type storage question

I recently purchased a type cabinet I found locally in a musty basement where they had been sitting for possibly 50 years, or longer.

The type cases contain beautiful type, most of which seems well-preserved. But the drawers themselves are in REALLY grungy condition and besides the type, contain walnut and acorn remains from squirrels, mouse residue, bugs, spider webs, etc.

I worked on the worst of the drawers yesterday, extracting all the type and pulling off the drawer bottom—which was in shreds with type stuck between separated plys. I saw signs of wood-eating bugs even in the “better” drawers, I found some isolated holes.

I now feel I should extract the type and trash this cabinet—which brings me to my question. Can someone recommended inexpensive storage boxes with dividers suitable for storing type? Preferably inexpensive and easily available—even if it means a dreaded trip to Walmart.

I seem to remember a discussion regarding this in the past but thus far, my searching has not found it.



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If you are going to trash those I would gladly take them. Where are you located? I would pay shipping. Contact me at
[email protected] or phone 8847-826-9273
Thanks, Jerry

Michael’s craft stores (and I’m sure similar places) carry divided boxes for jewelry-making purposes. They’re designed to hold beads and findings. For type I don’t have space for in a proper case I buy ones with 32 subdivisions, rounded bottoms to each division and lids that latch against the dividers to help keep the type from pying. They also stack pretty cleanly. They’re pretty handy for type.

The downsides are that the subdivisions are all the same size and it takes three boxes to hold a single full fount of type. What I do is put lc and most common punctuation in one box, UC and lesser-used punctuation in the second, and numbers, ligatures and spaces in the third.

These are the ones I use. I generally wait until they’re on sale and can get them for about $5 each.


Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

You could also strip the case bottoms off, rig a soaking pan for the cases and soak them in a dilute solution of an insecticide, then get some masonite or thin plywood and nail on new bottoms. It would give you storage space for the type until you can get regular cases. You could also make a transfer case (previous discussion here) out of one and that would make moving the type around easier.


Thank you so very much for the suggestions that were provided here and in private messages. I will not be trashing these cases since it appears I have some options for saving them.

For the moment I plan to purchase the plastic cases Michael mentioned to hold the type so I can seal the old cases in garbage bags with mothballs. Later when I have more time than I do now, I will likely remove the case bottoms, clean and treat the remaining wood and install new bottoms.

Thanks again!

I bought several Flambeau 5007 plastic storage cases and a bunch of packs of extra dividers which you can get direct from Flambeau or from sporting goods retailers (check the fishing tackle category). The cases only come with 15 dividers standard, but you can create variable sized compartments depending on how you arrange the dividers, and you can max them out at 43 compartments with the extra packs of dividers. I created my own sorting layout for these and for my smaller sized fonts, I can fit the whole font into one case if LC and UC are grouped together. I also group the less common figures together. For larger fonts I use separate cases for LC and UC, which also gives room for more figures to have individual compartments as well. Less efficient than an actual job case but I’m not setting a whole lot of type at once right now.

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Call your lumber yards and ask if they have door skins. If they do, this is what you want for a type case bottom.
If you had a hollow core door that was damaged, it would be repaired with a new door skin. They are about 1/8” thick.

Thanks again for the suggestions.

I’ve begun the process of moving the type to plastic compartment boxes and have also removed the bottoms of the two worst cases. I plan the continue the process with the others.