American Wood Type
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All manufacturers used the end-cut method to produce wood type. This method consisted of routing the negative shape around a letter out of the face of a type-high block of hardwood.
While in partnership with David Bruce, Jr., Darius Wells developed the mechanism that would become the basis for his invention of the lateral router in 1827. This made the economical production of wood type possible. In 1834, William Leavenworth and A.R. Gillmore adapted the pantograph, a mechanism
used to copy draughtsmen’s drawings, by combining it with Wells’ lateral router. The combination of the router and the pantograph allowed for the mass mechanical production of wood type.
The router, moved by the arm of the pantograph, duplicated the original template. It allowed the exact cutting of any size of type, scaled uniformly or non-uniformly, from one master template. The router/pantograph was originally powered by a foot treadle but was quickly adapted to steam power, further accelerating wood
type production. This manufacturing efficiency also made it possible for new designs to be developed and put into production at a fraction of foundry type’s time and cost. The combined router/pantograph was used to produce wood type well into the decline and closing of the industry in the late twentieth century.