Mounting magnetic plates

I was wondering if anyone has tips on mounting magnetic [steel-backed] polymer plates onto the block [magnetic base]. I’m having trouble getting plates mounted square to the head of the stock. I’m not sure of the make of my block but it is extremely magnetic and almost rips the plate out of my grip each time I try to lay it down which doesn’t help my cause. Any thoughts/tricks of trade appreciated.


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Paul Moxon, Moderator
13 years ago

Here’s a tip for squaring plates I learned from Earl Kallemeyn: place one point of a pair of dividers against the baseline of a line of type near the left end of the measure. Score a short segment of an arch about a ½” above the caps or ascenders. Make a duplicate arch to the left. Align a straight edge against the apex of the arcs and score the entire width of the plate. Trim plate at this line.

This isn’t a foolproof method. Tight leading on straight matter or short irregular line lengths can make it difficult or impractical.

John Henry
13 years ago

I sometimes put a couple pieces of 100lb. index stock under the plates with ½” of the plate edge sticking out beyond the card stock. You can then slide the plate around ’til you get the proper orientation and, holding the edge of the plate in position, you can then pull the sheets out from underneath.

Trimming the plates to exact edge distance and using the edge of the base or as Paul suggests, using some strips of steel placed in the proper spot can help align the plate. You can then line up the edge and roll the plate down into position.

The attraction of these magnetic bases are truly a wonder!

Paul Moxon, Moderator
13 years ago

Most likely your have a Bunting Magnetic Cerface Base.

I trust that you use some sort of knife or spatula to lift the plates, but you can also use small strips of plate without polymer as guides that you lay down first then align your printing plate on edge then dropping down onto the magnetic surface.

On his website’s “Tips & Tricks” page,, Gerald Lange recommends using a bookbinder’s brass pallet for nudging steel-backed photopolymer plates into position. Being brass it will not scratch the surface and is not attracted by magnetism.

Gerald also has a very informative book Printing Digital Type on the Hand-operated Flatbed Cylinder Press and is the moderator of the Photopolymer discussion list:

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