Packing for a Vandercook

Hello all, I would like to know your recommendations for the types of papers to use on the impression cylinder of a Vandercook. My understanding is that I should use numerous pieces of hard paper, enabling me to adjust according to the stock I am printing on. It would be really useful to know what others are using or prefer.

Thank you for your help, Al

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Good questions, here’s my 2 cents.

Which Vandercook do you have? Look on the cylinder and it’ll tell you the packing undercut. When your cylinder is at the feed table look at the cylinder edge nearest to you and you’ll see the.040 or .070.

Your packing is dependent of what type of paper your printing on, is it cover or text and what weight. I’ve used Lettra for packing to get a good impression for wedding invitations. However, I’ve used a hard packing when I’m using a thin paper and I want to Kiss the paper or maybe a very slight impression. I also use hard packing whenever I use my metal or wood type and I never deboss using my own type, I only deboss using photopolymer.

Tracing paper (very thin)
yellow pages sheet (very thin)
60# text
80 # text
100# cover
Kromekote 6pt, 8pt, 10pt

I build up to .040 and then pack more for a slight impression if needed.


Like the undercut, packing also is measured in thousandths of an inch. Tympan is typically .006”. Thin non-slip tissue .002, 003”; phone book typically .002; laser/photocopy paper .004”
To measure any paper thickness buy a paper micrometer.

A good option for printing from worn or uneven type or plates is a rubber saturated paper called Kimlon (.021”)

Thanks for your advice,

I’m printing wood & metal type on a No. 4, I have bought in a supply of Cranes Lettra (300 gsm in the UK, guess that’s a cover paper in US) so will be setting my press up to use that predominantly.

Your use of different papers depending on impression required is interesting, when seeking heavy impression do you use soft packing to protect the press and form - I assume the extra give reduces pressure on everything?

I have lots of access to tracing paper or layout paper (very thin and hard), would using just one of these built up and a draw sheet be recommended or do I need the Kremkote as well? What extra benefit do the plastic papers mentioned give?

A micrometer is now on my list of things to get.

Thanks, Al

Well, that proved to be quite easy*.

The guy I bought the press from had cut a load of new draw sheets for me when I picked up the press - they are quite thick smooth brown card. When I removed the old packing and typman, I tried one of the new draw sheets without any packing, and it is perfect. I tested it with both wood and lead type, it leaves just a very slight impression on my stock, previously it was making an awful mess through to the back. I haven’t tried inking the form yet, but the motion and result looks and feels right.

I’m quite pleased that it didn’t require numerous different stocks and a micrometer, it feels a bit more intuative and natural, which is how I’d like my relationship with my press to be.

I say all this with due deference to the raging debates on here about impression and properly skilled printing, just thought it good to follow up should somebody else be seeking answers to the same questions later.

*Should it be that it was all too simple and I’m doing something terrible please let me know.


you are not doing anything terrible. You are just in the lucky situation that your packing fits to your stock and your desiered impression without doing anything else:-)).
If you go for an other stock - let’s say you are using the 300g/sqm right now and you want to change over to 100g/sqm - mostprobabely you will not get any impression. Or the other way round you go for 500g/sqm and your impression will be very deep.
See it as a distance calculation. The dimension given on your cylinder indicates the thickness of the packing including the thickness of your stock. Maintaining this will bring you to “0”. Means no gap between type and stock, but also no impression. From hereon you have to put additional sheets under your tympan till you get a clear an crisp print.
The use of this rubber papers or in some cases even a rubber sheet (the material looks like the tube of a tire - and maybe somebody can help with right name in english), is to help you to overcome slight variations in typehight while printing with a slightly worne type.
Btw there is a little tumbrule: hard stock = softer packing - soft stock = harder packing.

Wish you a lot of fun with your press