missing wedge in a Reliance?


I recently purchased a Reliance (15x20) that is currently in parts on my garage floor. Unfortunately, in the space inside the platen where the wedge should be, there is only empty space - no wedge. I know I’ll need the ability to adjust platen height to accomodate a custom tympan/frisket assembly, so the lack of wedge has halted my re-assembly efforts until I find a solution.

If the wedge’s sole purpose is to provide a rest point for the cup, I can easily fashion a crude hardwood wedge that fits inside the platen with a screw mechanism to allow lateral adjustments. However, as a letterpress novice, I worry that I am oversimplifying the function of the wedge, or that I’m oversimplying any special considerations I’d need to worry about if I went about making a wedge of my own.

Does anyone have any insight on this? If you have experience or suggestions about the best material to use, any special geometrical restraints or optimizations, or if this hiccup requires a local expert to provide more specific guidance, your advice will be thoroughly appreciated. I can post photos if that will help.

Best always, and thank you in advance for any help -
Mark Cyffka

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Two possibilities (I assume you have the cup and it’s just the wedge that’s missing). One is to go to a hardware store that sells logging/tree-cutting supplies, and buy a felling wedge, which will be aluminum, or a splitting wedge, which will be steel and probably too thick. You can drill a hole lengthwise through the wedge, about 3/8” in diameter, and put a piece of 3/8” allthread long enough to reach out through the hole where the adjusting nut bears on the platen. Put a nut on the wide end of the wedge to keep the threaded rod from pulling out, and epoxy the rod into the wedge. That should give you the needed adjustment, assuming the felling wedge is as thick as I remember it (I lost mine years ago). Or you could do the same with a splitting wedge, which is steel, but I suspect you’d have to cut off part of the wide end so it would fit.

I haven’t done this, so it may be too much of a kludge.



Are you talking about the chill? Hard to replace these as they were generally made specific to the press, at least on an Albion.


A hardwood wedge would never stand the pressure. I would look around on Flickr and try and locate a press the size of yours, and see if you can get photos and accurate dimensions that a machinist could use to make one for you. A splitting wedge has too steep of an angle to be really useful. Good luck, I hope you find one easily.


Is the cup present? If so, I would suggest making sure that the angle of the wedge matches the angle on the bottom of the cup. You can always give the cup to the machinist that is doing the fabrication.

I managed to break the threaded rod protruding from the wedge on the larger of my two Hoe presses. If you’d like a photo or two I’d be happy to provide them. It is currently out of the press to have a new threaded adjusting rod made up.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Mark - I’ve got a 14x22 Shniedewend (Reliance) here. Would it help if I sent you (a) drawings that show measurements and (b) photos of the wedge? Also, yes, do you have the cup?

Thank you all so much for your responses. I’ll try to respond to them here.

Bob: Yes, I have the cup. It fits snugly inside the circular region of the platen designed to hold it. I think your idea of an aluminum wedge with makes a lot of sense, so long as Paul’s worry of the steep angle doesn’t negate the idea… either way, I will look into this option more thoroughly. (Also, I owe you press details for your archive - I’ll get back to your email once I can get around to putting the info together.)

Gerald: I was not originally familiar with the term “chill,” but spent some time today learning about its role in the Albion printing mechanism. It appears functionally similar to the toggle mechanism used in my Reliance, which I have in its entirety in excellent shape, so I believe I am covered re: the chill. Appreciate the suggestion, though!

Paul: Thank you for the suggestion. I agree, my gut tells me that I’ll need to work with a machinist, though I’ll explore Bob’s idea further to confirm.

Daniel: I will get to this as soon as possible. Right now, the platen and bed of my press are being stored in my buddy’s car workshop, and while he’s out of the country for a week or two I won’t be able to retrieve the cup to inspect it myself or take pictures. If you have any pictures you can send, I would be incredibly grateful - I’ve found precious few photos or detailed diagrams of the wedge mechanism available in any book or online resource as of yet. I’ll send you a PM with my email address if that will help.

J Archibald: I would love any drawings or photos you’d be willing to send, as I think my press is nearly identical to yours. I do have the cup, but unfortunately I will need a couple of days to get access to it as described above. I’ll send you a PM with my email address as well.

Again, thank you all for your help. This seems to be a thornier problem than I had anticipated, but it’s good to be learning so much.

Cheers all,