New Wood Type Producers in Southern Ontario

Hi there,

I’m wondering if there are any wood type producers in southern Ontario that folks know about. I am extremely interested in learning the craft of wood type fabrication and I’m wondering if there is anybody living and working near me whom I might be able to speak with and possibly apprentice under.

I’ve reached out to a new wood type producer in the UK to inquire about the process and they gave me a wealth of information about how to start this journey, but I’m hoping I might be able to connect with somebody and learn and work along side somebody in person who is actually doing it a bit closer to me in Southern Ontario.

Thanks so much folks.

Happy Printing

- Kevin D

Log in to reply   6 replies so far

Kevin — You are perhaps lucky that Wisconsin is not so very far below you. And in Two Rivers is the Hamilton Wood Type museum which, I see from their website, offers workshops.

You will need a pantograph if you are going to do it the old way. Pick up American Wood Type by Kelly if you don’t own it already. There is some material on how it was done.

Of course now there are table-top routers that cut flat boards and are operated by computer files. You could probably vectorize a few fonts and find a file format that a computer-operated router could follow.

Feel free to write me privately on this forum. I am no expert; I am a letterpress printer who wants a nice selection of type, including some large wooden fonts. I’ve been discouraged by the high prices. Great for the sellers but tough for printers to assemble a good selection.

I am on Mayne Island, B.C. Much farther for me to Wisconsin! Cheers.

You’re in luck, PiP is offering a virtual class on making wood type with Ryan Molloy soon. I took it a year or so ago and he’s very thorough. I did learn that the bigger part of making the type is preparing the wood- and decided it was a bit beyond me! But I’d encourage you to sign up for the class and see what you could do.

Thanks so much for getting back to me and your recommendations. @bowerbox, I have registered for that class on August 6th!

@Michael Barnes, thanks so much for your response. I’ve been looking into the Hamilton Wood Type & Print Museum recently. I’m actually in the process of doing a class project on the museum right now and I absolutely want to make that trip! I google mapped it and it’s about a 13 hour drive from where I am to the museum. That’s not too far but it’s just a matter of being able to take that much time to hit the road and go. I might try and do this between semesters—some time towards the end of August.

I’m also going to pick up a copy of that book that you’ve suggested. I’m building up a library of books and resources that I can reference as I learn to print and it will be great to add this title.

I’m going to see if I can find an apprenticeship or somebody to work with in and around Southern Ontario. I’m also going to see if I can find some affordable used equipment in the coming months/years. I think I might have found somebody willing to share workshop space and so maybe, just maybe, that dream of producing wood type some day isn’t so far off after all!

If you’re driving to Two Rivers, I might suggest driving to Michigan through Sarnia/Port Huron at the beautiful Blue Water Bridge, then take 96 across the state to 31 up to Ludington. Take the Badger Ferry across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc…then a short hop to Two Rivers. Nice drive. Depending on where you are in Ontario, I don’t think it would as long as 13 hours. Takes me about 12-3 hrs to get to Detroit from Boston.

As was mentioned previously, a parallel interest to the engraving equipment would be how to prep the wood itself. We have a lot of great maple stock in Ontario. There used to be a guy around here that made wood blocks for engraving, Maple, Boxwood, etc. Dried wood at perfect type height. I’m not sure if he still produces blocks, however, I bought a few and they were excellent. Good luck.

The Hamilton Hangs series of documentaries on Youtube includes one on modern American wood type makers and their methods. Another (I haven’t watched yet) on how type is made at Hamilton.