Mechanick Exercises
or, the Doctrine of Handy-Works
Applied to the Art of Letter-Cutting

by Joseph Moxon

No. Sec. Title
VII Preface
§ 12. Of Letter-Cutters Tools.
§ 13. Of Letter-Cutting.
§ 14. Some Rules to be observed by the Letter-Cutter.
§ 14. ¶ 2. Of Terms relating to the Face of Letters.


Or, the Doctrine of


Applied to the Art of


The Second VOLUMNE.


LEtter-Cutting is a Handy-Work hitherto kept so conceal’d among the Artificers of it, that I cannot learn any one hath taught it any other; But every one that has used it, Learnt it of his own Genuine Inclination. Therefore, though I cannot (as in other Trades) describe the general Practice of Work-men, yet the Rules I follow I shall shew here, and have as good an Opinion of these Rules, as those have that are shyest of discovering theirs. For, indeed, by the appearance of some Work done, a judicious Eye may doubt whether they go by any Rule at all, though Geometrick Rules, in no Practice whatever, ought to be more nicely or exactly observed than in this.


§. 12. ¶. 1. Of Letter-Cutters Tools.

THe making of Steel Punches is a Branch of the Smith’s Trade: For, as I told you in the Preface to Numb. 1. The Black-Smith’s Trade comprehends all Trades that use either Forge or File, from the Anchor-Smith, to the Watch-maker: They all working by the same Rules, though not with equal exactness; and all using the same Tools, though of different Sizes from those the Common Black-Smith uses; and that according to the various purposes they are applied, &c. Therefore, indeed, a Letter-Cutter should have a Forge set up, as by Numb. 1. But some Letter-Cutters may seem to scorn to use a Forge, as accounting it too hard Labour, and Ungenteel for themselves to officiate at. Yet they all well know, that though they may have a common Black-Smith perform their much and heavy Work, that many times a Forge of their own at Hand would be very commodious for them in several accidental little and light Jobs, which (in a Train of Work) they must meet withal.

But if our Letter-Cutter will have no Forge, yet he must of necessity accommodate himself with a Vice, Hand-Vice, Hammers, Files, Small and Fine Files (commonly called Watch-makers Files) of these he saves all, as they wear out, to smooth and burnish the Sides and Face of his Letter with, as shall be shewed; Gravers, and Sculpters of all sorts, an Anvil, or a Stake, Oyl-stone, &c. And of these, such as are suitable and sizable to the several Letters N2
he is to Cut. These, or many of these Tools, being described in Numb. 1. I refer my Reader thither, and proceed to give an account of some Tools peculiar to the Letter-Cutter, though not of particular use to the Common Black-Smith.

Notes and Corrections: § 12. ¶ 1.

as I told you in the Preface to Numb. 1.
[In Volume I, as usual.]

Plate 10: Letter-Cutter’s tools

¶. 2. Of the Using-File.

This File is about nine or ten Inches long, and three or four Inches broad, and three quarters of an Inch thick: The two broad sides must be exactly flat and straight: And the one side is commonly cut with a Bastard-Cut, the other with a Fine or Smooth Cut. (See Numb. 1. Fol. 14, 15.) Its use is to Rub a piece of Steel, Iron, or Brass, &c. flat and straight upon, as shall be shewed hereafter.

In chusing it, you must see it be exactly Flat and Straight all its Length and Breadth: For if it in any part Belly out, or be Hollow inwards, what is Rubbed upon it will be Hollow, Rubbing on the Bellying part; and Bellying, Rubbing on the Hollow part. You must also see that it be very Hard; and therefore the thickest Using-Files are likeliest to prove best, because the thin commonly Warp in Hardning.

¶. 3. Of the Flat-Gage.

Plate 10A: Flat-Gage for letter-cutting

The Flat-Gage is described in Plate 10. at A. It is made of a flat piece of Box, or other Hard Wood. Its Length is three Inches and an half, its Breadth two Inches and an half, and its Thickness one Inch and 84 an half. This is on the Flat, first made Square, but afterwards hath one of its Corners (as h) a little rounded off, that it may the easier comply with the Ball of the stand. Out of one of its longest Sides, viz. that not rounded off, is Cut through the thickness of it an exact Square, whole one side b f, c g is about an Inch and three quarters long; and its other side b d, c e about half an Inch long. The Depth of these Sides and their Angle is exactly Square to the top and bottom of the upper and under Superficies of the Flat-Gage.

Its Use is to hold a Rod of Steel, or Body of a Mold, &c. exactly perpendicular to the Flat of the Using-File, that the end of it may rub upon the Using-File, and be Filed away exactly Square, and that to the Shank; as shall more at large be shewed in §. 2. ¶. 3.

Notes and Corrections: § 12. ¶ 3.

as shall more at large be shewed in §. 2. ¶. 3.
[This is a little obscure, since we are currently in § 12. ¶ 3.]

Plate 10B: Sliding Gage for letter-cutting

¶. 4. Of the Sliding Gage.

The Sliding Gage is described in Plate 10. at Fig. B. It is a Tool commonly used by Mathematical Instrument-Makers, and I have found it of great use in Letter-Cutting, and making of Molds, &c. a a the Beam, b the Tooth, c c the Sliding Socket, d d d d the Shoulder of the Socket.

Its Use is to measure and let off Distances between the Sholder and the Tooth, and to mark it off from the end, or else from the edge of your Work.

I always use two or three of these Gages, that I need not remove the Sholder when it is set to a Distance which I may have after-use for; as shall in Working be shewed more fully.


¶. 5. Of the Face-Gages, marked C in Plate 10.

Plate 10C: Face-Gages for letter-cutting

The Face-Gage is a Square Notch cut with a File into the edge of a thin Plate of Steel, Iron, or Brass, the thickness of a piece of common Latton, and the Notch about an English deep. There be three of these Gages made, for the Letters to be cut on one Body; but they may be all made upon one thin Plate, the readier to be found, as at D. As first, for the Long Letters; Secondly, for the Assending Letters; And Thirdly, for the Short Letters. The Length of these several Notches, or Gages, have their Proportions to the Body they are cut to, and are as follows. We shall imagine (for in Practice it cannot well be perform’d, unless in very large Bodies) that the Length of the whole Body is divided into forty and two equal Parts.

The Gage for the Long Letters are the length of the whole Body, viz. forty and two equal Parts. The Gage for the Assending Letters, Roman and Italica, are five Seventh Parts of the Body, viz. thirty Parts of Forty two, and thirty and three Parts for English Face. The Gage for the Short Letters are three Seventh Parts of the whole Body, viz. eighteen Parts of Forty two for the Roman and Italica, and twenty two Parts for the English Face.

It may indeed be thought impossible to divide a Body into seven equal Parts, and much more difficult to divide each of thole seven equal Parts into six equal Parts, which are Forty two, as aforesaid, especially if the Body be but small; but yet it is 86 possible with curious Working: For seven thin Spaces may be Cast and Rubb’d to do it. And for dividing each of the thin Spaces into six equal Parts, you may Cast and Rub Full Point . to be of the thickness of one thin Space, and one sixth part of a thin Space: And you may Cast and Rub : to be the thickness of one thin Space, and two sixth parts of a thin Space: And you may Cast and Rub , to be the thickness of one thin Space, and three sixth parts of a thin Space: And you may Cast and Rub - to be the thickness of one thin Space, and four sixth parts of a thin Space: And you may Cast and Rub ; to be the thickness of one thin Space, and five sixth parts of a thin Space.

The reason why I propose . to be Cast and Rubb’d one sixth part thicker than a thin Space, is only that it may be readily distinguished from : , - ; which are two sixth parts, three sixth parts, four sixth parts, five sixth parts thicker than a thin Space. And for six sixth parts thicker than a thin Space, two thin Spaces does it.

The manner of adjusting these several Sixth Parts of Thicknesses is as follows. You may try if six . exactly agree, and be even with seven thin Spaces; (or, which is all one, a Body) for then is each of those six . one sixth part thicker than a thin Space, because it drives out a thin Space in six thin Spaces. And you may try if six : be equal to a Body and one thin Space; for then is each : two sixth parts thicker than a thin Space. If six , be equal to nine thin Spaces, then each , is three sixth parts of a thin Space thicker than a thin Space. If six - 87 be equal to ten thin Spaces, then each - is four sixth parts of a thin Space thicker than a thin Space. If six ; be equal to eleven thin Spaces, then each ; is five sixth parts of a thin Space thicker than a thin Space.

