Boy, I’ll say that paging through this old binder has awoken a lot of memories for me, and this section on Paper Arithmetic reminded me of the first paper guillotine we had at the print shop – a quarter-ton cast iron 32″ full-manually operated Challenge from the 1920’s. Wrestling that beast to cut down parent sheets earned me a lot of muscle in my teens, as my thrifty-minded dad would buy pallets of remaindered parent stock from paper manufacturers so we could sell customers on weird colors and finishes for cheap flyers. We’d get all sorts of strange papers from check & bible stock to weird lenticular 3-D stocks and everything in between. All of it in parent sizes that needed to be cut down to a size we could run in the presses, so no larger than 12″ wide by 18″ long for the Itek, Ryobi and AB Dick “small” offset duplicators we had.
The big Challenge guillotine looked something like this. Big, heavy cast iron with a razor-sharp high-carbon blade.
So, I got really good at “jogging” paper up to 30+ inches wide, which is no mean feat to learn. Paper that large is floppy like a giant wet noodle and doesn’t much want to line up with its neigbors, but you learn the trick of push-fanning air into the stack and dropping it onto the table while holding it loosely in both hands enough to let the sheets fall freely, but not so loose that they get away from you and spill all over the place. Once you master it with parent sheets, jogging a ream of 8.5×11″ paper is childs play. I can still hand-jog a loose ream of letter-sized paper perfectly square faster than you can drop it into an electromechanical jogging machine and flip the vibrator switch. Like riding a bicycle, it’s a skill that never goes away.
Examples of pebble-finish semi-coated paper and lenticular 3-D stocks. When really crazy stuff like this came in on remaindered pallets, I’d always steal some for printing stuff for my own projects, which is good because that meant I kept samples. :D
Eventually, we sold off the old Challenge guillotine and bought a shiny new pneumatically-operated one with synchronized buttons on either side of the paper table that had to be pressed simultaneously to drop the 25-pound razor-sharp cutting blade, so’s there was no chance you were gonna fire that thing off with your hand anywhere near the slicey bits. Supposedly safer than the hand-cranked Challenge, but realistically my 120 pound teenage body needed both hands on that counterweighted lever anyway just to get the blade through a half-ream of parent stock. Not really either more or less safe, TBH. Still, I had a healthy respect for paper guillotines and never ever wounded myself on one in near 25 years worth of working with them.
Anyway, Here’s a pretty in-depth explanation of paper-related calculating, and in Part 3 I’ll post some more condensed formulas. After that, we’ll get into terminology and if you’re still interested, I’ll post the primer on how various types of paper making processes work on an industrial scale – how finishes and watermarks are made in paper and all sorts of technobabble you might find interesting…