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New Press Bed for Prototype Press

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Wed 3rd Jun 2020
Blog Categories: Printmaking Press & Other Tools | Wood Engraving Printmaking | All / Filter

For some time I've wanted a new bed for my prototype press that has two features. Firstly a much larger steel base and secondly metal edges so I can properly use my quoins to lock in the items I'm printing.

Here are some notes as to how I made it.

Note: photos show press without clamps securing it to bench - these are normally used to hold press safely
New press bed
New press bed (I won't use a chase in future, instead I'll just lock the type and blocks directly into bed with quoins)

How it works

My press bed slides in and out from under the main press, and rests on runners when it is 'out', allowing me to setup the items on the press and lock them in with quoins, and ink up/put on paper, then slide in to print. You could view it like a drawer in a set of drawers - it slides in neatly which also centres it accurately, and I've marked the centre position on the press bed, so type & blocks should always be under centre of press head when printing.

It may look 'Heath Robinson' but it works
It may look all rather Heath Robinson and home made, but the thing is that I only needed to buy the steel plates and it works and that is what I need.

Press bed out of press
Press bed out of press, on runners, setting up, ready to slide in to print

How it works

My press bed slides in and out from under the main press, and rests on runners when it is 'out', allowing me to setup the items on the press and lock them in with quoins, and ink up/put on paper, then slide in to print. You could view it like a drawer in a set of drawers - it slides in neatly which also centres it accurately, and I've marked the centre position on the press bed, so type & blocks should always be under centre of press head when printing.

It may look 'Heath Robinson' but it works
It may look all rather Heath Robinson and home made, but the thing is that I only needed to buy the steel plates and it works and that is what I need.

Press bed out of press
Press bed out of press, on runners, setting up, ready to slide in to print

Materials

The base of the new bed is 18mm ply, topped with 10mm steel bed and 10mm pine surrounding it, with aluminium angle pieces to lock items on the press bed. The bed overhangs the front of the press, and is fitted with a wide front which acts as a 'handle' to pull the bed in and out. Within the press itself, the part that pushes down has another 10mm steel plate, so when printing I've got a sandwich of 10mm thick steel plates to press the blankets / paper / ink / type & blocks together.

Components of press bed
Detail of one edge, showing components making up bed

Starting to make press bed
Starting to build the bed, with steel plate and wooden strips in place, ready for aluminium right angle pieces

The 10mm thick piece of flat steel, measures 250mm square, and forms the 'heart' of the bed. I'm using thick steel so it holds the type and blocks being printed without sinking into the press base, so all the pressure from the press is used to print, not dig in. It doesn't cover the whole press bed because the pieces I will print will never be that large, and steel is really heavy & expensive, so this size seemed suitable. But I wanted to leave extra space on the bed so I can put in hinged make readies etc., which would sit outside the printing area, and I thought I'd make the whole press bed space available, even if I don't need it all now.

10mm pine strips fill in the gaps around the steel plate to ensure the whole of the press bed is flat (and are screwed down securely with countersunk screws), and at the edges of the bed are aluminium right angle strips firmly screwed to the wooden base so I can use quoins to lock type and engravings into the press bed.

Top view of bed
Top view showing a chase of type and blocks locked into press bed. I won't be using a chase as much now, just locking everything to the bed

Quoin on press bed
Quoin locking parts on to press bed, secured up against the aluminium right angle strips.

Is Aluminium strong enough?
OK, so aluminium isn't the strongest material, but as it was lying around from another project I thought I'd try it, as I figured that at least some of the pressure from the quoins goes into the base of the strips (which are securely screwed to the base). I will also use multiple quoins spread out (not shown in photos), so the pressure isn't concentrated at one point. My early tests show that it works fine; time will tell how they perform.

Materials

The base of the new bed is 18mm ply, topped with 10mm steel bed and 10mm pine surrounding it, with aluminium angle pieces to lock items on the press bed. The bed overhangs the front of the press, and is fitted with a wide front which acts as a 'handle' to pull the bed in and out. Within the press itself, the part that pushes down has another 10mm steel plate, so when printing I've got a sandwich of 10mm thick steel plates to press the blankets / paper / ink / type & blocks together.

Components of press bed
Detail of one edge, showing components making up bed

Starting to make press bed
Starting to build the bed, with steel plate and wooden strips in place, ready for aluminium right angle pieces

The 10mm thick piece of flat steel, measures 250mm square, and forms the 'heart' of the bed. I'm using thick steel so it holds the type and blocks being printed without sinking into the press base, so all the pressure from the press is used to print, not dig in. It doesn't cover the whole press bed because the pieces I will print will never be that large, and steel is really heavy & expensive, so this size seemed suitable. But I wanted to leave extra space on the bed so I can put in hinged make readies etc., which would sit outside the printing area, and I thought I'd make the whole press bed space available, even if I don't need it all now.

10mm pine strips fill in the gaps around the steel plate to ensure the whole of the press bed is flat (and are screwed down securely with countersunk screws), and at the edges of the bed are aluminium right angle strips firmly screwed to the wooden base so I can use quoins to lock type and engravings into the press bed.

Top view of bed
Top view showing a chase of type and blocks locked into press bed. I won't be using a chase as much now, just locking everything to the bed

Quoin on press bed
Quoin locking parts on to press bed, secured up against the aluminium right angle strips.

Is Aluminium strong enough?
OK, so aluminium isn't the strongest material, but as it was lying around from another project I thought I'd try it, as I figured that at least some of the pressure from the quoins goes into the base of the strips (which are securely screwed to the base). I will also use multiple quoins spread out (not shown in photos), so the pressure isn't concentrated at one point. My early tests show that it works fine; time will tell how they perform.

Bed in press

Here are some photos of the new bed in the press - note the photos don't show the press clamped down to my bench, which I would normally do for safety.

Bed out of press
Bed out of press ready to ink up etc.

Bed mostly in press
Bed mostly in press, showing front 'handle' so can pull bed in and out and runners for bed to sit on

Bed in press

Here are some photos of the new bed in the press - note the photos don't show the press clamped down to my bench, which I would normally do for safety.

Bed out of press
Bed out of press ready to ink up etc.

Bed mostly in press
Bed mostly in press, showing front 'handle' so can pull bed in and out and runners for bed to sit on

Tags: printmaking,print making,printmaker,print maker,press,press bed,quoins,prototype,chase,furniture


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Blog Categories: Printmaking Press & Other Tools | Wood Engraving Printmaking | All / Filter

All text, images and illustrations © Copyright David Rodgers 2020 unless stated otherwise. No copying in part or whole without written permission.

Disclaimer

All articles made are based on my own personal experience, and may not be suitable for everyone. They are not to be taken as formal advice; always seek personal professional advice before doing anything, especially if it is health related, or might affect your health.

Where links are provided to external sites, I am not responsible for the content of these sites.

All content is believed to be correct at time of writing, but policies and prices change over time, and this article is not updated to reflect this. Double check all facts before making any decisions.





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