Resalite Furniture

Hello All - I’m a beginner to letterpress and I am in search of elusive resalite furniture. I’ve read a few blogs and tired to complete some research prior to this post since the question has been asked before but I am unfortunately stuck. It appears that the only place to purchase this would be ebay (patiently waiting!). Does anyone know where I can acquire resalite or does anyone have any for sale? I have also read that corian (counter top material) is an alternative but I have never seen this material used. Any tips or advice would be much appreciated. Many thanks in advance!

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You don’t need the very best equipment to start out. Wood and metal furniture in good condition work perfectly well and learning to get a good lockup with less-than-perfect wood is very valuable experience.
Resalite becomes more useful when you work in larger format. Unless your press is 18” or larger, get more common and affordable material.
I do use resalite-style furniture, but if I’d never seen it I’d be perfectly happy with a good double-font of wood and a single font of metal furniture and some mammoth furniture. You’ll find those more easily.

Many thanks for the response. I completed a letterpress course recently where I used resalite and enjoyed working with it but I do understand that wooden furniture would work just fine. Do you have any recommendations on the type of wood to use if I were to cut my own furniture to size? Would pine suffice, oiled with linseed? Thanks!

Pine unfortunately is a very hydroscopic material and can and does shrink at an alarming rate but if you can locate box wood this is the typical wood for such purpose .
if you will send me a list of what resalite and length you require and how much and many you want i will look into sending you some but i am in the U.K. so carriage wont be cheap , i have a sack of various lengths and widths that you can have cheap ish , maybe someone on this site will be kind enough to give me a faiur price to let it go , i am clueless as i buy this stuff by the van or lorry load and it goes in the lock up till someone squeaks , often it is just added into a job lot where i wanted something and had to take that too . Regards Peter L
I wont try to ship a sack load i cant even lift it but i will fill out a couple of forms if you really cant get it over there.

Pine is too soft. Cherry, beech and hard maple are good choices, in addition to boxwood. I wouldn’t bother oiling it.
Furniture needs to be cut carefully to function well. If the pieces are out of square it will rise when locked up. Take your time, make your dimensions accurately, use good wood and you can make a set of furniture that will be a pleasure to use and will last a lifetime.

Bob Walp

Peter - Many thanks for the info!

Bob - Many thanks for your recommendation and insight on wood choice!

Really appreciate the help overall!

Steel furniture is by far the best for accuracy, but can be a problem in large forms because of weight. Lead furniture is also good if it is in decent shape, but again with the weight. Wood furniture is subject to the vagaries of weather and the best made will still have some movement, but generally the movement is along the length of the grain, so it is manageable. Wood furniture was probably oiled with something like Danish oil to seal the wood. Anyone who has lain a piece of new furniture on a piece of paper can attest to the oil stain that is left. Today there are other products available to properly seal wood. Most wood furniture was made of beech or maple, although fruit woods would do well. I have never seen boxwood furniture mostly likely because it is extremely unstable and subject to splitting and is rarely available in any length useful for furniture.The cost would be prohibitive as well. I purchased some extruded plastic furniture a while back which looks very nice, but I have yet to use it. I you want accurate lock-up lead spacing material and steel furniture is the best available.


Hi Paul - Many thanks for your insight. I will keep my eye out for both Danish Oil and steel furniture. Thanks for your recommendation for wood as well. It appears that beech, maple, or cherry are much more common and can be affordable for the relatively small amounts that I require. Thanks for your thorough response…very much appreciated!

Since lead furniture was mentioned (talking about open furniture not strip-cast), it has to be used very carefully. It must be surrounded by other material of equal length to distribute the pressure. If you put a shorter piece of furniture or a quoin against it, the concentrated pressure can collapse the cells. A good font of lead furniture can be reduced to scrap that can be recycled into tire-weights, but not type. It’s a different alloy.

I must admit that I don’t even think of composing a form that doesn’t fill the chase. I’ve never been comfortable with a form that has a few bits of furniture to hold it together. I’ve seen too many forms spring apart (tho not by my hand). An old pressman once commented that I, “put in enough furniture to build a house”.

Many are using proof presses and no chase, and that’s the dominant training today. It is in just such a situation that I have seen lead furniture used incorrectly, and damaged. When the user doesn’t need to lift a form, lots of bad practice seems adequate.