As soon as the mould and forme are ready for moulding, pull the table of the press forward, so as to allow of the pages being properly placed in the centre, and wipe it perfectly clean. Before putting the moulding frame on again, carefully examine the surface of the type to ascertain if it be quite clean. Taking the moulding frame, one end in each hand, lay it face downwards on the forme, so that the impression will be taken in the centre of the wax. Pressure is applied till the required depth is obtained, as determined by experience. If the mould is not deep enough, the work of the finisher is greatly augmented, owing to the extra amount of " building-up " required; if too deep, the face of the mould is apt to be torn when lifted.
After the pressing, the wax will be found to be forced out unevenly all round the edge of the moulding frame. Raising the mould from the forme is the most difficult operation, performed by the aid of 2 pieces of flat iron about 1 in. wide and 1/4 in. thick, fitted into handles, with the ends turned up, the bend resting on the chase or furniture, forming a lever. The irons must be placed under the head and foot, and on no account should the sides be attempted first, or the wax will be torn from between the letters; when the mould is loosened, the sides may be slightly and very gently raised, or the wax will tear. When every part of the mould is disengaged, the frame is taken by the head and foot, and perpendicularly lifted from the face of the forme. If perfect, it is ready to be prepared for the depositing trough.
Clay dispenses with the assistance of a press, and obviates the necessity of floating low-spaced formes prior to taking the impression in wax, by using a thick iron "registering-frame," slightly higher than the chase, fitted in ide with 2 long set-screws at right angles, with somewhat large heads, and an ordinary Albion press with the tym-pan removed. The register-frame is placed on the bed, and blackleaded, the forme is placed inside. The face of the type is covered with a piece of calico; on this is laid a thin piece of rubber sheeting, then the pan containing the wax, care being taken to push the sides of the pan flush to the set-screws in the register-frame. On pulling a light impression and lifting the wax, it will be found that the " whites " have been almost sufficiently raised. The rubber and calico are next discarded, and the wax-pan is placed directly on the type, the edges of the pan being pushed close to the heads of the set-screws to ensure the wax falling exactly in the same place. If a moderate impression is pulled, the mould will be found sufficiently deep and sharp, equalling one produced by a press.
Greater difficulty is experienced in moulding open or rule work than with other kinds of formes; the pressure must not be too severe, or it is probable that the mould will be torn in separating. Brass rules for work to be electrotyped are specially made with a wide shoulder, which prevents the rule itself cutting too deeply into the wax.
For moulding casts taken from electroplates, an iron slab about } in. thick should be provided as a bed on which the plate is supported on the table of the press. Mounted electros should first be removed from the wood, as the block may be "spongy" or uneven, by forcing a thin chisel between the plate and the wood.
In separating the plate from the wax, the plate is lifted from the wax by laying the moulding frame on its back, and inserting a thin chisel between the wax and the electro, gently raising at the head and foot till thoroughly loosened, when the sides may be treated in the same manner. Moulding from an electroplate of a cut is rather more difficult than from a wood-block, as the fine work is invariably shallow. If great care be not taken in the examination of the mould, when the plate is finished it will be found necessary either to repeat the process or partially re-engrave the work.
The moulded wax impression is handed to the "builder," whose duty is to remove the superfluous wax from the sides, neatly trim them, and " build-up " the low parts or "whites" in the page. The amount of work required in finishing the plate greatly depends upon the manner in which this operation is performed. The wax that has been forced out round the edges is cut away with a knife, as low as the edge of the moulding frame will permit. Then molten wax is run into the hollows, such as the quad lines in paragraphs, the spaces on either side of the title and at the head of the page, to ensure these portions being sufficiently low in the shell to prevent them blacking in the printing, as of course the higher these spaces are raised on the mould, the deeper they become in the electro.
A handy tool for stopping out small spots is made by twisting copper wire round a short stick, the ends being allowed to hang over the end. The wire on the body of the stick is warmed, and when sufficiently hot, a piece of wax is pressed against it; on inclining the point to the desired spot, the wax will run in.
The wax melting pot should be near the "builder's" hand. As the wax solidifies immediately it is taken from the pot, especially in cold weather, the knife must be kept hot by holding it in the gas-flame before taking up the wax. With the warm knife, lift a small portion of the liquid from the pot, and slightly decline the point in the hollows, moving the knife with a rapid but smooth motion above the parts to be built up. Great nicety and steadiness are required in doing this: if the wax is too hot, it will flow too freely, and probably ran on to the impression; if it becomes chilled, it will be sluggish and run unevenly.
Fragments of wax that may be found on the top of the spaces must be removed, but unless done in a clean and sharp manner, will cause an ultimate defect; they may, however, sometimes be softened down by passing a gas-flame rapidly over the entire surface of the mould.