Now, as aforesaid, a thin Space being one seventh part of the Body, and the thin Space thus divided, you have the whole Body actually divided into forty and two equal parts, as I have divided them in my Drafts of Letters down the Sides, and in the Bottom Line.

Though I have thus shewed how to divide a thin Space into six equal Parts, yet when the Letter to be Cut proves of a small Body, the thin Space divided into two equal Parts may serve: If it prove bigger, into three or four equal Parts: And of the largest Bodies, they may be divided into six, as aforesaid.

If now you would make a Gage for any number of thin Spaces and Sixth Parts of a thin Space, you must take one thin Space less than the number of thin Spaces proposed, and add . : , - ; according as the number of sixth Parts of a thin Space require; and to those complicated Thicknesses you may file a square Notch on the edge of the thin Plate aforesaid, which shall be a standing Gage or Measure for that number of thin Spaces and sixth Parts of a thin Space.

All the Exception against this way of Measuring is, that thin Spaces cast in Metal may be subject to bow, and so their Thicknesses may prove deceitful. But, in Answer to that, I say, you may, if you will, 88 Cast I for two thin Spaces thick, e for three thin Spaces thick, S for four thin Spaces thick, L for five thin Spaces thick, D for six thin Spaces thick, or any other Letters near these several Thicknesses, as you think fit; only remember, or rather, make a Table of the number of thin Spaces that each Letter on the Shank is Cast for. And by complicating the Letters and Points, as aforesaid, you will have any Thickness, either to make a Gage by, or to use otherwise.

On the other Edge of the Face-Gage you may file three other Notches, of the same Width with those on the former Edge, for the Long, the Assending, and Short Letters. But though the two sides of each of these Notches are parallel to each other, yet is not the third side square to them, but hath the same Slope the Italick hath from the Roman; as you may see in the Figure at b b b.

Notes and Corrections: § 12. ¶ 5.

It may indeed be thought impossible to divide a Body into seven equal Parts
[But only because primary schools in Moxon’s time didn’t teach geometry. With a compass and straightedge it is trivial to divide a line into any number of equal segments using the principle of congruent triangles.]

And of the largest Bodies
text has the / the at line break

¶. 6. Of Italick, and other Standing Gages.

Plate 10D: Italic Gage for letter-cutting

These Gages are to measure (as aforesaid) the Slope of the Italick Stems, by applying the Top and Bottom of the Gage to the Top and Bottom Lines of the Letters, and the other Side of the Gage to the Stem: for when the Letter complies with these three sides of the Gage that Letter hath its true Slope.

The manner of making these Gages (and indeed all other Angular Gages) is thus.

Place one Point of a Pair of Steel Dividers upon the thin Plate aforesaid, at the Point c or d (in O
Fig. D in Plate 10. and with the other Point describe a small fine Arch of a Circle; as, e f or g h. In this Arch of the Circle must be set off on the Gage a 110 Degrees, and on the Gage b 70 Degrees, and draw from the Centres c and d two straight Lines through those numbers of Degrees: Then Filing away the Plate between the two Lines, the Gages are finished.

To find the Measure of this, or any other number of Degrees, do thus; Describe a Circle on a piece of Plate-Brass of any Radius (but the larger the better) draw a straight Line exactly through the Centre of this Circle, and another straight Line to cut this straight Line at right Angles in the Centre, through the Circle; so shall the Circle be divided into four Quadrants: Then fix one Foot of your Compasses (being yet unstirr’d) in one of the Points where any of the straight Lines cuts the Circle, and extend the moving Foot of your Compasses where it will fall in the Circle, and make there a Mark, which is 60 Degrees from the fixed Foot of the Compasses: Then fix again one Foot of your Compasses in the Intersection of the straight Line and Circle that is next the Mark that was made before, and extend the moving Foot in the same Quadrant towards the straight Line where you first pitch’d the Foot of your Compasses, and with the moving Foot make another Mark in the Circle. These two Marks divide the Quadrant into three equal Parts: The same way you may divide the other three Quadrants; so shall the whole Circle be divided into twelve equal Parts; and each of these twelve equal parts contain 90 an Arch of thirty Degrees: Then with your Dividers divide each of these 30 Degrees into three equal Parts, and each of these three equal Parts in two equal Parts, and each of these two equal Parts into five equal Parts, so shall the Circle be divided into 360 equal Parts, for your use.

To use it, describe on the Centre of the Circle an Arch of almost a Semi-Circle: This Arch must be exactly of the same Radius with that I prescribed to be made on the Gages a b, from e to f, and from g to h; then count in your Circle of Degrees from any Diametral Line 110 Degrees; and laying a straight Ruler on the Centre, and on the 110 Degrees aforesaid, make a small Mark through the small Arch; and placing one Foot of your Compasses at the Intersection of the small Arch, with the Diametral Line, open the other Foot to the Mark made on the small Arch for 110 Degrees, and transfer that distance to the small Arch made on the Gage: Then through the Marks that the two Points of your Compasses make in the small Arch on the Gage, draw two straight Lines from the Centre c: and the Brass between those two straight Lines being filed away, that Gage is made. In like manner you may set off any other number of Degrees, for the making of any other Gage.

In like manner, you may measure any Angle in the Drafts of Letters, by describing a small Arch on the Angular Point, and an Arch of the same Radius on the Centre of your divided Circle: For then, placing one Foot of your Compasses at the Intersection of the small Arch with either of the straight O2
Lines proceeding from the Angle in the Draft, and extending the other Foot to the Intersection of the small Arch, with the other straight Line that proceeds from the Angle, you have between the Feet of your Compasses, the Width of the Angle; and by placing one Foot of your Compasses at the Intersection of any of the straight Lines that proceed from the Centre of the divided Circle, and the small Arch you made on it, and making a Mark where the other Foot of your Compasses falls in the said small Arch, you may, by a straight Ruler laid on the Centre of the divided Circle, and the Mark on the small Arch, see in the Limb of the Circle the number of Degrees contained between the Diametral, or straight Line and the Mark.

If you have already a dividing-Plate of 360 Degrees, of a larger Radius than the Arch on your Gage, you may save your self the labour of dividing a Circle (as aforesaid,) and work by your dividing-Plate as you were directed to do with the Circle that I shewed you to divide.

In these Documents I have exposed my self to a double Censure; First, of Geometricians: Secondly, of Letter-Cutters. Geometricians will censure me for writing anew that which almost every young Beginner knows: And Letter-Cutters will censure me for proposing a Rule for that which they dare pretend they can do without Rule.

To the Geometricians I cross the Cudgels: yet I writ this not to them; and I doubt I have written superfluously to Letter-Cutters, because I think few of them either will or care to take pains to understand 92 these small Rudiments of Geometry. If they do, and be ingenious, they will thank me for discovering this Help in their own Way, which few of them know. For by this Rule they will not only make Letters truer, but also quicker, and with less care; because they shall never need to stamp their Counter-Punch in Lead, to see how it pleases them; which they do many times, before they like their Counter-Punch, be it of A A V v W w V W, and several other Letters) and at last finish their Counter-Punch but with a good Opinion they have that it may do well, though they frequently see it does not in many Angular Letters on different Bodies Cut by the same Hand. And were Letter-Cutting brought to so common Practice as Joynery, Cabinet-making, or Mathematical Instrument-making, every young Beginner should then be taught by Rules, as they of these Trades are; because Letter-Cutting depends as much upon Rule and Compass as any other Trade does.

You may in other places, where you find most Convenience (as at i) make a Square, which may stand you in stead for the Squaring the Face and Stems of the Punch in Roman Letters, and also in many other Uses.

And you may make Gages, as you were taught before to try the Counter-Punches of Angular Letters; as, A K M N V X Y Z, Romans and Italicks, Capitals and Lower-Case. But then, that you may know each distinct Gage, you may engrave on the several respective Gages, at the Angle, A A 4 &c. For by examining by the Drafts of Letters, what Angle their Insides make, you may set that Angle off, and O3
make the Gage as you were taught before, in the Gage for the Slope of Italicks.

Notes and Corrections: § 12. ¶ 6.

skip to next section

at the Point c or d (in Fig. D in Plate 10.
[“Fig. D” begins not only a new page but a new quire (signature mark O). In the excitement, the printer failed to notice that he never did close the parentheses.]

Then with your Dividers divide each of these 30 Degrees into three equal Parts . . . into five equal Parts
[Now, wait a minute. I was with him up to 30 degrees—which in turn can easily make 45 or 15 degrees—but how do you divide an angle into three or five parts?]

make a small Mark through the small Arch
text has the / the at line break

and several other Letters)
[At this point, the printer notices that he’s got a leftover close-parenthesis that he should have used four pages earlier. Either that, or a stray parenthesis got into the comma bin.]

in other places, where you find most Convenience (as at i)
[If anyone can find an i anywhere in Plate 10, I would like to hear about it.]

