paying the pi-ed piper

it should come as no surprise that beginners are going to make mistakes. well, as a veritable beginner myself, I have to share my first mistake in hopes of preventing other newbies from the same fate.

when transporting type in open drawers, be sure to put the lighter drawers on the bottom of your stack, weighed down by the heavier drawers. I failed to do this while moving a type cabinet I bought, and upon arriving at my destination, I had 4 drawers of type tilted at a 45 degree angle. 6pt and 8pt type flowed out of the drawers like a stream, piling up and spreading around the wheel well of my father-in-law’s truck. Thankfully the drawers seemed to have tilted in unison, so only the top drawer had the most “damage”.

I had planned to take some cardboard sheets to put on top of each drawer, but was in a hurry and left them.

so drinks are on my for my first sortin’ party!

as a side note, if you do mix drawers of type, make sure you mark which ones they were before you put them back in the cabinet. : P

Log in to reply   11 replies so far

Funny how accidents happen, but why does it always seems to happen to the 6 and 8 point types? The old gentleman from whom I learned typesetting always set tiny type with with his ring and pinky fingers elevated, like an old woman sipping tea. He was a Marine Corps WWII vet, and it seemed a little out of character, so I asked him why he held his hand that way. He said that by elevating those fingers it kept them from bumping and upsetting the small types while setting. It’s a tip I have always appreciated.


Here’s the best tip for moving stacks of cases of small type:

A single sheet of carboard that covers the top of the entire case won’t do you much good at all. That is because the two wide front-to back bars that divide most cases into three sections are flush in height with the outside edges of the cases BUT the thinner dividers that make up the smaller compartments in each section are considerably SHORTER. So…… when the stacked cases are transported and usually bounced-around, the small 6 and 8 pt. type (and thinner pieces of larger fonts) tend to bounce over the shorter dividers and migrate into other compartments.

The best way to deal with this is to cut your cardboard into sections that will snuggly fit in between the higher dividers and this eliminates all of that from happening. It’s also easier to find smaller pieces of cardboard to do this with.

This was probably the best tip I ever received when I moved my whole shop from California to Iowa 30 years ago. Everything arrived in perfect order despite being bounced around in a container that was carried by truck and train across the country.

You can also slide the cases back into the cabinet with with ‘sectional’ cardboard in place and your small type will stay correctly sorted for you. I usually load empty cabinets and then refill them on the truck or trailer.

I should probably mention that it is also good to tape down cardboard over your galleys if you are transporting them with material still on them.


Thanks for this. Timely.
I’m moving shortly - bigger shed! - and the whole pied type thing terrifies me.
As well as cases I have some as yet un-dissed stuff, so that can go on the galleys.
Nice to know that something so simple actually, really, does work….

Using cardboard sections—great tip!

How about for type that has kerns? As I’ve started accumulating cases of type, I’ve starting worrying in the back of my mind about how I’ll move it safely one day, in a way that prevents the kerned type sorts from bouncing around and breaking off the kerns.

Is there a good way to move this type without first fonting it up in galleys?


If you mean some kerned letters in an otherwise un-kerned case (Qs, fs, ys, etc) then I have spaced and taped them up as a block and left them in the case. For wholly kerned alphabets tho, I would ‘un-diss’ them and packed them up, and they can go on galleys.

Last time I moved typecases I stuffed cotton balls on top of type and then put the cardboard on top. I had to be careful removing the cotton because some type stuck to it but nothing major shifted.


Not exactly rocket science!!!Polystyrene Sheet 1/4 of an inch thick (or multiples) up to 1/4 of an inch, interlaeaved between each case, with every second case at 180 degrees to accomodate the front lip, they will stack by compressing the poly into/onto the lower middle divisions and entomb even 6 point hair spaces, when you reach the column of cases, that you can reasonably handle, enclose your 4 corners top and bottom, back and front, with 4 pieces of the hard moulded carboard channel,`as used for dispatching polystyrene units. on delivery from your electrical wholesalers etc AND as used extensively in the Print trade For transporting flat sheets, Ex print Shop bound for Finishing houses Etc, O.K. in commercial application, the aforementioned corner supports, are usually strapped with plastic or steel bands, but a few feet of nylon cord which, even in small gauge has massive breaking strain, substituted for steel, with slip knots, is hardly the aforementioned rocket science!!!

Just throw the cases in the back of your pickup, all that pied type will give you something to do next winter.

Rick’s suggestion for cutting small sections of cardboard is well taken for a few cases of type, however, when moving over 400 type cases plus 150 galleys 500 miles with limited prep time, one does not always have the luxury of cutting three separate pieces of cardboard for each case. When I moved the shop a couple of years ago, I cut one piece of corrugated cardboard for each case, stacked two cases at 180 degrees to each other, and used stretch wrap to hold it all together. Using corrugated cardboard allows for some compression over the type compartments, and there is little room for movement of type into other compartments, except for the very smallest type in nearly full cases. Stretch wrap doesn’t allow you to put the cases back in your stands for travel, but simply stack the cases 8-10 high on the floor of the truck, in tight stacks. Add packing around them so they don’t slide around. This also gives them a low center of gravity with nowhere to fall. In addition, I stuffed kleenex in those compartments that I was particularly concerned about type being damaged by movement. It all worked well for me. Here is a link to my wife Carole’s blog describing and illustrating the move:

I have moved 300 cases of type and cabinets in the back of my pickup truck. I usually moved one cabinet at a time. Only about 15 miles per trip. I would always put something between cases that had the type standing face up. I like to use newspaper. Making sure it is about a half inch thick. Or even old blankets work well. When moving anything, type, cabinets, bedroom sets, whatever. The most important thing to remember is to secure you load. Make sure it is not going to move at all. If it has a chance to shift, it has the potential to break. Years ago my family was in the moving business and this was drilled into me at a young age. And loads travel better when the heavier items are near the bottom and the lighter ones are near the top. Think of packing a truck like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Empty spaces are not always bad, but can an item unexpectedly slide into it? If you’re unsure, give it a shake and see it it holds. Tie it down or use some filler. Old blankets, newspapers, towels or whatever is conveient. You don’t want it to move until you move it.

I moved 12 stands of type and all the rest of my shop from Indiana to California without covering cases by emptying the stands, putting the stands on the outside of a covered truck (Ryder, U-Haul) and putting the cases back in making sure to have a case with large type on the top. I fashioned a T-shaped piece out of 2” x 4” which length fit inside the front of the type-stand vertically, with the top of the T pressed against the front of the cases. I then attached 1” ratchet straps (one strap per cabinet) to the load support strips inside of the truck and tightened straps pressing the 2” x 4” against the face of the cases. I periodically check the load to make sure the straps had not loosened, but made the entire trip without losing one piece of type.