Iron Hand Press Restoration Day One

Posted on September 07, 2016 by Taylor Cox


Today marks the beginning steps of restoration on our 20th Century Reliance Iron Hand Press. Those of you who have visited the shop may have seen the disassembled press in the corner. It’s been our wish to get the press back into working order for quite a while and now we’re finally beginning the process! 

Day one began with a consultation with the wonderful Carl Montford who has restored a number of iron hand presses in the past and will be our guide to making sure we get the press back together in one piece. 

The good news from Carl? We have successfully moved the press twice without losing any of the original parts, and the frame is still in good, sturdy condition. 

The bad news from Carl? There’s a lot of rust on the frame of the press that will need to be removed and to do so, we'll need lots of elbow grease. 

A quick run down of the process ahead:
Step one will be to move the press away from the wall to its final resting place so it is easier to clean. Then comes the de-rusting process. A long and very dirty task, this will probably take up most of our time. Next the press gets a fresh coat of paint and and some sparkly gold leaf on the lettering up top. Restoration of the wooden fixtures of the press comes next. Then finally it’s on to assembly day. 


Thanks to the generosity of the Spadeworks Tacoma Creative Enterprise Tier Three Grant, we are able to dedicate our time and energy into the restoration of this piece of history. 

Press Specs:
Press Type: 20th Century Reliance Iron Hand Press
Model: 1A
Serial No.: 1275
Patented: 1895 by W.M. A. Field Co., Chicago, Illinois 
Weight: 1,300 lbs.
Footprint: H: 5.5” x L: 4” x W: 2.5”

(The Wonderful Carl Montford, our restoration guide.) 


(Carl pointing out to us the excessive rusting on the top of the frame while holding the prized bag of smaller excess parts)

(One day all this rust will be replaced with new paint and a shiny gold leaf on the lettering.)

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