Plate 10E: Liner for letter-cutting

¶. 7. Of the Liner.

The Liner is marked E in Plate 10. It is a thin Plate of Iron or Brass, whose Draft is sufficient to express the Shape. The Use of it is on the under-edge a b (which is about three Inches long) and is made truly straight, and pretty sharp or fine; that being applied to the Face of a Punch, or other piece of Work, it may shew whether it be straight or no.

Notes and Corrections: § 12. ¶ 7.

Behind the Mold is placed the Register, as at f i h
[As in the previous paragraph, I’m danged if I have any idea what illustration he is referring to.]

Plate 10F: Flat-Table for letter-cutting

¶. 8. Of the Flat-Table.

The Flat-Table at F in Plate 10. The Figure is there sufficient. All its Use is the Table F, for that is about one Inch and an half square, and on its Superficies exactly straight and flat. It is made of Iron or Brass, but Brass most proper. Its Use is to try if the Shank of a Punch be exactly Perpendicular to its Face, when the Face is set upon the Table; for if the Shank stand then directly upright to the Face of the Table, and lean not to any side of it, it is concluded to be perpendicular.

It hath several other Uses, which, when we come to Casting of Letters, and Justifying of Matrices, shall be shewn.


¶. 9. Of the Tach.

The Tach is a piece of Hard-Wood, (Box is very good) about three Inches broad, six Inches long, and three quarters of an Inch thick. About half its Length is fastned firm down upon the Work-Bench, and its other half projects over the hither Edge of it. It hath three or four Angular Notches on its Fore-end to rest and hold the Shank of a Punch steady when the End of the Punch is screwed in the Hand-Vice, and the Hand-Vice held in the Left Hand, while the Work-man Files or Graves on it with his Right Hand.

Instead of Fastning the Tach to the Bench, I Saw a square piece out of the further half of the Tach, that it may not be too wide for the Chaps of the Vice to take and screw that narrow End into the Chaps of the Vice, because it should be less cumbersome to my Work-Bench.

¶. 10. Of Furnishing the Work-Bench.

The Work-man hath all his great Files placed in Leather Nooses, with their Handles upwards, that he may readily distinguish the File he wants from another File. These Nooses are nailed on a Board that Cases the Wall on his Right Hand, and as near his Vice as Convenience will admit, that he may the readier take any File he wants.

He hath also on his Right Hand a Tin Pot, of about a Pint, with small Files standing in it, with 95 their Handles downwards, that their Blades may be the readier seen. These small Files are called Watch-makers Files, and the Letter-Cutter hath occasion to use these of all Shapes, viz. Flat, Pillar, Square, Triangular, Round, Half-Round, Knife-Files, &c.

He also provides a shallow square Box, of about five Inches long, and three Inches broad, to lay his small Instruments in; as, his Gages, his Liner, some common Punches, &c. This Box he places before him, at the further side of the Work-Bench.

He also provides a good Oyl-Stone, to sharpen his Gravers and Sculpters on. This he places at some distance from the Vice, on his Left Hand.

§. 13. ¶. 1. Of Letter-Cutting.

The Letter-Cutter does either Forge his Steel-Punches, or procures them to be forged; as I shewed, Numb. 1, Fol. 8, 9, 10. in Vol. I. &c. But great care must be taken, that the Steel be found, and free from Veins of Iron, Cracks and Flaws, which may be discerned; as I shewed in Numb. 3. Vol. I. For if there be any Veins of Iron in the Steel, when the Letter is Cut and Temper’d, and you would Sink the Punch into the Copper, it will batter there; Or it will Crack or Break if there be Flaws.

If there be Iron in it, it must with the Chissel be split upon a good Blood-Red-Heat in that place, and the Iron taken or wrought out; and then with another, or more Welding Heat, or Heats, well doubled up, and laboured together, till the Steel become a sound entire piece. This Operation Smiths call Well Currying of the Steel.


If there be Flaws in it, you must also take good Welding Heats, so hot, that the contiguous sides of the Flaws may almost Run: for then, snatching it quickly out of the Fire, you may labour it together till it become close and sound.

Mr. Robinson, a Black-Smith of Oxford, told me a way he uses that is ingenious, and seems rational: For if he doubts the Steel may have some small Flaws that he can scarce discern, he takes a good high Blood-Red Heat of it, and then twists the Rod or Bar (as I shewed, Numb. 3. Vol. I.) which Twisting winds the Flaws about the Body of the Rod, and being thus equally disposed, more or less, into the Out-sides of the Rod, according as the Position of the Flaw may be, allows an equal Heat on all sides to be taken, because the Out-sides heat faster than the In-side; and therefore the Out-sides of the Steel are not thus so subject to Burn, or Run, as if it should be kept in the Fire till the Middle, or In-side of it should be ready to Run. And when the Steel is thus well welded, and soundly laboured and wrought together with proper Heats, he afterwards reduces it to Form.

Plate 10G: Letter-Cutter’s Punch

Now, that I may be the better understood by my Reader as he reads further, I have, in Plate 10. at Fig. G described the several Parts of the Punch; which I here explain.

G The Face.

a a, b b The Thickness.

a b, a b The Heighth.

a c, b c, b c The Length of the Shank, about an Inch and three quarters long.

c c c The Hammer-End.


This is no strict Length for the Shank, but a convenient Length; for should the Letter Cut on the Face be small, and consequently, the Shank so too, and the Shank much longer, and it (as seldom it is) not Temper’d in the middle, it might, with Punching into Copper, bow in the middle, either with the weight of the Hammer, or with light reiterated Blows; And should it be much shorter, there might perhaps Finger-room be wanting to manage and command it while it is Punching into the Copper. But this Length is long enough for the biggest Letters, and short enough for the smallest Letters.

The Heighth and Thickness cannot be assign’d in general, because of the diversity of Bodies, and Thickness of Letters: Besides, some Letters must be Cut on a broad Face of Steel, though, when it is Cut, it is of the same Body; as all Letters are, to which Counter-Punches are used; because the striking the Counter-Punch into the Face of the Punch will, if it have not strength enough to contain it, break or crack one or more sides of the Punch, and so spoil it. But if the Letter be wholly to be Cut, and not Counter-Punch’d, as I shall hereafter hint in general what Letters are not, then the Face of the Punch need be no bigger, or, at least, but a small matter bigger than the Letter that is to be cut upon it.

Now, If the Letter be to be Counter-punch’d, the Face of the Punch ought to be about twice the Heighth, and twice the Thickness of the Face of the Counter-Punch; that so, when the Counter-Punch is struck just on the middle of the Face of the Punch, a 98 convenient Substance, and consequently, Strength of Steel on all its Sides may be contained to resist the Delitation, that the Sholder or Beard of the Counter-Punch sinking into it, would else make.

If the Letter-Cutter be to Cut a whole Set of Punches of the same Body of Roman and Italica, he provides about 240 or 260 of these Punches, because so many will be used in the Roman and Italica Capitals and Lower-Case, Double-Letters, Swash-Letters, Accented Letters, Figures, Points, &c. But this number of Punches are to have several Heighths and Thicknesses, though the Letters to be Cut on them are all of the same Body.

What Heighth and Thickness is, I have shewed before in this §, but not what Body is; therefore I shall here explain it.

By Body is meant, in Letter-Cutters, Founders and Printers Language, the Side of the Space contained between the Top and Bottom Line of a Long Letter. As in the Draft of Letters, the divided Line on the Left Hand of A is divided into forty and two equal Parts; and that Length is the Body, thus; J being an Ascending and Descending Letter, viz. a long Letter, stands upon forty two Parts, and therefore fills the whole Body.

There is in common Use here in England, about eleven Bodies,as I shewed in §. 2. ¶. 2. of this Volumne.

I told you even now, that all the Punches for the same Body must not have the same Heighth and Thickness: For some are Long; as, J j Q, and several others; as you may see in the Drafts of Letters: and these long Letters stand upon the whole Heighth of the Body.


The Ascending and Descending Letters reach from the Foot-Line, up to the Top-Line; as all the Capital Letters are Ascending Letters, and so are many of the Lower-Case Letters; as, b d f, and several others. The Descending Letters are of the same Length with the Ascending Letters; as, g p q and several others. These are contained between the Head-Line and the Bottom-Line. The Short Letters are contained between the Head-Line and the Bottom-line. These are three different Sizes of Heighth the Punches are made to, for Letters of the same Body. But in proper place I shall handle this Subject more large and distinctly.

