I am new to letterpress and I have just purchased an Adana 8 x 5. I am living in Ireland and there is little to no resources for letterpress here. I have just received assorted furniture and reglets which have come in lengths of 12 inches. I want to get them cut and organised so that I can start experimenting but don’t know what lengths to cut them? I can’t find any information regarding standard lengths for furniture. Any advice would be much appreciated.

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Furniture is measured in picas. Standard sizes in my shop are 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50 and 60 picas long and 2,3,4,5,6,8,and 10 picas wide within each length. A pica (about 1/6th of an inch), according to wikipedia is: The American pica measure of 0.013837in. (1/72.27in.), thus, a pica is 0.166044in. (4.2175mm) from:

Furniture length for a small press like an Adana 5 x 8 is not a critical thing. I cut all of the furniture for my Kelsey into inch-measure lengths, (1, 1.5, 2, 3, 5 and 7.75 inches long) and then keep them stashed in a cigar box. For the work I do on that press, it works well. To be honest, random lengths would also work ok as long as you aren’t going to do a lot of ruled forms.

For my larger presses I have a more organized approach with an old Furniture Rack, but there I also used inch-measures instead of picas.

For leading and strip material however, more careful organization is helpful. The lengths you use will depend upon what you are printing. Since I do a lot of smaller work, I use 12, 18, 25, and 30 picas long leading. 25 picas is my standard “text column” width.

For special reglets and furniture, I’ve found dimensional wood from the hobby-shop to be very helpful…. and keep a stash of 5/8 x 1/8 x random length material on hand so I can cut it to length as needed.

Thank you for your reply’s, they’ve been very helpful. I just have to get cutting now.

I have been looking for a lead cutter but have failed to find one, is there anything else I can use to cut these strips? Also i’ve read that it’s best to cut these a few points shorter than the line length, is this best practice or should they be exact?

Thanks again for all your help.

For 1 and 2 pt leading, a good pair of scissors works fine. Just measure and cut one the right length, and then use it as a gauge to measure the rest. Just be careful to cut them nice and square.

I cut mine just a tiny bit short…. perhaps 1/32 of an inch or so… to prevent it bowing in my composing stick.

Thanks for all your help, just one final question might sound really stupid but what lengths should I cut the lead, what are the standard line lengths. As i said I’m a beginner. Thank for all your help.

It sounds like you need a typescale - there used to be several companies that made them in the UK - Geliot Whitman, Technical Scales London Ltd, Caslon - these are specialized rulers marked in increments of points and picas, standard measurements in the printing world.

My shop has a small lead rack with spaces for 2 point leads and 6 point slugs in 4 through 25 pica lengths (in 1 pica increments). The rack is the same width as a type cabinet and sets just above the sloped top surface where the leads and slugs are easy to reach when setting type. Each compartment holds a large number of individual leads/slugs.

Thanks for all your help, I sourced a rule marking points and picas and have cut down my lengths of lead from 18 through 42 pica lengths which I think will be the most useful for the work I hope to do. I have also cut down all of my furniture, next step is to find storage, I’d love to have a lead rack similar to yours Arie. Looks like I’ll be thrawling through ebay this morning, if I can’t find anything I have a project for my boyfriend over the weekend. Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate it. I can’t wait to start printing.

Ebay is not your only source. But probably a more expensive one. You don’t say where you are located, but start hanging out with other printers. They know where this stuff is. A few months ago, I could have supplied both lead and furniture rack, with leads, slugs and furniture for less than recent eBay prices. Alas other new printers have them. But there are many other printers. So find out the local groups and start networking. Also if you’re fortunate enough to live near Churchman’s Boutique de Junque (Indianapolis) or Letterpress Things (Chicopee, MA) they are more than worth a visit. Even a special trip.

The letterpress museums in North Andover, MA nd Carson City, CA also hold sales of letterpress equipment. Finally the
Great Northern and Midwest Printer’s Fair n Mt. Pleasant IA (mid-September ‘08) is worth a visit.