I need to find a cabinet and cases for wood type, all I seem to be able to find is California cases (empty) in a cabinet. Someone on here suggested ripping out the compartments isn’t that wrong?

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Please don’t rip out the compartments of existing cases. Open cases are pretty easy to find. I have several I would sell you. (Some of these already have the partitions ripped out.) I prefer not to ship but would be willing to if you give me some time as I’m real busy right now.

If you can find the steel type cabinets with the metal case fronts and pressboard case bottoms, the compartments dividers are very easy to remove and replace. They are a more modern design, and the dividers slide into notches around the interior edges of the case. I’ve used this design of type case for numerous applications, because of the ease with which the compartments can be shuffled around or removed. I know Hamilton made a line of steel cabinets of this design, and I have several I’ve used the way you are thinking.

I agree with mr. Horn though, if your cases are solid wood. Don’t alter them! You will greatly compromise the integrity of the structure, as a lot of the time the dividers are nailed into the sides of the case. At least, my older all-wood cases are this way. Look for cases with dividers that slide in and out and can be completely removed.

Don Black has blank type cases at a
good price,shipping is what gets expensive. How far are you from Toronto?

Thanks for all the advice. Shipping from Don may be pricey I’m 3500 miles away in the UK. I had my reservations about ripping out the dividers in cases, although I see people breaking down large fonts of wood type into trite words to sell on ebay, and others selling cleaned up cases for £40 a time as shelves for nik naks, I don’t want to be part of the cultural rape.

Despite the credit crunch I guess I’ll have to turn down the offer of a cabinet full of cases and spend five times as much for one with trays, although even as I write this I’m wincing, they want £250…


There’s a ebayer called paul brand – his ebay name is paul-robot47; he sells complete founts of woodtype on ebay regularly and he may just have spare trays. He’s near Brighton.


Did you ever get a motor for your No. 4?

Hi John,

Thanks for the idea, I did email Paul a while ago but he was unable to help.

I haven’t sorted the motor yet, I’ve been hand inking for now, it’s an expense I was hoping to delay, although not having looked into it, it may be cheaper than I fear. I remember reading on David Rose’s site how once you start you never have enough equipment, space or money, how right that was…


Just to add to the conundrum Alistair, I have plenty of wood type, most of which appears to be housed in cases which have had their compartments ripped out - a lot of those cases would appear to be Victorian, so our forefathers in the print trade would appear to have had no problem with converting the cases.

Have you tried Jeremy Winkworth or anyone on the British Letterpress site?

Would it help if I gave you the specifications of my sp-15 motor - although it was made in Chicago it runs fine on a UK power supply.

Do you have any simple skills in woodworking? A blank or open case is quite simple to build. A cabinetmaker can put them together quickly if given a sample to work from. Perhaps more cheaply than freighting them across the pond from the colonies. Better would be to find a friend who has a shop and a few tools. For a couple of pints, or other appropriate consideration he or she would show you how it is done and the two of you would be in business.
Here in the colonies, we have many lightweight doors in the interior of our newer, cheaper homes. They are hollow core and have a 3/16” sheet of veneer/plywood on each side. This is the stuff for the bottom. Door shops throw them away when being replaced. Good lumber yards carry the veneer/plywood sheet for those who wish to repair a door that has been damaged. Here, it is called a door skin.
It might be a bit sturdier to have a center divider in your case to provide another support to which to nail the bottom.

Inky, thanks for the suggestion, my dad is a retired cabinetmaker, maybe that’s what I want for Christmas…he will curse you, but I’m grateful.

John, my press has a motor but it is a 3 phase one, I need to speak to an electrician about getting a power transformer or installing a new motor. Me no do electrics. My lack of electrical knowledge causes me to shy away, bury my head and press on with the brayer, for now, but any advice is always gratefully received.