registering four deckled edges

I would be glad for suggestions about how to manage registration on handmade rag paper with four deckled edges. I’ll be printing on an 8x12 C&P; the papers are about 4x6”. I don’t mind if the printing is slow-going. Anyone have tips they care to share? I’m prepared for some improvisation but I would be pleased to know how others have done it successfully.

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I am yet to tackle it but I can imagine without at least one straight edge it would be rather challenging! My suggestion would be to temporarily attach them to something with a straight edge that sits slightly larger than the deckled stock size and set your lays for that. I’m interested to see what others suggest. Good luck

You could attach Post-it notes to the back at the points of registration. On a hand press this kind of registration would be accomplished with press points, and that is possible with a platen press, but it would make for very slow going on a motorized platen.



You might look at this for what it is worth:

You need to find the true edge. Paper prep is time consuming but it should eliminate some of the press time.


when printing with four deckle edges I register my first color where I want it, do all makeready and seal my guides.Then using a piece of the desired stock I will pull an Impression then on that piece mark Exactly where I placed my guides. When setting up for the second color I then make sure the guides are in the same place.
Be careful not to feed with too heavy a hand as this will compact the deckle some.
Its not a perfect solution but I have had no complaints yet.
Also warn your client that with four deckles they may not be perfect.


I would think the only way to come close is to use a pin system through the tympan. Three pins are needed. Each sheet will have to be pushed onto the pins for each impression. They did this on some older Washington Presses. It will take time to do this, but it will work. The pins are pushed up through the tympan to face the form.

I dont see how this is a problem in short run cases because each sheet is printed with the lay in the same place on each successive pass so each sheet will register as its previously did ,you just wont have register from sheet against sheet ,unless you are printing a book what will it matter if the line is a wee bit off square to the deckle on one in twenty or so sheets , it may not be suare with a rule but a deckle dismisses a rule anyway !
Take a wad of paper and without smashing the edge all to hell knock it up and remove any that dont sit in the pile relatively level with all the rest and just stick to those sheets that sit within your chosen tolerance .
I have just re read the above and i guess i should add you dont have the advantage of being able to move the lays to set the position of the next run but have to do all your correction in the forme .

my recommendation would be similar to Collophon’s. In the printmaking / art print world it is not uncommon to closely register many colors on rough-edged paper using a pin register system. I use pin regularly and they do work well.

Unfortuantely, they do leave small holes in your finished work. sometimes that’s not acceptable. in that case, you’ll have to find or create some sort of “straight edge” to register upon as mentioned above.

Let us know how it works out.

sorry…. inadvertent duplicate

Printers duplicate deliberately ,you just ran one over !

The process that I use only works for hand-operated tabletops.

I often find myself printing on irregular hand-made paper. Firstly, I draw guidelines on the tympan as a rough positioning for an ideal piece.

A wide strip of cardboard is taped and used in place of gauge pins. It clings tightly to the drawsheet and allows for the paper to be wiggled inside for an optimal position.

Once the first color is printed, I attach paper arrows that point to some elements in the design that can be used for registration.

When feeding for the second and subsequent colors, the pieces are wiggled, until they align with the overlaying paper arrows.
Learned this trick from Fedor Shulga (Officina Daubmanni)

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Get some of this stuff:

Then get some sheets of really stiff coverstock like COUGAR in 100 LB weight.

apply the adhesive to the cougar with a sponge or rag.
Heat set it. You’ll notice it’s very tacky but it still lets go of paper and other items if you pull. It’s designed to be a temp-tack adhesive.

Then slice strips off that are about 1”X7”.

These sheets will be your guide tabs.

Make a template with a 4x6 rectangle and a line that overlaps by 1/2” along the 6 inch side but extends out.

Place the sheets of paper in this rectangle one at a time, face down, and stick a strip of adhesive applied couger to the back along this 1/2” line (so half of the strip is behind the sheet, the other 1/2 is sticking out at the bottom.)

Obviously you cannot remove these strips until all your color-runs have passed through the press, and because you’ve got a strip behind the sheets you’ll have to inset your image or your artwork naturally cannot go to the edges of the pieces, but it’s a way you can possibly apply a crisp edge to the bottom of the sheet.

This is a method we use sometimes to print screenprint runs onto deckle edged/handmade paper we can’t cut to a crisp edge, and so I would think a similar feeding/guiding process like platen press printing could work as well. I doubt highly this would work for a vandercook and also you’re going to have to place the side guide so it still contacts the deckle on the side of the sheet.

Only disclaimer I should issue is that I haven’t tried it on a platen press or with a letterpress, and one thing to do is test the adhesive before you stick all your sheets to it to see it isn’t strong enough to pull your paper apart. It is designed to let go, though, so you should be OK.

Good luck.

Thank you one and all for these thoughtful suggestions. The response has been a delightful surprise. I appreciate your time, consideration and generosity. Thanks again.