Boxcar Press Printers’ Tips for 2020

A new year and a fresh new decade signals one thing: a new wave of brilliant letterpress!  We polled our printers here at Boxcar Press to give us their quick, top printing tips to help jumpstart 2020. Perhaps a few of these nuggets of wisdom will make their way into your next printing adventure!

Want to share your top tip? Let us know in the comments section below!

Printers Tips Printing Tips - Boxcar Press
(from left to right: Carrie, Maddie)

CARRIE – Heidelberg Windmill Operator

If you have a thin rule line or the end of a line of type that is getting too blobby, try using an “end cap” of a scrap photopolymer plate (like a small rectangle of it) and put it beyond the trim area. This is so that the rollers use it like an inking roller bearer strip. It helps keep the pressure off that one trouble spot.

MADDIE – Heidelberg Windmill Operator

When beginning a job, do a dry paper test run. There shouldn’t be any impression or ink. This run is so you can adjust the tilt sucker bar to where you want it, make sure it isn’t double-feeding, adjust the tempo of the paper pick-up and more.  Getting this out of the way is one less thing you don’t have to fuss with while in the middle of a job.

(from left to right: Jeff, Leanna, Lou)

JEFF – Kluge Operator (Foil)

For foil on a Kluge, make sure you are using the correct suckers and are maintaining them. Metal suckers work for text weight and envelope liners. Rubber suckers are good for text weight, coaster stock, thinner leather, or textiles.  To keep them in shape, I’ll use a bent paper clip or something small to clean out any fibers or lint that may get up there.

LEANNA – Heidelberg Windmill Operator

If you are doing something double-sided and are trying to avoid show-through on the other side, use glassine board in the packing.

LOU – Heidelberg Windmill Operator

Printing envelopes on the Windmill with a lay pin is a bit labor-intensive but it can work. You’ll need to cut out a shape in the tympan where the lay pin will “nestle” into. This is so that the pin has a place to rest into and not mark the envelope when the press closes.  Or alternatively, use our Boxcar Press swing away lay gauge so you don’t have to worry about marks.

Printers Tips Printing Tips - Boxcar Press
(from left to right: Jake, Phil, Paul)

JAKE – Heidelberg Windmill Operator

When working to print lighter pastel ink colors on the Heidelberg Windmill try the following:

First, use an aggressive cleaner (Putz Pomade comes to mind) to help clean out any remaining ink from a previous run.

Make sure the ink is mixed up correctly and proportionately. Having a ready-to-go pre-mixed stock of ink is very handy (like Cool Grey 1 or other ink colors that contain a lot of Transparent White).

Use a very small bit of ink (small dabs or dots) and slowly add it to the roller. This first ink test run will mostly be checking consistency and to see if there is any ink leftover from a previous run. Run make-ready scrap through the press to see where you stand.

PHIL – Kluge Operator (Foil)

If you are running large solids for foil on a Kluge and are only getting the center to print, adjust the base itself using the screws. Most of the time, the base isn’t hitting flush and making these adjustments will help. Use glass board with soft packing on top. Try using a glue stick to glue the soft packing together as well. The compressed paper and glue makes for an even surface.

PAUL – Heidelberg Windmill Operator (Foil)

When doing foil on the Windmill, getting the right temperature for release can be tricky. Start by keeping good notes at regular intervals on foil release temperatures & times to keep things organized. A journal, jotter, or dedicated scrap of paper will do. When on the press for a job, regularly write down the temperatures so you can go back to it if you need to re-run the job. This helps a lot.

Printers Tips Printing Tips - Boxcar Press
(from left to right: Stan, Pat, Bill)

STAN – Heidelberg Windmill Operator (Foil)

Wear comfortable shoes and don’t be distracted by smartphones as you’ll need to be listening to the sounds your press is making. For example, there is a subtle difference in the whooshing sound when the suckers are picking up the paper correctly…. and when it’s not.

PAT – Heidelberg Windmill Operator

If you are printing black letterpress on a Heidelberg and want a richer, deeper coverage, try a double-hit of the black ink runs (two regular ink run passes — one on top of the other). This helps reduce over-inking. Take care that you are in perfect registration.

BILL – Heidelberg Windmill Operator

Use transparent tape on the Windmill rails to help even out high and low spots. A piece here or there can make all the difference in the laying down of ink along the rails.


Inquisitive Printers Want To Know – Even More Eye-catching Things

Keeping sharp eye on the lookout for more cool things & intriguing “must-bookmark-this!” items, this week’s installment of the Inquisitive Printers Want to Know features a Wisconsin-based printer and bookmaker, a new specialized coating that is the “blackest of the blacks”, and a celebration for a book series that inspires one of our printers. Read on to learn more!

Cathy:   I recently found a website with a blog that pleased me.  It is called Letterpress Book Publishing and it belongs to Mike Coughlin of Superior Letterpress of Cornucopia Wisconsin. He calls himself a Printer and Book Maker and his blog reflects on his love of his profession. His posts are comfortable and friendly.  He hasn’t posted since December 2017 so I am hoping some new visitors to his page will prompt him to give us something new to read.

He is at the tip of Wisconsin before it drops into Lake Superior so come “chat” with the rest of us, Mike, and let us know what is on your mind or on your press.

Rebecca Miller: While we do love a good, deep rich printing black (a printer’s bread and butter), we often wonder about Vantablack.

(Photography credit: Surrey Nanosystems)

Hailed as the “blackest of blacks”, this is borderline cartoonish-ly black coating is neither really a pigment nor paint per se. Instead, the specialized coating (made by Surrey Nanosystems) is made up of series of long, extremely tightly packed (and quite microscopically thin) carbon tubes. So dense is this “forest of carbon nanotubes” that any light shined onto it is immediately absorbed (99.96% to be exact). 

The very precise need for those densely packed carbon nano tubes to be laid in a certain way limits how the coating can be applied. Currently in the works is a not-as-dark version in a spray variety aimed at the STEM community (and it will set you back a pretty penny).

Bonus: The “Vanta” in Vantablack stands for “Vertically Aligned Nanotube Array”.

Leanna: Happy Birthday, Harry (July 31st)!  I have been a huge Harry Potter fan since it was introduced to me by my fourth grade teacher. It was subsequently banned from the school a couple months later, so I had to sneak it in my lunchbox to read during break. Over the years since last book and film were released, I took to mainly searching Pinterest for fan art and periodically listening to the audiobooks while I work in the shop (and people wonder why I’m tearing up at the press, it’s cause I’m listening to Snape die for the 100th time!).

(Photography courtesy of monsieurmonsteur.co.uk)

Did you know that 2018 is one of the years in which the book ‘The Cursed Child’ takes place? According to the timeline, Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is 1991. The Battle of Hogwarts is in 1998 making the “19 years later” of the epilogue of ‘The Cursed Child’ to be in 2017. Weird right? Now imagine the movies taking place in the early 90’s instead of the 2000’s!

In honor of Harry’s and J.K. Rowling’s birthday today, here are a few of my favorite Harry Potter things to inspire a bit of “magic” for their next print project! 

Artists to Check Out:

Wonderful Potter-related Articles and Exhibits:

Do you have a cool thing you’d like to share with us or see something that tickles your printing fancy? Email us at info@boxcarpress.com as we’d love to hear from you! We’re always on the look-out for fun + wonderful things!