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  • Merrythought Village, Ironbridge, TF8 7NJ
  • 01952 434033
  • Fine Art Printmaking Gallery Since 1980

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Can Gunning Etching Presses print any thickness of Relief printing plate and how?

The huge question we get asked all the time is …

Can Gunning Etching Presses print any thickness of Relief printing plate and how?

The answer is yes, and we also show you how to do it as well and give you any support if needed to get you printing perfectly.

Including all thicknesses of letterpress, any woodblocks, including ply, cherry, pear, economy woods etc., lino including easy cut lino, Japanese vinyl, and traditional hessian backed lino, etc.… 

Relief Runners

Relief Runners

Gunning Etching Press History

Our Gunning Etching presses were designed and built for the first time over 41 years ago because Dave Gunning, himself, wanted a press himself and there were not any on the market at that time that met all his requirements. 

We have been building, selling, and using these etching presses ever since. 

We are a family-run business and have a beautiful printmaking gallery and studios in Ironbridge where we make our own work and exhibit along with other printmaking artists from all over the world.

Our luxurious printmaking studio and Gallery in Ironbridge, houses a few of the different sizes of our Gunning etching presses, so that Jenny Gunning can make her own work as well as demonstrate the presses and run workshops for printmakers who have or are wanting to purchase our Gunning etching presses.

We make bespoke etching presses and not just Gunning etching presses. We also build aquatint boxes, hotplates, and other studio equipment as well as printmaking materials, etching press blankets, spindle rollers, hand rollers. Etching Ink, both traditional and caligo safe wash as well as Relief Inks both traditional oil-based and caligo safe wash. 

Printing Runners

Printing Runners

When you purchase from us you are not just purchasing a print or a press or hotplate or anything else we make and sell, you are also purchasing access to over 110 years of printmaking experience.

For example:

Are you wanting to print thick plates on your etching press?

On our presses, you can fit up to 50mm through the rollers – the biggest gap on any press that is on the market. Dave Gunning made them this way when he designed them 41 years ago to make sure that if he wanted to print letterpress he could do. Now thousands of people all over the world are printing all sorts of relief plates on their Gunning Etching Presses.

And this is how to do it…

We provide printing runners with our presses – we have over 11 d

Relief Runners

ifferent thicknesses that you can purchase from us, and will last you a lifetime.

One colour relief Print:

The trick is to use runners that are thicker than your plate and then pack your plate either on top or below to get the perfect print.

print runner

If you get the movement you need to use thicker runners and more packing and secure your plate down onto a board or piece of styrene, this sits on the press bed.

If you are doing large editions you might need to glue or double-sided tape your relief plate down onto a piece of 3mm or 4mm thick flat material like styrene, MDF, or hardboard. The piece needs to be bigger than your plate, this will give it stability. 

But do not stick this down onto your press bed as it needs to move otherwise you get what looks like slipping.

It sounds very simple, and it is, thank goodness, but it took years of printing and finding out what does and does not work.

Lino Reduction and Multiplate:

When printing reductions and multi plates it gets a bit more complicated, we have a brilliant movie on our website that explains and shows how to do this.

As explained above for a single print (as an option if you are printing a lot from a plate) the plate that you’re working on needs to be glued or double side taped down onto a piece of 3 or 4mm thick flat material like styrene, MDF, or hardboard. The piece needs to be bigger than your plate, this will give it stability. 

printing runner

You then use registration tabs to secure your paper in place. Double registration pins have two tabs that are raised and the tabs have holes that sit over the tabs.

It’s a brilliant way to make sure you get perfect registration every time.

Make sure you pack from above though as the paper will start slipping on the later colours.


Using a Hotplate – What you need to know.

Thank you for purchasing one of our Gunning Hotplates from us.

Here are the instructions for using your hotplate but if you need any help, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.


The Heat

Hotplate Printmaking

Our printmaking hotplates have a range between 0 and 180°C and are set using a digital thermostat.

The best place to put your hotplate is in an extraction unit or small room so that there are no drafts, especially if you are wanting to work above 150°C. But if you do not have either of the above, they work very well in an open studio (health and safety permitting). 

