A good plate should be perfect on the surface, level on the back and front, square, and have bright, clean, and accurately-bevelled edges. On being taken from the pan, it is trimmed as close as will leave sufficient metal to form a good bevel. If several are backed together, they are separated by the circular saw before trimming. Any depressions or "sinks" must be marked with a pair of callipers, properly adjusted to the thickness of the plate; then lay the plate face downwards on a clean smooth iron surface, and with a polished and flat-headed hammer beat the places carefully. Practice will soon enable the ear to distinguish when the spot has been beaten up to the level of the slab, by the hard metallic sound. Next, with a small planer 3 in. square, plane the back all over, when the plate will be ready for the lathe, as described on p. 222. It is not necessary to put paper between the face of the. lathe and the plate, as the copper is sufficiently tough to resist injury with fair usage, and can be better secured without.
All superfluous metal is sawn off, allowing a margin 1 great primer in width from the edge of the type. The plate is then ready for the planing, machine, where it is finally reduced to standard thickness, as described on p. 222.
The bevelling may be done either by hand or on Manley's machine. If the latter be used, trimming is unnecessary. In bevelling by hand, the knife should be sharp, in order that the cut may be clean; steadiness of motion in working should be aimed at. The metal may be-easily taken off with an ordinary amount of care.
If the electro is to be mounted on wood, the bevel need only be sufficiently wide to afford a substantial hold for the pins. Mahogany is the best wood for mounting on. A quantity should be purchased and stored in a dry place, so as to become thoroughly seasoned before use. The block must be a trifle thicker than is absolutely required, to admit of trimming down in the lathe, a gauge being kept for the purpose. French pins with very small heads are best for fastening the plate to the wood. After fastening the sides, one or two nails should be driven into the body of the plate, in the " whites." It is almost impossible to repair the surface when the plate has once been fastened on the wooden mount.
The picker works at a bench placed in a well-lit position, supporting a leaden slab, about 1/2 in. thick and 12 in. square, with a small rectangular hole near one corner for use when punching. A double gas bracket is fixed at the back of the bench, one arm being for lighting the workman, and the other to supply gas for his blowpipe apparatus.
The picker's first duty is to chip down the " whites " of the plate, so that they shall not take the ink in printing. Where much work is done, this process is performed by a routing machine with vertical steel cutters.
The next object of attention will be injuries to the working surface of the plate. A battered letter may sometimes be repaired by forcing up the sides of the injured part, making a small hole underneath with a fine bodkin, and then forming a firm line. If a word or letter be much damaged, types must be inserted, thus: -
Lay the plate on its back, and with a small chisel cut away the letters as deeply as possible; bore a hole through the plate, that the exact spot may be indicated on the back; turn the plate on its face, and cut away the metal until a hole is made almost large enough for the type; file the perforation to the proper size, ensuring that the hole is exactly even with the line of the plate; push the letter in from the back and carefully examine that it be in its proper position. The hole should not be made larger than is absolutely required, or difficulty may be experienced in fixing the type for soldering; in that cast, the type may be temporarily secured by forcing a portion of the metal of the plate on one side or the other by the bodkin. When the letter is properly in position, tap it on its end, and the plate on either side, to ensure its being exactly of the same height as the surface; then saw the protruding body of the letter away flush to the back of the plate; again examine it on the surface, to make sure that it has not been shifted in the cutting; then scrape the metal around the insertion, apply a little dilute muriatic acid, and melt the solder on the place by the blowpipe, removing superfluous solder with a rasp.
Many hints on soldering will be found in 'Workshop Receipts,' Third Series.
Before repairing batters at the edges of a plate, it is a good plan to solder a piece of metal along the side to support the type, taking it away after the letters are properly secured.
Mounted electros should be cleanly planed along the sides and edges by the block and plane. For adjusting them to their proper height, a long plane is necessary, the box of which should be about 3 ft. long, the knife being nearly in the centre. A shooting-block must be made, with raised pieces of wood at either side, and exactly type high, which is tested by passing it under a gauge consisting of an iron slab, having a kind of bridge in the centre, the exact height of type. If the block is higher, place it face downwards on the shooting-block, securing it on either side by wooden wedges; then take a shaving off the back by the long plane, the ends being allowed to rest on the side supports, which prevent too much being taken off. Electros should be mounted rather low than otherwise.