C & P related injury reported.

As anyone who has read my postings here knows, I am opposed to recommending a flywheel operated C &P press to newbies, and/or those who are not very careful in their operation….. or to dufi. These presses can and will do mean things to you if you let them.

Just this last week, my friend Robert almost got his eye put out by his own press…. a C&P.

Apparently, he was using the press for cracking pecans by dropping them at just the right moment between the platen and the press bed as it closed, and then letting them drop through into a wash bucket. After half a bucket or so, his timing got off and he dropped one a half-second too late. It got pinched just on the end, and shot out of the machine….. hitting him in the eye.

Luckily, it didn’t hit him right in the eye but just below it, so he didn’t get badly hurt…. but he does have a nasty shiner!

So here’s the safety lessons to be learned from this:

1. Don’t hire my friend Robert to operate your press. He’s not real bright. In fact, I’d recommend not even going to his shop while he’s cracking pecans.
2. It’s not wise to use a flywheel operated C&P for cracking pecans. I guess a Kelsey or Pilot might work better. Actually, a pecan cracker would be the best tool to use.
3. If you MUST crack pecans, please wear safety glasses.
4. and the real moral of this tale: don’t be a dufi while operating a press…. or you’ll shoot your eye out!

(ps… the names were changed to keep my friend’s wife from finding out how stupid he was…. and to keep her from somehow blaming me for his black-eye! She does that, you know. )

Log in to reply   25 replies so far

this is amazing.

glad he’s okay.


Wow… Did this really happen?

I have known of a few other platen press related injuries, but never anything like this.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

yep Daniel…. it’s one of those dumb-but-true stories. I can’t decide whether to feel sorry for my friend, or laugh my backside off!


Perhaps a nutcracker as a get well present is in order!

James Beard
Vrooooom Press

Ever had a ‘kiss’ off a Heidelberg ‘windmill’ platen? I have - but I’ll do my utmost not to get another!!

Haha, I know I probably shouldn’t laugh, but that had me in stitches. Hey, if you’re going to be that stupid, it’s going to happen!

In my very early days with Heidelberg platens. Was just making sure the sheet had dropped properly onto the lays, inched it forward a tad and clonk! I stand a bit further to the left these days!!
There’s nothing like getting intimate with a press, but that was perhaps a bit too intimate!!

Safety Lesson 5:
Never put nuts of any kind in a printing press.


The press was not made to crack nuts. Thats when accidents happen, doing somthing the machine was not made to do. Do not blame the press. Its called a printing press, for printing on paper .

Wow Chandler… thanks for that amazing bit of wisdom!

I guess I shouldn’t mention the fellow I know that used a 14 x 22 for crushing cans then. No injuries to report. Press still prints fine.

Mike…. i think it goes to technique, and the shape of the object to be crushed….. Pecans have a semi-taper on the ends which can lead to “pinch shooting” much like the shooting of a water-mellon seed from between your fingers. Cans, on the other hand are relatively flat on the ends.

Wink—Your point about newbies and the feeble-minded not operating a fly-wheel equipped press is well taken and I certainly hope, in all seriousness, that your friend recovers. However, the wag in me prompts me to pose the following: My Irish genes are constantly forcing me to prepare and consume potatoes and I am always looking for new and innovative ways to do so. I wonder if your friend has considered mashing these wonderfully nutrious tubers in his C&P and, if he has, if he has a recipe he’d care to share with the Letterpress community? If he hasn’t yet attempted this evolution, he might want to try it, especially if he continues to have the compulsion to smash things between the bed and the platen of his press. Consider that potatoes are rather soft in nature and are not likely to fracture and spray shrapnel around as was the case with the pecan shells. And, if his initial efforts at mashing potatoes works well, he could then go and design some kind of shaping device whereby he could make French-fries on the press! To carry his inventive genius even further, he could even put ketchup in the ink resevoir and create a ready-to-cook potato product for which the world has been anxiously waiting! McDonalds might even put them on their menu! The future preservation of platen presses would be assured as specialty food processors and snooty, high-end restaurants clamor to acquire them! The mind boggles at the possibilities—and all because your friend has an insatiable appetite for pecans (or the unorthodox bashing and crushing thereof)! Well!—-all I can add is that after the bandages come off I hope you will pass the above on to “Robert.” I wish him the best of luck and I trust that his injuries did not interfere with his “day job” at OSHA.

