Laser Engraver for Type

Hello all,
I am so new to letterpress I am greener than beans out of the can. So forgive my ? if it isn’t feasable.
Looking at some print blocks I have I had 2 great ideas, maybe.

In making type and illustrations for the press is it possible to make up a design in the computer and output it to a laser engraver to relief carve kinda like the old metal blocks, except these would be made from wood.

Second idea,
I am pretty decent with the scroll saw and was wondering if anyone has ever cut thin stock designs and glued them to blocks to print from? Would this work?
Thoughts please…..Thanks

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Pilgrim… that laser thing is a great idea. In fact, it works like a charm…… and several of us have been doing it for a few years now. If you do a search here, you’ll find several posts I did about the process.

I haven’t used a scroll saw to cut out thin wooden shapes, but I have used die cut wooden shapes from thrift stores (cheaper than craft stores) to good effect. The main issue is the wood grain showing up, since all of this wood is side grain. It needs a fair amount of shellac (varnish, polyurethane…) and light sanding to seal up the grain.

Pilgrim -

Yes to both questions.

My friends Joe & Andrea Lanich - recently brought over some large laser-engraved plates to print some 3-color posters on my Vandercook. He cut them of Delrin, mounted them on some simple plywood and they worked fine.

Of course, he did point out that one of the plates took about 6 hours to cut and that he felt he’d save a lot of time using his photo-polymer platemaker in the future instead - but they did work and we discussed using his laser engraver to cut wood type sorts to fill in some of my incomplete antique fonts. We haven’t done it yet, but are pretty confident that it will work.

I recall others having used scroll saws to cut designs which were then mounted on blocks to print. In fact, I think I saw a video of someone doing that to make his own wood type.

.850” blocked cherry is available from American Printing Equipment, as is End Grain Maple milled to .918” (type high) and made for wood engraving.

Yes, both techniques work. In fact there are many other ways to print using letterpress techniques.

Letterpress is relief printing, and as long as you cut deep enough to get some relief - and mount your finished piece at .918” (for most presses), you can experiment with a wide variety of materials.

Have fun. Experiment and print!

- Alan

THANKS to all who are commenting. I am going to try to find a used engraver and give it a try. In the meantime I can try cutting a simple shape, possibly on a surface other than wood, not sure what, but I am thinking even a really thin metal. I really appreciate all the help!!!!