Thursday, September 27, 2012


The arrival of my 12x18" Chandler & Price a couple weeks ago certainly deserved its own post, but I've been so busy since then arranging the shop and making room for new equipment, and trying to do profitable work, that the opportunity went by the boards. This picture nicely captures the excitement involved. I had to widen the front door to pass the press and paper cutter through, a time-consuming but not difficult project. Then we got to play with the hydraulic lift gate of a Ryder truck, which can be a rollercoaster, bumper car or Ferris wheel depending on your common sense. The press weighs just over a ton, so in strapping it down for the four-foot flight we erred on the side of paranoia. There is a moment about six inches off the ground where the lift gate retracts and tilts down, which knocked the press back on its heels for a breathless split second. Thanks to the allied brilliance of John Barrett and Joe Riedel, the whole thing went very smoothly. We eventually even managed to get the press off its oversized skids. It was worth the extra hour and a half of logistics. Joe is a pro.

While the press awaits the skilled touch of a master electrician, I've been occupied with various layouts for projects in their early stages. The round-ferrule brush is still an intimidating instrument, but I have made some rather satisfying improvements which make for happier lettering.

The other day I was contacted by a friend offering me a few pieces of surplus equipment. I continue to be amazed by the generosity of friends at this tender stage of MP&L's lifespan. I've been "in" business for almost a month. But after the addition of this recent trove of composing room essentials I feel much closer to actually "doing" business, printing-wise.

Unloading the 400-lb Miller saw was a little dicey. But it all worked out in the end. And I can't begin to describe how cool this thing is. It comes with a router attachment which would allow me to, say, make my own wood type. And much else besides!

In a fit of OCD this morning I scrubbed seven Morgan expandable roller trucks, which will ensure a smoother ride for my new rollers. This is the before shot.

The Miller in position. It has a grinding wheel mounted just to the right of the bed. That'll keep my chisels good and sharp. There's a funny picture in the literature that came with the saw of a group of bowtied printers at the window throwing out all the separate pieces of equipment necessary for the various things the Miller happily does all in one.

I'm hoping to lay a slab of marble on top of the galley cabinet for imposition, thick enough to accommodate an inscription running along the edge. That is the plan, at any rate.

So far it has been a tremendously satisfying experience running my own shop. Not without its attendant anxieties (and they are not insignificant). But bottomless responsibility is somehow a small price to pay for standing on your own two feet. I won't feel completely settled until I start running the press. But for now the dizzying swirl of things to keep track of and get done feels a lot like Real Life. I'll take it.

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