Moving large lot of type cases and cabinets: best practices?

Briar-ites, I have a happy problem that I hope you might help me consider. We’re receiving several hundred cases of type from a shuttered studio, and I’m interested in best practices for moving these 2 hours by truck (riggers, who are also helping us move some presses).

The set-up: 200 cases, plus 8 cabinets. However, it’s a mixed lot drawn from a larger collection. I’ll need to pull them case by case to get our selections.

Since it’s a lot of hand-work, I’m wondering if there’s a best (or better) way. I’ve received type shipped on galleys, and shipped in cases (packed with cotton-balls and boards over the cases, and then wrapped in plastic). But this is too much to do either of those with.

It seems the easiest way might be to put an empty cabinet in the truck, and put our first 25 cases into that, and continue until we’ve got our 200 cases, then secure the cabinets so no cases slide out and so the cabinets don’t shift in the truck.

To those who have moved//shipped large collections, what suggestions do you have?

Thanks, as always, for this forum.

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I have done this type of move in 1970. I was working at a trade typesetting house.

We had about 25 cabinets full of cast type. The safe way is to remove each drawer with the type in place. wrap each drawer so the type will not fail out and stack the wrapped cases on a pallet and have the movers move the stacks of five cases on the pallet with a pallet jack to load into the truck.

DO NOT TRY TO MOVE A CABINET FULL OF TYPE. We tried that on two cabinets and as soon as the truck moved the cases moved and fail over and the type went all over the bed of the truck.

Cut corrugated cardboard sheets the size of each case, place on top and tightly stretch wrap the entire case.

First, you fabricate pallets large enough to hold 2 cases (back-to-back) - pallet size is the key to stability. Then staple heavy brown kraft paper over the top of each case to help protect the type - you can do this as you are stacking. Start stacking cases, alternating back-to-front, so they stay pretty much level. Once you get to a reasonable height (3 to 4 feet), put a couple of layers of cardboard across the entire top, then stretch-wrap the cases to the pallet. This should move easily with a pallet jack, and in a moving van. I’ve moved type cross-country twice like this.

FWIW I moved 40 full- and 20 half-cases in a smallish boxtruck this winter by putting an empty cabinet into the truck, then putting all the cases into it and tightening a heavy moving-strap around the cabinet to secure the cases in place (I’d placed the empty cabinet on top of this strap, so it went around the back and vertically over the front, securing all the cases in place).

This was repeated for the other two cabinets, making sure to put the heaviest cases at the bottom. These weren’t California cases, so the cabinet footprint was squarer and never going to tip.

I drove this load for 8 hours on wintery mountain roads to get it home, and the cases and type hadn’t shifted at all.

On arrival I unloaded the cases to one side, moved the empty cabinets into position and refilled them with cases. I managed to load and unload everything myself without any equipment.

Thank you all, on list and off, for the guidance! I’ll look forward to hearing more of these experiences, and to taking all of this into account as we prepare the move. Thank you!

I moved a cabinet of 44 cases last summer from Missouri to Virginia. I removed the cases, layering them with cheap moving blankets I got off Amazon (felt style, not quilted style). This “sealed the contents in” and provided some cushion between the cases during the drive home over rough roads and occasional pot holes. I laid the empty cabinet and slant top on top of everything to provide extra stability and weight so the cases didn’t bounce around and shake out the type. I strapped and ratcheted down the cabinet, too. This was all done in a mini-cargo van. When I move next year, I plan to do the same thing to get the contents safe to the next location and not have the movers deal with it.

Could it be done this way and palleted? Perhaps, but I feel more comfortable moving the type myself, but the empty cabinets could be sent via freight or a mover, I suppose.

I like the idea of the cut cardboard and stretch wrap, but that is a lot of handling of each case, but it would be helpful to increase the chance the contents arrives in tact!

I second Bill Whitley’s post/method, but I add that if you buy a ratchet strap that can tie OVER the cases to secure them down, you can be sure that you’ll be able to turn your stack of cases into an effective brick that won’t jump around like a stack of pancakes during transit if the truck hits some potholes.
Even stretch wrap may stretch, but a ratchet strap properly secured will band them tighter.

