Lead Type Lockup

We are looking at using lead type in limited format for note cards and such. We are wondering what we need to do to lock it up once it has been composed. We are looking at single or double lines of text and not planning on large galleys of text. Please point us in a direction to get started.

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Careful spacing in a composing stick, both for aesthetics and for secure lockup; a good enough supply of quads and spacing material for each font of type, to fit the lines solidly into the stick; a stock of leads and slugs in the lengths of the longest lines you expect to set as well as some shorter ones; a selection of wood or metal furniture sufficient to fill the chase you plan to use, as well as at least two quoins and a key; an absolutely flat surface (cast iron preferred if you can get it) big enough for your chase; and the patience to make sure everything is right.


Thanks for the feedback. We have looked at online resources to see what we can find. I think we have a good idea of what I need to do but always look for input on what I may have overlooked.

I would have thought that three quoins would be more of the usual minimum. Rubber sidesticks might also be helpful,
especially if you are new to hand composition. As regards length, Its remarkable how often stuff needs to be a bit less than 4 inches ( aka 24 ems) or three inches (aka 18 ems) wide.

Ems being talked about in this way are ”pica ems” ie
the body of 12 point type size, around a sixth of an inch square. But beware, folk may talk about other ems, i.e. ten point or eighteen point depends on the context. Typographer/designers usually measure layouts in pica ems, but compositors talk about all sorts of ems. (but usually gamble with pica ems!) .

Thanks for the feedback. We have a local Pizza Press. The have photo’s of old letterpress and composition rooms. Forty guys in dress shirts and ties setting type by hand. times have changed.

Yes! Times have certainly changed!

image: image.jpeg


At long last, I now know what to do with my print shop—get a Pizza Press franchise. What a happy, bubbly thing to do with all those pesky type cases and assorted shop detritus. Forget those 32 long years of being in the food business while my printing stuff languished. I can have my shop and pizza too! They have some great little videos showing how easy it is to run a restaurant and publish a pizza at the same time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffFvY8pJwAc

Well the pizza looked pretty good! I think you should consider it Klinke.
I am reminded of when my wife suggested we turn our shop into a restaurant, The Printer’s Galley. We were quickly discouraged by someone we knew who was in the restaurant business—no doubt afraid of the competition.

It wasn’t so much the fear of competition, but if everything was screwed to the walls, borrowing stuff would be rather inconvenient. I can just see myself standing on someone’s table picking type out of a case.

Another Pizza Press video shows 2 Ludlow mat cases with assorted things in each box that were hanging on a wall. One of the large wall pictures shows what looks like the bindery department in the Government Printing Office in Washington, D.C. Perhaps they were assembling the Congressional Record.

mmmm….. Printer’s (pizza) Pie …… i’ll let myself out now ha ha

I love to look at the old press photos on the walls at Pizza Press and dream back in time, no twitter, no cell phone, no email, no internet, no diet books. Hand crafted made in America craftsmanship. I wish I could go back and save some of the old press’s from the scrap heap. I guess I should thank them for reminding us where we came from. Got to go get a pizza and a beer, later guys

The one photo I referenced in the Pizza Press video as being taken in the Government Printing Office may be this one:


and a careful look shows them to be gathering a book rather than working on a newspaper. Nice photo, however.

I love the white shirts and ties on everyone.