How to pack my 9x12 Craftsmen press

I have my press all cleaned up and ready to go. I’ve been reading up on how to pack some presses but I’m not sure i understand the difference of packing with Tympan paper, butcher paper, pressboard…ahhh!! Can someone give me a start to finish on the best way to pack? Thanks!

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For general purposes a hard packing is best. Traditionally one accepted hard packing is an oiled manila topsheet (tympan paper), a pressboard, a sheet of index, and about four sheets of book paper. That’s the packing I always start with. Adjustments can be made by adding or removing the book or index.

In practise people use different materials, especially for the tympan. Some use mylar and even, as you mentioned, paper bags. In a pinch you can in fact do this but there is a reason that the standard materials are, well, the standard materials: they work and solve a number of problems while doing so. For example, it is usual to take an impression directly on the typman so you can register the gauge pins. This requires that the ink on the typmpan be wiped off. Since tympan paper is oiled, regular type wash (I use mineral spirits) can be used without harm to the paper. Get a paper bag wet doing this and you can imagine the result. Tympan paper is also very strong, smooth, and hard all of which make for better printing. So while expedients can be used, in my opinion it’s better to use the traditionally appropriate materials.

Pressboard is a heavy, smooth stock, usually red; alpha-numeric dividers for filing cabinet drawers are usually made from it though in that case it is usually green.

Of course, your platen must be adjusted for whatever thickness of packing will be your standard, taking into consideration that in addition to the packing there must be room for your printed sheet. I adjusted my platen to the packing I mentioned above plus a sheet of 20 pound bond as a printed sheet. There’s nothing special about choosing the 20 lb., I just didn’t want something so thick that if I was printing stationery I would have to add too many sheets to the packing. I find this allows me a good range for adjustment. If I was printing something very thick I could even remove the pressboard and leave the index and book under the topsheet. But for most work I find that adding to or removing the sheets of book or index is adequate. The idea is to avoid having to readjust the platen other than in the most exceptional circumstances. Sometimes you just have to experiement using the basics as a place to start.

Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

Glad to hear you’ve got your press all cleaned up. Did you get your rollers yet?

You might like to pick up a copy of General Printing or The Practice of Printing for reference.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Rich above has it right. Additionally we would dust the tympan with baby talcum to dry it after setting the pins and wiping it clean. Dick

Thanks for all the help!

Dan, I sent my rollers out to Ramco Roller Products last week. I’m hoping to have them back soon.