pantograph router images/info?

just curious about pantograph routers which were used to manufacture wood type.

does anyone actually have one of these. what about a working one?

how about some good photos or infor on one of these machines.

what about router bit sizes? obviously i’d assume on routed wood type the small fine corners like within an N or M had to be hand finished unless they were changing bits mid production.

does anyone have any info on the production process from wood block to finished type?

for some reason i’m really drawn to this aspect of letterpress. the actual creation of type by hand in a way the gave such consistent results.


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A company called New Hermies makes pantographs for making signs, most signs are done on a computer these days. check out their site. Dick G.

I guess I could just get one of these (looks like hermes has the same one.

under 2 grand.. what a steal. with the price of wood type on ebay it’ll pay for itself in no time. lol

Wood will be where you’ll really spend the money. The Hermes engraving machines do very shallow engraving, not at all the depth you really need for type. The large pantographs like those at Hamilton were made to trace patterns in several sizes for a family of type. You would be much better off with a larger engraving machine like a Lars-Gorton. I used to have a model 3U (I think) which will do a 1 to1 to 10 to 1 reduction. You would have to make patterns tho. There are inexpensive CNC routers that would do the job as well.


when you say ‘inexpensive’ CNC would you say less money then that compucarve?

as for wood I’m in the process of testing some maple slabs I got form a local firewood guy. I got a couple of 1.5 inch slabs from the end of a felled tree and a couple of 3-4 inch diameter logs I’m going slide up just to mess around with.

I’m not really interested in trying to put together full sets of type.. well.. maybe i am.. but just for myself.. i don’t know yet.. but i have the itch to make something and this seems relatively doable and the next logical step given my previous lino carvings.

i was even thinking of rigging up some sort of dremel setup, i’m just not too sure it’ll have the power needed unless I make a couple of passes to get a decent depth.

eh, the worst i could do is fail. :)

I started out with Dremel tools, and they work fine as long as you give them time to cool down. I got pretty fair depth with them as long as your bits are sharp. I was lucky enough to find a radial arm router which allows for some rather delicate work. I have made letters that I needed for several wood fonts I own, and blocks for posters, but I primarily use it to rout excess wood for my wood engravings.[email protected]/3436878420/in/set-721576147916...


Hi, Keith,

I was interested in making my own wood slabs, about 40 years ago. After finding a source of wood that was actually from Hamilton, I never made my own wood, again, because of the work involved.
You really need to visit the Hamilton Museum, in Two Rivers, WI. Here is a photo of some wood being cut on a pantagraph-router, by one of the Museum’s volunteers, Norb Brylski:[email protected]/3683595889/in/set-721576208067...
I have been told that there are a few old pantograph-routers in private hands. I do not have one, but I used a drill press to hand-cut and plane my letters; then cutting the acute counters by hand.
If you are interested in seeing some specimens, which contain a few re-cut letters, they are within the above photostream—-you just have to search to see which letters were re-cut in the Index of each specimen book.

Dave Greer

thank you gentlemen.

paul.. i totally want some of those cuts.

how much finishing are you doing by hand on those and what material are you using?

not familiar with a radial arm router so i’ll have to look into it.


i’d love to get out to the museum but it’ll be something to plan for since it’s about 8.5 hours one way for me.

i assume with a drill press or even a dremel mounted in some sort of rig you could just move the material under the stationary bit.

i’ll have a look for those letters you cut.

i’m definately interested in giving this a try (among 100 other things related to letterpress) haha.

thanks again.

Hi Keith,
An inexpensive way to go may be to try a Milescraft Pantograph Router Stencil Tracing Kit. You can get it at Home Depot for just under $50. It attaches to a router and will do exactly what you are attempting. Trace and recreate wood type. I was thinking of doing it myself. Just thought I’d pass along the knowledge.

thanks for the info. I have a router but it’s the large type you’d use for cabinetrym etc. I couldn’t imagine trying to use it for much else.

something like one of those rotozip tools might work.

I did end up picking up a pantograph engraver. It’s a New Hermes ITF-V model and I found a manufacturer to supply a couple of fluted router needles that fit the engraver.

The only thing left to do now is to create a few master patterns with a scroll saw or something and a slab of type high end grain wood.

It’s going to be a good year or so until the slabs of maple I picked up locally and prepped for drying will be ready to become wood type but I should have more than enough to do a few complete fonts without a problem.

It’s funny how when I pass a freshly felled tree on someone’s property as I drive down the road all I see it wood type. :)

I just purchased a large pantograph and all of the patterns from what used to be American Wood Type Manufacturing Company. There are around 100 boxes of patterns. Some of the patterns are really old.

Right now I am working on setting everything up to start manufacturing wood type using the original patterns. I intend to start producing new type for sale, hopefully within the next week or so.

I will take a few pictures of the machine and some of the patterns and post them on a new thread.

I am thinking of calling the company the Virgin Wood Type Company.

Hi Bill

I would be super interested in seeing a photo of the pantograph that American Wood Type used. And even more interested in images of the patterns.

I am currently focused on researching 20th century American manufacturers (as an extension of the work I did on the Kelly Collection web site: )
and would be greatful for images if it might be convenient.

my thanks
and all the best getting everything set up


Hi Bill,
Did this happen to come from Russ Clements?

Does the pantograph router have two cutting heads or one?

I am glad to hear these materials will finally be used! Congratulations!

Daniel Morris
The Dale Guild Type Foundry
Howell, NJ & Brooklyn, NY

Can’t wait to hear more about Virgin Wood Type Company and see what they’ll have for sale.