Two bricks banded, side by side, can be stretch wrapped together to prevent sliding, and if you’re really hardcore you can screw some stoppers cut out of little 2x4’s at the corners to keep these from possibly sliding on the palette during vibration of the road.

I’ve moved type cases several times like this and helped others to secure them as well this way.

Good luck and congrats.

Close, but no cigar my friends! I have well over 30 cabinets in my shop and do know a little about moving. The bulk of them were moved from California to Iowa in 1983 via semi-trailer and railcar. Everything arrived in perfect shape thanks to the advice I received from Bill Allan (a veteran at moving his shop back and forth across the country).

Bill’s advice was to cut up corrugated boxes into sheets that DO NOT cover the entire top of the cases, but instead are cut to fit snugly between the main-section breaks in the cases - usually three (sometimes two) sections of divided ‘boxes’ which are LOWER in height than the side edges of the case and the main section dividers. You will have a little gap over those little compartments if you try to cover the entire case with a flat sheet of corrugated board. It is also easier to find smaller pieces of corrugated boards to use in these areas. This absolutely prevents small type and thin pieces from MIGRATING from box to box because of all the jostling and bouncing these cases will take in transit (think potholes!)

You simply place your cases back into your cabinet with the corrugated boards in position and the next case on top should hold them nicely in place. You may want to tape down the sections in the top case. I’ve been transporting cases in cabinets for 40 years and have NEVER had a problem using this simple method.

I should mention that this won’t for the really old high-front-lipped cases in open racks as there is too much air between the cases.


You mileage may vary - I used commercial movers who were instructed how to do this in great detail. Here are some photos to help explain the packing - note the wooden spacers to keep cases separated, yet solid against each other. The final photo shows the stretch-wrapped “brick”. There are other ways to do this, this is what worked for me.

image: IMG0190.jpg


image: IMG0151.jpg


image: IMG0148.jpg


Thank you! Great to have pictures, and I’ll try to take and share some of my own during the upcoming move in about a month. Any further ideas in the meantime quite welcome! Thanks for this forum!

Update on move:
We’re successfully in our new space: 200 cases heavier, and only slightly worse for wear.

How we did it:
We shrink-wrapped two cases back-to-front, and loaded these pairs into the rigger’s shipping cages (just the right size to get two stacks of cases facing each other, about 30 high).

Empty space in the cages was filled with shipping blankets and various hand-tools and other soft items.

Crates were then moved by fork-lift for removal, and unloaded by hand through a window into our basement location.

We did have three punctures in the bottom of three separate cases; this was unfortunate, but as much a symptom of the age and dampness of the cases as it was of the move. No type was lost; minimal spillage was collected in the case below or caught by the shrink-wrap.

Given the removal and delivery sites, I think this worked best for us. Thanks, all for the suggestions along the way; I think we took a little from each!

Images from the removal and delivery.

image: Delivery through window.JPG

Delivery through window.JPG

image: Removing crate.jpg

Removing crate.jpg

image: Crate on truck.jpg

Crate on truck.jpg

Well, looks like you nailed it! Happy unpacking!

In about 1958/60 Messrs Eden Fisher & co were moving everything from Mitre Yard, London EC4, to Rosebery Avenue, London EC1, and every case was carried down two flights of stairs for packing properly at ground level. I forget now why this was. Inevitably one of the young apps, dropped a case on a landing and heaven help us it was 8 point!. At first told to pick it all up and sort it by himself, - just as a wind up of course, the others reinforcing the wind up by pretending to help the lad a bit, needless to say after about half an hour, the Daddy-O intervened, and a new fount got cast double quick. Remind me to tell you one day about the gypsies, the Wharfedales at George Reveirs factory, into which E.F. & Co were moving, and the light fittings.

I have managed to get individually saran-wrapped cases into cabinets, then secured them with tons of strapping to move some stuff from Michigan to Nashville. That said, i had help. If I want to be reallllllly careful and have more time, i individually bag each compartment of a type case in a tiny plastic bag from uline. and then put that back in the compartment before putting it back in the cabinet.