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We Can Make That

How to Clean a Printer tray

How to Clean A Printer Drawer

Cleaning your letterpress printer drawer

This was not a fast project but I am in love with how it came out.

Disclosure: There are some Affiliate Links listed on this page, but these are all tools or products I use on a regular basis. I highly recommend the products I’ve chosen as affiliates to support my blog and bring you FREE SVG files. Thanks for your following.

I was excited about this upcycled project. Too excited I’ll admit …. And I had to chuckle when I would show my kids and friends, and be all excited, and their responses would be to look at me and say, “and what do you plan to do with that?” Haha. So, now I’ll show them! This is why I wanted it.

How to Clean a Printer tray

How to Clean a Printer drawer

I saw a few of these redone on Pinterest and fell in love with the idea. My first job was in a print shop over 20 years ago. I continued doing graphic design after leaving that job, so printing has been part of my life for more than half of it. When I found this gem on a local garage sale website for $20 I ran over to grab it that night. I couldn’t wait to have a place to display my first embossing die from my graphic design studio that is currently celebrating it’s 20th Anniversary.

How to Clean A Printer Tray

Dirty Printer Tray

What’s next?

I stared at it for weeks on my kitchen counter…. I searched Pinterest ideas… Tried to imagine where I would hang it on my office wall – also thinking about what colors to use on it…. or what varnishes to use… thought about what accessories to add to it…. Here’s what it looked like the day I brought it home.

How to Clean A Printer Tray

Printer drawer waiting to become pretty again.

So after much Pinterest research, I decided I would use a dark wood stain and white paint the bluefish drawer front with an off-white color. I also had a fun handle from Hobby Lobby laying around I decided to use. When I finally decided to start working on it I Googled and search Pinterest for hours but I couldn’t figure out an easy way to clean it. Or any way for that matter, except “wipe it down” {duh! But I wanted to know how to remove the lead and scuffs in all those corners from years of use}. Mine came from a newspaper, so I’m sure it was used daily! I decided to buy a few dies from the same person to go in it. Here’s a close up those…

Cleaning Printer Tray

Printing Dies from Newspaper

How the cleaning process started off…

In this post, I will show you how I cleaned my drawer, and save you some time searching for instructions on how to clean it. (I never did find online.) I’ll explain some things I did that didn’t work – that way you don’t have to try them also. My drawer had a thin paper liner, some were worn off, but most of it was holding its own, coated in lead to sweeten the deal. Check out my following post for how to paint and finish the Printer Drawer.

First, I tried just washing it. I used a bristle type scrub brush, an old toothbrush, a washrag and Murphy soap … and none of it seemed to take off the paper lining much less the lead particles. It did take up some of the paper in spots, but there was no way any of these items were going to get the corners and there’s a LOT of corners! So, I dug out my handy-dandy Dremel tool. I’m so glad I did. I ran to the hardware stores and got a few different sanding and brush tools. I must’ve bought 10 of them by the time I was done. Maybe if I had a little more knowledge on woodworking it would have helped. But I went with trial and error method here.


Supplies I Used:

Cleaning Printer Tray


How to Clean A Printer Drawer

 Put on your mask and get your shop vac ready folks! It’s go time. Haha

Cleaning Printer Tray

It was dusty! I did this step outside.

Here you can see the specs of paper flying around. I would hold shop vac right next to it (But I needed a hand for the camera here!)

Cleaning Printer Tray

Paper flecks and lead were everywhere!

To start I used the brush-like brass attachment for the main flat areas. The paper liner is what the shop vac helps with. Without the shop vac, the flecks of paper just fell back into the drawer and you will keep hitting them with the sanding tool.

For the corners and smaller spots, I used the buffer attachment on the Drexel. It took a while and I used about 4 of them I think.

Cleaning Printer Tray

It’s about half cleaned here.

I next wanted to smooth out what was the front side of the drawer. I sanded down the painted part after removing the handle. I plan to chalk paint this part, so I didn’t have to be perfect I just got some of the gashes sanded down from the wear and tear over the years. I used my electric hand sander and it took about 5 minutes.

Final step. Wipe it clean!

I used the air compressor and then cleaned it off with a wet, soapy disposable rag. Now I’m ready to varnish. (I’m so excited!!)

Happy Crafting!

We Can Make That!

Disclosure: There are Affiliate Links listed in the above blog post.

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Comments

  • October 28, 2020
    reply

    Lan Sutton

    I just bought one of these to turn into an earring display. I took the backing off and was able to wipe off the backing and each slat, also easier to screw in the eye hooks.

  • September 14, 2020
    reply

    I have at least 10 maybe 16 Genuine English Printers Type-cases in use up-to 25 yrs ago when I stopped printing letterpress.
    I would be happy to sell them. Their condition is used, some with Brass Joiners If interested please contact Me.

    • November 8, 2020
      reply

      Jodi

      Do you have any of these left? Where are you located and price please. Thanks!!

    • November 11, 2020
      reply

      Ann Marshall

      Hi. Where are you. I’m keen to get a few of these even if some division are missing.
      Thanks Ann

    • January 15, 2021
      reply

      Kimberly

      Are they still available?? I would be interested in some pictures of what you available to sell. Thanks!

  • February 1, 2020
    reply
  • January 5, 2020
    reply

    julie

    This is awesome! Thanks for your documentation and willingness to share!

  • July 30, 2019
    reply

    Lana

    It looks great! Just got one myself and was looking for guidance on how to clean it. Glad I found your post! 🙂 Also, any tips on the appropriate hardware to use for hanging it on a wall?

  • August 10, 2018
    reply

    Salvage Sister

    Thank you for the how to! Be proud that you’ve saved many people from many hours of research. You rock!

  • December 11, 2017
    reply

    Tanya Kraft

    That drawer turned out awesome! What a mess to work through but well worth the end result.

      • October 4, 2019
        reply

        Connie pepples

        Here is mine that I’ve had for 45 years or more. The oldest item in it is from WWI., a token used for rationing. Everything is special to me. Every few years I dust each item and compartment which takes about four hours.
        The weirdest item is my daughters dried up umbilical cord remnant. Why I saved that, I don’t know! Also her baby teeth, my high school class ring, photo from my husbands college ID. Airline wings from first flight our daughter took. Old dance card leather book from mother.. souvenirs from travel like London carriage, windmill, seashells, bark from a tree in Hawaii. A small loaf of bread from Mexico that was this hard the day it was served. I’ve made a list of all the items in the tray.

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