Pin/Tab Registration Punches

First off, I am new to the Briar Press community and just wanted to express my gratitude in advance for any answers provided to my questions. I’m incredibly thankful that this resource exists…

Anyway, I’m a fine-art printmaker (woodcuts mostly) that is setting up my own small-scale letterpress shop in my studio. Because my space is limited, I’ve purchased (and really love) a 15” X 30” Challenge “galley-style” proof press and a 9” X 12” Boxcar Base.

I’m familiar with using litho registration pins to register woodcut prints and am trying to figure out the best way to transition this method of tight registration to my proofing press.

My first question:
Could anyone recommend a high quality registration/paper punch?

I have been looking at: from Takach, but would really prefer something in a more affordable price range.

Second question:
My first real task is to print a couple hundred dual-sided business cards for a friend. Can anyone recommend a good way to layout the cards so I’m not going through the torture of printing one at a time?

I was thinking of having a plate made that is 4 cards X 4 cards (front) and one that is also 4X4 for the backside… does this seem logical or should I just start looking around for a small platen press for printing business cards and other small items?

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If you think printing “several” hundred two sided cards is torture;
compare the time and cost of
set of registration pins
4 x 4 plates front
4 x 4 plates back
How about the price of the boxcar base?
a bit of time registering the obverse and reverse plates to each other.
Assuming you don’t own a paper cutter means you’ve got get the parent sheets cut to your 4 x 4 sheet and then after printing you need to get these cards cut to singles, so you take them to a friend who has a shop across town, (add for time and gas, and a six pack on each trip for your friend), after all what are friends for?

Compare the above with printing a single card:

Cutting stock to size (2 x 3.5),
means only one trip to you friend’s shop, only one six pack.
Cost for two plates (obverse and reverse), it’s much cheaper and much easier to register just one front and back rather than 4 x 4.
Running 400 impressions, torture to you, a relaxing bit of therapy to others.
Running the 200 fronts on one day and letting them dry overnight, then running the 200 backs the next day, gives you an evening to enjoy a six-pack while you watch the ink dry on the fronts.
Running singles also eliminates the risk of “off-setting” the cards by cutting before the ink is totally dry.
Delivering to your customer and letting him buy YOU a six pack.

Start looking for a 5x8 or ? Kelsey, Sigwalt, Craftsman or Adana, and welcome to the land of torture: printing 200 impressions a night!

Registrations system/pins.

I usually use a paper drill, but the cheapest method would be to invest in a good quality three-hole punch from a stationery store. Make absolutely sure that the holes it punches are EXACTLY 1/4” diameter. You can’t punch a pile of paper at-a-time, so this is a slower method.

Then the real trick is to get a piece of wood furniture and drill three 1/4” holes in EXACTLY the same widths apart as your punch makes in the paper. These holes should be precise and perpendicular to the surface of the furniture.

Then the trick is to buy some 1/4” dowel (take a template to test it), cut three lengths about 3/64” longer than the furniture is thick. Seat (glue) these dowels into your holes. Slightly sand the top edge of each dowel so that there is a slight roundness/bevel so the paper won’t tear when placed over the dowels.

Now just lock that piece of furniture into the bed of your press (outside of your final trim area) and you are ready to go. Your paper obviously needs to be oversized to begin with because you will trim off the holes after printing.

You now have a ‘system’ that should provide perfect registration for you.

You can also simply use two holes for smaller pieces.


Thank you both for the quick reply. I’ve been looking around to see if a second table-top platen press is in my price range… unfortunately, it looks like I’d have to drop another couple thousand bucks to get one up and running (at least in the size I’d need).

So, I’m going to give the hand-inking method another go. My plan is to pick up some furniture and either glue or otherwise attach the litho pins. That way I can lock it down in the press with the rest of the furniture and, assuming I need to, move it slightly to make sure things are lining up….

I wonder if this system would work with your proof press. I intend to try it on mine later today.


Nancy - Yes that would work, but I’m curious if it is going to be durable enough to stand up to editioning. Have you put this into practice yet? I would love to know your results!