A wire wound silicone heat mat is adhered directly to either the 10mm thick Aluminium top (this comes as standard) or the mild steel (optional and is magnetic) or the stainless steel (optional). Because the heat matt is stuck directly onto the underside of the metal it gives 100% uniformity across the heated surface.

All around the heated area of the hotplate surface, there is an additional 62mm giving you more room to work. This area surrounding the heated surface is not directly heated up but will warm when your hotplate is in use. If you use your hotplate at a high temperature this might become very hot.


The Aluminium

hotplate from Ironbridge Fine Arts

Our standard top for the hotplates is 10mm thick aluminium which is lacquered. We have chosen this material because it has the best longevity and conducts the heat quickly.

You can upgrade to steel top if you would prefer, this can be mild steel if you would like it to be magnetic or stainless steel if you would prefer (this is not magnetic) These metals are a lot heavier and cost more so there are additional charges for having these metals.

The frame

We have fabricated and powder-coated the stand so that it will wipe clean easily and is hard-wearing. It has plastic feet so that it can sit on your work surface comfortably. 



Printmaking Hotplates

Printmaking Hotplate

Your aluminium is lacquered with clear metal lacquer, but because of what it is used for, it will inevitably get dirty over time. If you would like to keep it clean, we suggest using printmakers cleaner or a non-toxic cleaner so that it does not break the lacquer down. If you use white spirit or any toxic liquid on the hotplate surface, the lacquer will break down and your aluminium will stain over time. To keep the aluminium as clean as you can clean off every 6 months and re-lacquer with a clear metal lacquer.  If you have a stainless-steel top or mild steel top these have also been lacquered to protect the metal, the stainless steel will not rust but will stain whereas the mild steel will rust eventually if you are using toxic cleaners on the surface of the hotplate. To keep them as clean as you can clean off every 6 months and re-lacquer with clear metal lacquer 

For information only…If you are using toxic materials on your hotplate and you have an open-access public studio you should have your hotplate in an extractor unit.

All our hotplates are made so that you can just plug them in and not worry about using up lots of power. 


To set your Temperature follow these Instructions:

Your heater has a digital thermostat for accurate control and accurate temperature feedback. This gives you a direct display of the heater operating temperature with setpoint adjustability within the pre-programmed range. Additionally, the thermostat has a menu function that allows you to navigate through the settings and adjust them to better suit your printmaking needs.

  • Press the power button to turn the hotplate on.
  • Press and hold the power button to enter standby mode.
  • Using the arrow buttons will allow you to set the temperature.
  • Hold the menu button to access the menu options, which will allow you to set the timer/hysteresis/ Offset /and Unit Options
  • Whist on the menu screen clicking the menu button again will allow you to navigate through the options.
  • Using the arrow keys whilst on the menu screen, will allow you to adjust the selected setting

Here are some suggested temperatures.

  • 20°C – Gently drying off plaster, glue, polish, and carborundum on your collagraph plates / heating your Lino plates up so it’s easier to cut into
  • 30°C – Inking up your plate with weak viscus ink/heating your plate up to prepare for photo emulsion or image on
  • 40°C – Inking up your plate with strong viscus ink
  • 60°C – Drying your plate off after cleaning and in-between tones
  • 70°C – Applying soft and clear ball ground
  • 80°C – Applying hard ball ground.
  • 100°C – Quickly drying off stop out varnish/straw hat – however, don’t leave on too long as it will be too difficult to remove afterwards
  • 110°C – Dry out the White ground and Fine Aquatint
  • 120°C – Drying enamel paint
  • 130°C- Drying spray paint aquatint
  • 150°C- Melting your rough Rosin Aquatint
  • 180°C- Drying out fast varnishes or melting wax quickly to draw with
  • All our hotplates come with a 1-year Guarantee plus if you ever need any help with anything we are always on the other end of the phone.



Temperature range



Digital Thermostat Controller


Silent operation


Digital Thermostat Controller


Aluminium, stainless steel or mild steel top and steel body



Other info

1-year guarantee