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?

Registering deckle-edge paper…

6 thoughts on “Registering deckle-edge paper…

  • November 16, 2010 at 9:09 pm
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    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!
    -kyle.

  • November 16, 2010 at 6:59 pm
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    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.

  • November 16, 2010 at 1:05 pm
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    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.

  • November 16, 2010 at 5:46 am
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    Kyle,

    Of course, I know the cylinder runs along the gears. The problem was getting the paper into the grippers in the same place each time. If I tried to push the paper into the gripper the same way each time the softness of the deckle would automatically throw the registration off.

    Also your warning of avoiding printing with the deckle is almost the reason for doing it. We aren’t trying to just make things easy. Normally I might just turn the paper sideways and print, but this particular piece was 22″ wide and my press only accommodates 18.5″. We set it up to do a work-and-turn so I would have 14″ on the lead edge to help provide a more solid sheet which makes sense to me for keeping the paper from shifting as it prints down the 22″ like it might if it were only 7″ wide. We were also using a pretty deep impression on the first run as it was a blind impression. Also using the work-and-turn gave me a nice place to put one of the delivery tapes right down the middle of the paper.

    I think your notion of taping a new edge to the front is a good one and is the solution I’m looking for. The problem on this particular job was I was already past being able to do that as I didn’t figure out the problem until AFTER the first run. I’m doing a different job this afternoon on deckle-edge paper but it is only one color. I might just make it two color and try this solution. The paper I’m printing on today is a bit harder (American Masters) and may take to the tape better. The Somerset is so soft that I’m not sure the tape would hold over three runs.

    I don’t see how your option 2 could work. The issue in our instance was that the feedboard and the cylinder weren’t in registration with each other to start with. They were on some runs, but typically were not on more than half of them. As there seemed to be at least three positions where it settled in the odds are that I’d be off on 2/3rds of them. We tried adjusting the breaking, but the cylinder still didn’t stop in the same place. Clearly a difference in 1/8″ was going to be pretty serious even with colors that didn’t have tight registration. The alignment of headings and text just looked wrong.

    I’ll give the taping a front piece onto each sheet a shot today. The job is 100 posters and is 9″ wide x 22″ tall. Both the top and bottom edges are deckled. I’ll post an image of the taping and the final piece later tonite.

    As I just wrote that last part it also seems that I’ll need to try and keep the tape off the finished surface of the poster as the paper is likely too soft to not tear. I’ll need to tape on the sides but even then I need to be careful to have good support for that leading edge where it contacts the grippers. One of the things I like about the Universal III is the positioning of the grippers and the end guides. On our SP-15 we are often printing A2 notecards on paper that is 6.5″ x 10″ and the 6.5″ barely fits into the center end guides.

    Thanks for the help from both of you. I’ll let you know how it goes today.

  • November 15, 2010 at 11:24 pm
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    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.

  • November 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm
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    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.
    Kyle.

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