Miles Nervine-finer points

Hey, folks. I am wondering about ways to really maximize the performance of my Miles Nervine press. I am mostly curious about several things, first of which is registration methods people have come up with (I have read about using pins, but was wondering if I could see pictures). The chase scoots along the bottom, too, so… magnets? Second, I wonder what packing, if any, people use, besides the felt. I have an old etching blanket stitched on there now (just a sizing catcher, so it is pretty thin. I have some concern that just the felt by itself is going to be hard on my type. I locked up some furniture in sideways to act as rails for the roller so it doesn’t slam into the first line of type as it ramps up, but it still hits a bit harder up front. I make engravings and lino cuts and have had more success printing a small (1”x2”) engraving-I assume that is due to the smaller size, but larger sizes are less successful. I soak my paper and use oil based inks. Any advice will be most appreciated! (BTW, this is a side project as we wait for the arrival and fixing up of our recently acquired 12 x 18 C and P NS! I am desperate to tell someone out there who knows what the hell I am talking about!) Thank you!

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Hello Jimmy,
Is your cylinder hollow or filled? Maybe a little more gravity on the cylinder would help you get more out of your engravings and linocuts.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

It is essential to get your chase “locked” into the bed so that there is zero movement. Magnets could do the trick end-to-end and furntiure and quoins could lock it against the sides. Your clips/pins/or whatever you use for registration are also going to have to be locked into the base. The cylinder had no teeth or gears to keep it in the same position as it passes over the bed. It literally floats.

The most important thing to remember is that there is very little pressure generated by the cylinder. Yes it has some good weight to it, but that is nothing compared to the squeeze created by a cylinder that locks onto the bed and cannot be raised up when encountering the resistance of trying to make an impression. Even the little showcard presses will have more pressure than your Miles Nervine.

One way people have tried to compensate for this was to literally pour concrete into the side-holes in the cylinder to fill the cylinder and add much more weight. This increases your chance of getting a better impression of a larger area, but still will not come close to a Vandercook, Poco, Challenge, etc. with a mounted cylinder.


Thank you, Daniel and Rick. Hmmmm, yes, I was worried that would be the case. My roller is filled with concrete, but doesn’t really do the job, at least for the larger blocks, though I may try further experimentation with smaller, finer cuts (not such large solids)
. My question about locking it into the sides is regarding the flared edges… worried trying to lock it that way would be too unsound-thought of building a kind of block to set the chase into that would be carved down to fit snugly between the rails… I don’t know. When we get the C and P up and running, it might just be relegated to something closer to its original purpose and use it for proofing mostly. I have heard lots of talk about things printed well on the Nervine or homemade presses like it, but I haven’t seen them. If anyone has examples, I would love to see or be pointed towards them! I am interested in this for educational purposes as well. I frequently work with kids. Again-thank you! I’ll see what I can do to get that chase to sit still and find a place to lock down the pins. Will post when I figure out my way, anyway!

I had good success with such a press (it was actually produced by C&P, but was of the roller proof press style) buy dressing the cylinder just like a standard press with paper and tympan paper. I was able to take good quality proofs with that for years, but I was just kiss printing on newsprint for the proofs, and not looking for any deep impression stuff. The dressed cylinder made a good, hard surface upon which to print to get a reliable proof.

Thank you, jhenry-I will try just that!


This is a bit late in coming, but maybe will be use to others who may aquire a “Miles” proof press. I do small pieces and this “registration” method—if you can call it that—is pretty crude and unorthodox but it suits my needs. Its currently set for a 3.5 inch galley and I prepare the paper accordingly. I have a hollow cylinder but I leave the type in the galley so the extra height results in higher pressure I imagine. Not sure how advisable this is in regard to damaging the type, even though there is very little physical impression in the paper. The galley does not move at all.

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