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Important things you should know if we’re making your letterpress plates

The calming essentials

Our favorite way to receive files

A press ready PDF, AI, or EPS file uploaded to our website. Make sure fonts are embedded or outlined. This file serves as both your file and hard copy, and you’ll be able to proof your file on our website before submitting your order. Not all PDFs are the same: if possible, make your PDF’s “Press Ready” in Illustrator, “Print” PDF in InDesign, or Quark (this is a drop down option in your Save as PDF window). If you are using Photoshop only, save your file as a TIFF with LZW compression and send the TIFF.

Other file formats

Though not ideal, we do accept PDF files made from Word documents,  Gimp, Inkscape, Microsoft Publisher, or other non-graphic design applications; let us know when submitting your order whether you used a non-traditional design program so we can make the adjustments needed for good file output.


If you need scanning, mail us your images and artwork. We scan for free!

File prep in brief

CMYK only (no RGB!); use grayscale only if you want an image to be a halftone; if you don’t want a halftone, use a bitmap mode; don’t use hairlines; if your plate has 94 or 95 in its name, make lines at least a 0.25 point/.004″ thick; if your plate has 145 or a higher number in the product name, make lines at least .35 point/.007″ thick; your documents should be the same size as your desired plate; send your files exactly how you want them to look when you print–no reversing;  if ganging up your files, keep 0.25” between each file for plastic-backed plates and 0.5” for steel-backed plates. If your files have crop marks or registration marks, your plate will too. Please – crop marks need to be at least 1/4″ long. And use Photoshop only for your images (not text!) if you can.

Want to know more about file preparation? there sure is lots of useful information here!


We guarantee that your plates will be made right. Send us your properly prepared files and we promise to make your plate perfectly—or we’ll overnight you replacement plates at our cost.

Plate size and proofs

For all our plate types, the largest size plate we process is 16.5 x 20.


Please use our web site to submit platemaking orders. You’ll upload your files as part of the ordering process.

Free adhesive

Any plastic-backed plate will have film adhesive applied free of charge.

Plate trimming and cutting diagrams

Plastic-backed plates are simple to cut so we don’t trim them (just use scissors!). Steel-backed plates are difficult and painful to cut. We’ll be happy to cut your steel-backed plates for you if you include a simple cutting diagram (with the smallest plate size we can trim being 1.5” x 1.5”). To make a cutting diagram, create a separate file showing your cutting marks in red or pure magenta. Save your cutting diagram file with the words “cutting-diagram” in the file name to alert us that the file is for cutting purposes. Upload your cutting diagram along with your other files during the ordering process. Make sure the “preview” box isn’t checked for your cutting diagram so you’ll have accurate plate costs.

Plate choice

Name Surface Hardness Relief Thickness Type
94 CHFB  ?  PDF smooth 75 Shore D 0.026” 0.037” plastic
KF 95  ?  PDF matte 67 Shore D 0.027” 0.037” plastic
KF 152  ?  PDF matte 65 Shore D 0.047” 0.060” plastic
Jet 94FL  ?  PDF matte 62 Shore D 0.027” 0.037” plastic
Jet 94SB  ?  PDF matte 75 Shore D 0.027” 0.037” steel
Jet 145HSB  ?  PDF smooth 85 Shore D 0.044” 0.057” steel
Jet 152SB  ?  PDF smooth 80 Shore D 0.05” 0.060” steel
175 HSB  ?  PDF smooth 95 Shore D 0.056” 0.069” steel

Jet 94FL and Jet 94CHFB and KF95 (for Standard Boxcar Base users);  KF152 (for Deep Relief base users); 152SB (for most magnetic base users); Bunting users: you need to measure your base thickness carefully. Read more specifics on figuring out what plate to use)

Payment terms

We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. If you’d like to work with us to set up a Net 30 account, please fill out and send in our account application.Your first order will be prepaid and then we can set up an account.  We begin review of credit applications immediately, though the process can take a few days depending on how quickly your vendor references respond, so plan accordingly!  If you’re a large institution or company paying by PO, please contact our accounting staff to set up payment terms for your online account.

Letterpress plate pricing

Simply upload a file to our online ordering page to see it. As long as you’re using a PDF, Adobe Illustrator, or EPS file, our system can calculate the cost.   You have the chance to review your plate separations before placing the order. The system will give you a preview, dimensions and a price per plate.  Boxcar Press adds .25″ to your length and width for the platemaking process so your dimensions and price will reflect that (example:  5×7 file will be 5.25″ x 7.25″)

If you have a different file format, the grid below explains our pricing in brief. If you are uploading a TIF file, we will add the dimensions for pricing.

There is a 50 square inch minimum charge for orders. If your order is under 50 square inches, we will automatically bill for 50 inches. So gang those babies up if you can!

Plate pricing

Plate type Order size Cost/in²
94 CHFB, KF 95, Jet 94FL, and Jet 94SB
(minimum order: $33.00)
0 to 200 in² $0.66
200 to 600 in² $0.64
600 to 1000 in² $0.62
1000 to 2000 in² $0.60
2000 to 999999 in² $0.58
KF 152, Jet 145HSB, Jet 152SB, and 175 HSB
(minimum order: $35.50)
0 to 200 in² $0.71
200 to 600 in² $0.69
600 to 1000 in² $0.67
1000 to 2000 in² $0.65
2000 to 999999 in² $0.63

Rush (same day) service is available if your order is placed by 1 p.m. EST (we ship that same day) AND you select this RUSH service.  We do not automatically provide Rush.  This option (when available – before 1 p.m EST) will show up above the selections for choosing your shipping.

