2017 Update - I've got a short review of my Blick 999 Model II Etching Press and its smaller cousin, the Blick Econo Etch Model II Press, on my Linocut Process page. I also talk about a couple other etching presses to consider for linocut, or block printing, generally.
My printmaking world is getting bigger and better. A new etching press was delivered last week by truck freight and the deliveryman was nice enough to wheel the crate directly into the garage (the shipment weighed about 200 lbs).
The first step was to unscrew the top off the crate so I could take a look at the press. It's a Richeson / Dick Blick 999 Model II. What this all means for me is that I'll be able to make prints up to about 17" x 35" - much larger than my existing press allows.
I spent a lot of time looking for press benches and had trouble finding one that met my space, functionality and budget requirements. Having used an IKEA kitchen cart for my smaller press, I immediately looked back to IKEA for options. I found my solution when browsing through their Emeryville store and stumbled upon the HEMNES coffee table. It's made out of solid wood, measures 46.5" (L) x 29.5" (W) x 18.125" (H) and has a shelf underneath the main table surface.
I decided to do an IKEA 'hack' by stacking and attaching the two tables and adding heavyweight casters to the bottom. The tables were easy to assemble (less than an hour each) and were connected together with metal corner braces. The trickiest part was attaching the casters I got from a hardware store. The legs didn't have enough surface area to screw in the casters so I had to widen the legs by about 3/4" by screwing in a small woodblock on the outside of each leg. If I want the bench to be a little lower, I could saw off a few inches from the four legs.
Overall, the bench's benefits are that it's tall (I'm tall), mobile, less costly, and has three flat surfaces underneath the press. The shelves will be perfect for storage and large sheets of paper used during a print run. Two of the shelves can be taken out without taking apart the bench. Now I need to put it all to good use!