T-Shirt Screen Printing Tips and Instructions: Learn screen printing basics, tips and money savers

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Screen Printing Press

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Free Plans for a Four Color T-Shirt Screen Printing Press

PrintingPlans.com: Free at-home screen printing instructions, DIY money-saving tips and printing press blueprints

Welcome! We are a resource for new and do-it-yourself screen printers who want to print T-shirts and other items with limited money and resources. Many hundreds of people have built high-quality, four-color T-shirt printing presses using the free plans from this site. In addition to the plans (which start further down on this page), we sell kits that contain all the hardware needed to build the press, and even packages that contain the precut lumber as well.

We also are building a resource of T-shirt screen printing tips and instructions to help new screen printers learn how to prepare for and print shirts on a limited budget. Although the more expensive equipment can be nice, there are almost always ways to do each step for a lot cheaper. The T-shirt Screen Printing Instructions are here, or continue down this page for the 4-color printing press instructions.

Do-It-Yourself homemade T-shirt press instructions- Print Shirts at Home:

This 4-color, one station screen printing press (pictured upper right) was designed and built by us here at PrintingPlans.com. It is sturdy and precise and can be built for less than $175, which is quite a bit less than even the cheapest commercial presses. You can see shirts that were printed on this press at Scatterbrain Tees - Artsy Graphic Tshirts and at ScatterbrainTees.com

Buy ALL the parts and precut lumber OR Buy just the Hardware
We sell kits with ALL the hardware, parts and precut lumber ready for you to build a deluxe version of the printing press. See what's included on the printing press kit page. Or you can buy the hardware package from us and then buy and cut the lumber on your own. We buy the hardware in bulk so you can buy it from us CHEAPER than if you bought it locally, even after shipping costs! Purchase the package on the hardware page.

Questions? Email us at email for hardware questions

 

Download the free plans as a PDF or continue down this page to see them now.

Plan on a few days to finish the press below. It is recommended to have a second person help out as several steps could use one person holding while the other person attaches.

Make sure your 4-color press is precise and sturdy:

The sturdiness and precision of the press is important for the success of multi-color images, so it’s important to be as accurate as possible in your measurements, particularly once you get to the arms. You may want to use wood glue at each joint in addition to screws so that the press is as stable as possible, but this does make it difficult to take apart should you make a mistake. You may also want to pre drill holes before putting in the screws to avoid splitting of the wood (use a bit that’s slightly smaller than the screw). This table is designed for a six foot tall person. To alter it for someone of a different height, adjust parts N and O accordingly.

Q: Can this press be made in a table-top version? A: Yes, just forgo making the legs and buy some large clamps or rachet straps to hold it in place.

Tools You’ll Need for the build:

Power Drill/Screwdriver
Wood and Metal Bits
Miter Saw
Table Saw or Circular Saw
Electric Sander
Workbench Vise or Drill Press
Yardstick/Measuring Tape
Pencil
Level
Square
Clamps
Wood Glue
Welding Glue (or tools/materials for welding)
Paper or Card stock

Materials Needed:

In the diagram below you’ll find the dimensions of all the lumber you’ll need. The most important thing regarding the thickness of your wood is that the sum of the width of pieces B, F and the lazy susan turntable is equal to the sum of the thickness of pieces I and U. This will help align everything so your screens float just the perfect height above your shirts for off-contact printing. You should be able to cut all your 2 x 4 pieces out of six 8-foot lengths, so I’d recommend buying seven to be safe. They should all be good, straight pieces, but it is especially important to find a perfectly straight piece for parts T and U.

Note: Part D below is not listed in the instructions. It is a substitute for part K if you choose not to buy a 1 x 4 and would prefer to use your existing plywood.

Note 2: If you can't find coated shelving with a rounded edge, you can create the rounded edge yourself. This is mostly important for parts H. The platen (part G) doesn't specifically need one rounded edge, but rather just needs to be smoothed at the corners so your shirts don't catch on it.

Note 3: The long dimension for part O refers to the length of either side of the parallelogram, NOT the overall length of the board.

Screen Printing Press

Hardware Needed:

Below you'll find a list of all hardware needed for the project. For convenience and a discounted price, you can buy it all in one place here: discount screen printing hardware packages. Otherwise most of it can be found at your local hardware store, though you may find they don't have the total quantity of the c-clamps or springs on hand. You'll also need to go to a specialty woodworking store to find the swivel (lazy susan). Make sure you get a heavy duty, 6" x 6" x 3/4"" model or you'll compromise the effectiveness of your press.

Hardware needed

Making the Table for the Printing Press:

Step 1: Cut all your lumber, marking each piece with the appropriate letter to make assembly easier. We’ll start by assembling the table itself. First, lay down parts L and Q and attach the legs (part N) as shown (fig. a). Make sure that your angles are perfectly square. Where parts L extend past the legs, use a piece of 2 x 4 to check that the bits that extend are exactly equal to the smaller width of the wood.

Screen Printing Plans

Step 2: Attach the thin sides of parts M to part A as shown in fig. b. Use only glue and clamps for now. Again using only clamps and glue, set parts A and M on top of the two legs you built in Step 1, so that parts L and M form a square around the perimiter of A. This is shown from above in fig. c. (Dotted lines indicate parts beneath.) Once you feel comfortable with the fit, Go ahead and screw parts L into M, and A into both L & M from the top.

Screen Printing Plans

Step 3: Now you have a standing, albeit weak, table. Attach parts P to legs N as shown in fig. d. Do it in the front and back, both times keeping part P flush to the outside, as seen from above in fig. e. Note: Parts P act as a support beam and rests for a shelf (part E). It can be lowered or raised to suit your preference, and additional shelves may be added if desired.

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Step 4: Attach part O to the outside of both sides of the table (fig. f). Make sure you orient them as shown for maximum support. Now secure shelf E onto crossbeams P to act as a shelf. Add part K to the back to help keep items from falling off. You are now finished with the table itself. It should be plenty sturdy with no give at all.

Screen Printing Plans

Page 2: Building the Platen Arm and Platen


Page 3: Building the Rotating Printing Press
Page 4: Building the Rotating Printing Press (Part 2)