Pearl Impoved Feed and Delivery Tables

These pics are of the feed and delivery tables of my Pearl Improved #11. Can they be saved? (stripping? replacing bits?) or would it be better to have some new ones made? There is a crack that goes all the way across in the top table; can that be reliably glued or will it not hold up? Is that block of wood between the two tables a replacement for something else?
Thanks for opinions and information!

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Personally I like the character of the worn originals. You could always drill some holes for reinforcing dowels and glue them back together.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

I like it, too, as long as it’s still functional.
Dowels are a good idea if just gluing wouldn’t work; thanks for the suggestion.
What bothers me most is that chunk of wood between the two boards … seems like this must have been replacing something, but I’ve no idea what. And the little strip of wood that serves as a stop on the bottom board, can’t see it in the pictures here, but it just ends abruptly about two inches from the end. Is that typical?

I love the original look! It looks to me though that the block might have been added because of the crack?! Hard to tell from the pictures. I would try taking it apart, making templates and see how it might have been originally constructed. The correct glue up, you wouldn’t need the dowels, be better to use biscuits on such a thin board!

Good Luck! Post more pictures with the results!


I suspect if you removed the block (maybe screwed on from underneath?) you’d find that the bracket for the upper table had been fastened there and the block was put in to raise the upper table up some. I agree that biscuit joinery for the crack would be probably stronger than the dowels small enough to reinforce the joint unless you used maybe 4 or 5 1/4 or 3/8 inch dowels Half or less the thickness of the board). Biscuit joinery in the crack would be more difficult since the edges are not squared to the face of the board. I’d clamp the two pieces together between two other boards in their correct position relative to each other and drill and glue dowels into the near edge. I also think the patina of the old boards is nice.


It turns out that this table system is very fragile—I am certain that chunk of wood has been placed there to provide a firm spacer and hold that top board upright. The top one tends to sag into the bottom one when closed. When open—well—let’s just say you don’t open it until you are going to use it for the intended purpose and that purpose only. It really can only hold a stack of paper.
Like I said, it’s just a fragile system. It seems to me there must be a way to improve upon this.
Oh wait—your question—I say use what you have for now….then decide later what you will like best. :-)

To all who think the tables should be left largely as is other than repairing the crack - what would you do to improve the appearance other than cleaning it up? It’s difficult to see in the pictures, but the worn areas are very rough and deeply pitted and scratched. Would you just clean them up with something like Murphy’s Oil Soap and use them as is, save for attempting to repair the crack? Or would you sand them down and apply some kind of finish to smooth things out? (I’m all for character, but I want it to work well and look pretty, too!)
Does anyone have a picture of original tables that shows what that swivel-joint looks like and how it’s connected to the bottom piece?
Thanks for all of the replies. I’m off to google “biscuits” and whatnot now!

I would be apt to at least sand the roughness down and put a coat of shellac too seal it all. As far as the biscuits you can go a couple of routes, go to your local Home Depot and talk to the guys in hardware, they can set you up with the biscuits and the biscuit joiner tool, clamps, glue etc. or find a local wood/furniture repair shop and show them what you need to have done. I would definitely make templates if you take it aprt and probably build a new set to have.

From the photos and now description, it seems to me that these are made from a softwood, not a hardwood. Although obviously vintage, I wonder if this is (old) replacement wood rather than what originally came with the Pearl. My understanding was that a hardwood such as maple was normally used for feed & delivery tables.

Outpost, you don’t mention how you’re treating the rest of the press — if you’re restoring or repainting it, I’d say make new hardwood tables to match, but if you’re leaving the press with original “patina” and wear, new wood will look out of place, I’d think.

On the original Pearl presses, the upper table is attached to the lower by not much more than a bolt and washer arrangement, and the upper is basically right on top of the lower, no space between. I think the Improved Pearl was set up pretty much the same but with the much more complex swivel that you have providing some space between the tables (but without the wood spacer block on yours).

Here (hopefully) is a picture that Mike Anton sent me of what I assume is an original setup.


P.S. — I’d love to find that swivel casting, missing from my press, if anyone ever runs across an extra!

