Proof press tympan and frisket.

Hi everyone, I’m still trying to wrap my head around this tympan and frisket business on a cylinder press.
I’ve finally understood it on the platen press.. but for proof presses without grippers, it still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
I mean, it kind of does. It’s a structure laid on the bed of the press to have a way of registering the prints.
What it’s still not 100% clear to me, is: Does adding the tympan and frisket reduce the printable size? or the maximum form size?

Also, just so I’m 100% clear on this:
Please someone post a photo of what exactly the tympan and the frisket are on a proof press.
I see the frames… but is the outer frame the tympan, and the inner one the frisket? Is the tympan only the tympan paper?

Thanks everyone, I’ve read as much as I could, but I still can’t make total sense out of this.

I would like to know all this, in case I do buy the hand galley Vandy.. if this reduces possible print size, I will look for a better model instead.



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Hello Enrique,
Try a Google search for ‘poco tympan frisket’ and you will find a whole bunch of images and discussion.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY


I also found it confusing, until I saw the explanation and photos at the Poco website:

It is important to realize that the tympan/frisket is usually used with hand-inking (using a brayer or hand roller) over roller-bearers (two metal bars, type-high). The bearers will get inked. So one side of the frisket is used to hide the roller bearers so that it doesn’t touch your clean sheets. The other side is usually cut to match the print-area of your sheet.

Thank you guys for your answers!

@Newbee press:

Do you know if the inking roller system that is already on the machine can be used? I’d very much like to use the machine’s inking system instead of a brayer.

Do you know if the tympan frisket reduces the printable size?

Thank you.

Reading up on the links.. I think this tympan and frisket assembly really adds up a lot of work.
I wish for a more pro Vandercook with grippers and all..
:) I hope to find one soon!

Have a look at the photos on Flickr of Jens Jørgen Hansen, he’s got a neat solution on a proofpress.

@Thomas, I saw many photos, he has around 1,250.. but I don’t know exactly which photos you are referring to. I’d appreciate if you could be more specific.
Thank you!
ok.. couple hours later. I went through all of his stream.. and couldn’t find anything.
Except some magnets for locking up the chase to the bed….

I guess there’s a couple of ways to go:
grippers (like a Vandercook) or a tympan+frisket (like a handpress). But then, printers are pretty inventive!

Using my scheme for tympan+frisket (illustrated on the Poco website), the printing area is certainly reduced; how much depends on how wide you make the parts of the tympan and frisket frames. Depending on your press, you may be able to invent a better approach.

The tympan+frisket doesn’t seem like a great fit for automatic inking; the Vandercooks manage (mostly) using grippers. But again, you can make anything work if you try.

Speed, … They’re all slow. The better you try to print, the slower you’re going to go. Rummonds wrote: “If you want speed, use a Xerox machine.”


@Thomas, I still can’t make much sense of that technique.
Wouldn’t the “gripper” pins hit and damage the roller?, they seem higher than type high.

@Preston: thanks! :) you certainly helped me clear some thoughts.
Haha, I understand, it won’t be fast, but it certainly adds up a lot of time to set up the tympan and frisket against having grippers. Right?

I like the Jens approach, but I still don’t quite get how I would adapt it to the Vandercook.

I guess, like you say, I will get creative and come up with something that works, maybe based on the different approaches out there.

:) Thanks everyone, it’s been a very educational thread for me.

I don’t set up the tympan for each job; it stays in place over many jobs (over a year now). I do have to prepare a new frisket for each job, though it’s usually small beer compared to the time required for typesetting, mixing ink, makeready, cleaning up, dissing type, …

A way to avoid this time, following Allen, is to use adjustable elastic bands, perhaps augmented with weatherstripping, to support the paper. Attached is a nice picture illustrating the idea.


image: albion_large.jpg



Thanks for the information and the picture.. very interesting.

Before I saw Jens’ flickr post the other week

For registration on our proof press I used drawing pins taped to a bit of furniture. It worked reasonably well, but I often stabbed my fingers on the pins :(

What I wasn’t sure about was the height of the registration pins (type high) and how this might impact on the tympan.

Then I saw this post by Tanxxx commenting on Jens’ solution

Which saw me go out any buy a clipboard and dismantle it and mount the clip part on another bit of furniture, making sure it all ‘sat’ below type height.

It works a charm by locking the clip into the chase. First job was a two colour card which came out rather well…

That kid Jens sure has some great stuff posted, that brass rule form was great. Dick G.

We’ve discussed pin register at length here at Briar Press. It is indeed a viable alternative to the standard tympan/frisket, and in my opinion is that it’s better since it doesn’t infringe on the useable printing area. If you do a search here, you’ll find all sorts of info.

I use pin register for most of my multi-color work since it allows for very close, accurate registration. It’s also the method preferred by Stone Lithographers at the Tamarrind School….. which is where I learned it.

Used correctly, you can easily register eight or more colors with a very high order of precision, and a much lower percentage of failure / misregistered work.

It is however, a bit slower to use than a tympan / frisket system.


The pins in my system are type height. The reason to the relative high pins is to hold and fix the paper and the “tympan” sheet with the make ready best as possible during the printing process. The cylinder is adjusted 2 pkt. above type height, so it will not touch the pins when operating the press. The extra space between type and cylinder leaves space for the paper and packing etc without making deep impression in the stock.
It’s a relative simple system with a very good register – better than my Eickhoff proof press with grippers etc. One minus is the price of the puncher and the pins …..

@ Dick G. It’s a long time ago someone last called me a “kid” – thanks for the kind words about my work.

Gott grüß die Kunst

@Jens, wow.. thanks for stepping in and giving such wonderful insights to your system. It makes a lot of sense now. :)