Alternative to a Type Saw

Hello Briar Press,

Hope that you are well. I’m looking for an alternative to a Type/ Printers Saw. Any suggestions? I have a small press workshop so I was thinking the Proxxon Fet Table Saw 27070? Or would any table saw/ hand circular saw/ band saw work? Many thanks

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There seem to be a lot of good type saws out there to be found- why seek an alternative?


Arm is right. Have you ever seen a type saw?

The answer to me is simple. It is set up to measure in points and picas, not inches or millimeters. And used one are not expensive.


D.G.M. & Foothill ! on behalf of our friend above, Thank You, both, but there is a *Fly In the Ointment* i.e. >Olu< is located in the U.K. plus we were never too well blessed with Printers precision saws, we have not seen one come up on *open* sale in decades. - Occasionally, very occasionally, one comes up via our B.P.S. (British Printing Society) but of course, is snapped up at the first possible Wayzgoose.

Olu, it would take a little time and effort to talk to the B.P.S.
but would be a good first step, to enroll as a member, but Be Warned.!!! Leave Your Credit Card or Wallet at home when/if You attend your first Wayzegoose = Printers gathering.
Regarding Your quest, i.e. a commercial, Over the Counter, or On line, purchase of a saw to do the job You require, NOT a good proposition, because the dedicated/ purpose made PRINTERS saw,s U.K. or U.S.A, generally, have Sliding side Tables, (very accurate) calibrated Click Stop side Gauges, Picas & Points as Foothill, has implied,
Rise and Fall facilities for the blade, for undercutting furniture, and occasionally the need to precisely, Very Precisely, undercut/step in, with Poster Type or Wood Type where a Cap W has to sit next to a Cap A, as in WAYZGOOSE,
seen many many times over several decades where such characters have not been stepped in, and appear as LETTERSPACED also explains why whole fonts of postertype/woodtype appear with several CAP characters undercut stepped in. Puzzles the New devotees, now and then.
BUT from a technical and SAFETY point of view, Printers saws must have at the very least, adequate Glass eye Shield, and/or safety goggles.
Most importantly CLAMPING mechanism when cutting/trimming whole blocks of product, as in Wooden Reglet mixed with Lead strip. extremely springy at the best of times. - Source and acquire, very carefully, safety is paramount. Good Luck. Mick

A lot depends on what you intend cutting with the saw. If trimming linotype slugs, cutting leads and slugs to length, etc, a substitute could be built by getting a long composing stick, removing the head end and cutting it square flush with the 0-pica point, and mounting it solidly on a block of high-quality cabinet-grade plywood at least 1/2 inch thick. Carefully measure from the left side of the saw blade to the slot in the table for the cut-off guide, and mount a hardwood bar the size to fit snugly but still slide in the cutoff-guide slot to the underside of the plywood such that the end of the composing stick just clears the blade. Then, and very importantly, mount a large (ca. 12x15 inch) piece of clear polycarbonate on the front edge of the saw table as a guard against chips, angled toward the blade about 60 degrees from horizontal. Mount a printer’s saw blade in the saw, as it has a different configuration of teeth than a standard wood-cutting blade. I would do all this on a small table saw and dedicate it solely to cutting type metal.

This setup should permit cutting leads and slugs accurately to the nearest 1/2 pica assuming the chosen composing stick has the adjustment for half-pica measures.


Firstly thank you The Arm NYC and Foot Hill Press, Mick of Monotype is right, I have not been able to find a type saw over in the UK. And I have been looking for a while. Although I have contacts in the USA finding and the. exporting and converting a Type Saw would be expensive. I will get in contact with B.P.S and see what happens… I’ll endeavour to leave my cards at home! Thank you for the advice and direction. Olu

Bob, hummm. Something to definately think about. Thank you.

If it were only strip material being cut, it could be done accurately with hand tools, but it’s a slow process. Start with a bench slug cutter for the first oversize cut, then finish the ends on a hand miterer set to 90 degrees. In the US, look for the better models by Rouse with adjustable gauges; not sure if Cornerstone or CEFMOR or Bacher had the equivalent miterer.
You could also use this method to make a set of standards to which you could set the measure on a non-typographic saw.