And as there is three Heighths or Sizes to be considered in Letters Cut to the same Body, so is there three Sizes to be considered, with respect to the Thicknesses of all these Letters, when the Punches are to be Forged: For some are m thick; by m thick is meant m Quadrat thick, which is just so thick as the Body is high: Some are n thick; that is to say, n Quadrat thick, viz., half so thick as the Body is high: And some are Space thick; that is, one quarter so thick as the Body is high; though Spaces are seldom Cast so thick, as shall be shewed when we come to Casting: and therefore, for distinction sake, we shall call these Spaces, Thick Spaces.

The first three Sizes fit exactly in Heighth to all the Letters of the same Body, but the last three Sizes fit not exactly in Thickness to the Letters of the same Body; for that some few among the Capitals are more than m thick, some less than m thick, and more than n thick; and some less than n thick, and 100 more than Space thick; yet for Forging the Punches, these three Sizes are only in general Considered, with Exception had to Æ Æ Q, and most of the Swash Letters; which being too thick to stand on an m, must be Forged thicker, according to the Work-man’s Reason.

After the Work-man has accounted the exact number of Letters he is to Cut for one Set, he considers what number he shall use of each of these several Sizes in the Roman, and of each of these several Sizes in the Italick; (for the Punches of Romans and Italicks, if the Body is large, are not to be Forged to the same shape, as shall be shewed by and by) and makes of a piece of Wood one Pattern of the several Sizes that he must have each number Forged to. Upon every one of these Wooden Patterns I use to write with a Pen and Ink the number of Punches to be Forged of that Size, lest afterwards I might be troubled with Recollections.

I say (for Example) He considers how many long Letters are m thick, how many long Letters are n thick, and how many long Letters are Space thick, in the Roman; and also considers which of these must be Counter-punch’d, and which not: For (as was said before) those Letters that are to be Counter-punch’d are to have about twice the Heighth and twice the Thickness of the Face of the Counter-Punch, for the Reason aforesaid. But the Letters not to be Counter-punch’d need no more Substance but what will just contain the Face of the Letter; and makes of these three Sizes three Wooden Patterns, of the exact Length, Heighth and Thickness that the Steel Punches are to be Forged to.


He also counts how many are Ascendents and Descendents, m-thick, n-thick, and Space thick; still considering how many of them are to be Counter-punch’d, and how many not; and makes Wooden Patterns for them.

The like he does for short Letters; and makes Wooden Patterns for them, for Steel Punches to be Forged by.

And as he has made his Patterns for the Roman, so he makes Patterns for the Italick Letters also; for the same shap’d Punches will not serve for Italick, unless he should create a great deal more Work to himself than he need do: For Italick Punches are not all to be Forged with their sides square to one another, as the Romans are; but only the highest and lowest sides must stand in Line with the highest and lowest sides of the Roman; but the Right and Left Hand sides stand not parallel to the Stems of the Roman, but must make an Angle of 20 Degrees with the Roman Stems: so that the Figure of the Face of the Punch will become a Rhomboides, as it is called by Geometricians, and the Figure of this Face is the Slope that the Italick Letters have from the Roman, as in proper place shall be further shewed. Now, should the Punches for these Letters be Forged with each side square to one another, the Letter-Cutter would be forced to spend a great deal of Time, and take great pains to File away the superfluous Steel about the Face of the Letter when he comes to the Finishing of it, especially in great Bodied Letters. Yet are not all the Italick Letters to be Forged on the Slope; for the Punches of some of them, as the 102 m n, and many others, may have all, or, at least, three of their sides, square to one another, though their Stems have the common Slope, because the ends of their Beaks and Tails lie in the same, perpendicular with the Outer Points, of the Bottom and Top of their Stems, as is shewed in the Drafts of Letters.

Though I have treated thus much on the Forging of Punches, yet must all what I have said be understood only for great Bodied Punches; viz. from the Great Primer, and upwards. But for smaller Bodies; as English, and downwards, the Letter-Cutter generally, both for Romans and Italicks, gets so many square Rods of Steel, Forged out of about two or three Foot in Length, as may serve his purpose; which Rods he elects as near his Body and Sizes as his Judgment will serve him to do; and with the edge of a Half-round File, or a Cold-Chissel, cuts them into so many Lengths as he wants Punches. Nay, many of these Rods may serve for some of the small Letters in some of the greater Bodies; and also, for many of their Counter-Punches.

Having thus prepared your Punches, you must Neal them, as I shewed in Numb. 3. Vol. I.

Notes and Corrections: § 13. ¶ 1.

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Number VIII begins at Page 97 (signature P).

By Body is meant . . . the Side of the Space contained between the Top and Bottom Line of a Long Letter.
[Point sizes for type were developed in France in the early 18th century, but took a very long time to become accepted in England. A century and a half after Moxon, Savage barely mentions the term. For Moxon as for Savage, a “point” is a punctuation mark.]

Space thick; that is, one quarter so thick as the Body is high
[The generic “space”, as rendered by the space bar on your keyboard, is also four-per-em in most proportional fonts. Unicode characters 2000 through 200B offer the full range of spaces: en quad, em quad, en space, em space, three-per-em space, four-per-em space, six-per-em space, figure space, punctuation space, thin space, hair space, zero width space. (Do not ask what is the difference between a “quad” and a “space”. To me they look identical.)]

¶. 2. Of Counter-Punches.

The Counter-Punches for great Letters are to be Forged as the Letter-Punches; but for the smaller Letters, they may be cut out of Rods of Steel, as aforesaid. They must also be well Neal’d, as the Punches. Then must one of the ends be Filed away 103 on the out-side the Shank, to the exact shape of the in-side of the Letter you intend to Cut. For Example, If it be A you would Cut; This Counter-Punch is easie to make, because it is a Triangle; and by measuring the In-side of the Angle of A in the Draft of Letters, as you were taught, §. 12. ¶. 6. you may make on your Standing Gage-Plate a Gage for that Angle: So that, let the Letter to be Cut be of what Body you will, from the least, to the biggest Body, you have a Standing Gage for this Counter-Punch, so oft as you may have occasion to Cut A.

The Counter-Punch of A ought to be Forged Triangularly, especially towards the Punching End, and Tryed by the A Gage, as you were taught to use the Square, Numb. 3. Vol. I. Yet, for this and other Triangular Punches, I commonly reserve my worn out three square Files, and make my Counter-Punch of a piece of one of them that best fits the Body I am to Cut.

Having by your A-Gage fitted the Top-Angle and the Sides of this Counter-Punch, you must adjust its Heighth by one of the three Face-Gages mentioned in § 12. ¶. 5. viz. by the Ascending Face-Gage; for A is an Ascending Letter. By Adjusting, I do not mean, you must make the Counter-Punch so high, as the Depth of the Ascending Face-Gage; because in this Letter here is to be considered the Top and the Footing, which strictly, as by the large Draft of A, make both together five sixth Parts of a thin Space: Therefore five sixth Parts must be abated in the Heighth of your Counter-Punch, and it must be but four thin Spaces, and one sixth part of a thin 104 Space high, because the Top above the Counter-Punch, and the Footing below, makes five sixth Parts of a thin Space, as aforesaid.

Therefore, to measure off the Width of four thin Spaces and one sixth Part of a thin Space, lay three thin Spaces, or, which is better, the Letter e, which is three thin Spaces, as aforesaid; and . which is one thin Space and one sixth part of a thin Space, upon one another; for they make together, four thin Spaces, and one sixth part of a thin Space and the thickness of these two Measures shall be the Heighth of the Counter-Punch, between the Footing and the Inner Angle of A. And thus, by this Example, you may couple with proper Measures either the whole Forty two, which is the whole Body, or any number of its Parts, as I told you before.

