Within every letterpress print shop...
...are a variety of tools, equipment and supplies basic to the letterpress printing operation. Numerous books, sites and resources for information on "how to" are available. Print supply house catalogs of yesteryear have great illustrations and descriptions of the many items used by the letterpress printer. But for the newcomer, learning what all the "things" needed can be as challenging as actually finding them.
The following is a simplified list of the "things" needed to equip a letterpress printing operation. It's set up in a shopping-list format beginning with the press on through a natural grouping of items. Where appropriate a brief description is given.
A platen press needs the following items to be functional
Rollers (or at least the cores)
Trucks (round "wheels" that slip on the end of the roller)
Gripper Bar (rod to hold the grippers, located at the bottom of the platen)
Grippers (the fingers that keep the paper from sticking to the type)
Gripper Spring (attached to the gripper bar, opens/closes the grippers)
Chase (metal frame the type and furniture are locked up in)
Items needed for locking up the chase prior to insertion into the press.
Stone (a smooth level surface for preparing the chase on)
Furniture (wood/metal blocks of various widths and lengths to fill in the chase for lock up)
Leads or Slugs (lead strips of various widths and lengths to fill in chase for lock up)
Quoins (locks for tightening/locking up the chase)
Key (T-shaped tool used to tighten quoins)
Planer (small wood block for leveling type prior to locking up)
Items needed to prepare for printing
Line Gauge (ruler, generally 12 inches with picas on opposite edge)
Tympan (manila colored sheet. Smooth thin top sheet locked up on the platen)
Pressboard (red colored sheet. Firm thick sheet placed beneath the tympan)
Packing (paper of various thickness, from tissue on up, to adjust the impression)
Tympan Knife (utility knife to cut slits in the tympan)
Gauges (a set of three guides fastened on the tympan to hold the paper for printing)
Items needed for actual printing and clean up.
Ink (rubber or oil based)
Note: Letterpress Things no longer carries Van Son Ink due to the discontinuation of their 1 lb. containers of Ink.
Wash-up Container (small airtight container for wash-up fluid)
Brush (horse hair or soft bristle brush for cleaning type and plates during wash-up)
Rags (cotton wipes for wash-up and cleaning)
Items used for setting/distributing type.
Composing Stick (hand-held tool that type is set into)
Tweezers (for picking up type and little "things")