Type on Imposing Surface (from ECP)
Type on Impos­ing Sur­face (from ECP)

His­tor­i­cal­ly, the impos­ing stone was a slab of slate, ground flat, as was the type-bed of a wood­en hand-press. Lat­ter­ly the stone was gen­er­al­ly a pre­cise­ly machined iron cast­ing, sim­i­lar to an engi­neers’ sur­face-plate. A piece of plate glass, an off­cut from a gen­uine mar­ble or gran­ite kitchen work-sur­face or a tru­ly flat tile of sim­i­lar mate­r­i­al will prove ideal.

For small press­es such as Adanas, it should be at least twice the size of the chase and the big­ger the bet­ter. Type slid from the com­pos­ing stick should be assem­bled and sur­round­ed with strips of wood­en or plas­tic reglet or met­al gird­er fur­ni­ture as in one or oth­er of the above dia­grams. Note, in either chase, the gaps left which allow the type to be firm­ly locked in two planes. For a small clamshell plat­en the rec­tan­gle of type must always be cen­tred in the chase, oth­er­wise it will not print with an even impres­sion. If the type is to be print­ed to one side of a lar­gish sheet, most such small machines will allow the paper to over­hang on two or three sides.

Quoins are essen­tial­ly expand­ing wedges; those illus­trat­ed are tight­ened with a square-end key and are the eas­i­est to use. They come in dif­fer­ent sizes and nar­row-mar­gin quoins take up less space in the assem­bled forme. If using an Adana with lock­ing-screws built into the chase, ensure that the screws bear on steel strips rather than on the soft­er, eas­i­ly dam­aged furniture.

Take care also to slide the assem­bled forme close enough to the edge of your stone to keep your screw­driv­er prop­er­ly aligned to avoid dam­ag­ing the threads in the chase. With the quoins tight­ened even­ly, lift one edge of the chase about a cen­time­tre clear of the stone (put a spare quoin or length of reglet under it) and test the forme for tight­ness by gen­tly pat­ting the type with your fin­gers. After rem­e­dy­ing any loose lines with hair-spaces, etc. try again. When sat­is­fied it is tight, loosen the quoins until the type is almost loose and plane the forme by plac­ing a plan­er, (a small, flat piece of MDF or birch ply­wood will do) on the type and press­ing down hard or gen­tly tap­ping it down with a leather mal­let. Tight­en the quoins even­ly and, after check­ing again for loose type, mount the forme on the press and you are almost ready to print.

This guide kind­ly con­tributed by John R Smith of the Old Forge Press. Orig­i­nal­ly appeared in the newslet­ter of the Oxford Guild of Printers