FF Real Wood Type Project

Petrescu Press has been co-opted by German type designer Erik Spiekermann, to take part in the FF Real Wood Type Project, our task was the conversion of the digital representations to physical wood type for letterpress.

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The FF Real font is the work of Erik Spiekermann and Ralph du Carrois, and was released as an extended family consisting of text and headline versions in 13 weights each, by FontShop.

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Our work was the manufacture of 512 characters at the size of 16 cicero (72,21mm/2.84 inch) from single piece, end-grain, beech wood, french polished, and brought to the German size 23,56mm (±0,07mm) type height standard.

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In our method we try to stay true to the original process and create a product that is as close as possible to it’s historical predecessors. We used in the manufacturing process a CNC system for the milling process, and the wood preparation and finish was made using traditional methods.

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From a production point of view, our goal is ensuring the continuity of a product, held at great value for several centuries, by developing a process of manufacture that is flexible and scaled to current demand, and efficient enough to generate products that are affordable to the average printer.

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The main challenge of this project was the given deadline and the size of the wood type; the order resulted in approx. 28 kg (61lbs) of new wood type.

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After overcoming initial cutting issues, by readjusting the end-mill feed rate to the new depth of cut, that was required by the large 16 cicero type, we managed to complete the order.

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We believe in the reemergence and potential of letterpress printing, and consider wood type essentially it’s language, new  content will have to be added, old shapes need to remain available, our work and research in this field, will constitute the foundations of this growing form of expression.

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