The print shop is jam-packed, from the line of hand-cranked printers producing personalized notebooks to the area where assistants lock type into metal frames.

Outside, people peek out of the windows to watch the action, and down the hall another group is writing type for their notebooks.

About 20 Boy Scouts came to the Graphic Arts Merit Badge shop in Lancaster from as far away as Buffalo, New York, because there are few places with a print shop like this.

Once the dominant mode of printing, letterpress printing has found a new audience in the maker movement and with graphic designers excited about something tactile in a digital world. The .918 Club of Lancaster has the equipment and know-how to preserve and promote letterpress printing in a downtown museum and small print shop. The group plans to expand into a larger space this year, a move that will bring even more old equipment out of storage and open up the space to typography students.

“The club’s goal is to keep typographic printing alive, and the know-how and skills to make it happen by hosting workshops for various groups,” said club president Ken Kulakowsky. “We now hope that with this expanded opportunity…we can achieve greater community involvement.”

The club started after local printing enthusiasts lent equipment for an exhibition at the Heritage Center Museum. Wanting to support the craft, they formed the .918 Club, taking the name from the height of the typographic type. Over the past decade, the group has moved to given spaces several times, each smaller.

Today the museum occupies a corner of the Character Building, 342 N. Queen St., and the workshop is held in Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology’s Branch Building on Parkside Avenue between Clark and East Orange streets.

Club members give letterpress printing demonstrations weekly at the museum and offer workshops for scouts, local college design students, and the public several times a year. The print shop is approximately 300 square feet, so much of the equipment is stored at club members’ homes.

The group would like to move into a nearby space 10 times larger, but approvals are required. The club must also raise funds for the repairs.

With more space, the group could put that donated equipment to work and open studios for printing students, from professionals to typography beginners, Kulakowsky said. More letterpress printers in the community should help the club recruit volunteers to teach and staff the museum.

At the last public workshop in March, five students and four volunteers pointed out the limitations of the small print shop. In one afternoon, the students created and printed 5 x 7 inch cards. Moving around to get the right bits was like a coordinated dance.

Harrisburg’s Lauren McPherson is studying graphic design at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design and wanted to get away from the computer to create something.

“I loved the hands-on experience,” she said.

Melanie Wagner from Lower Swatara Township and Danielle Hartman from Manheim Township wanted a fun and creative activity. Wagner left with prints she planned to give as gifts, and Hartman printed a fun quote for her new basement bar.

Both worked in the art industry and loved the chance to do something and learn the origins of expressions like “capitals” (the use case type).

At the Scout Shop, about 20 Scouts made notebooks in the Type Shop and T-shirts in another area of ​​Thaddeus Stevens.

Christopher Neal, a ninth grader from Batavia, New York, made one of the longest trips to Lancaster: over five hours.

“It sounded interesting and fun and nobody around us does that,” he said. After printing his notebook, Neal said he liked yesterday’s printers. “I feel bad for people who had to do this all day.”

For the past few years, the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts has hosted two in-depth sessions on typography with the .918 Club for local graphic designers. Joshua Buckwalter, former chapter president, compared typography to vinyl records, something retro that has found a new audience.

“It’s as much a craft as it is an art form, and designers are into it,” he said.

Working with the equipment and learning from experienced club members was better than watching how-to videos online.

There aren’t many places where people can get that hands-on experience, Buckwalter said, which makes the .918 Club space even more important.

Buckwalter would like to see more opportunities for people to learn about typography and more Lancaster area printers to provide the opportunity to further develop the craft.

“As it becomes more accessible, designers will see it as a viable option,” he said.