Plate 10B: Sliding Gage for letter-cutting

This Measure of four thin Spaces and one sixth part of a thin Space is not a Measure, perhaps, used more in the whole Set of Letters to be Cut to the present Body, therefore you need not make a Standing Gage for it; yet a present Gage you must have: Therefore use the Sliding Gage (described in §. 12. ¶. 4. and Plate 10. at B.) and move the Socket c c on the Beam a a, till the Edge of the Sholder of the Square of the Socket at the under-side of the Beam stands just the Width of four thin Spaces and one sixth part of a thin Space, from the Point of the Tooth b; which you may do by applying the Measure aforesaid just to the Square and Point of the Tooth; for then if you Screw down the Screw in the upper side of the Sliding Socket, it will fasten the Square at that distance from the Point of the Q
Tooth. And by again applying the side of the Square to the Foot of the Face of the Counter-Punch, you may with the Tooth describe a small race, which will be the exact Heighth of the Counter-Punch for A. But A hath a Fine stroak within it, reaching from Side to Side, which by the large Draft of A, you may find that the middle of this cross stroak is two Thin Spaces above the bottom of this Counter-Punch; and with your common Sliding-Gage measure that distance as before, and set off that distance also on the Face of your Counter-Punch. Then with the edge of a Fine Knife-File, File straight down in that race, about the depth of a Thin Space, or somewhat more; So shall the Counter-Punch for A be finisht. But you may if you will, take off the Edges or Sholder round about the Face of the Counter-Punch, almost so deep as you intend to strike it into the Punch: for then the Face of the Counter-Punch being Filed more to a Point, will easier enter the Punch than the broad Flat-Face.

But note. That if it be a very Small Bodied A you would make, the Edge of a Thin Knife-File may make too wide a Groove; In this case you must take a peece of a well-Temper’d broken Knife, and strike its Edge into the Face of the Counter-Punch, as aforesaid.

¶. 3. Of Sinking the Counter-Punches.

Having thus finisht his Counter-Punch, he Hardens and Tempers it, as was taught Numb. 3. fol. 57, 58. Vol. I. And having also Filed the Face of his Punch 106 he intends to cut his A upon, pretty Flat by guess, he Screws the Punch upright, and hard into the Vice: And setting the Face of his Counter-Punch as exactly as he can, on the middle of the Face of his Punch, he, with an Hammer suitable to the Size of his Counter-Punch, strikes upon the end of the Counter-Punch till he have driven the Face of it about two Thin Spaces deep into the Face of the Punch. So shall the Counter-Punch have done its Office.

But if the Letter to be Counter-Puncht be large, as Great Primmer, or upwards, I take a good high Blood red Heat of it, and Screw it quickly into the Vice; And having my Counter-Punch Hard, not Temper’d, because the Heat of the Punch softens it too fast: And also having before-hand the Counter-Punch Screwed into the Hand-Vice with its Shank along the Chaps, I place the Face of the Counter-Punch as before, on the middle of the Face of the Punch, and with an Hammer drive it in, as before.

Taking the Punch out of the Vice, he goes about to Flat and Smoothen the Face in earnest; for it had been to no purpose to Flat and Smoothen it exactly before, because the Sinking of the Counter-Punch into it, would have put it out of Flat again.

But before he Flats and Smoothens the Face of the Punch, He Files by guess the superfluous Steel away about the Face of the Letter, viz., so much, or near so much, as is not to be used when he comes to finish up the Letter, as in this present Letter A, which standing upon a Square Face on the Punch, meets in an Angle at the Top of the Letter. Therefore the Sides of that Square must be Filed away Q2
to an Angle at the Top of the Face of the Punch. But great care must be taken, that he Files not more away than he should: For he considers that the left hand Stroak of A is a Fat Stroak, and that both the left-hand and the right-hand Stroak too, have Footings, which he is careful to leave Steel enough in their proper places for.

The reason why these are now Fil’d thus away, and not after the Letter is finisht, is, Because in the Flatting the Face there is now a less Body of Steel to File away, than if the whole Face of the Punch had remain’d intire: For though the following ways are quick ways to Flatten the Face, yet considering how tenderly you go to Work, and with what Smooth Files this Work must be done, the riddance made will be far less when a broad Face of Steel is to be Flatned, than when only so much, or very little more than the Face of the Letter only is to be Flatned.

Plate 10A: Flag-Gage for letter-cutting

To Flat and Smoothen the Face of the Punch, he uses the Flat-Gage, (described §. 12. ¶. 3. and Plate 10. at A.) thus, He fits one convex corner of the Shank of the Punch, into the Concave corner of the Flat-Gage, and so applies his Flat-Gage-Punch and all to the Face of the Using-File, and lets the Counter-Puncht end, viz. the Face of the Punch Sink down to the Face of the Using-File: And then keeping the convex Corner of the Shank of the Punch close and steddy against the Concave corner of the Flat-Gage, and pressing with one of his Fingers upon the then upper end of the Punch viz., the Hammer-end, he also at the same time, presses 108 the lower end of the Punch, viz. The Face against the Using-File, and thrusts the Flat-Gage and Punch in it so oft forwards, till the extuberant Steel on the Face, be Rub’d or Fil’d away: which he knows partly by the alteration of colour and Fine Furrows made by the Using-File on the Face of the Punch, and partly by the falling away of the parts of the Face that are not yet toucht by the Using-File: So that it may be said to be truly Flat: which he knows, when the whole Face of the Punch touches upon the Flat of the Using-File, or at least, so much of the Face as is required in the Letter: For all Counter-Puncht-Letters, as aforesaid, must have a greater Face of Steel than what the bare Letter requires: for the reason aforesaid.

Another way I use is thus. After I have Fil’d the Face as true as I can by guess, with a Rough-Cut-File, I put the Punch into an Hand-Vice, whose Chaps are exactly Flat, and straight on the upper Face, and sink the Shank of the Punch so low down in the Chaps of the Hand-Vice, that the low side of the Face of the Punch may lye in the same Plain with the Chaps; which I try with the Liner. For the Liner will then shew if any of the Sides stand higher than the Plain of the Chaps: Then I Screw the Punch hard up, and File off the rising side of the Punch, which brings the Face to an exact Level: For the Face of the Chaps being Hard Steel, a File cannot touch them, but only take off the aforesaid Rising parts of the Face of the Punch, till the Smooth-File has wrought it all over exactly into the same Plain with the Face of the Chaps of the Hand-Vice.


Some Letter-Cutters work them Flat by Hand, which is not only difficult, but tedious, and at the best, but done by guess.

The inconvenience that this Tool is subject to, is, That with much using its Face will work out of Flat. Therefore it becomes the Workman to examine it often, and when he finds it faulty to mend it.

When they File it Flat by Hand, they Screw the Shank of the Punch perpendicularly upright into the Chaps of the Vice, and with a Flat-Bastard-Cut-File, of about Four Inches long, or if the Punch be large, the File larger, according to discretion, and File upon the Face, as was shewn Numb. I. fol. 15, 16. Then they take it out of the Vice again, and holding up the Face Horizontally between the Sight and the Light, examine by nice observing whether none of its Angles or Sides are too high or too low. And then Screwing it in the Vice again, as before, with a Smooth-Cut-File, he at once both Files down the Higher Sides or Angles, and Smoothens the Face of the Punch. But yet is not this Face so perfectly Flatned, but that perhaps the middle of it rises more or less, above the Sides: And then he Screws it in his Hand-Vice, and leans the Shank of the Punch against the Tach, pretty near upright, and so as he may best command it, and with a Watch-Makers Half-Round-Sharp-Cut-File, Files upon it with the Flat-Side of his File; But so that he scarce makes his forward and backward Stroaks longer than the breadth of the Face of his Punch, lest in a long Stroak, the hither or farther end of his File should Mount or Dip, and 110 therefore keeps his File, with the Ball of his Finger upon it, close to the Face of the Punch. Then with the Liner he examines how Flat the Face of the Punch is, and if it be not yet Flat, as perhaps it will not be in several Trials, he again reiterates the last process with the Small-Half-Round-File, till it be Flat. But he often Files cross the Furrows of the File, as well because it makes more riddance, as because he may better discern how the File bears on the Face of the Punch.

When it is Flat, he takes a Small well-worn Half-Round-File, and working (as before) with the Sharp-Cut-File, he Smoothens the Face of the Punch.

Having thus Flatted the Face of the Punch, and brought the Letter to some appearance of Form, He Screws the Punch in the Hand-Vice, but not with the Shank perpendicular to the Chaps, but so as the Side he intends to File upon may stand upwards and aslope too, and make an Angle with the Chaps of the Hand-Vice. And holding the Hand-Vice steddy in his left hand, he rests the Shank of the Punch pretty near its Face upon the Tach: and then with a small Flat-File, called a Pillar-File, in his right hand, holding the Smooth Thin Side of it towards the Footing of the Stem, he Files that Stem pretty near its due Fatness, and so by several reiterated proffers, lest he should File too much of the Stem away, he brings that Stem at last to its true Fatness. Then he measures with the Ascending Face-Gage, the Heighth of the Letter: For though the Counter-Punch was imagin’d 111 (as aforesaid) to be made to an exact Heighth for the inside of the Letter; yet with deeper or shallower Sinking it into the Punch, the inside oft proves higher or lower; Because, as aforesaid, the Superficies of the Face of the Counter-Punch is less than the true measure. But as it runs Sholdering into the Shank of the Counter-Punch the Figure or Form of the inside becomes bigger than the inside of the Letter ought to be. Therefore the deeper this Sholdering Shank is sunk into the Face of the Punch, the higher and broader will the Form of the inside of the Letter be, and the shallower it is Sunk in, the Shorter and Narrower by the Rule of Contraries.

