This section is from the book "The Boy Mechanic Vol. 2 1000 Things for Boys to Do", by Popular Mechanics Co.. Also available from Amazon: The Boy Mechanic, Vol2: 1000 Things for Boys to Do.
The person who has a little ability in making wood cuts with a knife will find it very interesting to make the press shown in the sketch. A fair job of printing can be done with the press, using printer's ink spread on a piece of glass with a hand ink roller, such as can be purchased cheaply of any dealer in printing supplies.
The press may have a base, A, of any size to suit, but one 11/2 in. thick, 6 in. wide, and 12 in. long will be found to serve best for most purposes. It must be smooth and level. Hard wood, such as maple, beech, or birch, is best for all parts. The post B is l1/4 in. thick, 2 in. wide, and 5 in. long. Before setting it, slot the upper end for the end of the lever. This is done by making a saw cut, 1 3/4in. deep, % in. from either side and cutting out the core to make a slot 3/4 in. wide. A 1/4 -in. hole is then bored through the prongs to receive a stove bolt that connects them with the lever. The post is fastened with screws and glue in a notch cut in the center of the base end.
The lever C is made of a piece of wood 1/4 in. square and 10 in. long. At the forward end the sides are pared away to form a tongue, or tenon, that will pass between the prongs of the upright, and a hole is bored through it to match those in the prongs. The entire upper surface of the lever is rounded and the under surface is rounded, beginning 6 in. from the tenon end. Glue to the under side of the lever a block, D, at the end of the under, flat surface. The block should be about 1 1/4 in. square by 1 1/2 in. long. If the under side of the base is crowning, either level it with a plane or nail cleats across the ends for feet. A washer is used with the stove bolt in connecting the lever and post.
The cuts are made of small blocks of wood, about 3/4 in. thick and of a size to take the characters desired. These blocks must be level and the printing side made smooth with very fine sandpaper, or a scraper, before the characters are laid out. Boxwood is best for cuts, but pearwood, ap-plewood, birch, or maple will do very well. Mark out the characters backward, using the pencil very lightly. Then, with the small blade of a knife, made as sharp as possible, cut around the outlines, holding the knife slanting, and remove the adjacent wood by cutting in at a reverse angle to meet the boundary cut. Gradually deepen the cuts around the characters until they stand in relief about 1/8 in., then score V-shaped grooves, checkerboard fashion, across the remaining high surface that is not a part of the design, and chip out the resulting small blocks to bring the entire secondary surface of the block to a uniform level with the portions adjoining the characters.
Ill: A Hand Press for Printing from Cuts Made of Wood, Using Ordinary Printer's Ink
A touch of glue to the back of the cut will set it securely enough to the bottom of the block D for printing, and allow its removal without injury when desired. To get a uniform impression in printing, place paper on the base, as at E, to the thickness required. For controlling the printing position on the stock paper, pins or tacks can be stuck into the base and each sheet to be printed laid against these guides. - Contributed by Chelsea Curtis Frazier, Saginaw, Mich.