DIY machine. I've build and used these to print three colors in perfect register.
This press is cut from a 4' x 4' piece of 3/4" plywood. Basically, you cut out the shirt board/print area with a jig saw, screw three sets of screen clamps around the print area, and mount it on sawhorses.
This is a good machine for Punk rock DIY printing, for anyone starting out, for the hobbyist, etc.
IF you have questions about how to build this or how it works, send a comment and I will answer.
Click on the images to see them enlarged.
If you are a graphics person but are unemployed, you can sell screen printing services for up to three colors and print on this machine. It's a great shoe string start up business.
If you do decide to buy a used rotary manual T-shirt press, you'll probably spend more like $1,000. Be sure to actually try any press before buying, to make sure it still prints true and is not completely worn out.


Willceau illo said...

I saw your comic over at CO2 Comics which led me over to your website and this blog. (Nice when that cross promoting works out!) I saw this article about building your own silkscreen press, and I am intrigued. Way, way back, I used to work a job silk screening, and they had a huge conveyor belt contraption that went through a heater and cured the inks. How do you cure your inks in a little home-based operation?

By-the-by, my wife and I are also at CO2. We do "Monkey & Bird."


-Joe Williams

Steve Lafler said...

Joe, with a small press like this, you can use Union Ink's Aerotex series, it is a water based ink that air dries. You can add a catalyst to the ink that makes the print washfast.
Or, you can invest a few hundred bucks in a spot dryer that will cure plastisol ink.
A good used conveyer dryer, capable of handling the production from a small manual T-shirt press, can generally be bought for about $1500, with the new machines starting around $3000.

Anonymous said...

Great article, looks like a sound design. I believe I will takeon this project!


Jill said...

Been looking at peoples homemade press designs, definitely going to consider this one. Cheers