He measures, as I said, with the Assending Face-Gage, and by it finds in what good Size the Letter is. If it be too high, as most commonly it is, because the Footing and Top are yet left Fat, then with several proffers he Files away the Footing and Top, bringing the Heighth nearer and nearer still, considering in his Judgment whether it be properest to File away on the Top or Footing, till at last he fits the Heighth of the Letter by the Assending Face-Gage.

But though he have fitted the Heighth of the Letter, yet if the Counter-Punch were made a little too little, or Sunk a little too shallow, not only the Footing will prove too Fat, but the Triangle above the Cross-stroke of A will be too small; or if too big, the Footing and part of the Top will be Filed away, when it is brought to a due Heighth, and then the Letter is Spoil’d, unless it be so deep Sunk, 112 that by working away the Face, as aforesaid, he can regain the Footing and Top through the Slope-sholdering of the Counter-Punch, and also keep the inside of the Letter deep enough.

But if the Footing be too Fat or the Triangle of the Top too little in the Inside, he uses the Knife-backt Sculpter, and with one of the edges or both, that proceeds from the Belly towards the Point of the Sculpter (which edges we will for distinction sake call Angular edges) he by degrees and with several proffers Cuts away the Inside of the Footing, or opens the Triangle at the Top or both, till he hath made the Footing lean enough, and the Triangle big enough.

But if he works on the Triangle of the Top, he is careful not to Cut into the Straight of the Inside lines of the Stems, but to keep the Insides of that Triangle in a perfect straight line with the other part of the Inside of the Stem.

The small arch of a Circle on the Top of A is Fil’d away with a Sizable Round-File. And so for all other Letters that have Hollows on their Outsides; he fits himself with a small File of that shape and Size that will fit the Hollow that he is to work upon: For thus the Tails of Swash Letters in Italick Capitals are Fil’d with half Round Files Sizable to the Hollows of them. But I instead of Round or Half-Round Files, in this Case, bespeak Pillar Files of several Thicknesses, and cause the File-maker to Round and Hatch the Edges: which renders the File strong and able to endure hard leaning on, without Breaking, which Round or Half-Round Files will not Bear.


I need give no more Examples of Letters that are to be Counter-punched: And for Letters that need neither Counter-punching or Graving, they are made as the Out-sides of A, with Files proper to the shapes of their Stroaks.

Notes and Corrections: § 13. ¶ 3.

Number IX begins at Page 113 (signature R).

the left hand Stroak of A is a Fat Stroak
[I hope he means the left hand of the metal letter, which becomes the right-hand side of the printed letter.]

as was shewn Numb. I. fol. 15, 16
[Moxon has been good about specifying that he means Volume I, but it couldn’t last. There is a longish section on Filing within the Smithing section.]

¶. 4. Of Graving and Sculping the Insides of Steel Letters.

The Letter-Cutter elects a Steel Punch or Rod, a small matter bigger than the Size of the Letter he is to Cut; because the Topping or Footing Stroaks will be stronger when they are a little Bevell’d from the Face. The Face of these Letters not being to be Counter-punched are first Flatned and Smoothed, as was shewed, ¶. 3. Then with the proper Gage, viz. the Long, the Ascending, or else the Short Face-Gage, according as the Letter is that he intends to Cut, He measures off the exact Heighth of the Letter, Thus; He first Files one of the Sides of the Face of the Punch (viz. that Side he intends to make the Foot of his Letter) exactly straight; which to do, he screws his Punch pretty near the bottom end, with its intended Foot-side uppermost, aslope into one end of the Chaps of his Hand-Vice. So that the Shank of the Punch lies over the Chaps of the Hand-Vice, and makes an Angle of about 45 Degrees with the Superficies of the Chaps of it: Then he lays the under side of the Shank of his Punch aslope upon his Tache, in one of the Notches of it, that will best fit the size of his Punch, to keep it steady; and so Files the Foot-Line of the Punch.


But he Files not athwart the sides of his Punch; for that might make the Foot-Line Roundish, by a Mounting and Dipping the Hand is prone to; as I shewed, Vol. I. Fol. 15, 16. But he holds his File so as the Length of it may hang over the Length of the Shank of the Punch, and dip upon it at the Face of the Punch, with a Bevel, or Angle, of about 100 Degrees with the Face of the Punch. This Angle you may measure with the Beard-Gage, described in Plate 10. Fig. C. at k. Then Filing with the File in this Position, the Foot-Line will be made a true straight Line. But yet he examines it too by applying the Liner to it; and holding the Punch and Liner thus to the Light; If the Liner touches all the way on the Foot-Line, he concludes it true; if not, he mends it till it do.

Then he uses his proper Steel-Gage, and places the Sholder of it against the Shank of the Punch at the Foot-Line; and pressing the Sholder of the Steel-Gage close against the Foot-Line, he, with the Tooth of the Gage makes a Mark or Race on the side of the Face, opposite to the Foot-line: And that Mark or Race shall be from the Foot-Line, the Bounds of the Heighth of that Letter.

Then on the Face he draws or marks the exact shape of the Letter, with a Pen and Ink if the Letter be large, or with a smooth blunted Point of a Needle if it be small: Then with sizable and proper shaped and Pointed Sculptors and Gravers, digs or Sculps out the Steel between the Streaks or Marks he made on the Face of the Punch, and leaves the Marks standing on the Face.


If the Letter be great he is thus to Sculp out, he then, with a Graver, Cuts along the Insides of the drawn or marked Stroaks, round about all the Hollow he is Cutting in. And having Cut about all the sides of that Hollow, he Cuts other straight Lines within that Hollow, close to one another (either parallel or aslope, it matters not) till he have filled the Hollow with straight Lines; and then again, Cuts in the same Hollow, athwart those straight Lines, till he fill the Hollow with Thwart Lines also. Which straight Lines, and the Cuttings athwart them, is only to break the Body of Steel that lies on the Face of the Punch where the Hollow must be; that so the Round-Back’d Sculptor may the easier Cut through the Body of the Steel, in the Hollow, on the Face of the Punch; even as I told you, Numb. 4. Vol. I. §. 2. the Fore-Plain makes way for the Fine Plains.

The Letter-Cutter does not expect to perform this Digging or Sculping at one single Operation; but, having brought the Inside of his Letter as near as he can at the first Operation, he, with the flat side of a Well-worn, Small, Fine-Cut, Half-round File, Files off the Bur that his Sculptors or Gravers made on the Face of the Letter, that he may the better and nicelier discern how well he has begun. Then he again falls to work with his Sculptors and Gravers, mending, as well as he can, the faults he finds; and again Files off the Bur as before, and mends so oft, till the Inside of his Letter pleases him pretty well. But before every Mending he Files off the Bur, which else, as aforesaid, would obscure and hide the true shape of his Stroaks.


Having well shaped the Inside Stroaks of his Letter, he deepens the Hollows that he made, as well as he can, with his Sculptors and Gravers: And the deeper he makes these Hollows, the better the Letter will prove. For if the Letters be not deep enough, in proportion to their Width, they will, when the Letter comes to be Printed on, Print Black, and so that Letter is spoiled.

How deep these Hollows are to be, cannot be well asserted, because their Widths are so different, both in the same Letter, and in several Letters; Therefore he deepens them according to his Judgment and Reason, For Example, O must be deeper than A need be, because the Hollow of O is wider than the Hollow of A; A having a Cross Stroak in it; and the wider the Hollow is, the more apt will the wet Paper be to press deeper towards the bottom in Printing. Yet this in General for the Depth of Hollows; You may make them, if you can, so deep as the Counter-Punch is directed to be struck into the Face of the Punch. See ¶. 3. of this §.

Having with his Gravers and Sculptors deepned them so much as he thinks convenient, he, with a Steel Punch, pretty near fit to the shape and size of the Hollow, and Flatted on its Face, Flattens down the Irregularities that the Gravers or Sculptors made, by striking with a proper Hammer, upon the Hammer-end of the Punch, with pretty light blows. But he takes great care, that this Flat-Punch be not at all too big for the Hollow it is to be struck into, lest it force the sides of the Stroaks of the Letter out of their shape: And therefore also it is, that he strikes R3
but easily, though often, upon the end of the Flat-Punch.

