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Topic: Looking for numbers
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 19, 2011 04:16PM)
Hello my creative magic-making friends,

I'd like to pick your brains.

I am wanting to make something that involves having numbers on it. What I am hoping to find is something a bit creative, to use as inlays. One thought was antique typewriter keys. The problem is, I would need several of each number, so using the real thing is pretty much out of the question. They would all need to match in style.

This was just one idea, but I am still open-minded about the actual appearance.

These must be somewhat small, maybe 1/2" or so in diameter for the proposed project. If they were round, it would make using them as inlays at lot easier, as a round hole of proper size could easily be drilled.

Any ideas??

Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Nov 19, 2011 09:14PM)
If you could find an old printer who still had a ludlow (sp) machine, he could cast in lead whatever you need. They have a lot of fonts and sizes.
It was an old typesetter machine that was used to set type fresh for every printing. It made type similar to a linatype machine.

Message: Posted by: the Sponge (Nov 19, 2011 09:15PM)
Old Printing press numbers
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 19, 2011 10:18PM)
Michael Baker, here are some wood ones.


Found Old typewriter keys, but the keys have dual purpose images on them. I don' thing that is what you are looking for is it?





Seems typewriter keys are big business for jewelry as well. Ebay has tons of them.

Will stickers work?


Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 19, 2011 11:31PM)
All good ideas. Thanks everyone.
Message: Posted by: gimpy2 (Nov 20, 2011 01:03PM)
I tried several of the reproduction typewriter keys. These ware all made for jewlery. The quality was so poor that to use them in a finished product was out of the question. All they were was a flat black button with a sticker on them. Most of the stickers were crooked or bubbled.

If anybody has a source for typewriter keys that are made just like the old ones, I am looking too.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 20, 2011 05:22PM)
I think the steampunk guys are buying them all up! :)
Message: Posted by: sleightly (Nov 20, 2011 06:01PM)
What about using a typewriter font (there are some free ones that look like keys)? Setting the design and then have them made into a metal plate (check with your local bindery for this, they are normally used for die-stamping foil onto book covers). You could then heat this and use it as a "brand" to burn the design into the wood...

Just a thought...

Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 20, 2011 06:33PM)
Thanks, Andrew! I have discussed with someone else about the possibilities of using stamping dies to burn the numbers into small wooden discs and then inlaying those. All would depend on if I can take what would have a rustic appearance and being able to transform that into something that exudes character, rather than crudeness.

I have also been looking at disc-shaped number beads, which could be used as inlays. These seem to be the best option at this point for simplicity, price, and appearance.

Of course, it would be super to use actual typewriter keys, or probably more fitting, old adding machine or cash register keys. But I think doing so would make a product out of reasonable cost.

In my mind's eye, I can see discs made of yellowed ivory or bone, with black numbers. These would be surrounded in a brass ring, and the entire thing inlayed into a piece of vintage polished Red Mahogany.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Nov 20, 2011 08:28PM)
What about numbered animal tags? Cattle numbers used to be made in brass.

Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 20, 2011 09:03PM)
On 2011-11-20 21:28, hugmagic wrote:
What about numbered animal tags? Cattle numbers used to be made in brass.


I think they would be too large. I'm looking for something closer to about 1/2" diameter.
Message: Posted by: thegreatnippulini (Nov 21, 2011 07:04AM)
Two words: Scrabble!

Message: Posted by: Charles (Nov 21, 2011 08:23AM)
If you do a little research on laser cutting/etching you will find that any design can be duplicated.
Check your local trophy shop. Most shops today have the high tech equipment. Check out http://www.urbanspectacles.com.
They make sunglasses in wood...ok..now I have all your eyes turning.

Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Nov 21, 2011 01:07PM)
Michael, Antique cash register keys are the size and shape you need and have only numbers on them. Key caps are available on line from cashregister restorers.

Carol and I made our own several years ago. Diazo had a plastic film that worked in a blueprint machine and created great looking lables and key caps in various colors.

Aluminum photolables are also an option but generally much more expensive since you would have to send it out for processing. If you plan on making lots of them, perhaps silkscreening on plastic would be an option. Circles can then be cut out of the sheet with an arbor punch.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 21, 2011 02:24PM)
Thanks again, everyone.

I have received a lot of great ideas here, and through PMs and emails. At this point, it amounts to finding a balance between, "How much is this going to cost?", and "Is the effect worth the effort?"

Some options are good, but because of the number of digits required to even make one of these, it could easily become a project that would have to retail for a lot more than I think most people would be willing to spend. It's kind of like that old phrase, "You can't get there from here."

I wanted this to do a project for a friend, and considered making a small run, provided it was cost effective, practical, and all that other good stuff that makes my job both fun and hopefully profitable. There are several options available now, so I'll do a little calculating to see which, if any I'll pursue.

Thanks, as always to you fine folks!