Registering deckle-edge paper…

We were printing a wedding invitation on Somerset paper on a Vandercook Universal III. The invitation is 22″ wide and has the deckle at both ends.

The only thing I did special to start was that I added a second paper registration down the long edge of the paper to make sure it was fed straight into the grippers.

The first run was a blind debossed image which we just pushed snugly, but gentley into the grippers.

To start the second color my plan was to simply add a piece of tape along side the sheet with a mark on it and then just position the score/fold mark against it and run them. If I was a bit off I didn’t think it would matter. I positioned the first sheet of the second run snugly but gentley in the grippers, put the tape down, made a mark next to the score / fold mark as shown below.

Then when I went to do the next print the mark wasn’t even close as you can see below.

After messing up about 4 prints and just standing and staring at the press for a bit trying to imagine what variable would have this impact we tried seeing what the position of the cylinder was when it was at rest. And below you can see the problem over three photos that show how the cylinder settled into different positions that were about a 1/4″ from one extreme to the other.

To try and correct the problem, which worked FAIRLY well at best, was to cut a metal bar a dimension that we could sort of ram into place to hold the cylinder in position as we registered the paper.

It did slow us down.

Just for the record, this is a clunky way to have to write a post that is this complicated. The place it gives to write is four lines tall which is way too short. You get a larger space to write if you go back in to edit your post (which I’m doing now).

Anyone else tried to register to the deckle edge of paper where you needed fairly accurate registration?

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kyle van horn
13 years ago

Ooh, good point Eric!

A pair tick marks (say 1/2 inch from your leading edge of paper, on each edge of the sheet) would work nicely for registration on a deckled edge, provided you aligned them to a corresponding pair of marks on the top of the cylinder.

For safety’s sake, it would be smart to add a second alignment point on the tail end of long sheets to keep everything square (be it tick mark or taped-on side guide), but otherwise, that is a clean fix.

And Ray, you’re 100% right on my #2 registration process. I was convinced I had it right (it was stemming from an alternate registration system I was positive would work). Totally wrong.

Oops, I guess it’s good to be completely wrong once in a while.

All that aside, printing with a deckle is difficult and fraught with mis-registration, even in the best circumstances. Taping on a leading edge might be the answer. Hopefully you had a chance to try it, and hopefully it worked!

Happy printing!

Eric Holub
13 years ago

One way to work the deckle is to file the stack down in line with the front guides. This may not work too well with the Vandercook because of the gripper buttons which don’t sit very far ahead of the front guides; any extreme deckle might contact a gripper button post and get thrown off register.
Registration relies on three points: two front guides or headstops, and a side guide. Because there is no positve stop on the Vandercook carriage return, the only definite point of registration on the feed table is the side guide. For your mark to work it would have to be on the cylinder.
You also will need to keep the sheet in contact with the cylinder, because any sag over the form will throw the tail out of register.

Mike Day
13 years ago

I have read either on this forum or another about trimming the edge of the deckle where it meets the guide. A slight trim to create a straighter edge so all sheets start at exactly the same spot. How you trim it, I don’t remember. However, printing w&t would be a huge challenge since many times the sheets are not square. Especially if it has a 4 side deckle. Just a thought to pass on.

Paul Moxon, Moderator
13 years ago

Your press has a power carriage with auto tape sheet delivery, so I suspect that the drag on on carriage return is related to the selector switch—Knob K and lever J in the manual. However, the cylinder gear meshes to the rack is the same way during each travel . This doesn’t change, so even if the carriage stops short as longe as the paper is feed the same manner the form should print in the same lengthwise position.

kyle van horn
13 years ago

Hey Ray –

A few things to comment on.

In regards to the cylinder spacing in relation to the feed board. This should have no bearing on your registration. The cylinder runs in gears down and back on the track. It falls in exactly the same place in both directions. You’re merely getting on the ride at a different place.

Registration on a deckled edge is very difficult and generally to be avoided. However, I can think of two ways this could work in the future. First, you could tape on a 1″ strip of paper to all your leading edges. This would provide a fixed constant on all your sheets. Print, print again, and remove your taped edge. Bam.

Option two would be to draw four (you could get away with three) tick marks (like the one you used above). These would align with corresponding marks (either 3 or 2) on the feedboard and one on the cylinder. To make this work, you would need to completely retract and otherwise ignore the paper guides on the cylinder and align only to the 3 tick marks.

The press is completely fixed to itself, so marks on the feedboard should always align to marks on the bed, regardless of any deckle.

I suspect the reason this worked so well in the end for you is that you simply took more time on each print.

Any time I print on deckled paper, handmade and the like, I always use at least a leading and trailing tick mark to keep the sheet centered. I try not to print multiple colors on these though.

In answer to your last question, there is the ability to expand the main text window by dragging on the bottom right corner. (I know this works on all my Macs in Safari, I assume it is universal. The same option is available in the comment window that I’m replying in now.)

I hope that’s all some help.

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