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Misc. Shop Stuff #20: Whatsit Update: It's a Typesetter's Composing Stick!

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 392 days ago 1435 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 19: A Good Deal on Pecan? Part 20 of Misc. Shop Stuff series Part 21: The DW102 Powershop Bench »

Found this at a flea mkt today, paid $2 for it. Well machined, smooth operation, obviously used.

The ‘arm’ slides along the right wall of the main ‘tray,’ then is clamped into place.

I don’t know what operation would need a three sided clamp that’s 1/2” deep.

Maybe it’s a part someone needs for a machine, or maybe it’s forever an “I dunno.” Can you help with a guess?

Thanks.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive



17 comments so far

View Handtooler's profile

Handtooler

1011 posts in 634 days


#1 posted 391 days ago

Could it have been an early version of a slide/keeper to fit on the right side of a desk drawer top to keep file folders from floping down, if the drawer was not completely full of folders?

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 bassboy40@msn.com

View joein10asee's profile

joein10asee

2758 posts in 509 days


#2 posted 391 days ago

Dominos holder? :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View joein10asee's profile

joein10asee

2758 posts in 509 days


#3 posted 391 days ago

Actually I think it looks like something they would have used to line up the old newsprint letters when they had to hand-set the newspapers. If so, your pictures show it upside down

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

4662 posts in 1300 days


#4 posted 391 days ago

Joe’s right.

My dad owned a one man weekly newspaper when I was a kid. I can’t remember the name of the but I do recognize it. When you were assembling hand set type you would pick the individual letters out of the block type trays and set them up a line at a time on this thing before moving them to the larger setup frame which I’m pretty sure was called a chase.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

1357 posts in 736 days


#5 posted 391 days ago

Plus one on the printer’s alignment tool. This was used to set up or lay out the letters and etched or carved picture blocks for a column of print. They were all backwards, of course, so it took some getting used to to accurately lay out the words. The one side was left open to transfer the layup to the bed of the printing platen. Pretty tedious and older than I am. No first hand experience, but remember what I’ve been exposed to briefly.
DanK

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL http://www.kragerwoodworking.weebly.com

View joein10asee's profile

joein10asee

2758 posts in 509 days


#6 posted 391 days ago

”Joe’s right.”

WOO HOOO! Score “one” for Joe!

See? I TOLD ya it’s for holding dominos! :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

524 posts in 1001 days


#7 posted 391 days ago

look at
06 January, 2012 Type held in the hand

on
http://typefoundry.blogspot.be/2012/01/type-held-in-hand.html

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View JayT's profile

JayT

1738 posts in 713 days


#8 posted 391 days ago

Now that you know what it is, Smitty, what are you going to use it for?

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View JJohnston's profile

JJohnston

1572 posts in 1793 days


#9 posted 391 days ago

I actually used one of those in a printing class I took in high school, and not all that long ago. It was 1982 – and in retrospect, I realize now that printing-wise, it was an in-between era between old school stuff like this and the computers of today – but since it was a public school, we were using gear from 20+ years earlier. The ones we used didn’t even have the clamp – if you relaxed your left thumb, your work could end up the floor in a heartbeat.

You’re holding it right in the second picture, but rotate your forearm 90* clockwise so the long shelf is horizontal along the bottom, left thumb pointing right. You use your right hand to place the invidual letters, right to left and bottom line to top.

-- The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. - H.L. Mencken

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9121 posts in 1120 days


#10 posted 391 days ago

The answers are awesome! But what I do with it is a good question. It’d be nice to find a collector of print stuff and get it a good home.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View eccentrictinkerer's profile

eccentrictinkerer

28 posts in 1530 days


#11 posted 391 days ago

For what it’s worth my 8th grade (over 50 years ago!) print teacher called that a ‘stick’. I Googled ‘printer’s stick’ and came up with this – a composing stick.

More here

Mr. Hork also told us that the phrase “Mind your p’s and q’s” originated with composing because you insert the type into the stick upside down and reversed.

(Why I can remember this is weird, because I don’t usually remember where I parked my car!

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9121 posts in 1120 days


#12 posted 390 days ago

Composing stick. Very cool! Thanks, everyone, that’s certainly what it is!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

9369 posts in 1508 days


#13 posted 390 days ago

Im glad you got the answer to the “what is it” question. I always love learning about that kinda stuff.

If its not too deep it looks like it would hold a sharpening stone really well. Clamp that puppy in there and clamp the tool to the table … viola, smittys got a sharpening station that dont dance around the bench.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9121 posts in 1120 days


#14 posted 390 days ago

Hmmmmm…. :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

9369 posts in 1508 days


#15 posted 390 days ago

And the wheels in smittys head go round and round ….

Sheesh, i need some adult time, all these baby songs are infiltrating my brain.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

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