Which gauge pins for pre-cut business cards?

Hi guys,

I’m just putting my first order together for all my card stock and consumables.

Since I can’t yet afford a decent guillotine, I’ll be buying pre-cut business card stock and folded cards.

I was wondering what adhesive gauge pins you use on a tabletop press (Adana 8x5) with photopolymer, so I don’t end up with a massive unprintable boarder area on the edges of the cards. I looked at the Henry gauge pins, but they appeared to have quite a wide area over the card- not a problem for greeting cards, but perhaps an issue for pre-cut business cards?

Many thanks,


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You could get ripped off and pay an arm and a leg, for the conveinience of a Third Party doing, what the 6-7 Year Old, (hypothetical) Brother, Sister Niece, Nephew, etc.etc. could easily achieve/make for pennies/cents per 100.

Think that is a joke,??? … Look up Adana/Caslon,s current spiel re *Henry Compressible Gauge Pins* …
Pictured 2 - 3 registering a small card.!!!

Take the aforementioned (Young) relative to most any, Art Shop, Craft Shop, Hobby Shop., etc.etc. and purchase a block of double sided contact pads, in sizes from 1/2” square, oblong 1/2” x 3/4, etc. etc. and in thicknesses 1/16” 3/32” and so on, plus same source 2 to 3 sheets of acrylic, normally colour coded to identify thickness, armed with 2 or 3 blocks of contact pads, and 2 or 3 sheets of acrylic, cut freehand several different sizes of Tounges, from little finger nail size, up through thumbnail size, in a host of different Tounge *Tip* configurations, i.e minature tips to accept,
3” x 2” business cards, as Your post above,?? and even >When You get there< Minature Double Side *PANEL CARDS.* … PLUS on a D.I.Y. basis even when the, Young Ones are doing the good works, with the thicker contact pads and heavier acrylic sheet,
D.I.Y. Pins can be, have been, and still are!! made to accomodate Beer Mat and Coaster thickness stock, AND sets of three, with the tip of the Tounge cranked up slightly to catch the Beer Mat stock to register on three points in
pre-cut circular form, It aint Rocket science.!!!

Adana, have not cottoned on to this one YET, when the do, it will not be £12-£14, sterling, for a pack of ten, more likely £20 sterling, for a pack of three, Special Order, Special Purpose of course.?????

I’d make two suggestions;

1. Doublestick adhesive sheet + your stock + another piece of your stock, make a ‘sandwich’, and then apply the adhesive on one side of this sandwich. Stick that side to topsheet.
You can fashion a ‘fence’ for the edges if you need to retain your cards, and make it a narrower margin than the Henry pins.

2. Your topsheet- if it’s oiled tympan- may wanna let go of adhesives. It’d be best if you were able to mitigate this. My favorite way to apply a top sheet that can be wiped clean easily AND receives adhesives easily is to get clear, adhesive backed mylar sheet. Line the top sheet with this and you’ll be able to stick the hand-made guides to it more easily and with more faith that they’ll stay put.

Mick’s comment “You could get ripped off and pay an arm and a leg” has not been setting well with me all day. The people who make and sell supplies for letterpress printers, including myself, are not ripping off anyone. The fellow who makes Kort gauge pins is a retired paper mill mechanic who makes these in his basement, and he is in his 80s. John Henry, who makes the Henry Gauge pin is likewise retired and makes these in his spare time and uses his background in the signage and marking business to make a useful product. I should be retired but continue to do what we can to supply parts and supplies for letterpress printers. Maybe we should all pack it in and every printer can make their parts and pieces out of hot glue and glitter from the craft stores. I should reduce my offerings to bailing wire and chewing gum and that will take care of what the glitter doesn’t cover up.That will also answer the question of what color to paint my press.

It is not easy finding the stuff we need as letterpress printers. To supply the parts we need for Vandercooks like springs, as an example, I have to buy Vandercook’s specialized designs 250 at a time, and then sell them one and two at a time to first recoup the investment, maybe over 5 or 6 years, and then the next few years actually start making a profit on that investment. Multiply that by several hundred parts and it is not a process of ripping people off. Be thankful that there are people like Butch Kort and John Henry who make the extra effort to make a product we can use—they are certainly not getting rich doing it.

to add to nagraph’s comment.
if you take care of the stuff. do a calculated setup, these things that these people make will last for years. a good “investment”
as we all know, the more you order the cheaper things get per unit. the products I sell, are as NA states, are one at a time. I have never had someone call back and say, “It’s worn out, I need another” buying in bulk to be able to offer a decent price is taking on a financial risk. many suppliers have minimums, which we should be happy that someone who cares about us, is willing to take on.

Well stated Fritz.

Very well written Fritz!

Thanks to all for your input - really appreciated.

