I have been talking with David Wolske (letterpressdaily.com) about various topics surrounding wood type. One topic has been pricing this stuff. Each of the fonts that I offer in 4 sizes, caps, lowercase, figures, and 5 different schemes have 60 different prices. Way more complicated than I imagined, especially when you try to load the store with a new font.
I was telling David that I did not want to publish prices for missing character replacement because of all of the variables that would enter into figuring out prices. One thing lead to another and since I need real-world experience with making missing characters I asked David if there were any fonts in his collection that are missing characters. He offered that his 72 line gothic font needs a few characters. Sounded like something interesting to figure out.
The first idea was to use one of the patterns that I have. The problem was that my closest pattern was 6″ tall and the requirement was 12″ letters. I took my ruler to the pantograph and decided that there was no way to make anything bigger than 10 inches or so–maximum width is around 8″. No way.
Enter the Daisy Pin Router.
The only thing that would work was full size patterns routed on my pin router. The pin router is a standard router in a router table with a pin that is the exact size of the router bit. The type is routed upside down with a tracing pattern right reading taped to the bottom of the blank. The photo above shows the pin, the blank with the printing surface down on the table and the router bit sticking up from the bottom.
So, how to get full size patterns?
I tried a picture framing mat cutter which cuts great patterns but all of the cuts have a 45° bevel and had to be mat board. Close but not tough enough to trace without ruining the pattern.
Next after a bunch of searches I found Creative Plastics who I now like very much. They have a Laser Cutter that will cut through thin plywood using computer files. Now we have something. Max size is about 32″ x 18″. Sounds like a plan.Above are 2 letters cut into 1/8″ baltic birch plywood–or maybe it is cut out of the birch.I tape the pattern using carpet tape to the blank. Making the blank is a whole other story which I will write some day (woodprocessing). The pattern needs to be adhered to the bottom of the block and it needs to be right reading. That’s sorta backwards to us letterpress people.
This shows the letter routed into the block. I need to flip it upside down and remove the rest of the non-printing area.
Here you can see the collection of letters. They are routed and in the second picture the blocks are trimmed down to printing size. David is still waiting, but they go out in the mail tomorrow.Note: the title for this post is from an old Peter Gabriel album–Waiting for the Big One.