Bill, the gear to the right of the delivery board wolud be great for mashed potatoes, with a hot plate in the chase i think you could even do some cooking with your c&p.

We use to do nice toasted ham and cheese sandwiches on a verkotype machine using the cutting jacket off a windmill for the pan, on high it only took a minute or two.
Also cooked some nice steaks on a Heidelberg cylinder that had been converted into a large hot foil machine.
Bills on the right track they may even change the name to McPlatens.

Gee, the stuff you folks are thinking up really renews my faith in the innovative and creative nature of America (and our good friends in the Commonwealth and elsewhere) and the Letterpress community in general. I’m just getting back into Letterpress after a 50-year-or-so hiatus. After all this creative thought about alternative uses of platen presses and other assorted equipment, I may shift my emphasis to creating and obtaining a patent on a new potato-processing press that I can sell to the Simplot organization up in Boise. Oh! By the way, has any thought been given to making tortillas on the ink disc and substituting salsa for the ketchup in the ink resevoir? Just a thought. I live in Tucson and we’re really big on Mexican food here. It’s going to be 105F today so I wouldn’t even have to apply any external heat to the platen to bake the tortillas (although I guess the same is true for NYC today). Gotta’ go now and get a potato fix. Bill

Chris…. the best grilled cheese and ham maker is a heated rubber stamp vulcanizer. You can set the thickness and heat to any level required….. and viola!

Bill, it’s good to have you back! A lot has changed in 50 years, and not all of it for the better. It’s good to see another veteran of the trade coming back online.

DickG—I tried your suggestion to make mashed on the right-hand gear below the feed table. It didn’t make very good mashed spuds, but I got REALLY great crinkled pototoes! Thanks for the suggestion. Oh! I would suggest to anyone who wants to try this out to swap their lube oil from non-detergent to something like a vegetable oil. The non-detergent stuff really gives the spuds a lousy flavor and stinks up the kitchen besides.
Cheers! Bill

Winking, i worked for a company that made rubber plates for corrugated boxes, the vulcanisers were abouy 4 feet wide and 6 or 7 feet long, my boss would put his grilled cheese sandwich in the press, set the bearers for the right thickness and go back to his desk, we would remove the bearers. When he opened the press he had a grilled cheese about as thick as a sheet of copy paper but it was about 3 feet round. Good times. Dick G.

different die-cutting dies would provide infinate shapes and unparalled thickness consistency for those spuds.

Though I did not see it, my supervisor told me about a girl who was scalped because of the grippers on a wndmill. She got more than kissed!

I had a couple of close calls when lead squirted out from the Ludlow when some part didn’t function right. Glad I was fast on my feet. Fortunately, they started using PP plates. It’s been so hot here lately if we still had the Ludlow I could have used it without heating up the pot! he he


OK ok, this is serious folks.
Do not try this at home!

However, I have heard of the old-timers in these parts cracking the nototiously difficult black-walnuts in a rather un-carbon friendly manner, which could possibly be adapted for productiton on a press. To whit:

Jack up the rear-end of your pickup truck with the tail facing a concrete wall. Under one tire, position a concrete slab (or perhaps it’s there already. Jack the truck up with about an inch of daylight between the tire and the slab.
Put the truck in gear, and toss the walnuts under the tire, whence they are shot at high-speed against the wall, conveniently fracturing the shell.

Eye-protection also highly recommended.
Life insurance, also.

The grilled cheese and french-fry storiesare cracking ME up ;-)

Thanks for the tips!