Distributing new type

I have several packages of beautiful, new, unused Centaur 14pt from LA Type Foundry. But it’s taking forever to distribute because it’s almost impossible to separate. I’ve resorted to using a pair of pliers to carefully grip the body, so I can twist it loose with my other hand. Any better ideas? I know that most shops refused to allow even tweezers near the type, and here I am using pliers! I don’t know what would cause this in the first place. Looking for some expert advice! At the rate I’m going, I should have the case full in a month or so…

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Try some type or press wash on the type before you try plyers. New type usually falls over if you look at it, either something got spilled on it or you didn’t remove the string that ties it up. Take a few letters at a time and bang them on the stone with the face up, this should loosten them. Good Luck Dick G.

Your type sounds like it it is in the right condition for distributing into the type trays. DON’T under any circumstances clean it with solvent as you will complicate the process. New type is meant to stand up and not fall all over the place. Certainly don’t “bang” it on anything.
Its a pity you live in another country, as I teach the “art” of handling type.
William Amer, Rockley NSW

Most new type i have had i put a little type wash on tokeep the letters from falling over when the string is removed. I’ve never used plyers and try not to use tweesers on type. If it won’t come apart a little tap on the stone won’t hurt it and would be much better than the plyers. Dick G.

Not going to try and give advice….but….several packages of Centaur? Nice. Do you have the Arrighi Italic as well? Beautiful type faces. Good Luck. You’ll get it.

@David…yes, Arrighi too. That’s why I’m trying not to bang it up!
@Dick and William…certainly no problem with the letters falling over when the string is removed! I’m reluctant to put solvent on it, and the ones that are hardest to get apart are the narrowest—e.g. three “periods” stuck together. Maybe I could find plastic pliers. They’re just too tight to get apart with my fingers.


The problem you are having is due to the fact that LA Type went out of business many years ago. This is no longer new type, so to speak. The metal type bodies have subsequently frozen, one to another. I guess I would put some kind of lubricant on it and let it soak for a bit rather than using a tweezers or pliers. Maybe something like penetrating oil?


Do not take any pliers to type. You will marked it by using a pliers are any metal tools, if marked up, the type will no longer stand side by side as the design of the type should be and the spacing between the leeters will be off.

Some printers years ago if they had a type form that they didn’t want to come apart would pour a soft drink on it. Place the type in a tray and found a product that will loosen up the type.

I said I wouldn’t try to give advice but it sounds like you would try anything if it worked. Take some of it and put it in a freezer for a while and see if the shrinking of the molecules would help in breaking them apart.

I would try setting the type on your stone or whatever you use for a lockup surface, in a chase surrounded with furniture but not locked up tight, and planing it fairly hard — not with a sledge hammer but sharp taps with your key or a light hammer. The impact should break, or at least loosen, the bond between letters and allow you to separate them. I’ve had this sort of thing happen with a lockup when the wash solvent with a small amount of ink in it gets down between the letters and dries. It’s like glue, but it’s brittle and will give with a little effort.


You could try dropping it in hot water, if the freezer don’t work. Dick G.

This conversation is frighting. When I buy used type, I consider myself lucky if some of the sorts are stuck together. It indicates lack of used, thus presumably not flawed , clean type. Generally I break letters apart when setting copy.
I would concur with Gerald, use penetrating oil or WD40. That way you leave a slight coat on the type to protect it. New type comes out of the caster with a thin coating of oil and that is what is sticking together. Like William said new type is meant to stand. Many people stand each letter with face up in the case. Centaur is a treasure, treat it like one.


jksyer, if don’t want to ruin’t your type do not put it in the
freezer or a pot of hot water. H2o is and enemy to type.
I guess in Australia they call “type cases”= “type trays”
hungft…best james

Thanks, folks. Don’t worry—I’m treating this type like the treasure it is.

James, we used to curve lines of type by pouring hot canning wax around the type then when you didn’t need it anymore you just drop it in boiling water and the wax floates so you can skim it off and the type gets patted dry with a towel, the water never hurt the type (i still have it after 40 years). I wouldn’t leave it soaking in water for a long time. Dick G.

I knew I should have suggested dry ice. I fear that lead is much too delicate for any possible remedy. I think you’re screwed jksyer; and whatever you do, don’t put it in anything that resembles any kind of “tray”; especially an ice tray. Take it from a “novice”….

…..I tried to resist.

We’ll treat ye so many different kinds of ways, you bound to like some of ‘em.