backing paper

Hello, i am getting everything ready to start my first print, and was wondering if there is any special type of paper to use behind the card being printed on? Do I need a certain thickness etc. I have a C&P 10x15.
Thanks in advance

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Normal platen packing is a sheet of tympan paper that is clamped by the bales top and bottom, with a sheet of brown pressboard and a few sheets of bond or other light weight paper, all cut no larger than the platen-minus-bales, under it. Your platen should be adjusted to give correct impression with this packing plus your paper stock. Set gauge pins in position on the tympan drawsheet and you should be set.

That said, my preferred packing is the tympan drawsheet, with a piece of offset rubber blanket and a sheet of heavy acetate or mylar over the blanket, plus a sheet or two of light weight paper under the blanket for additional oomph. I don’t do makeready and I get very even impression.


Adlib—where can you get the offset rubber blanket material? Thanks!

I’ve gotten some from a nearby offset printer. Occasionally there will be a miss-feed on a press and a blanket will be smashed so it’s not really suitable for printing, and they usually throw them away. I just asked for a used blanket and got it for free. Such a blanket, especially if for a larger press, will still have good areas on it that work fine for my small presses. The mylar or acetate prevents the type punching into the blanket and evens out the impression. I’m currently printing page 22 of a book (18x32 picas type area) with what I think is very uniform impression and color and without having changed tympan or settings or doing any makeready, on an Adana Quarto.


i’ve used offset blankets for years, the patch blankets are great, mostly i use ab dick blankets for printing envelopes. tape the blanket on the platen, then a sheet of 20 lb bond over it and i’m good to go. like bob says no makeready. must try the mylar, great idea Bob. if you do numbering and have machines that the zeros are weak try the blanket, the zeros print like new. Good Luck Dick G.



I’m not looking for trouble or anything, but I think you should check your measurements again as they may better be .068” for the blanket and .042” for the drafting table cover. You may have a superabundance of zeroes.

I have used dental dam, a very thin rubber sheet material for makeready avoidance in a past life in printing halftones (a Heidelberg recommendation), but generally do a cut makeready for envelopes these days. I’d say ther dental dam was about .015” thick or so.



I run windmills, so the packing has to be close, or you get uneven impression, most offset blankets are too thick, the ab dick blankets are just a tad too thick but will work. The patch blankets work great because they came in two pieces, one was a thin blanket that was mounted on another piece of thin rubber that had sticky back on both sides, i never stuck them together but used each one separately. Sorry, i never micked them, but by the time i’ve been around as long as Paul i will get around to it. Dick G.

I’ve been using offset blankets on windmills but after splitting the blanket in layers. That way the blanket isn’t so thick but it’s hard to do and takes strong fingers to pull the layes apart. And only on some jobs. I’m gonna’ try the idea about using it for numbering machines. RREEBB


Reading about rubber blankets and alternatives…

@Devil’s Tail and Vyco…there’s a material called Borco I remember covering my art tables with in the days of paste-up, not really sure what it calipers at but I imagine close to what is discussed above, and perhaps available in Australia also. I’d suggest architect or art supply shops.

Used an offset blanket for numbering after splitting the layers and it worked great. Read it here and decided to try it. Didn’t have to make different packing between the plunger and the numbers and very seldom did any of the numbers fade. Ron

Ron, i’ve used rubber blankets to print envelopes for a long time, a few years ago after running envelopes i forgot to take the blanket off and started numbering, couldn’t believe it worked, the numbers never looked better. a total accident that worked well. Dick G.

Wish I had of thought of that when we used to run envelopes. Trying to get the makeup in the different layers was always a pain. Every once in a while the windmill would pick up multiple envelopes I ended up having to replace the type! All the envelopes are being run offset now. Ron

Thank you so much for everyone that suggested using a blanket! Just tried it and works like a dream… Have used them on our sheetfed presses, but never occured to me to try one on a letterpress. Raining like cats and dogs outside, perfect day to go print ~ off to my press.

Just had a conversation with Roger at J. Thomas McHugh who apparently supplies “letterpress” blankets in thicknesses from .020” to .040” in 5 thousandths increments. I’ve ordered some. Will advise on success or profanity.