Making massive wood type - letter count

Howdy folks,

We are planning on doing steamroller woodcut prints next month at the Visual Arts Center, and I got the idea to make a set of wood type that we can use to print big banners and posters on demand. I am thinking 2.5’ tall (2160pt) type, trimmed out of plywood panels with a bandsaw.

Does anyone know of a chart, diagram, or formula to get a good letter count? I am hoping to compose very short sentences with the set.

On another note, if anyone wants to come to Richmond to print big woodcuts, please feel free. We aren’t charging for the event, just asking that printers donate a print to help raise money to stock the center’s letterpress shop.


Jason Taylor

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You are the best. Many thanks!

I have used a lasercam to make wood type to very good ends!

Jason Taylor

suggest try out a scrap of the material to be used as the face of the type before cutting letters, to check that ink will adhere.

we used wooden type to print newspaper posters (to be displayed outside newsagents) on a hand letterpress machine. We had only one letter D, the journalists were not happy. I took home a proof-on-paper of the one letter D we had, cut another out of formica/laminex, stuck it to a block of wood which I then packed up to be type-high; worked OK. we had only capitals and maybe some punctuation, though i do not remember punctuation being used.


Hey folks. The event was a hit. Just wanted to share a stop motion animation of the process. The wood that I used was just the cheap $10 project panel plywood from lowes, cut on a bandsaw and mounted to MDF blocks.

to thousandpound press

There is a garden roller in the background (sometimes called a tennis court roller); was that tried, or was it used as a proof-press? Many years ago, a small-time printer told me he had, in England, used a garden roller to produce a long banner (one?) as a special order. Alan.

I brought it for backup in case of rain. We did use it, and it did work, although not quite as well as the real deal. I think that next year we need to get a bigger roller. At least 46”.

I have made large scale letters - 500mm cap height.

I used an initial design and a pantograph. I have attached the result when overprinting an A and D.

I hope this helps. Best wishes Carl

image: AD.jpg


I forgot to say, I then hand cut each letter out of 25mm oak faced plywood.

Good luck.