1. If possible, lines of type should be locked up parallel to the length of the rollers—that is, running left to right in the chase rather than top to bottom.
  2. Wood-mounted cuts should be checked in several places with a typehigh gauge. If high, they can be sanded down against sandpaper placed on a flat surface. If low, paper can be glued to the back to bring them up to type-high (.918 inch).
  3. Forms for handfeed presses should be locked towards the bottom of the chase. Try to make the center of the form fall below the horizontal centerline of the chase.

    If type can be locked up in a standard position, the guides on the press will have to be moved less often. It is often easier to move the form than to reposition the guides.

  4. The form should be locked with quoins on two sides. On a handfeed press, the guides will ordinarily be at the bottom and left-hand sides of the platen, so the quoins should be on the opposite sides of the chase—that is, at the top and right-hand sides. In this way, movements to adjust the position of the type in the chase can be made with spacing material added to or removed from the “solid” sides of the form, corresponding to the guides on the press, and differences in the degree of expansion of the quoins do not affect the position.


    Locked-up form

    Showing the “chaser” method.

    On a Heidelberg platen, which feeds to the lower right-hand corner of the chase, the quoins should be at the top and left-hand sides.

  5. When using the old “Hempel” two-part quoins—little toothed wedges of iron, and likely marked “Challenge” (and not the more convenient high-speed one-piece quoins)—point the “typeside” quoin of the pair towards the solid side of the chase, so that tightening the quoins tends to force the type towards the solid corner of the chase. Two or more sets of quoins may be used on the same side of the form.
  6. It is good to put reglets between furniture and metal surfaces to avoid marring the furniture. (Reglets are strips of wood, six points or a pica thick. Eighteen-point reglet is uncommon.) A rack of pre-cut reglet is useful. Add a few leads to the furniture on each side of the form to make small movements easier. A mix of two- and three-point leads allows movements of one point to be made.
  7. The quoins should be tightened by degrees with the quoin key, a little on either side, planing between tightenings, until the form will lift securely. A small planer is good for platen press work—about two inches by four. I imagine a planer could be made from a piece of railing moulding, flat on the bottom with a piece of thick leather attached by brads to the top. Always plane, rather than pushing down the type with your fingers. Use the handle of the quoin key as a little hammer. Do not slide the planer along while tapping it—lift it between positions. The end of the planer, not its face, should be used to plane down sharp rules. When not in use, the planer should stand on its end on the stone so as not to pick up grit. Do not plane inked type. The planer can be re-faced against a piece of sandpaper on a flat surface.

    Make sure the furniture is tightening on the type form and not binding on itself.

    One side of the chase can be propped off the stone by the handle of the quoin key to test the lockup by pressing with your fingers on the type. If something gives, lay the form back on the stone, open it, and re-justify the loose elements with brass or copper thin spaces, one-point leads, paper, or card; tighten and try again. Test the furniture by hitting it with the bottom of your fist.

    Do not over-tighten the quoins, nor attempt thereby to fix what is really a justification problem. Since the quoins apply force to the base of the type, over-tightening them tends to squeeze the type upward, making matters worse. Sometimes during printing, non-printing parts of the form may “work-up”, become inked, and begin printing. This seems to happen especially on cylinder presses, which exert a lateral as well as vertical force on the type. Re-justify as above. Linotype slugs are sometimes “bottled”—thinner at their base than at their printing surface. “Sinkers”, thin strips of paper, dropped between the slugs at their bases will help square them. The form should always be well-justified and firmly locked, without over-tightening the quoins. Sometimes a chase or furniture is out of square so that tightening the form springs it from the stone. Remedies include replacing the worn furniture or chase, flipping the furniture or changing the placement of the quoins, or less pressure on the quoins. Avoid too-forceful planing.

    The idea here is to level the form. So the stone itself should have a flat level surface. For this reason, do not scar the stone by cutting paper on it with a makeready knife or razor blade. Liquids, such as drinks, should not be allowed to rest on metal stones because spills or condensation can rust the stone. Many times, a stoneman has reminded a pressman that “the stone is not a table.” Wipe the stone, planer, and the bed of the press clean from time to time.

  8. If there is not enough long furniture, so that shorter pieces must be abutted to lock up a form, the furniture should be “laced”. If a fifty- and a thirty-pica piece have been joined across the form, the next row should alternate with a thirty and a fifty, and so on, alternating. Such forms, for instance for a horizontal score, are often insecure because they are locked in only one direction, and the furniture may not be perfectly true. They should be tested carefully for tightness.

    Perforating Form

    Laced and corked perforating form.

  9. Corking, or strips of die ejection rubber attached to the furniture along a perforating rule will help the sheet release from the rule. Scoring rule of .900 height seems to work best with matrix for the average job.
  10. If a printed piece has two sides, consider imposing the front and back side-by-side horizontally in the chase and printing the sheet two-up. On the reiteration, keep the bottom guides and change over the side guide (best) to keep register. Cut the sheets in half when dry. This method is called “work and turn”. Its advantage is that only one form and one makeready are needed. A “work and roll”, also called “work and tumble”, keeps the side guide and changes tail for head on backup: the front and back are imposed one above the other in the chase. Register varies. If a sheet is printed twice (or four times) on one side, keeping the guides, and rotating the stock about an axis perpendicular to the sheet, each half (or quarter) of the sheet has its own guides. This is called “work and whirl”.
  11. Seek to think in picas and points. Measure the position of the trial impression on the sheet and make movements without measuring in the form. Hook the end of the pica stick over the edge of the sheet to the guides, and draw it along to see if the lines of type are running uphill or down against a mark on the rule. It is a good habit to use the same pica stick—sticks vary slightly.