It is desirable to prepare the flong in the first instance with excess of moisture, and to allow this to evaporate spontaneously, as during this process of evaporation the paper swells and takes a plasticity and sponginess which is difficult to obtain in any other way. Moreover, the manipulation of making the flong is easier and more satisfactory when a soft paste, containing a full proportion of water, is used. If, however, one has occasion to prepare a piece of flong for immediate use, the best way is to employ as little paste as practicable. Quite apart from the question of the amount of moisture present, it is undesirable to make use of freshly -prepared flong, as it is never so homogeneous as that which has been kept for some days. It may be stored in a varnished tin tray of the right size, a stout plate of zinc being laid on the top. Generally speaking, it is best to lay the sheets of flong face to face, as the backs are likely to have been soiled with paste, and paste should be kept from the face. Flong prepared with the above-mentioned paste will keep any length of time without decomposition or mildewing, but it may become partially or completely dry. This may be remedied by one or more dippings in water, with a full allowance of time for its absorption.

When flong has completely dried, it is rather a trouble to get it once more into good working condition, the best way being to dip it in cold water, pile it in the storing tray, and keep this latter in a warm place, repeating the operations, if necessary. Dry flong is an article of commerce, but it is more trouble to get it into good working condition than it is to start with the plain sheets of paper. It is often recommended to use two thicknesses of tissue paper on the face of the flong, and to interpose tissue between the several sheets of blotting paper, but these courses are open to objection, and, as far as my experiments go, have no balancing advantage. Two thicknesses of tissue on the face, with paste between, offer no greater security against paste reaching the type than does one thickness of tissue, and, moreover, for ease and rapidity of application, it is desirable to make the paste as fluid as practicable, and also to so work as not to involve the extra care and labour consumed in applying very thin layers of paste, and it is obvious that the larger the proportion of thin paper entering into the composition of the flong, so much thinner must be the layers of paste in order to obtain flong containing the same proportions of paste and paper.

It takes much longer to spread a very thin layer than a moderately thick layer of paste.

Ease and quickness in working are generally on the side of moulding small forms rather than large, so that, when work is sent in assemblages of many pages, it is often desirable to re-impose, so as to bring down the dimensions to demy folio, or thereabout; but when large pages of close matter, such as newspaper pages, are concerned, the stereotyper has no option but to mould the formes as received. When several pages are imposed together for moulding, it is sufficient to allow a pica (J in.) between them, unless the edges are to be bevelled, in which case quite twice as much space will be required to allow for the saw cut and two bevels. The type-high clumps, as before stated, surround the whole.

Sometimes the stereotyper will have to clean the forme himself, from the carelessness of the printer who sends it to him, and in this case it should be scrubbed over with a solution of the cheapest quality of caustic soda in water (1 part soda to about 8 water), well rinsed and dried.

The forme, clean, dry, oiled and warm, is laid on a planed slab of iron, or "beating surface," heated from underneath, the heating being by gas or steam. The beating surface may be, and often is, an extension of the bed of the drying press (Fig. 297). The hand is now lightly passed over the face to detect any letter which may stand high, and the " planer " is brought into use if necessary. All is now ready for the moulding. Take a piece of the flong, dust iti surface over with powdered French chalk, taking care to wipe off all excess, then lay it face downwards on the forme, and now cornea the operation of beating.

The brush used for beating may vary in shape or weight, according to the habit of the workman, but the bristles must be good and closely packed, and the operation of beating is so similar to that of driving in a nail, that any person who is able to strike his nail every time in such a nay that it shall be sent forwards and without any tendency sideways, will probably make a satisfactory mould the first time; while one in whose hand the hammer sways round uncertain'y and uncontrolledly, hitting the nail at all sorts of angles, and per-hapi even bending it, will not be very successful in making a paper mould from the type. In such a case it is perhaps better to educate the mind to the conditions necessary for successful hammering, by watchfully and painstakingly learning to drive drapers pins up to the head in deal, than to waste Hong and spoil type.

The face of the brush must fall flat on the back of the flong, very little side-driving being sufficient to shift the flong, and spoil the sharpness of the mould; and a good plan is to first beat a line right across the page, and then to extend this first towards one end of the page and then towards the other. A damp cloth is sometimes laid over the flong in beating, but if the brown paper is tough and nervy the cloth it not needed, and much time is saved by not using it - far more than is equivalent to the difference in price between good and bad paper. Moreover, when the cloth is used, it becomes difficult to give such local treatment as is necessary on parts where words or rules stand almost by themselves, or where there may be a mass of small type closely set, to say nothing of the special treatment required where engravings are included in the forme. As a rough guide to the extent to which the beating is to be continued, it may be stated that with flong of the right degree of softness, the divisions between the words set in long primer or brevier should show distinctly on the back of the flong.