Boxcar base + C & P old style ?

I am new to letter-pressing and had a few questions. I have a 12x18 C&P Old Style Letterpress. I am wanting to purchase a boxcar base but was curious about a few things. If I were to purchase the 9x12 base, and lets say I wanted to print something at 5x7 I could not do this, because my gauge pins would hit correct? I would be forced to use paper and gauge pins outside the 9x12 area correct?

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Have Boxcar cut the 9x12 base into two 6x9s (or a 5x9 and a 7x9) which can then be butted together for larger work.
Paper gauges or photo corners may be fine on a hand-powered tabletop platen, but using them on a motor (or even treadle) driven press is asking for trouble, especially as you are just learning to hand-feed.
And yes, your understanding of base size and gauge pin placement is right. You can also work an over size sheet, or print two-up by printing one half and whirling the sheet to print the second half (but with the image away from the guide edges). Or you can place the large base in the upper right corner of the chase. and the plate on the lower left corner, but that will still place a smaller image off-center. Keep the image centered and life will be easier.

Thanks Parallel, you have answered my question and appreciate it..



You could lock up your base off center (upper right corner) and place your plate in lower left of your base so you could place your pins where the base will not smash them. I would try this before I cut a base in half.
A word of caution - as a beginner, be careful not to set your pins so low on the platen that you have to bend at the waist to feed your press. Proper posture is as important for your safety as it is for your comfort.


Just set it off center like Sumner suggested.

I have a 10x15 OS with a 6x9 base. I’ve printed small stuff on there. Just make sure you have enough room for the grip and guide.

Here’s an image to illustrate. The pink squares would be your gauge pins. White box is your paper. I used all your given dimensions.

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That is an excellent demonstration of how far off-center such an imposition throws the form. A 6x9 base is one thing, and a 9x12 is another thing entirely. Serious makeready will be needed, whether in the packing, adjustment of the impression screws, or placement of a balancing element opposite (a bumper or bearer, perhaps needing a frisket), all increase the time and effort needed to get an even impression. And all just to get by with one size base. Boxcar will cut your base on request at a reasonable cost.
Another factor is safety. Filling the upper chase with base instead of furniture makes the press considerably more dangerous. A finger left in the way there will be pulped, where a finger caught between furniture and platen may be pinched but still survive as a functioning member. And the fact that you will be feeding a sheet deeper than normal makes this all the more dangerous, especially for a beginner.

Thanks so much for the diagram and info. Much appreciated.

When I have a situation where the gage pins might be in danger, I use folded cardstock guides. They do not interfere with the base, and provide a good support for the paper being printed. They can be simply tapedinto position, or pasted in place.

I have a motorized C and P 8 x 12 and use photocorners when gauge pins are impossible. You should practice going slowly with them at first until you have some experience/are comfortable. Not worth losing a digit to save a piece of paper.