Materials list:When I began screen-printing, I started with a cheap screen-printing kit from Michaels. The kit just cost $50, plus of course didn’t coming with a screen-printing press. When I printed the t-shirts, I just laid the silkscreen on then, and swiped the ink onto them. If I didn’t get total coverage, I was out of luck. I couldn’t lay the silkscreen down exactly where it had been. I found plans for a 4 color screen-printing press for sale on eBay. I bought them and built it. I ended up modifying it heavily, but the plans got me started. Using the homemade screen-printing press improved my screen-printing to a high degree!
Having a 4 color screen-printing press is huge, but to tell you the truth, I have never actually used it to print spare than a single color. I use cheap wooden frames, and if I want to do everything more than the most basic multicolor print, I would need better screens (probably aluminum frames). But screen-printing a single color is fine for most things at least.
I wrote up these plans based on my press, and modified them to be a single color screen printing press. These plans tell you how to build a screen-printing press yourself. It is very cheap to build, and you can create it from scrap wood.
17″ x 15″ x 3/4″ plywood (shirt-board)
24″ x 7″ x 3/4″ plywood (clamp board)
29″ long piece of 2×4 (beam)
(2) 24″ x 2 1/2″ x 3/4″ pine (clamps)
(2) eye screws
(2) carriage bolts 3/8″ x 3 1/2″
(2) washers 3/8″
(2) wing nuts 3/8″
plastic zip tie
Initial, cut out the shirt board. Start with a 15″ x 17″ piece of plywood. Scratch the board so the one side is angled as picture in the plans. Create the beam by cutting a piece of 2×4 to 29″ long. Miter cut one end so that it is angled 45 degrees (see plans). Cut a piece of plywood to 24″x 7″ for clamp bottom. Next build the clamp pieces by cutting 2 pieces of 3/4″ pine to 2 1/2″ wide and 24″ long.
Mount the shirt board on the beam using wood screws with the tip of the shirt board extending history the mitered end of the beam by 2″ (see picture). Next screw the clamp base to the other end of the beam. It should be flush with the end.
Get the two clamp pieces, and drill a 3/8″ hole about an inch from each end. The holes need to line up so the carriage bolts will pass through both boards. Lay one of the clamp pieces on the beam then to the clamp base. Lay the strip hinge across the seam, and screw the hinge to both the clamp piece and the clamp base. The clamp piece should be able to flip up absent from the beam. Lay the second clamp piece on top of the mounted clamp piece. Slide the carriage bolts up from the base, through both boards. Slide the washers onto the bolts, and screw the wing nuts onto the bolts.
Screw an eye screw in to the middle of the top clamp piece towards the front side. Screw the other eye screw into the center of the clamp base towards the back side. Attach a few rubber bands to the eye screw on the clamp base. Attach these rubber bands to the other eye screw using a plastic zip tie. You will require paying with the number and size of rubber bands. You need to have enough tension to hold up the silkscreen when it is mounted in the clamps, but not too much that you can’t easily pull the screen down to the shirt when printing.
The screens I use have 18″ by 22″ frames. You might want to mount the screen printing press on the bench. You would bolt down the clamp base side, leaving the shirt board side hanging out. Just slide the frame in between the clamp pieces, and tighten the wing nuts. You should be able to pull the silkscreen down so it lays flat on the shirt board.
Have fun with your screen printer as you screen-print tons of t-shirts!