Mounted Vintage Printing Press Letters

Almost a month ago, I wrote about my barn sale adventures and the vintage printing press letters that came home with me. At the time, I had no idea how I would display or use them, but knew that they were a cool find. Enter my father-in-law and his creative mind (you know, the one who came up with the wood wreath idea?). He schemed up a plan to mount the letters in a way that would allow them to be used for their original purpose - printing! He also has the power tools and the know-how to make it happen, so when we were visiting my in-laws this past weekend, we got to work on this little project.

This isn't exactly a tutorial or how-to, since I think this is kind of a unique project, but I hope it provides some fun inspiration for working with unusual items. A little creativity and willingness to take a chance is all it takes sometimes. Oh, and a carpenter for a father-in-law helps too :).

So allow me to present to you...adventures in mounting vintage printing press letters!

Let's start with the finished product because that'll help in understanding the "how we did it" process. Below you can see the letters all mounted up on a block of wood. Four wood elements work together here to hold the letters in place: a board with grooves, slats, spacers and end blocks. This will make more sense later on...

My father-in-law and I got to work on slicing and dicing the wood.

You can go ahead and make fun of my "work clothes" and "eye protection" - clearly I wasn't dressed properly for working with power tools. I was too eager to get started to change clothes, and rain was coming, so time was of the essence!

We used a table saw to cut grooves in the base piece. The grooves hold the wood slats in place. Look closely and you'll see two grooves already cut, and I'm working on the third.

My father-in-law cut the four narrow pieces for the slats.

I worked on making the tiny spacers that go between the letters, as well as the slightly larger end pieces that hold the rows in place.

These little darlings are the spacers:

We did a test run with one of the letters and a few wood pieces to make sure everything fit together properly:

Then once we finished cutting out all the wood pieces we needed, we assembled the apparatus.

All lined up and ready for "printing" - the blocks have my and my husband's names and our wedding date.

Then we played around with different methods of printing using different combinations of paper, wood, cardboard...all with varying success.

Nothing worked perfectly, but I'm planning on trying it out with some thicker paper or maybe even some foam board - to use it as more of a letterpress than a printing press. We'll see!

Here's one of our better results. I wouldn't exactly call it successful, but we had fun doing it!

I kind of love the letters just as they are mounted up on the board, so it may just end up on display in our apartment.

Anyone else gone out on a creative limb lately? What were the results?

P.S. Extra special thanks to my sister-in-law and father-in-law, who took many of these photos while I was busy with power tools and getting paint all over my hands :).

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