Frisket / tympan for a Washington #5 iron handpress

We are finally starting to rebuild the frisket/tympan for our Washington #5 iron hand press.

Does anyone have a good frisket/tympan that is pretty authentic that could shoot some photos of all of the important parts? We also need at least some basic measurements. You can see Rummonds’ drawing of what we are looking for at the link below.

Anyone undertaken this that might be able to help guide us. I have a knowledgeable woodworker helping with the project.

Just in case, are there any that might like one built for their press that we might do at the same time for a bit of cash.

We are in Newark, Delaware. Anyone have a good version close by?

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When I still had my Washington I repaired the tympan and was going to add a frisket (it had never had one). At about the same time there were others wanting to add a tympan and frisket to their presses that had never had them. I did a sort of worksheet for guidance and I’d be glad to send you that, though it is not press-specific.

In order to copy a tympan accurately you need to find a press that is the same as yours — different manufacturers had different designs of tympan hinges, and size also matters. If you just want to make a tympan and frisket and absolute authenticity isn’t critical, I think my information would get you there.



Most definitely want whatever you can offer.

Ours is the Hoe, 25” x 38” Washington. Seems pretty straight forward.

I have taken a series of photos that hopefully address some of your questions about tympan construction. My press is an R. Hoe Foolscap Washington, not nearly the size of a No.5, but hopefully it will help with understanding the way they are put together. If you have any questions (and you will), feel free to contact me, and I’ll try to help.[email protected]/sets/72157641631162254/

Ray, most of the later presses were sold without a tympan, as they were mainly used for proofing. Yours is big enough that it may well have been sold for printing a small-town newspaper so it would probably have had the tympan and frisket. Does it have the corner irons, at least the ones on the “near” end of the bed, with the hinge halves? If so that makes the job a lot easier — you don’t have to fabricate the corner irons. The poop sheet I sent you should give most of the rest of the info you need, although I realized after I sent it that it has dimensions for another press, to be ignored.


I was missing one of the corner irons on the hinge end, but I’ve had that made for me.

Thanks to everyone that helped us out. We THINK we have enough information and are going to start a prototype this week.

I was missing one of the corner irons on the hinge end, but I’ve had that made for me.

Thanks to everyone that helped us out. We THINK we have enough information and are going to start a prototype this week.

So we think we’ve figured out what we need to do with the help of several people. So, it is to the wood shop to see how it goes. I’ll let you know.

The Sharlot Hall Museum has a Washington Hand Press (Number 5 from 1868, Serial 5237) that we also needs the frisket/tympan reworked. Being a museum piece we will want to take it back to as authentic as we can. Any additional info, photos, etc. that anyone has to share would be most appreciated.

Troy H. Groves

Troy… Have you reached out to view the 4 working iron hand presses right in your own Arizona backyard? One in Tubac, one in Tombstone, and two in nearby Phoenix. All have excellent examples of working tympan & frisket assemblies. Two of the presses are early Imperial #3 Hoes with the original hardware you seek to replicate. Photos and endless discussions will never replace the front row views and comparisons that you have at your fingertips. My poor recollection of the Prescott example is that the frame’s iron hinges were either incomplete, or not original. Restoration efforts will depend greatly on existing cast iron hinges and cross-bar… the rest is relatively easy to re-make or restore.

If the museum wants to use the press for demonstration purposes, the large scale of the Imperial #5 tympan will be best hinged to a removable metal (aluminum or steel) frisket with finger lifts on both sides and, either a back rest for when it’s laid open, or a support apparatus from above. As for the existing wooden tympan frame, once again based on memory of the Prescott press, I recall it being similar to what would have been used on other Hoe presses of the 1800’s. More elaborate and improved frame-within-a frame tympans have been referenced on this site, but the basic frame with a cloth covering was more of the norm on most original (non-working) examples that I’ve seen.

Butch Baranowski
Phoenix, AZ