parent sheets and smaller cutters

My cutter has a 19” blade, but the smallest parent sheet I can buy is 20” in one dimension.

How do you, personally, cope with a parent sheet larger than your cutter?

I may have to go to a local printer and see if they will make one cut for me; but the last time I asked they were a little iffy about doing it. Yes, I paid them :)

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You just need to find the right printer. I found a local guy (to me) that will do it for coffee and donuts. Of course it helps if you have a lot of printers in your area.

Sometimes you can have the mill cut your sheets down, but they’ll charge you per cut.

was going to suggest the same. I know Legion Paper will cut paper for you. Pricing here:

I’m not sure how that would add up when cutting multiple sheets down. Like if I bought 5 parent sheets and wanted them all cut in half.


having working relationship
with local job shop
can be very helpful

if you only need to cut a few sheets
thats easy
might waste a bit
fold them then cut them

yours truly

I do this for only a few sheets.
You will lose 1/2” of your paper.
Carefully measure a dimension less than 20” and mark at two edges of your paper. Have in mind the size or sizes you wish to eventually have.
Place on a clean piece of corregated cardboard.
Using a very clean straightedge, like a carpenters steel rafter square, and a good sharp utility knife, cut one sheet at a time. Mark this edge and do not use it as the back edge for further cuts. It will become part of your scrap.

I would just stack it up and cut it close to what you need with a utility knife. Just be sure that cut edge is part of the offcut at some point.

So for instance if you wanted to cut 100 sheets of 20” x 26” Lettra down to print A2 cards, you could do your utility knive cut at 13” (you now would have 20” x 13” sheets). Then on your 19” cutter cut the 20” in half, then cut the 13 dimension twice at 6.375” which would leave you with 1/4” of offcut which would be your original utility knife cut.

Might also be worth investing in a small table top lever cutter like the image below. This one was $40 on Craigslist. Then just close it and stick it behind a cabinet when you aren’t using it.

image: paper-cutter.jpg


I decided I got pretty bored with a lot of the repetitive aspects of pairing down parent sheets to workable sizes for my cutter, and so I made a simple sliding stop mechanism to assist me out of architectural metal T-Slot extrusion.

Here’s a shot of the extrusion, can be got from McMaster-Carr or Frameworld:

There are captive T-Nuts in there beneath the pieces of wood, and the black bolt sticking out is an allen bolt. You tighten the bolt and it holds the piece of furniture in place ad a stop for a ruler (sacrificed for this machine- don’t worry, I have like 6 cabinets and some extra pieces, all you letterpress hoarders out there can identify with me right?).

And the table, setup with several rulers against stops:

The surface is actually a cutting mat, not a tabletop; one of the self healing kind, a 4X8 foot one.

My procedure is to either double-stick a pair of tabs to the table or clamp a full length ruler down, push the end of the parent sheet against it as though it were a back gauge; measure out the length to be cut, make 2 marks on the table at that length; line a tear bar or ruler up to those 2 marks; and then tighten down to stop blocks on the opposite side of the ruler from the cut side (so the cut pushes the ruler against the stops, NOT away). After that, it’s a matter of checking a cut for squareness and slightly shifting your stops accordingly. You can cut sheets with ease and accuracy with this method.

What’s even better, if you use a bone folder- you can score and tear sheets a lot more quickly with this method than normal hand methods, and much-much-much more accurately/consistently.

It may seem a convoluted solution to the problem, but it has saved my (and my students/coopt printers) fingerjoints many hours of work.

@havenpress — you seem to be cutting against the surface of the table, is that true? It took me a long time to figure that one out despite the cutting mat :)

I’m wondering why not cut using the nice neat prearranged slot! You’ve given me some ideas for sure, and thank you to all who replied.

PS to those who suggest having the seller do the first cut: I have to mailorder paper- no supplier in town.

jonsel has a good point which seems to be getting overlooked.

Find a local print shop that you can befriend that handles larger volume work. Have your paper shipped there and have it cut in half. Take cookies when you pick it up. They won’t be sad to see paper deliveries arrive with your name on them.


@MarjorieAPA722 stated:
I’m wondering why not cut using the nice neat prearranged slot!

Indeed, there is a cutting mat on the table; I cut ACROSS the 48” table, and the stops are what the cutting straightedge is bumped up against in order to align the blade with the cut. The stops are adjustable left to right and must follow that track or the device does not make sense…….. Does that make sense?

I have a 26.5 cutter which tends to take care of most parent sheets. Anything larger, I just fold the sheet, bone it down, and slice with a binder’s knife. Then put it in the cutter.

Really uncomplicated. Takes some time to do, but, hey, it’s letterpress. And just one more step in getting to know your paper.