Manufacturing Wood Type

RE: Wood Letter Manufacture

I am currently researching the manufacturing process of wood letters. I am specifically interested in finding out if anyone has documentation detailing the finishing of the letters - French polish / shellac / varnish etc

There is a great deal of literature relating to the machinery and processes followed to make the letters but little or none records the actual finishing processes (beyond hand finishing).

I am also interested in finding out if the are any documents detailing the different relationship to timber species (primarily Maple and Beech) where larger letters are being manufactured and need rebating for ascenders etc.

Was the manufacture of wood type carried out by allied trades, outside of the printing workshops and therefore not documented by printing unions?

Any information would be gratefully received.
Many thanks - Carl

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The Hamilton Wood Type Museum would be one source of information

The last large wood type manufacturing operations in the USA were American Wood Type (which I think was in New York), and Hamilton Manufacturing Company which was in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. (There are currently some startups which are operating now. but I believe they are all much smaller). I visited Hamilton a few times in the 1970’s when it was still operating as a business. Even after it ceased operation and became a museum, some of the former employees were still making wood type in the museum.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Wikipedia and YouTube had information on wood type manufacture as well.

Hi Geoffrey,

Thanks for the link - Hamilton do have machinery and a little documentation on the process but none relating to different applications across species of wood or final treatment of the type which is what I am after.


You should talk to Scott Moore, your not going to find a ton on his site, but he is a fountain of information.

There is also pear, Swiss pear, cherry, and holly type out there.

As Rob said, I am Scott Moore at Moore Wood Type. I know the answers to almost all your questions. Please contact me at [email protected]. It is way too much info to print here.

Thanks for all the advice - thanks Scott I will be in contact.

Best wishes