Free 2-day shipping

You’ll get it if your order is over 120 square inches and going somewhere in the U.S. Keep in mind that 2 day shipping may be UPS ground for your destination.  If you need and select overnight shipping—free 2 day shipping does not apply.  We will not downgrade shipping as we will presume you needed the faster delivery option. (read more)

We Ship Internationally

We offer UPS shipping and Postal Service shipping for our international plating customers. Please review all options before selecting. Please note! The international shipping rates you pay to us don’t include tariffs, import taxes, or customs and brokerage fees. Generally the shipping company collects these fees directly from you when they deliver your package. As a guide, brokerage fees are usually a percentage of your total dollar amount and paid to UPS. Brokerage and customs are NOT the same as tariffs and import taxes. Canada customers only: UPS Canada Standard is a ground service and WILL include charges for brokerage fees, charged to and payable by you to UPS.

Giving back to the letterpress community

When our budget allows, we like to give away (or discount) our plates and platemaking services to worthy causes involving letterpress and good. If you have a large-hearted event or project in need of free letterpress plates, email details to We do ask for some kind of shout out in return (example:  Photopolymer plates were made by Boxcar Press).

Fine press discounts

We give a 10% discount on platemaking for qualified fine press books. If you’re printing a fine press book and want to see if you qualify, email with a description of your book project. We ask for mention of Boxcar Press in the colophon in return.

New York sales tax

We charge New York sales tax on all items shipped to a New York address unless we have a resale certificate on file for you. Fill out the certificate, send it in to our account folks, and then we’ll update your online account (email if you have questions). New York sales tax does vary by county: if we have to charge you sales tax, we would charge your specific county’s rate.


We offer a very fast one business day turnaround.  If your files are received before 5:45 pm EST we will ship on the next business day.  Orders placed on weekends will be treated as orders placed on Monday and scheduled for Tuesday shipping. Note: International Postal Shipping adds one extra day to turnaround.

Need our same-day rush service? Place your order by 1:00pm EST on a business day,  choose the rush option on the shipping page and we can ship the same day via UPS.

Jobs larger than 1,000 square inches may sometimes require extra time, so please contact us in advance for scheduling.

We close on some holidays. Boxcar Press celebrates the following holidays with wild and somewhat-vegetarian festivities and a day off: Thanksgiving, the Friday after Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Please allow for this when placing your orders around the holidays!


To the USA

Orders over 120 square inches receive free 2-day domestic shipping. We also ship via UPS Ground, 3-day air, 2-day air, overnight saver PM delivery and overnight air AM delivery. UPS 3 day air is not offered for Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico. If you ask us to waive the signature on your package, neither UPS nor Boxcar Press can be responsible if the package goes missing once it’s been delivered. So, signatures are good. Very occasionally, UPS experiences shipment delays due circumstances out of our control (massive snowstorms, train derailments, flooding due to global warming, etc.). If your package shipped from Boxcar Press on time but is delayed due to UPS and the weather, we can’t refund rush charges or platemaking charges. UPS does not refund shipping costs if the shipping delay was due to weather.

To Canada

We use UPS Canada standard ground, UPS Worldwide Saver and USPS Priority International.  When choosing US Postal Mail options, your shipping will be delayed until the following business day (our mail pickup is in the early morning. Example: If you place your order on Monday, we complete your plate processing on Tuesday, and prepare for a Wednesday AM mail pickup) . Keep in mind you’re responsible for any tariffs, duties and/or taxes.

To elsewhere

We use UPS Worldwide Saver and US Postal Mail. When choosing US Postal Mail options, your shipping will be delayed until the following business day (our mail pickup is in the early morning. Example: If you place your order on Monday, we complete your plate processing on Tuesday, and prepare for a Wednesday AM mail pickup) . Keep in mind you’re responsible for any tariffs, duties and/or taxes.

Service Name Amount
UPS: Next Day Air $30
UPS: Next Day Air Saver $25
UPS: 2nd Day Air $15
UPS: Ground $8
UPS: 3rd Day Air $10
UPS: Next Day Air Early AM (Saturday Delivery) $93
UPS: Next Day Air (Saturday Delivery) $43
UPS: Next Day Air Early AM $85
UPS: 2nd Day Air AM $30
UPS: 3 Day Air $10
Free 2-day shipping Free!*
Pick Up Free!*
UPS: 2nd Day Air (Saturday Delivery) $28
UPS: Canada Standard $15
UPS: Worldwide Saver $65
USPS: Priority Flat Rate $30
USPS: Express Mail $40
UPS: Worldwide Saver $65
USPS: Priority Flat Rate $30
USPS: Express Mail $40
* Free 2-day shipping on domestic orders over 120 square inches.

Plate club

If you’re ordering lots of processed photopolymer plates, you may be eligible for our annual Plate Club. Club members receive a 5% discount on all platemaking orders. On January 1 of each year we determine membership based on the previous year’s order volume. You will be automatically enrolled if you have ordered more than 7,500 square inches of processed plate material in the previous year. You can see your current tally on your account page under Platemaking Usage.

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