Tearing down paper

Hey all, I was recently approached by a client who asked about a wedding suite with full deckled edges, but unfortunately, the designs she wants involves some rather offbeat sizes for paper. Normally I’d recommend some pre-made paper with deckled edges on all four sides but most won’t make custom sized paper with a reasonable turnaround.

In lieu of handmade paper and to keep the budget down(ish), I’m thinking of attempting to have torn edges. Does anyone ever do this? Is this a thing? Anyone have any ideas on how to do this speedily? I’m pushing to have a single edge for the sake of sanity, but figured I might as well ask anyway.

Cheers all and many thanks,


Log in to reply   9 replies so far

I HATE it. Hurts and never looks good.

I acheive best results with a soft straight edge (ruler wrapped in offset blanket or similar) and tear towards the back of the sheet.

afinepress thanks. I really don’t want to but figured throwing it out as a budget option and then showing off the options they’ll actually want will be the best idea.

That’s basically what I came up with at home.

Cheers man!

Best if you can arrange to “deckle” the edge with the grain of the paper vs. against it. Don’t know of any fast way to do it, but if you first fold your sheet in both directions, then dampen the crease with a wet sponge, it is a bit easier. I do this and hold a steel straight edge as a guide, jiggling my arm as I tear to get a more natural looking deckle.

What we did in the past, as a D.I.Y. job, for weird size *deckle edge* and only a handful Run, follows:- We clamped a 1/2” block of stock in a bookbinders Nipping Press, (one edge at a time to view) protruding 1/2” at a time, x 4,! and *deckeled* each edge, BUT with a Slow Speed electric drill, equipped with, NOT a rotary wire brush, (as would be usual) but exactly and precisely with a tiny rotary *FLAIL* like a wire brush but with whole series of 2” (ish) long Flails.!!
Of course we ruined a few Dummy sheets of stock, but once we acquired the *Touch*we could, and did produce, not perfect, but very presentable facsimilies of Deckle Edge.

The Flails produced a very haphazard and irregular edge, quite in keeping with the original concept.

If My (authors) >FLAIL< description is hard to grasp, Google W W II Mine clearance TANKS,!! equipped with Flails.

One more possible option, as suggested by A.F.P. above, but with a small variation, (although laborious) with individual sheets, - substitute A.F.P.s straight edge etc. with a conventional, Bushman style, coarse tooth Ripsaw, would probably produce a Beautiful DECKLE, but may be too regular and precise, for the discerning customer.
Good Luck.

If you’re going to try tearing it against an edge, you could try using a bonefolder or something else with a rounded edge. That’s how I tear Japanese tissue for book repairs, wetting the tear line first with a brush. But then, I’m a rank beginner at bookbinding, and invitation stock is a lot thicker than tissue. It would take more wetting.

OK, this would be a foolish thing to attempt. You’ll just end up with more invitations that are crooked or have a corner missing than invitations that will come out correct.

Best to look for other methods.

You probably already know that one who rips paper does not refer to it as ‘deckled’; the deckle is a byproduct of the paper making process. Of course a torn edge is best achieved by use of a tear bar- a bar of metal that has a bevel on the side that is meant to rip, AND a bit of an edge on the underside which digs into the back of the sheet and makes a nice clean side.
The best way to do it is to pin the stock down (tear face down), score once with the tip of a bone folder, and then grab a corner and pull at a 45 degree angle bout 3 inches from the ripping point. Slowly work your hand down the tear bar as you’re ripping so you keep it straight.

Have it die cut with deckle edge rule. In a pinch I have made my own deckle edge rule. Not the same as high end paper but the effect is good enough when you’re casting pearls.

I’m doing just this for a wedding client now. Test your paper first - we chose Arches Cover to print on because the tear looked best. Make sure to tear from the back and show them samples of how all 4 edges will look!
When I learned etching we tore all our paper down by hand. It is a pain but gives a certain look, that’s for sure. Also, be sure you’re charging for the extra time - I’ve added in about 3 hours of labor cost to cover the initial tear to get printable sheets, then the final tears to size.

Right, there is so much more time! Bowerbox, I too have to regularly tear paper- but usually, it’s not the size of a small 6x9 (or smaller!) wedding invitation.