I can certainly appreciate both DIY and “off the shelf” approaches, along with their merits and disadvantages. For a premade solution, you are always going to pay for convenience, and that is fine by me. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a cost of business and should be passed onto the customer, if you want to go that route.

As a beginner, I’ll certainly be going for a ready made solution to begin with for greeting cards. I’ll be making enough mistakes, I’m sure, without introducing more unknowns than I’ll already have!

However, I expect that in the future and when I start business cards, I’ll be experimenting with the suggestions made here.

Thank you to all for your sharing of experience and knowledge. Much appreciated.


Fritz is defending his business practices as I would expect him to, but he’s 100% right. In the UK we have Adana, rescued by Caslon in the late 1980s and still trading almost 30 years later thanks to their support. I’ve heard people grumble about the cost of a refurbished “Eight-Five” press from Caslon, but having visited their factory and seen the enormous amount of work which goes into the rebuilding of these presses I can tell you that it is an expensive and very labour intensive process which occupies an engineer for several days (stripping to bare metal, priming, undercoating, painting with tough enamel, replacing worn or damaged parts, testing etc).

Letterpress supplies do not benefit from the reduced costs of high volume production so it’s invidious to compare the retail price of professionally made products with cheap, home-made alternatives. I always buy my ink and rollers from Caslon, as much to ensure their continued survival as for the very high quality of their products. Gripe about fair (not “rip-off”) prices and you condemn companies like Adana and NA Graphics to extinction.

I would single out Roy Caslon in particular for praise. He is hugely supportive of the UK letterpress community and always available at the end of the phone to provide help and advice. I can think of no other company of comparable size which deals with customers in such an accessible way.

Support our specialist suppliers instead of grumbling about them making a reasonable living.

read Mick’s article it makes sense so does the meat of the comments.

Anytime I read Mick’s posts I put on my pith helmet.
10 bucks for 12 guage pins is not a rip off.
Maybe the pound /sterling is not worth as much as it used to be.best james

Most of us as suppliers / manufacturers have a working relationship with each other. I supply Caslon with one product that shows up on their web page and the effort that Roy takes to get products from the U.S. to his shop in England in a cost effective manner is just short of amazing. I have an item on my desk right now from Andrew Churchman that I am considering selling, I helped Don Black acquire a small trove of Linotype parts that he had a customer for when I saw him in New York in August, and on it goes. Sunshine Paper (formerly Cromwell) in Denver almost discontinued making tympan paper a couple of years ago and mainly through my pleas did they continue to make it. There is a small group of us who cooperate in the business of supplying printers and we do appreciate your continued support.

Mike Conway, Thank you for Your one liner.
If my *Detractors*, had bothered to read my Second and Last paragraphs, properly, (and without Blinkers) they would have been able to ascertain that I was quoting 100% provable, verifyable, facts, and I reiterate that English (Adana,s) prices for Their *Henry* gauge pins, at the price I stated, (and I still have the receipt) is not just an Arm and a Leg, more like selling Ones Soul to the Devil, for that which the Kids are doing for fun in the Art Class.

Quite how the Good Buddy!! was able to determine that My efforts were a slight on the 2 Gentlemen, Re types of Register Pins is almost impossible to fathom.??


Paying $2.50 for 3 gauge pins is something I can easily price into my work - I’ll only be doing runs starting from 250 impressions, so $2.50 is no big deal!

Also, I have had a wonderful message from the gentleman who makes the Henry gauge pins and they can easily be snipped down for the thinner business card margins.

In fact, if I have 3 or 4 cards to print, I can probably reuse the gauge pins and reduce costs further if i really needed to!

As for Roy Caslon and his company, I’m waiting to hear back from him as I’m just about to buy one of his presses. He’s provided an awesome service and I’m happy to support him if that means he’s still around in 5 years when I’ll need him!

make sure you read Mick’s second, last, 3rd, 11th, 17th, and 23rd paragraphs…

Eric m, Thank You… . . But taking an overview of the Good Buddies, comments, Tis` a miracle and the most amazing Learning curve ever… .i.e. between the 25 of Sept., and the 29 th, of Sept, the Good Buddy has gone from asking Urgent questions re Adhesive contact Lay Pins,! to the foremost NEW expert, who can apparently Factor In and (yet to) purchase 3 only Henry, style pads, for
$2.50 presumably U.S. Dollars.?? …For use on an, as NOT YET, purchased or acquired Up-Rated Adana.???

As of this day 30/09/2016 there is a waiting list/back log of at least 6 weeks, and currently priced *to Go* £1,095, Sterling PLUS V.A.T. plus shipping, to apparently print nothing more than business cards in very short runs, (as quoted)

The point being that the Up-Rated version appears to be aimed at the Deep Impression Brigade, for many many years, there has been on B.P. numerous posts pointing out that, in spite of American (table tops) Kelsey,s, Sigwalt,s,
C. & P.,s etc BEING Cast Iron and with long levers as impression handles, most posts seem to imply that Deep Impression was never intended for these type of machines, more like *kiss impression* generally, as performed by well instructed Letterpress Printers and certainly long before the D.I. brigade entered the Fray… . Will be interesting to see WHAT claims are made, for the Up-Rated M/c.

