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  • Harold Kyle
    3 years, 3 months ago

    In preparation for a talk I’m giving at the upcoming St. Louis Ladies of Letterpress Conference, I’m curious how you calculate the paper overage on your printing jobs:

    How do you determine how much extra paper to cut in advance of a print run? 

    Do you have any rules of thumb or formulas or percentages? 

    What factors do you consider? 

    How much do you rely on intuition?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Harold Kyle

    Dee Elling
    3 years, 3 months ago

    Hi Harold,

    I took a letterpress class from Nathan Atkinson, lifelong printer, at San Francisco City College and his course material included the following:

    • calculate 3% spoilage for each run through the press, including for scoring or perforating (that’s 3% of the total number of prints you want to have in the end)

    also he advises:

    • all cuts must follow the same grain (don’t be tempted to turn the paper just to get more out of a sheet)

    In my own experience as a newbie with a rather worn down tabletop press, my spoilage is more like 5%. 

    Best regards, -Dee 

    Lauri Taylor
    3 years, 2 months ago

    I also use the 3% rule for each run.  I now run sample sheets for lining up different color runs that help cut down on 3%, but there are always the few that go in crooked. So I am happy to have the 3% overage. 

    Brian Allen
    3 years, 2 months ago

    I generally print 25% extra, to both account for spoilage and to have samples for the designer and for myself. I know that’s a lot, but it lowers the stress level!

    I created a spreadsheet with at least 10 parent sizes so I can calculate how many out of a number of standard sizes all at once. If the 25% causes a new sheet to be used for only a few press sheets, I won’t cut that one. I can also choose a different parent sheet size to minimize price and maximize how many out of a sheet.

    Brian Allen :: retiring printer ::

    Durham, North Carolina, USA

    Kseniya Thomas
    3 years, 2 months ago

    I generally rely on experience on judging how much overage we need. The more complicated the job, or the tighter the registration, obviously the more waste there’ll be. Of course that goes without saying, but I’m lucky in that it’s not a big deal (usually, unless I’ve finished two runs and discover the press has been pulling doubles the whole time) to quickly cut down more stock if necessary. 25 extra press sheets is usually about right.

    Harold Kyle
    3 years, 1 month ago

    Thanks, @deeelling, @lauritaylor, @brianallen, and @kseniya for your responses. It’s always interesting to hear solutions to this age-old problem.

    Rules of thumb are very interesting and thank you for sharing them. As Kseniya described, I suspect many printers rely on less mathematical methods such as intuition. For instance, if a certain job appears more challenging to print, a printer would sense this and reasonably cut more paper.

    Unfortunately, I have a conflict and I won’t be speaking about this issue at the Ladies of Letterpress conference as planned. That said, I still plan to explore this topic and will write here when I post material online. In the meantime, please keep this thread going if you have other approaches to cutting paper prior to printing.

    Julie Russell-Steuart
    2 years, 10 months ago

    Hi Everyone,
    I have been figuring 20% of the number I want to end up with. But! I will also bow to intuition and adjust that according to how difficult the print is. I start with some math, then throw in some feelings!

    I like the idea of having 25% overage planned like Brian Allen does because I am going to need some samples for the custom work.

    I would love to see more thoughts on this, when you have the chance, Harold.

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