How do I measure the chase?

Hello All,

I am borrowing my friends tabletop platen press to print my wedding invitations and would like to purchase a base for it in order to use plates for my design.

When I measure the inside edge of the chase, (maximum plate size excluding quoins) I measure 4”x6”. Visiting boxcar press and Elum designs, I see they do not offer bases for chases this size.

My question, should I be measuring the chase differently, or does anyone know where I can purchase a base to fit this size chase?

Thanks for any help!

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Call Boxcar and tell them the size of your chase, they’ll cut it to size, I believe they do it for free.

Why do you need a base? Just order traditional printing letterpress printing cuts/dies/plates, magnesium mounted to wood type high. Several engraving companies supply these for about the same price you will have paid for your base and PP plates. I think the traditional ones are easier to use and are more forgiving.

Yes, I think Girl with a Kluge is right. If you owned the press and were planning on running from digital art on a regular basis, buying a plate base would make sense. As you’re borrowing the press and it sounds like you only intend on doing this one job, it would likely be cheaper and will certainly be easier to use metal cuts. Photopolymer is more difficult to print from than metal. It doesn’t take ink as easily, so you usually have to do more in the way of adjustment of the press to get a clean print.

The chase area is 4x6? How large do you intend for these invitations to be?

This little press would probably be happier making business cards, though it could print the return address on the reply card envelopes.


With conventional thinking, you are correct.
Do not forget that a printed image larger than the chase size can be achieved by printing the piece in two or more passes. Indeed there are limitations, but thinking outside of the box (chase?) can expand the capacity of the little machine.

If you arent going to continue the art of print after this job you may ask around and borrow some cornerstone or tru forme mounting block ,it came in two heights .849 is one i cant remember the other off hand .

As previous learned contributors have implied, with such a small machine (quite adequate in its original intended range) and its proposed minimal utilisation, Boxcar would seem to be large outlay for small return, if any at all. Obviously if production runs into the hundreds, or even thousands are conceivable, go for it! But in that case, when you have a blister in your hand, from the impression handle, it may be “plan B” However way back, valuable learning time was not “consumed” with extensive in depth hypothetical possibilities, whether one only wanted to do the tiny “private” job, at home, or the genuine compositors were laying down 4, 8 or even 16 page forms which involved, full page plates to be mounted, within 5 minutes (or 2 cups of tea) of receiving the job bag/docket, after making up the type pages, they would be mounting the full plate pages, from off the shelf completely versatile, completely reusable mounting system. Follows} one of several, the Monotype super caster produced 2 or more products, for mounting plates, first 3em x3em high quads (and sub divisions at 3x2 3x1 and 3x6point) completely correct to accept .064 thou thick plates with dsa, also produced from the super caster, were clumps or lengths,to do exactly the same job, obviously trimmed on the douglas or funditor type saw, made up (in your lockable make ready galley wtf that) laid down, printed and dissed back for re use possibly quicker than some of these posts, take to write, and yes including mine. Why, in the light of which craft system is under the spotlight, has nobody (apparently) thought fit to look into, in this case? how were plates mounted way back, I am sure it would still work perfectly, for your miraclon or photopolymer and be completely versatile and reusable. AND cents or dimes rather than mega bucks, AND you might be able to support your local Super Caster or Elrod Caster Owner operator, they both produce/produced beautiful plate mounting material. Might peeve Boxcar but I am sure they could cope.

Mounting plates on high quads and strip material makes sense for printers who already have experience and material for hand-setting, but not for someone who doesn’t know there was anything before Boxcar. If they never set a line of foundry type, how are they going to make up a form of quads or slugs? Wood-mount copper photoengravings would be the highest quality path of least investment for a temporary printer.
I’ve been mounting photopolymer plates on lead base (.854” and .875”) for over 20 years. It does work (especially with multiple noncontinuous cuts), but it takes previous printing experience to do it.

Parallel Imp, Thanks Bud, its good to know at least one knows where I am coming from, or where I came from a long time ago (when letterpress was king) One little difference of opinion, if the new kid on the block, has expended a lot of effort learning the complexities of this art, why would one not try at least to get an insight, into that aspect, even if only to apply retro technology, into modern application. Thanks again, and if you want to shoot me down, no problem, I can still learn!!! Regards Mick.

monotype mick and parallel_imp

The OP is borrowing a table top press, looking to find a base for photopolymer plates, and is doing a one time printing job. Me thinks no experience.

Main thing here is not dumping a bunch of printing technology on the OP but rather explaining that a 4x6 just ain’t going to do wedding invitations all that well. Just because letterpress is simplistically dumb doesn’t mean it works in all cases or that “anyone” can do it well (apologies in advance to all the DIY fanatics—I know what list I am on).

It’s a wedding. This is important (so to speak). Best advice: farm it out to someone who knows what they are doing.


Parallel impression, looks like we opened a little can of worms, or prodded a little hornets nest. Any which way round, a few thinking caps may have gone into action, to eventually help others to navigate the minefields. and what happened to the “better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all” surely one can then speak, with some degree of conviction, even if the outcome is negative. Even Brunel didnt get it right first time, every time, and even now are we not benefitting from his occasional well publicised failures, He didnt just say, “Bxxxxr it, farm it out Stevenson, Trevithic, Watt, and like minded, He tried, (occasionally) failed, but in so doing helped the next generation,to avoid his learning curve mistakes. In this context i.e. letterpress does the principle, try, learn, win or lose but in any event, pass on, not hold good anymore? Farm it out! not quite as constructive as it could be. Gerald None meant and hopefully none taken. Regards Mick.

Mick, do you have a bit of spray for these hornets? They are coming out of the woodwork in bloody droves these days, literally. Most of the lovely weddings will eventually end in a tragic disastrous failure, no matter the intricacies of the well planned and executed extravaganza, regardless of the money spent OR the intent.
HOWEVER, I must say, I agree, let the lovers dream, let them quarrel, and if it is any console to the lonely or the broken hearts, MORE than half the trip is getting there!
Let em dream and print their own soliloquy, hand lettered in Gothic blood if desired, whom are WE to judge?

Here is a great place to engraving etc made for your needs:

Also, I have a Intertype with script typesfaces.

Mick and Charles

Complain about the hornets all you want, but if you look around much (which you don’t seem to do) you might notice they have pretty much left this nest. It’s all yours. Good luck with that.

to Aaron David

It’s only my curiosity, not of value to anyone else, unless others would also like to see some of the script produced on an Intertype. Any others also curious, or likely to make use of the script fount?


Here are some samples of type I can set for people from a Intertype.

image: intertype b.jpg

intertype b.jpg

image: Intertype a.jpg

Intertype a.jpg

referring to earlier posts-I still like the “buzz” of Briar and hope very much that contributors wish to keep it “buzzing”

“”i don’t want to destroy the nest as Hornets are really quite peaceful creatures

How big are Hornets nests?”“-quote from a www re wild life


When I was a kid, there was a hornets (wasps?) nest in the apex of our roof above the front porch. I tied an M80 to the end of a ten feet bamboo pole, lit it, and shoved it in there. Quite spectacular. The incredible explosion and then the slow rainfall of gray pieces of hornet paper drifting down and stunned hornets all over the grass. Next day, they were rebuilding on the little stem that remained in the roof. Left them alone after that.


nice story Gerald, ta——smiles—-glad you didn’t get stung……….!