A faster way to paper cut?

Hello Everyone,
Maybe I am just slow, but it seems to take me forever to cut down cotton paper. I am looking for any other way to speed up the process.

I am looking for techniques and other possible options. I have considered getting a manual hand paper cutter since I can pull the blade down by hand to see if I am on target. Does anyone do this?

I have two electric paper cutters:
Chinese paper cutter 17 in. (I have no idea what the name is)
Challenge 2020 20 in. (Its a decade old but is in good shape)

They work both work good, but its takes about 2-3 hours to cut down 100 letterpress invitations (220lb).

Half the battle is ensuring the blade is correct with the cut lines before I pull the trigger! ha.

Any advice is appreciated.

Log in to reply   11 replies so far

Really, you could cut them out by hand with a scalpel and steel ruler quicker than that…
Are you working to cut marks? How many up are you printing if at all.
I don’t understand how you are taking 3 hours of labour time to cut down 100 cards. Surely its eating into your costs and indeed profit?
Have you considered sending them out to a trade finisher or getting a local shop to cut them for you.

When was the last time you had the blades sharpened? Dull blades can pull the paper and skew the cut.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

@Albion_press Yeah, its the worst process ever. I have tried to use a commercial printer down the street, but they came back of centered.

@mephits & @Albion_press,
Do you mind telling me your process and the type of paper cuter you are using?

Thank you,

Well, I work for a commercial printer. My process is to take it to work and cut it on the 26” hydraulic Polar there.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

@juratovic, do you do test cuts before putting the whole stack in there? Sometimes it takes a few adjustments before the cut is on the right line. Short stacks are always the key with 220 lb. Lettra, I find. Too much and the blade pulls the stack. I’ve found this even with a newly sharpened blade.

Get yourself a steel rule that has increments reading to the end of the rule , you can then measure the distance from the back gauge to the mark left by the blade on your stick , assuming you have no measure built into the machine ,dont leave the rule under the blade ,i have lost count of the number of times i have seen that done .
Never having cut cotton rag in my life i cant see why you have problems cutting it ,i understand it is not unlike cutting blotting which collapses or crushes under oressure so maybe you have insufficient clamp pressure ,then the job moves under the knifes action . there are comments referring to the cutting of this material and the most common one seems to be to put some form of board above and below the job and cut through the sandwich .
the board protects the job material from clamp marks .
Another problem is that the more pressure you add the greater the set off on the reverse of the sheet ,this is a common letterpress problem regardless of the material ,letterpress needs a long time drying at the best of times regardless of the stock you use so clamping hard creates its own problems too . Letterpress is slow and laborious , not only the printing process but all that follows too .

Im kind of with Peter here.
And also with mephits. Cutting on a Polar or a Wohlenberg programmable.
Cutting any stock or finished work even on an old guilly shouldn’t take long.
Have you considered going to a trade house and asking for some tuition in return for a favour or two or some ca$h???
Good luck…

The cutting block that the blade cuts into once it has cut the paper might be the big problem. If it is old and the blade has nothing to push on while cutting might cause the paper to move while the blade is cutting.

Step one: Determine Gripper guide edge of sheet, and side-guide edge. It’s very important to use these edges to guide the sheet through the cutting process for all the initial cuts.

Step two: Pile sheets in 1.5-2” thick pile, all facing same way, but set aside about 4-6 sheets with good register to use as testers.

Step three: Position Gripper guide side of a sheet with good register against back gauge, bring it up to the knife and clamp down to see how close the clamp/blade are to the crops which are closest to you- and furthest from the gripper guide. (This includes if you’ve got a multi-up gang of forms you’re splitting, or a 1-up form you’re trying to crop to final size. You should always be cutting with the guides away from you/facing the back gauge until you’ve split everything.)

Once you make a good position for the back gauge, you can jog the pile into a neat square stack and then position it against the back gauge and clamp down/knife down.

If you’ve done it right you should see a neat line of crop marks sheared through. This is cut ONE.
Set aside the original, single sheet you used to make this dimension, as you’ll need it later to trim the side guide margins.

You can then cut all your piles in the same operation, taking care to lock the back-gauge in it’s position if possible or at least taking care not to bump into the knob itself lest if wander and shift the back gauge (and the accuracy of your cut).

After you complete cut one- which removes the first set of marks- the set furthest from the gripper guide edge- you should rotate the stacks 180 degrees and trim the gripper guide edge off while cutting through the next set of crops. This is CUT 2.
If you fed and cut them accurately, I don’t see how you would not be able to set the back gauge to whatever the dimension is supposed to be and nail the crops. Once you trim the gripper edge off, you’ll have a pile that has the side-guide margins to trim.

So this is where you take the sheet that you used to set the margins you just trimmed, and now place it’s side guide edge against the back gauge. Follow the same procedure for CUT ONE, cut all your stacks, and you should be able to then rotate them 180 degrees and remove the last remaining margin for CUT 4.

That is the procedure I follow as accurately as I can verbally describe it. I can cut a run of 100 4 ply museum board cards down in about 20 minutes tops with an entirely manual 19” Challenge guillotine.

I agree with Mike on his comment above. How sharp is the blade? A paper cutter like you have will cut through anything as long as is it paper without a problem IF it is sharp.
If not it will as Mike said cause a skew and even pull paper out.
Have the blade sharpened and it is also wide to have a date on the cutter taped to tell you when was it last shaprned.