Yet another amazing revelation, (same source) i.e. that Henry Style gauge pins >can be snipped down< etc, looks suspiciously like the Authors entry, of 21/09/2016, timed at 21 35, ??? and we Were and still Are, making Pins in that format with those stated Variations a long time ago, in fact in the late 50,s early 60,s when Adanas, BEST SHOT was bent steel pins (akin to the $ Dollar sign.) that was stuck in the packing.?? . . The very syndrome that inspired, D.I.Y. style Contact Pads with acrylic tounges, and Yes we were Printing circular, octagonal, diamond, etc.etc etc. shaped stock, mostly coasters, place mats, beer mats,
AND Business card size Panel Cards,

AND with a lot of Care and Patience, with Elastic Bands between the Gripper fingers as PULL OFFS, very slowly and carefully, we printed serviettes, 4 thickness,s with the image at an angle, (to view) via the Contact Pads at an acute angle on the Platen, then we were down into the Realms of at best 100, imp. per hour.

The preceding 2 paragraphs offered, just to forestall any amazing future, revelations/directives, etc.???

It is appreciated that one or two of the Contributors have read the posts with clear eyesight. Thank You.

If 12 Henry Gauge Pins sell for $10, then 3 of them cost $2.50, the most he typically uses at one time to print a job. One doesn’t need to read selected paragraphs of circumlocution to figure that out.

Wow - chill out Mick!

Obviously, I’m not buying 3 by themselves, I’ll be buying packs - not quite sure how that makes me an expert? I just divided the approximate cost for a pack by the number a person may use on a print run.

As you would have noticed, my question was with regard to boarders on business cards on this style of press and adhesive gauge pins, which you would be wrong to assume is all I would intend to print. Since I also mention that I’ll be printing pre-folded cards in the question, I’m not quite sure how you concluded that I’m only printing short runs of business cards. I’m sure every printer here has started off with a vision of what they intend to print but then has grown as a printer - I’d hope that I was not excluded from that.

If I’m buying a press, what is wrong with buying a stronger version of a press that many printers have been using on a regular basis? I can’t see the issue with that. If it does allow deeper impressions, so much the better. I’ve seen work from people using the earlier versions of this press and the prints look great, so anything stronger can only be a good thing, right?

On a side note, and amongst many other things, I never did brain surgery, but I designed new external ventricular drains to save more lives. I never did electronics but I designed the circuits, put the math formulas together, wrote the code and programmed the microchips that out performed the rear differential system that cost Haldex $300 million to develop which was used on Audi. Just because someone is new to something doesn’t mean they can’t grasp the concepts quickly. To be fair, the Adana 85 is not a complicated piece of mechanical kit to understand. But without ever having had a Henry Guage pin in my hand, it is difficult to know how thick or thin the transparent plastic was and determine how brittle it is. Nothing suspicious about snipping down the Henry gauge pins - I had some message interactions with John Henry who makes them and he told me in an easily do that. Problem solved!

Chill out! I’m just trying to learn. No need to slight me. I appreciate all the knowledge you have shared so far. Thank you

I miss Aaron

Nothing promotes good work better than good tools. If the expense of the tools is off putting, you are still ahead in buying them, as at least you have a good exemplar to copy.

If you are printing for any manner of payment, then be ready to pay for the tools and consumables you will need. Don’t be cheap, as the $5.00 (or 2 Pound Sterling) you save is not much of anything, and you’ll probably lose the savings while futzing around the shop making the work-arounds.

Michael Seitz
Quality Letterpress Printing
Missoula MT

i think it all bottoms out at, To what level of convenience do you want to operate? If you are new to anything, you need convenience.
you could make your own forme, make your own ink, make your own paper,,, you could even make your own press. but, to those starting out, i would advise buying the knowledge that others have researched, engineered, streamlined, and found successful. if for some reason these parts become useless, then sell them. you have then at least experienced them.
Then once accomplished, shortcuts, cost savings can be implemented.

Skilled Trade and DYI

Once you know how to print - and here I don’t mean the technical aspect of printing, the know how and equipment, here I mean you spend the time and looked at good printing and you have a notion in your head what good printing looks like. Than start asking questions and please Briarpress people, answer the Questions and stop pushing it of Tangent. There are still Printers out there who learned it proper and can pass on knowledge and skills, otherwise you learn slow and pedantic step by step by asking Questions and hopefully get proper answers.
The Rule always was, once you know a Trade pat, you can freeform it if you so desire, means DYI. But don’t charge your Trials and tribulations to your Client.