Missing a chase?

I have a 3x5 Chicago No 11 that I have been fixing up. Below is a picture of it. As you can see, I have the metal thing that the chase fits into, but I have no chase. Can I make one out of wood? Sorry if this is a stupid question. Thanks for your help.

image: letterpress1.jpg

image: letterpress2.jpg

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I would contact Don Black as he has tons of chases and will most likely have what you need.

Isn’t a chase just like a wood frame? Could someone please point me to some pictures so I know better what I need? How much do you think I’d be paying if I bought one from Don, as opposed to ostensibly making my own?



You could certainly use a wood chase on this small press. I have seen chases made of plywood cut into a frame by cutting the center out of a rectangle which fits the bed of the press.

It is surprising how much pressure the quoins apply within the chase, so build it strong enough to take it. The iron chases supplied with the press can be significantly thinner in profile as the material is that much stronger than wood.

You certainly could save some dollars by making your own, but it wouldn’t hurt to query Mr. Black to see what he would charge as it would be an all-round better solution to use a metal chase. You also could get a good welder to make a steel chase for you, or if you have a machinist friend, have them mill an opening in a block of aluminum.

I’d start with the wood and give it a chance, then if you find you need more room for the type form, purchase a chase to fit.

I’m with JHenry on this one. You can certainly make a wooden chase for these type of presses. I’ve got three of them for a similar Kelsey.

Mine were made out of 3/4” plywood, beveled on the bottom to match the press, with a “window” cut into it for the type. The only two things to be mindful of when making one is to use good plywood- furniture grade or better, so that it won’t warp. Also make sure that the sides of the window are cut perfectly square with the face of the wood. ( If you cut the window with slightly sloping sides, then the type will be tipped and will not print well.)

One other thing to be aware of. Your second picture shows the bed of this little press and the two triangular projections (one on each side of the middle of the bed) are what hold the metal chase for your Chicago in place. The chase literally ‘hangs’ on them and therefore your wooden chase needs to have a groove on either side to fit onto those projections properly. I’ll try to remember to take a look at mine at home tonight to confirm this.

There is no other clamp or anything like that to hold your chase in the bed if I am not mistaken.

I was assuming that if I made a chase out of wood, the frame would be thick enough to press up against the clip things and stay in. But, Foolproof546, you’re saying that the chase would need some sort of indentations to keep it in place?

You’re right, there are no other clamps. I would appreciate you looking at yours if you have a chance to. Thanks so much to all of you.

I just pulled the chase off of one of these presses and can tell you that there is a projection on each side of the outside of the chase. They project out about 3/32” and are a triangular wedge in shape when viewed directly from the side.

They almost look like a 30/60-degree triangle. the narrower angle being at the lower edge and the long side being flush with the bottom of the actual chase.

This forms a sort of projecting wedge on each side and when the chase is lowered/slid onto the bed (from the top), these wedges will slide behind the projections on the sides of the bed and serve as stops, as well as to hold the chase onto the bed.

I hope I have described this in a manner that is understandable.

The chase I have also has two set screws along the bottom edge to help with locking up the form inside.

Thank you for the detailed description! I’m still having a bit of trouble understanding. Could you possibly point me to a photo of what you’re talking about?

Don Black apparently has no chases that would work for my press. So I guess I’ve gotta make my own.

Nigel -
I’d love to take a digital photo and post it for you, but I am a complete Luddite when it comes to technology like that. Perhaps someone else with a similar chase and the ability to take and post a photo can do that for you.

That’s cool. Thanks so much for all the information. You’ve already given me a lot to go on. I appreciate it.

nigel - This may help with the excellent observation made by Foolproof546. Here is a photo of one side of a chase from my Chicago 11 that shows one of the ears that hold the chase in the bed. The screws in the bottom of the chase are not necessary if you have some small quoins.

Chases for these small presses are very difficult to find. If you have a chase made, be sure that you have the correct measurements. Generally when you speak of a press size, this refers to the inside dimensions of the chase. I don’t believe that 3 x 5 corresponds to the measurements of the Chicago 11 press, but perhaps you have measured the press bed, which will be important if you make or have a chase made.

image: chicago_chase.jpg


Thank you very much for the picture. You’re correct; the press isn’t 3x5, it’s 3x4… I’m not sure why I was thinking otherwise. The photo is quite helpful, though. My one other question would be, how deep is the chase itself? That seems like a dumb question, but I can’t seem to find the answer. I’m assuming it needs to be lower than type-height; but how deep exactly?

Not a dumb question. Obviously the chase must be below the height of the type, but there is some variation. This chase is 11/16” high. The inside measurement is 3 3/4” x 2 3/8”, but if you make it yourself or have it made, this measurement could also be different depending on the material that is used. If you are going to print with this press, you will need to use a material that will not warp or break when the quoins are tightened. That would affect the inside dimensions of the chase, although a press this small will not hold much type so the material used can be something like wood as others have suggested.

You may want it for display purposes only so use whatever material looks best.

Thanks for your help. I am most definitely building a chase so I can print with this press, so the details are important! I am going to draw up some plans and get started making it. All you guys’ help has been so great… I will be sure to post a photo whenever I finish with it.

I don’t understand why you wouldn’t get really good dimensions for this chase and take them to a machinist and have them make you one from steel. I think every printer should have a machinist for a friend.

hi, nigel , have you finish with your chase ? can you post a pic?

I have a small Adana where the home made chase is constructed from 4 pieces of aluminium screwed together at the corners. You could do something similar with a small bolt screwed in each side.

The screws in the pictures are used with a length of steel known as a chase iron to lock the type in the chase. The question is why are the chase iron screws at the bottom and not the top as with the Adana 2? I was given some chases last year for an unknown 8 x 6 press with similar wedge shaped pieces on the side where one of the chases also had chase screws at the bottom.

A number of companies offered a choice of 3 chases, a plain chase, a card chase with a small area for locking up in the middle and a screw chase with chase irons,

I cant swear to this being 100% but if the chase sits on the screws heads then they would likely be there for the purpose of leveling it in the machine to make up for squareing error in the castings? It would also serve in place of quoins giving you more room to work within the chase . It will be one or the other im sure but we dont see these gems over here (U.K.)

yes Peter-I have a couple of Adana chases like this for an HS3, screws going through to compress thin steel sidesticks against the type and furniture within the chase.

Ah i have just found a couple of those steel pieces they were never spacing so they are for adana , your gain i think !

oh, thank you for thought and prezzy!