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Plus tips and supplies for fellow letterpress printers.

Brass Rule

Brass Rule

This guide relates to the Brass Rule available in our shop.

Centre Face and Side Face

There are two main types of brass rule bevel, centre face and side face. Centre face, the one we sell, is bevelled on both sides. Side face is bevelled on one side and is less common – it was used mainly for printing vertical columns (eg time-tables).

Fine, Medium, Full-Face

Brass rule was bevelled off to produce different line thicknesses. Ours is medium on a 2pt body. It prints a line about ½pt thick.

Print with Either End

You can print with the ½pt bevelled top, or just turn it upside down to print the full 2pt width of the rule.

Protect Your Rollers

Use fine emery paperto make a tiny radius on both ends of the printing face of the rules to save them from digging in to your rollers.Or emery a trifle off the non-printing foot edge of the rule so the whole length is just a whisker below the nominal 918" of type height (an option I sometimes go for).

Avoid a layout with rule running up and down the forme layout i.e. around the rollers, and arrange it somehow so the rule or rules lay parallel to the roller axles.


Find out how to use brass rule for scoring in our Brass Rule Tips article.


Unlike leads, brass rule wasn't made by type founders themselves, but usually made for them by outworking subcontractors in the engineering trade. As a result, there is less consistency between manufacturors and, we suspect, less precision in general.

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