adjust platen, makeready

My apologies for bombarding the forum with questions. It may be time for another donation to briarpress. :)

I am setting up a form to perform the initial test and adjustment of the platen. So, I have large type near the 4 corners of the chase and am trying to position the furniture in the form optimally to secure each of the 4 pieces of type.

While I have read a few books including info on arranging furniture in the chase, I’m still a bit unclear as to the best way to secure the 4 pieces of type at the corners with furniture. Any insight into this? It seems to be tricker than a typical lock-up.

I’m still trying to find an imposing stone. What other bases are others using if not an actual imposing stone?

Finally, can someone clarify which sheets of the packing should be secured by both bails? Should the pressboard be secured by bails or stay in place under tympan? Also, should the packing underneath pressboard (index and bond) be secured just by the top bail? I’m sure there are different approaches to this, just trying to determine what that standard practice is.

Thank you, thank you. I will continue to read General Printing and The Practice of Printing.


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From what I’ve seen, people usually only secure just the tympan to both bails, or sometimes the tympan and a draw sheet, a second sheet to stay in place below the tympan to keep the makeready consistent. The rest of the packing is generally loose, I believe.

For an imposing stone there are lots of options. I bought a cheap slab of marble on a trip to Letterpress Things.

set each piece of type in a stick to 20 picas, then use furniture to get the 4 pieces near the corners, with a quoin between them, then furniture the other way in the chase with a quoin should hold everything tight. for a stone you could use a steel plate, i use a lithograph stone, or a piece of granite, widmark’s slab of marble works excellent, a have 2 pieces of polished marble that came from a old building that was being remodeled, good luck dick g.

For those looking for an imposing stone, Fritz recommended a granite surface plate as a good substitute for the real thing. Find them here:

Here is an illustration from Elementary Platen Presswork by Ralph W. & Edwin Polk showing how to lock up a form for adjusting the platen (four-corner method). Note that metal furniture is used next to the sorts since it like them won’t compress. Also note that reglet is placed between the sorts/metal furniture and the chase. When locking up you don’t want metal on metal because it can slip due to lack of friction. This is why reglet is still useful today. If I didn’t have metal furniture I’d just use wooden.

By the way this book is a treasure trove of valuable information. Included is a discussion of feeding the press with special attention to safety; a very thorough, rational, yet practical approach. The copy I have is the revised version of 1965. Only 148 pages but fantastically useful.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

image: Platen Adjustment Chase Lockup.jpg

Platen Adjustment Chase Lockup.jpg