I finally got a reply from the guy at the wood type museum. Very
interesting that they use shellac and alcohol. We should give this a try,
given the issues on your first print.
From: Gregory Corrigan
Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2007 5:06 PM
To: Dennis Pierattini
Subject: Re: Wood Type
I'm very sorry that it has taken me so long to respond to your question.
Our museum cuts wood type from hard maple. The wood is sealed before it
is cut into wood type. We cut wood type on end-grain. After the wood is
dried it is sanded to a smooth flat finish on the side that the letter
will be cut from. The next step is to plane the the wood to make it
type high; (.918 inches). The wood is then sealed by spraying it with a
50/50 mixture of orange shellac and alcohol. The wood is sprayed on
both sides. After the shellac has dried, it is lightly sanded with 300
grit sandpaper on the smooth side, on the side the letter will be cut.
This side is then sanded with 0000 steal wool.
The shellack is water based; it is important to keep water away from
wood type. Water can compromise the finish, allowing the ink to be
absorbed by the wood; the result is uneven ink coverage. I hope this
information is helpful.
Please call me if I can help you with this project in anyway.
Gregory R. Corrigan
Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum
Two Rivers, Wisconsin
From: Dennis Pierattini
Sent: Tue, Oct 2 3:52 PM
Subject: Wood Type
I run the fabrication facility here at the School of Design
at the University of Pennsylvania. I have a student doing an independent study in creating wood block type using a laser cutter. We’ve been very successful creating the type digitally and then engraving the wood blocks with the laser, however,
the wood seems to absorb the ink, producing a very faint impression.
Might you be able to help us out with this? We are using hard maple. Is wood type typically sealed before use, and if so what is the traditional method? Or is there a different technique that we ought to be aware of?
Any help on this would be very much appreciated.
School of Design
University of Pennsylvania