Following the Trail To Deep Wood Press

Huddled in between the breathtaking white pines of the Northern Michigan forest perches the letterpress and fine bookbindery of Deep Wood Press. Chad Pastotnik, opens the door to his peaceful printing retreat to let us take a tour of this Antrim County gem.


THE PRESSES Hmm, 9 presses. A 10×15 Windmill, 8×12 C&P OS, C&P Pilot OS, 3×5 & 5×8 Kelsey for platens. A Little Giant & Vandercook 219 OS for cylinder presses. A BAG 25.5×47″ intaglio press along with a 18×36″ Blick for my copper engravings. Also a standing press, book presses, lying press, foil press’s, 26″ guillotine and 150+ cases of type.

SIZE OF PRINT SHOP The bindery is 340 sq ft, pressroom is 360 sq ft and in another building I have a 220 sq ft partition that houses the intaglio presses along with my Linotype model 31 and a couple hundred matrice fonts in galleys. It’s all pretty tight.

THE LOCATION The buildings are on the same property as my home in the middle of nowhere, nice to be accessible to the family. There’s a beautiful trout stream about 30 feet from the shop and plenty of others near by. I’m surrounded by about 450 acres of woodland and swamp protected by state land and Michigan Nature Association holdings. About 9 miles away there’s Short’s brewery, a meadery, a smokehouse and fine dining fun + Lake Michigan is a short drive away. Oh, and Detroit is 5 hours away, that’s a bonus. (N. MI humor).

FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE SHOP Everything. Prized possessions – too many to list but probably my books about books and printing collection.… or perhaps the sound system.  It’s very homey, lots of light. Nature is right outside and that’s the root of my creativity.

NUMBER OF PRINTERS IN SPACE One, though it is a private space. I do take one apprentice a year for an 8 month stretch from fall-spring.

MOST VALUABLE TOOL A plate gauge is a must for good press work if you want to get experimental with repeatable results.

FAVORITE INK Oil base for most everything, current favorites are Graphic Chemical and Ink Albion Matte Black or Litho Roll Up Black. Raw Umber is a very versatile accent color in various opacities. I make my intaglio inks myself or use Graphic Chemical’s.

SOLVENT OF CHOICE Kerosene is pretty much the standard here, too many different presses to streamline a universal system. I have an oily waste can for used rags and a pair of rubber faced work gloves for the clean up process.

PLATE AND BASE SYSTEM OF CHOICE I’ve had a 9×12″ Boxcar base for about 5 years along with another 9×12 I had made at a local machine shop. I order KF95 plates but rarely use polymer for much. If it’s a repeat job it’s done in copper by Owosso and I have various base systems for 11 pt., 16 gauge and ¼” dies.

OIL OF CHOICE 30 weight non-detergent motor oil does most all of it for the presses, scotch for me.

WHAT TYPE OF RAGS DO YOU CLEAN UP WITH Anything that’s mostly cotton works just fine. There are usually 3 grades of rags in the shop: mostly filthy, moderate and mostly clean.

FLOORING MATERIAL Maple hardwood in the bindery but concrete floors in the pressroom and Lino annex with work mats around the machines.

FLOOR PLAN TIPS Have a large central island for a work surface (imposing stone for pressroom, table in bindery & and the intaglio bed does it in the Lino room) and the equipment and other counter space around the perimeter – less walking more working. Oh, and don’t do what I’ve done – decide early on you’re going to need a ton of space and keep it all in one building.

PIED TYPE Some, but that’s what apprentices are for.

ORGANIZATION ADVICE Keep it clean! You can’t work on surfaces covered with crap. Put things away when you’re done with them and put them in the right place.

PRINTING ADVICE Tough one as I’m self taught with letterpress so all I knew is what I brought with me from my experience in printmaking and bookbinding – not much! Order every paper sample book you can, try all kinds of ink and from different manufacturers, visit special collections libraries and view printing as it has been done these past 500 years and read about the history of your craft.

Oh, and if you’re still in school take some business or marketing classes!