Locking up metal type - avoiding workups and spring

Novice here! I’m laboring at learning to set metal type properly for my small tabletop platen press.

I have eight lines of 10-point type here that I’ve tried several times to lock up in the 5x8 chase of my Kelsey Excelsior. They lock up tight enough that I can lift the chase off the stone without the type falling — good! — but the type springs. I can push the sorts back down with my finger, but they are sure to work back up during printing, no? I cannot figure out what I’m doing wrong.

The lines are justified as far as I can tell. I’m being careful not to overtighten. The furniture isn’t binding. The leads aren’t too long. I am using the chase irons rather than quoins, and maybe the action of tightening the chase screws one at a time is part of the trouble here, making the sorts shimmy up?

All advice appreciated!

image: springylockup.jpg


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Chase screws on ANY press’s chases are used where insufficient margin exists for the insertion of quoins. I would use a quoin or quoins, where at all possible. Also, try a strip of cardboard alongside the sides of the form.

Ah ha! I’ll give that a shot.

If the furniture is not square the forme can spring up, have you got any metal furniture you can use?

Alas, I do not. I haven’t managed to scare any up on Ebay yet. Everything I’ve seen has been much too large!

Hi Avins,

Here is a link to a page I used years ago when teaching my students the fundamentals. http://www.hevanet.com/ashiogi/lockup.htm

One rule of thumb was to try to use furniture the same width and height of your text block. 20 picas, 15 or 25, whatever you have. Also sometimes you need an extra lead strip at the bottom to make it tight enough, maybe 1 pt or 2.
good luck,

Mike -

That’s invaluable. Thanks so much!

As someone says you need quoins, look for Cornerstone ‘Narrow Margin’. Also an anecdote for you from a 1950s UK composing room. A galley of bad Monotype setting arrives
on the stone to be proofed. The right hand edge is wiggly! ( the caster bloke had not got his Mutton dead square before he started running) this provoked the joke ” you will need rubber side sticks for that lot” In fact I use (and indeed sell) rubber side sticks and boy they do really work. About 6 points thick, furniture height (750) medium hard rubber. .

Add two quoins top and bottom of the form and if your furniture has a straight edge your problems should be over.

I’m hardly an expert, but if the chase screws are below the center of the lockup, then they will certainly cause it to raise. Basic geometry. Can you flip the chase over so they are above the center line?

Personally, I would back the screws out and obtain some quoins. You only need a couple of them and they are not all THAT hard to find.

What seems to be missing so far in this discussion is if the type was set properly before it was ever put in the chase. If the type is set not in a composing stick but by eye line by line then it is not justified and will not lock up properly. The type needs to be set in a good composing stick and as it is set, each line needs to be checked for correct tightness. For an accomplished type setter, this just comes naturally. Leads and slugs need to be cut properly. As a composing stick gets a few lines in it, empty the stick before it becomes full as the last lines to be set have a tendency to slightly spring the knee of the stick. When a line is set ragged or the line has blank space at the end, place the quads or largest spaces at the end of the line rather than the thinnest spaces.

If a form is not set correctly and all the elements don’t quite align, don’t expect the lock up to solve poor preparation. And have some brass and copper thin spaces handy to finish off the line, but use very sparingly as they can cause spongy lines that will cause lock up problems. A too tight of a line in a stick is as bad as a too loose a line.

I have indeed used a composing stick! And I have done my novice best to do as both Fritz, above, and my copy of -General Printing- have explained. I expect a couple of quoins in the post today and will try them out.

I believe the original owner of this press to have relied solely on the chase irons and screws, but I know nothing about what he printed or how much frustration he endured while doing so.

Quoins in place! And the lockup is definitely much better, helped also by some brass thins sourced from Fritz. Thanks to all who chimed in!

Now to figure out how to improve the impression.

image: Impression redacted.jpg

Impression redacted.jpg

With old wooden furniture, pieces may be out of square, and it helps to flip pieces different ways until you get the most solid lock-up.
I’m not sure chase screws below center of form would cause lift. That seems contrary to the established practice of using sinkers in a lock-up to counter spring in a form. Sinkers can be made in different ways but all add a thickness or two of paper down at the base of the type form or furniture, say 1/8” high, and the low additional pressure causes a downward pressure, toward the bed.

I was having trouble with furniture raising up and dipping down years ago. Part of this was due to my use of softwood/s to mill out needed pieces of furniture. These were prone to deformation under lock-up pressure. Accordingly, I started moving to hardwood for furniture. Also started using metal furniture alternating wood-metal-wood-metal, etc. Was told that the metal furniture was intended for use in cylinder letterpress and that it could vibrate loose in my windmill.
Been running jobs this way for some years now and hasn’t been any problem and it has cut down standing at my stone flipping pieces of wood furniture this way and that
almost to nothing.