Do I need quoins for my Kelsey 3 x 5 Excelsior?

The subject pretty much says it all. My press did not come with quoins and I have found only a few references online that suggest I do not need them. My press did come with lead slugs and that is what I have been using.

Also, wondering if anyone here knows if quoins are better when locking in a base? I’m interested in purchasing one, but have been told I’ll need a 1.5 x 3.5 in order to lock it in properly. That seems so small and I would like to maximize this little press as much as I can, but I am new to this entire process and any suggestions are greatly appreciated.


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the kelsey chases have screws in the side, these are for locking up without quoins, there should be steel or brass slugs on the inside of the chase or the screws will dig into your lead slugs or furniture. these small presses aren’t made to print the whole chase full of type, about 1/2 the chase is good. these presses are fun, my grandfather bought me one in 1961, a 3x5 kelsey that i still have. good luck dick g.

Thanks, Dick. I’m not thinking I’ll do too many type heavy designs with this press. I appreciate the confirmation that the press works without quoins as that is how I’ve been using it.

Don Black has posted the entire Kelsey handbook online at (and subsequent links).

This link

illustrates the sue of chase irons in place of quoins. You are on the right track. The small Kelseys don’t really have room for quoins and, in fact, I have found that the 3x5 and 5x8 Kelseys work just as well with the chase screws and irons. I use quoins in my 6x10 chase, but locking up the forme in a smaller chase is often more efficient with the screws and irons. In any case, have fun with your little press. Like Dick, I’ve enjoyed mine since the mid ’60s!

- Denis

dcrnkovic - Thanks for posting this link. For your information and others, it is worth repeating that this link and other parts, care, and instruction manuals can be found in the Help pages. Scroll down to “Presses and Printing.”

The blue link to the Help section can be found on the right of the gray bar at the top of every page

I have a Kelsey 3x5 and found these links very helpful, thanks. My press did not come with chase irons. Where can I get these? Excelsior Press mentions they have them for sale but I haven’t been able to get in touch with anyone there.

Is there anywhere else I could get them? Someone mentioned just using brass or steel slugs; where could I get these?

I’ve always found it pretty easy to use pennies with the screws instead of chase irons which I also have. So I guess you could say I use ‘coins’ instead of quoins…and it’s pretty cheap. And I find a bit of humor in it.
It dents the penny a little bit and the reglet or furniture as well, but I typically use the same piece next to the penny. It’s really not that big of a deal. A screw will definitely bore a hole in a piece of furniture without something between them.


Dave, what do you use for a coin key??

A Yankee screw driver because Lincoln was a Yankee?

Best I could do…heh heh.


fmcausby, to answer your questions more sincerely, you might be able to find someone who has the ones Kelsey supplied for sale, but I don’t know where offhand.
Do you have the chase screws?
It occurs to me that you may be able to find strip iron in an appropriate width at a hardware store or a Home Depot or someplace like that. They typically have a selection of strip material and small angle iron, along with threaded rod and things like that. Kelsey chase irons are 5/8” wide and 1/8” thick. The strip material could be hacksawed to the length you need; then file or grind the burrs off.

But I sincerely do use pennies in a Kelsey chase.


There are small quoins out there, dont have one to hand but they are approx half the width of a cornerstone standard sized one , may not suit all your uses but if your chase really is tiny they would serve in some cases . They too were cornerstone built , you may even find some small register quoins out there too ,if you dont get any offers or cant find i may feel guilty for telling you of them and have to dig some out , but rest assured they are around and few people use them although they may have them !

Thanks everyone, yes, I have the chase screws so pennies might be the quickest and most affordable method. Thanks for the tip. I also found some brass and steel slugs for purchase at NA graphics that may work.

Also, newbie question, sorry: when you buy furniture, does it just come in long pieces that can be cut? I just need a few small pieces for my 3x5, just wondering the best way to get what I need and not much more. Any suggestions?

Almost any hardware store should have 1/8”x3/4” steel bar stock in short lengths, and a hacksaw and file — all you need to make a pair of lockup bars for your chase. They will give you a much more satisfactory experience locking up than using pennies. Cut two pieces each about 1/4 inch shorter than the length and width of the inside of the chase, round the corners of the ends, and you’re done.


We try to not cut furniture down as it is becoming harder to find in good lengths so put out feelers for ready cut to lengthin your sizes , For such a small machine the composite ,resalite is a good choice as it maintains its shape ,no dent bulges or the like which are a pain and require filing back ,
If someone out there can put up a list of what will be appropriate for this model between us all on here you will find all you can use . I have some resalite here and should you not find locally what you need i can parcel some up for you and ship but i am in the uk so consider it a last resort as i dont do the pay pal thing as one or two of you over there can verify , i have no idea how to arrange payment !

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I talked with Fritz from NA Graphics today and he has chase irons for the Kelsey 3x5 and has also offered to put together a furniture font specifically for my press.

These guys are a great resource and I’m much appreciative. Thanks again for the help.