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ABOUT WOOD REPAIRS: OutPost—I dealt with a similar problem on the C&P 8x12 New Style I acquired last year. I should indicate that I am an experienced wood worker with a well equipped shop, but am just coming back into Letterpress.
Both the feed and take-off tables on my press are soft wood, as is yours, which appears to be pine. I am inclined to think press manufacturers in those days used softwoods simply because those species were cheaper than hardwood, easy to mill and served their intended purpose quite well. The tables on my press appear to be original and my press was manufactured about 1917.
The take-off table on my press was broken clean in half length-wise, along the grain, when I received the press. It was not especially dirty or mucked up with ink.
Two choices were presented to me: either to repair the existing table or fabricate a new one. Since the break in the take-off table was clean and the pieces fitted together quite well, I decided to do a repair.
The best approach to take in my case was to use biscuits and glue and clamp the two broken pieces back into one. Incidentally, you need not worry about using glue. A properly done glue joint is in fact stronger than the wood around it. Alaphatic glues, such as Titebond II or III, work extremely well.
After the glue had dried and cured overnight I corrected a very slight bow on the table bottom by use of a bench plane (a good old finely-fettled Bailey-pattern Stanley #4). This procedure flattened the piece very nicely.
No refinishing was necessary. I simply scrubbed the accumulated grime off with 4-aught (0000) steel wool and mineral spirits (paint thinner) and applied several coats of furniture wax.
If I decide to make another table I can use the existing one as a pattern, cut out the rough shape on my band saw and achieve the finished shape using my table-mounted router and pattern bit. I would likely use oak and finish it with several coats of high quality polyurathane (a man-made varnish).
It should be emphasized that to do a proper repair job of this kind one really needs to have the correct tools including a flat working surface, decent clamps and high quality glue.
Repairs as described do not neccesarily require the use of a biscuit joiner or dowels—a good glue joint will do the job—but the use of biscuits is a big help in aligning pieces during glue-up and does provide an added measure of strength to a glue joint. I am not fond of dowels as I’ve found they are sometimes more trouble than they’re worth.
It seems that my wood working skills are “translating,” as it were, quite well to Letterpress. Many component objects used in Letterpress are made of wood and I daresay most can now be classified as antiques. Many, as in the present case, are in need of repair, maintenance or replacement.
Case in point, as discussed in another thread, is the replacement foot treadle I made for my C&P. As mentioned, it is a “New Style” press, but for unknown reasons it came with a cast-iron foot treadle made for an “Old Style” C&P. Its design simply did not work.
With some good ideas and inspiration from Front Room Press, I made a prototype replacement of wood. It works very well and I am now making a refined version in my shop.
It is not generally understood that serious wood working, unlike rough carpentry work, requires great precision. I have a dial-calipher practically fused to my hand so that pieces I make frequently have zero variance from their design specs. The ability to fabricate precisely objects in wood carries over when I need to make or repair something of metal. But I’m learning all the time and that’s the best part of working in these two wonderful crafts of wood and Letterpress.
Best of luck in restoring your press and please do keep the membership informed of your progress. Bill

Thanks again for all replies.
Dennis - I will be sure to make templates of the tables in the process of fixing them up. Great tip and one I would be sure to forget without a reminder …
Dave - Thanks for posting the picture from Mike A. Looking again at the tables I have, at least one reason the wood block is there is to lift the swivel high enough to clear the “stop” board. For some reason that piece of wood that serves as a “stop” is 1.5 inches over the lower table, and the swivel casting is only about 1 inch high.
I am not completely restoring or repainting the press, just cleaning it up as best I can, so the original (or replacement original?) old tables would look fine if I can get them fixed. It would be interesting to know if the original tables were indeed hardwood or pine. (My press was made in 1904.)
Bill - I appreciate the detailed description of what you did for your tables. I haven’t the proper tools or expertise for woodworking and am eager to get started with printing, so for the time being I will probably find a place that could repair the crack for me, re-attach the swivel joint to the lower table, and then I’d clean them up. After using them for a while I should be better able to ascertain what will work best for me. I’ll keep you all posted!

Does anyone know how to get in touch with Mike Anton - the expert on Golding Pearls? I can’t seem to locate an email, etc for him. Thanks.

Try golding(hyphen)guru(at)

I just acquired an Improved Pearl #11 and the feed and delivery tables look to be original and are softwood, probably white pine. There is no need for hardwood for these unless they are really going to get beat around — decent pine, which Golding apparently used, is plenty sturdy enough, except if it splits from stress. However, repairing the split is not easy because installing dowels or biscuits requires that the holes or slots be perfectly aligned. I have a Shopsmith multipurpose tool that allows horizontal drill press operation and I could easily bore perfectly aligned holes for dowels in the edges of a split piece and then glue it back together.


Mike’s website is worth a look too!

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Actually, I love replacing the wood with something really nice. Like going to Woodcraft and buying some cherry. Then round the corners and edges just like you want and make the gaps between press parts and the wood exactly what you want.

Then then the press itself starts to take on a bit of a different feel. It looks older by comparison and the ‘patina’ of the metal can have an almost deliberate quality to it.

It reminds me of going to Museum of Natural History and seeing an old dinosaur skeleton where some of the bones are new construction. The old ones seem even ‘bonier’ than if the skeleton was absolutely complete.

Did someone mention the word “Pearl”? I am amazed I missed this post last year!

Having had some experience with the entire Golding line, I must say I have never seen a pine feed or delivery table on any model that I thought was original, and it is my opinion that Golding would not have used softwood. (It just doesn’t seem to be the right material to match the quality of all the products he produced). Everything he put his name on was top notch. That said, this model press existed for a lot of years making it difficult to be sure what might have been supplied over the entire production span. We traditionally classify Pearls into original or old style (No3) and new Improved (No11). As I see more and more Pearls, I have been promoting the need to further classify them into early and late Old Style and early and late Improved because there are so many differences within the same model number. I have learned to not speak in absolutes because of these differences. The picture Dave submitted last year is, however, exactly what I “believe” to be correct….. maple boards with the bracket that helps to support the feed board, and even the thick beveled washer with countersunk screw. In the “for what its worth” category, every press I have seen that I thought had original boards had this set up. Most replacement boards I have seen were made of pine. We have to be careful when viewing old worn boards to remember these presses have been around long enough for several replacement boards to get old and worn looking if the press was in a production environment.