After working on a composing stone for 20+ years and having moved it once with a pallet jack…..I got curious as to what kind of stone they used to make it. Do they still use real stone or is some kind of steel being used these days? Ron

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I’m not sure what you mean by these days, since nodody has made imposing stones for decades. Marble was always a favored material, but steel imposing surfaces have been in use for over a century. Machinist’s granite surface plates are thicker than an imposing stone, and architectural marble is thinner, but either is a useable surface. Limestone litho stones are good too.

I setup on a metal base and occasionally on the bed of my Vandercook. I did have a small stone for imposing but it broke on accident and never replaced it.


Parallel_imp….you answered that question. I kind of thought that they had had stopped using real stone. With letterpress not being what it was years was ago I was wondering if anyone is using some kind of composing surface. The stone we have and still use is probably 3X4 feet and about six inches deep. It sits in a wooden frame with a drawer and vertical slots to store the chases. It has to be really old. Some how I doubt if anyone will ever be able to steal it! Ron

I was in an old shop, the owner was 83 years old and retiring, selling off all his letterpress shop, he had pin stripped about everything. My friend was buying the linotype which had lots of chrome and pin stripping, i was looking around and decided to buy the stone, when i asked how much he wanted he yelled at me and said i didn’t know anything. I asked what was wrong and he said the back of the stone was already engraved with his name, old printers use their stone for their grave stone? Dick G.

Hah! I love Dick’s story. But since I don’t have an engraved stone, I’d better keep busy and earn enough to buy my own slab.

Nowadays, it seems that granite surface plates fill this role. You can purchase them in varying grades of accuracy, though all probably beat a piece of laminated cabinet material.

Funny story… I had trouble leveling my Kluge chases, which don’t even level to the the bed of my press. But I bought a rosback perforator, and now I do all my “stone-work” on the perforator feed table, and everything works out just fine and dandy! Previously, I tried using a length of kitchen counter material and a ceramic tile, but nothing works like that old wood.

Guess I’ll have to crawl under the stone and see if there’s any names on it. The supervisor had a stone that had a really neat impression etched into it. It had been used for some type of printing. Ron

Hi Dick,
That’s a great story. If I’d read it sooner I might have gone for a larger imposing stone. ;)


When I acquired my first press I somehow came into possession of a great imposing stone. I called it “the world’s largest kidney stone” — it had been the gravestone of one William Kidney. I think it came with some type and a C&P I got when a shop closed in Xenia, OH. Wish I still had it!



6” deep!!!!!!! That would probably be the world’s thickest imposing stone. I have moved several over the decades and they are generally about 3” or 4” thick at the most. Some are around 2” thick.


You’re probably right…I was using loose numbers off the top of my head just to give a general idea. The next time at the shop I’ll get the actual measurements Ron

I went to the local salvage yard and bought a granite countertop that had been scrapped for $20 and cut it down to the size I needed in my shop for an imposing stone. Here in San Francisco, the salvage had dozens of them.

Vrooooom, thanks so much for mentioning surface plates for an imposing stone! Being a retired printer and setting up a small shop at home, I have been trying to come up with something. I found the following 12 X 18 X 3 inch thick stone for $39.99 (Canadian), which should be more than ample for my 7 X 11 oldstyle Pearl #3. (I like to have a bigger stone than the chase, so after running small jobs, they can be slid off to the side of the stone temporarily, to get the next job in faster).

If anybody is interested, this is where I found it (in southern Ontario, Canada):

After you get their home page, put the words surface plate into their search box, and it will come up.

I should mention that I haven’t actually gotten one yet so haven’t actually seen one, but am planning to get one in the next week or so.

my first stone was a piece of formica counter top, had it for a long time. Dick G.

Just for the info…..finally got the measurements on the stone I mentioned before. 3 feet wide…..4 1/2 feet long and 2 1/25 inches deep. That’s a lot of weight! Ron