- Do all you guys coat your type with kerosene or oil when you're not using it? It seems like a
good idea but very smelly and poisonous. Are there other more benign solvents to get the
oil off before printing, and maybe a more benign oil?
- --- lisaxdavidson <lisaxdavidson@...> wrote:
> Do all you guys coat your type with kerosene or oilLisa,
> when you're not using it? It seems like a
> good idea but very smelly and poisonous. Are there
> other more benign solvents to get the
> oil off before printing, and maybe a more benign
I think most people just clean the top of the type
with whatever they normally use after each press run,
and then just put the type back in the case.
I use kerosene as a general type wash because it does
leave a very light coating on the type and because
that's what I learned to use when I first started
printing with letterpress. It's a relatively safe all
purpose print shop solvent. As petroleum solvents go,
it is not as volatile as most of the other common
solvents, and therefore not as harmful to humans. But
the old country term for it is "coal oil" and I guess
it is found with coal or squeezed out of coal or
something, so it does have a petroleum base.
I suppose any petroleum product is harmful at some
level, so I use gloves and use the kerosene sparingly.
Most people over do it, but I don't use very
much...just a dab or two...so you don't have to stink
up the room too much. There are now so-called
'odorless' versions of kerosene that still have an
odor but it's not as strong. Of course I have my shop
in a separate building from living quarters so I don't
mind a little residual smell left in the shop. It lets
it smell like an old fashioned print shop!
But I suppose a vegetable based oil would also work,
but you'd have to still clean the top of the type off
before printing to avoid having it mix with whatever
ink you are using. Maybe you could use a water soluble
solvent like "California Wash" to clean the vegetable
oil off the type before it goes on the press. Just be
sure to wipe any residual residue off the face of the
type with a dry soft clean rag before printing to
avoid mixing any "California Wash" with your ink.
(Anyone who uses "California Wash" or another
non-petroleum product for your wash-up want to comment
Actually, if you work a case a lot, and handle and use
the type a lot, the oils from your fingers gives type
a light coating of oil which helps preserve the type
too. But most people only use a bit of type from the
case at a time. It's the type that's left in the case
and doesn't get used a lot that is usually the first
to corrode and oxidize.
The overall point here is to find a way to leave some
sort of thin protective oil on your type between uses
which will protect it from corrosion -- particularly
on the face of the type to keep it from pitting. This
procedure is absolutely necessary in coastal areas
where there is a lot of salt in the air, or in any
other area with an environment corrosive to metal.
In contrast, I suppose that if you live in the hot
desert and use your type enough to keep it oiled with
average cleanings between use, you may never have to
ever worry about any of this!
Belmont, CA (just south of San Francisco)
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