Best cleaner for both wood and metal type

What is the best cleaner to use for cleaning wood and metal type using rubber based inks? Thanks, Larry

Log in to reply   9 replies so far

I use coleman fuel for just about everything, keroscene works very good but leaves a slight oily film which can be washed off with coleman fuel.

Coleman Fuel = Naptha (which can be had in smaller amounts at your local hardware store. Naptha is a better solvent for metal, rather than wood types. On wood type it can soften the shellac and over time remove it. It is quick evaporating and very flammable. Really good when you need to wash a form while on the press.

Odorless Mineral Spirits are somewhere between Naptha and Kerosine. It is a bit slow in evaporating which is a good thing for wash-ups. Some people are sensitive to it if used with bare hands. Odorless doesn’t mean that you are not inhaling fumes, so use in a ventilated area.

Kerosine evaporates slowly, which is why some people think it leaves an oily film. It will evaporate overnight and I’ve used it for years for press wash-ups, and is good for washing wood type. Again, it evaporates slowly, so if you wash a form with it you cannot expect to run it again until it evaporates.


one more thing, always wear gloves. Paul got me hooked on coleman fuel.

A convenient source of naptha is Ronson lighter fluid, in a can with a open-close valve. It’s very easy to use for cleaning a form of metal type.

Coleman. Fuel (white gas) question- ok for photopolymer plates?

Slightly different question, but …

i have some very old wood type and the wood is very “dry.”
I am concerned the wood will crack when i print with it.

I think i should recondition the wood with some oil. my thought was to use furniture oil such as Old English.

Thoughts, comments, alternatives.


LetterpressDad, . . DRY wood type??? one possible answer (of many) from glorious Downtown Brighton U.K. home to hoards of Antique Furniture Dealers, Retro repairs, Period Repros etc, the favoured option seems to be, *LINSEED OIL*??? … .Plus from early 50,s to mid 60,s involved with Guns, Legal !2 guages and 4/10,s (over the counter licence) frequently acquired the same I.E. *Linseed Oil* for the stocks, often cracked, occasionally bound, D.I.Y. basis.!!!
One small point, yet to be figured, would still like clarification,??. . What Was or Is, the unspecified reason for *Linseed Oil* in straight form, as opposed to BOILED Linseed Oil, . . ***Tis a Puzzlement*** . Any Offers.??


Straight linseed oil does not readily dry. If your purpose is to nourish the wood and allow it to accept all the oil it can, then perhaps the unboiled oil should be your choice. At some point when the wood has taken all the oil it will drink, then the surface should be strongly wiped. The caution is that rubber base ink does not like any oil.
Boiled linseed oil will be absorbed by the wood, but after the wood accepts all it will drink, the remainder forms a skin on the surface and hardens like a varnish. Too heavy a coat forms too thick a skin and may even wrinkle as it hardens.