Having finished the Inside, he works the Outsides with proper Files; as I shewed before, in Letter A; and smoothens and Pollishes the Outside Stroaks and Face with proper worn-out small Watch-Makers Files.

The Inside and Outside of the Face thus finished, he considers what Sholdering the Shank of the Punch makes now with the Face, round about the Letter. For, as the Shank of the Letter stands farther off the Face of any of the Stroaks, the Sholdering will be the greater when the Letter is first made; because the Outsides of the Letter, being only shaped at first with Fine Small Files, which take but little Steel off, they are Cut Obtusely from the Shank to the Face, and the Steel of the Shank may with Rougher Files afterwards, be Cut down more Tapering to the Shank. For the Sholder of the Shank, as was said before in this ¶, must not make an Angle with the Face, of above 100 Degrees; because else they would be, first, more difficult to Sink into Copper; And Secondly, The broad Sholders would more or less (when the Letter is Cast in such Matrices) and comes to the Press, be subject, and very likely to be-smear the Stroaks of the Letter; especially, with an Hard Pull, and too wet Paper; which squeezes the Face of the Letter deep into the Paper, and so some part of the Broad Sholdering of the Letter, receiving the Ink, and pressing deep into the Paper, slurs the Printed Paper, and so makes the whole Work shew very nasty and un-beautiful.


For these Reasons it is, that the Shank of the Punch, about the Face, must be Filed away (at least, so much as is to be Sunk into Copper) pretty close to the Face of the Letter; yet not so as to make a Right Angle with the Face of the Letter, but an Obtuse Angle of about 100 Degrees: For, should the Shank be Filed away to a Right Angle, viz. a Square with the Face, if any Footing or Topping be on the Letter, these fine Stroaks will be more subject to break when the Punch is Sunk into Copper, than when the Angle of the Face and Shank is augmented; because then those fine Stroaks stand upon a stronger Foundation. Therefore he uses the Beard-Gage, and with that examines round about the Letter, and makes the Face and Shank comply with that.

Yet Swash-Letters, especially Q, whose Swashes come below the Foot-Line, and whose Length reaches under the Foot-Line of the next Letter, or Letters in Composing, ought to have the Upper Sholder of that Swash Sculped down straight, viz. to a Right Angle, or Square with the Face; at least, so much of it as is to be Sunk into Copper: Because the Upper Sholder of the Swash would else be so broad, that it would ride upon the Face of the next Letter. Therefore the Swash-Letters being all Long Letters, the lower end of the Swashes reach as low as the Bottom-Line, which cannot be Filed Square enough down from the Head-Line, unless the Steel the Swash stands on, should be Filed from end to end, the length of the whole Shank of the Punch, which would be very tedious; and besides, would 119 make that part of the Shank the Swash stands on so weak, that it would scarce endure Striking into the Copper. Therefore, as I said before, the Upper Sholder of the Swash ought to be Sculped down: Yet I never heard of any Letter-Cutters that had the knack of doing it; but that they only Filed it as straight down as they could, and left the Letter-Kerner, after the Letter was Cast, to Kern away the Sholdering. Yet I use a very quick way of doing it; which is only by Resting the Back of a Graver at first, to make way; and afterwards a Sculptor, upon the Shank of the Punch, at the end of the Swash, one while; and another while on the Shank, at the Head, that the Swash may be Sculped down from end to end: and Sculping so, Sculp away great Flakes of the Steel at once, till I have Cut it down deep enough, and to a Right Angle.

Then he Hardens and Tempers the Punch; as was shewed, Numb. 3. Vol. I. Fol. 57, 58.

But though the Punch be Hardned and Temper’d, yet it is not quite finished: for, in the Hardning, the Punch has contracted a Scurf upon; it which Scurf must be taken off the Face, and so much of the sides of the Shank as is to be Sunk into Copper. Some Letter-Cutters take this Scurf off with small smooth Files, and afterwards with fine Powder of Emerick. The Emerick they use thus. They provide a Stick of Wood about two Handful long, and about a Great-Primer, or Double-Pica thick: Then in an Oyster-shell, or any sleight Concave thing, they powr a little Sallad-Oyl, and put Powder of Emerick to it, till it become of the Consis­tence of Batter 120 made for Pan-cakes. And stirring this Oyl and Emerick together, spread or smear the aforesaid Stick with the Oyl and Emerick, and so rub hard upon the Face of the Punch, and also upon part of the Shank, till they have taken the Scurf clean off.

Plate 10H: Joynt-Flat-Gage for letter-cutting

Mr. Walberger of Oxford uses another way. He makes such an Instrument as is described in Plate 10. at H, which we will, for distinction sake, call the Joynt-Flat-Gage. This Instrument consists of two Cheeks about nine Inches long, as a b, and are fastned together at one end, as the Legs of a Carpenter’s Joynt-Rule are in the Centre, as at c, but with a very strong Joynt; upon which Centre, or Joynt, the Legs move wider, or closer together, as occasion requires. Each Leg is about an Inch and a quarter broad, and an Inch and three quarters deep; viz. so deep as the Shank of the Punch is long. At the farther end of the Shank b (as at d) is let in an Iron Pin, with an Head at the farther end, and a square Shank, to reach almost through a square Hole in the Shank b, that it twists not about; and at the end of that Square, a round Pin, with a Male-Screw made on it, long enough to reach through the Shank a, and about two Inches longer, as at e; upon which Male-Screw is fitted a Nut with two Ears, which hath a Female-Screw in it, that draws and holds the Legs together, as occasion requires a bigger or less Punch to be held in a proper Hole. Through each of the adjoyning Insides of the Legs are made, from the Upper to the Lower Side, six, seven, or eight Semi-Circular Holes (or more or less, according to discretion) exactly Perpendicular S
to the upper and under Sides of each Leg, marked a a a a, b b b b. Each of these Semicircular Holes is, when joyned to its Match, on the other Leg to make a Circular Hole; and therefore must be made on each Leg, at an equal distance from the Centre. These Holes are not all of an equal Size, but different Sizes: Those towards the Centre smallest, viz. so small, that the Punch for the smallest Bodied Letters may be pinched fast in them; and the biggest Holes big enough to contain, pinch and hold fast the Punches for the great Bodied Letters. The upper and under sides of this Joynt-Flat-Gage is Faced with an Iron Plate, about the thickness of an Half Crown, whose outer Superficies are both made exactly Flat and Smooth.

When he uses it, he chuses an Hole to fit the Size of the Punch; and putting the Shank of the Punch into that Hole, Sinks it down so low, till the Face of the Punch, stands just Level, or rather, above the Face of the Joynt-Flat-Gage: Then with a piece of an Hone, wet in Water, rubs upon the Face of the Punch, till he have wrought off the Scurf. At last, with a Stick and Dry Putty, Polishes it.

I like my own way better than either of the former: For, to take off the Scurf with Small Files spoils the Files; the Face of the Punch being Hard, and the Scurf yet Harder: And besides, endangers the wronging the Face of the Punch.

The Joynt-Flat-Gage is very troublesome to use, because it is difficult to fit the Face of the Punch, to lie in the Plain of the Face of the Gage; especially, if, in making the Letter, the Shank be Filed Tapering, 122 as it most times is. For then the Hammer-end of the Punch being bigger than the Face-end, it will indeed Pinch at the Hammer-end, whilst the Face-end stands unsteady to Work on. But when the Punch is fitted in, it is no way more advantagious for Use, than the Chaps of the Hand-Vice I mentioned in ¶. 3. of this §.

Wherefore, I fit the Punch into the Chaps of the Hand-Vice, as I shewed in the aforesaid ¶. and with a fine smooth Whet-stone and Water, take the Scurf lightly off the Face of Punch; and afterwards, with a fine smooth Hone and Water, work down to the bare bright Steel. At last, drying the Punch and Chaps of the Hand-Vice with a dry Rag, I pollish the Face of the Punch with Powder of Dry Brick and a Stick, as with Putty.

Notes and Corrections: § 13. ¶ 4.

skip to next section

the Beard-Gage, described in Plate 10. Fig. C. at k
[As with § 12 ¶ 6-7 above, I cannot for the life of me figure out which illustration he means.]

even as I told you, Numb. 4. Vol. I. §. 2.
text has Vol, for Vol.
[I did say I wasn’t going to mess with the punctuation, but there are limits.]

the wider the Hollow is, the more apt will the wet Paper be to press deeper towards the bottom in Printing
[I don’t remember exactly when the “kiss impression” came into use, but it was definitely after Moxon.]

and also upon part of the Shank, till they have taken the Scurf clean off.
text has of the / the Shank at line break

¶. 5. Some Rules he considers in using the Gravers, Sculptors, Small Files, &c.

1. When he is Graving on the Inside of the Stroak, either to make it Finer or Smoother, he takes an especial care that he place his Graver or Sculptor so, as that neither of its Edges may wrong another Stroak of the Letter, if they chance (as they often do) to slip over, or off an extuberant part of the Stroak he is Graving upon. And therefore, I say, he well considers how he is to manage the edges of his Graver. For there is no great danger of the point of his Graver after the inside Stroaks are form’d, and the Hollows of the Letter somewhat deepned; but in the edges there is: For the point S2
in working lies always below the Face of the Letter, and therefore can, at most, but slip below the Face, against the side of the next Stroak; but the edges lying above the Face of the Letter, may, in a slip, touch upon the Side and Face of the next Stroak, and wrong that more or less, according as the force of the Slip was greater or smaller. And if that Stroak it jobs against were before wholly finished, by that job the whole Letter is in danger to be spoiled; at the best, it cannot, without Filing the Letter lower, be wrought out; which sometimes is a great part of doing the Letter anew: For he takes special care that neither any dawk, or the least extuberant bunching out be upon the inside of the Face of the Stroak, but that the inside of the Stroak (whether it be Fat or Lean) have its proper Shape and Proportion, and be purely smooth and clean all the way.

If on the inside of the Stroak the Graver or Sculptor have not run straight and smooth on the Stroak, but that an Extuberance lies on the Side, that Extuberance cannot easily be taken off, by beginning to Cut with the Edge of the Graver or Sculptor just where the Extuberance begins: Therefore he fixes the Point of his Graver or Sculptor in the Bottom of the Hollow, just under the Stroak where the Extuberance is, and leans the Edge of his Graver or Sculptor upwards; so as in forcing the Point of the Graver or Sculptor forwards, at the Bottom of the Hollow, the Edge of the Graver or Sculptor may slide tenderly along, and take along with it a very small, nay, invisible Chip of the most Prominent Part of the Extuberance; and so, by this Process reitterated 124 often, he, by small Degrees, Cuts away the Extuberant part of the Stroak.

2. He is careful to keep his Gravers and Sculptors always Sharp, by often Sharpning them on the Oyl-Stone, which for that purpose he keeps ready at hand, standing on the Bench: For if a Graver or Sculptor be not sharp, it will neither make riddance, or Cut smooth; but instead of Cutting off a small Extuberancy, it will rather stick at it, and dig into the Side of the Stroak.

3. He Files very tenderly with the Small Files, especially with the Knife-Files, as well because they are Thin and Hard, not Temper’d, and therefore would snap to pieces with small violence; as also, lest with an heavy hand he should take away too much at once of that Stroak he is working upon.

Notes and Corrections: § 13. ¶ 5.

Some Rules he considers
[Are we still talking about Mr. Walberger of Oxford?]

§. 14. ¶. 1. Some Rules to be observed by the Letter-Cutter, in the Cutting Roman, Italick, and the Black English Letter.

1. The Stem and other Fat Stroaks of Capital Romans is five Parts of forty and two (the whole Body:) Or, (which is all one) one sixth part of the Heighth of an Ascending Letter (as all Capitals are Ascendents) as has been said before. Albertus Durer took his Measure from the Heighth of Capitals, and assigned but one tenth part for the Stem.

2. The Stem, and other Fat Stroaks of Capitals Italick, is four parts of forty and two, (the Body.)

5. The Stem, and other Fat Stroaks of Lower-Case Roman, is three and an half parts of forty and two, (the Body.)


4. The Stem, and other Fat Stroaks of Lower-Case Italick, is three parts of forty and two, (the Body.)

5. Of English, the Short Letters stand between nine parts of the Bottom-Line, and nine parts from the Top-Line; viz. upon three and thirty parts of forty and two, (the Body.)

6. The Stem of English Capitals is six parts of forty and two, (the Body.)

7. The Stem of English Lower-Case Letters is four parts of forty and two, (the Body.)

¶. 2. Of Terms relating to the Face of Letters, and their Explanation.

The Parts of a Punch are already described in §. 13. ¶. 1. of this Volumne; and so is the Body; But the several Terms that relate to the Face of Letters are not yet defined. Now therefore you must note, that the Body of a Letter hath four principal Lines passing through it (or at least imagined to pass through it) at Right Angles to the Body; viz. The Top-Line, The Head-Line, The Foot-Line, and The Bottom-Line.

Between two of these Lines is contained the Heighth of all Letters.

These are called Lines, because the Tops, the Heads, the Feet and the Bottoms of all Letters (when Complicated by the Compositor) stand ranging in these imagin’d Lines, according as the Heighth and Depth of each respective Letter properly requires.


The Long Letters are (as I told you in §. 13. ¶. 1. of this Volumne) contained between the Top and Bottom-Lines, The Ascending Letters are contained between the Top and Foot-Lines, The Descending Letters are contained between the Head and Bottom-Lines, and The Short Letters are contained between the Head and Foot-Lines.

Through what Parts of the Body all these Lines pass, you may see by the Drafts of Letters, and the following Descriptions.

What the Long Letters, Ascending Letters, and Short Letters are, I shewed in the afore-cited ¶. Therefore I shall now proceed to particular Terms relating to the Face. As,

1. The Topping, is the straight fine Stroak or Stroaks that lie in the Top-Line of Ascending Letters: In Roman Letters they pass at Right Angles through the Stems; but in Italicks, at Oblique Angles to the Stems; as you may see in the Drafts of Letters, B, B, H, H, I, I, &c.

2. The Footing, is the straight fine Stroak or Stroaks that lie in the Foot-Line of Letters, either Ascending or Descending. In Romans they pass at Right Angles through the Stem, but in Italicks, at Oblique Angles; as you may see in B, B, H, H, I, I, &c.

3. The Bottom-Footing, is the straight fine Stroaks that lie in the Bottom-Line of Descending Letters. In Romans they pass at Right Angles through the Stem; but in Italicks at Oblique Angles; as you may see p, p, q, q.


4. The Stem is the straight Fat Stroak of the Letter: as in B, B, the straight Stroak on the Left Hand is the Stem; and I, I, is all Stem, except the Footing and Topping.

5. Fat-Stroaks. The Stem or broad Stroak in a Letter is called Fat; as the Right Hand Stroak in A, and part of the great Arch in B, are Fat Stroaks.

6. Lean Stroaks, are the narrow fine Stroaks in a Letter, as the Left Hand Stroak of A, and the Right Hand Stroak of V are Lean.

7. Beak of Letters, is the fine Stroak or Touch that stands on the Left Hand of the Stem, either in the Top-Line, as b d h, &c. or in the Head-Line, as i, m, n, &c. Yet f, g, ſ, f, g, ſ, have Beaks on the Right Hand of the Stem.

8. Tails of Letters, is a Stroak proceeding from the Right Hand Side of the Stem, in the Foot-Line; as a d t u: and most Italick, Lower-Case Letters have Tails: As also have most Swash Letters. But several of their Tails reach down to the Bottom-Line.

9. Swash Letters are Italick Capitals; as you see in Plate 15.

Thus much of Letter-Cutting. The next Exercises shall (God willing) be upon Making Matrices, Making Molds, Casting and Dressing of Letters, &c.


Numb. 4. of the Second Volumne of Collections of Letters for Improvement of Husbandry and Trade, is now extant; being Enquiries relating to Husbandry and Trade: drawn up by the Learned Robert Plot, L. L. D. Keeper of the Ashmolean Musæum, and Professor of Chymistry in the University of Oxford, and Secretary of the Royal Society of London. An Account of the manner of making Brunswick-Mum. An Account of a great Improvement of Mossy Land, by Burning and Liming; from Mr. Adam Martindale of Cheshire.

To be had at the Angel in Cornhil, and several other Booksellers.

Notes and Corrections: Advertisement

from Mr. Adam Martindale of Cheshire.
text has af Cheshire

Plate 11: Roman capitals

Plate 12: Roman minuscules and numerals

Plate 13: Italic capitals

Plate 14: Italic minuscules and numerals

Plate 15: Italic swash capitals

Plate 16: “English” (blackletter) capitals

Plate 17: “English” (blackletter) minuscules and punctuation

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.