paper cutter issues? Die cutting for edge painting?

Hello all!

I’ve gotten to a mildly successful place with my business card sales, and I’m starting to have a lot of clientele interested in having me do edge painting on 600gsm Lettra paper…which I can’t seem to pull off cleanly for the life of me.

I’ve tried paint pens, spray paint, foam brushes with paint, regular brushes with paint, oil-based ink on a brayer…using c-clamps, alligator clamps, binder clips, rubber bands…and nothing is giving me a beautiful, clean edge, and I think I’ve narrowed it down to my real problem here: my paper cutter.

I have a COME 9770EZ 18” guillotine paper cutter, but NO MATTER what I do, I cannot get a clean-cut, even stack of cards. And when I do get a good stack evenly cut, despite having a newly sharpened blade, the edges are raggedy on the bottom edge.

What am I doing wrong? Should I be investing in a Challenge paper cutter / a vintage paper cutter of some sort? I feel like I never see people having issues with trimming cards, so I feel really stupid (and any time I’ve felt like this before, it’s been a lack of having the correct tools.)

So! Should I be looking for a “real” paper cutter and not something I bought off amazon (despite having spent $500…ugh)? How does edge painting work with die-cut edges? All the die-cutting I’ve done in the past with 600 gsm lettra kind of compresses the top side, not giving me a perfectly square edge, but I’ve also only ever die-cut rounded shapes, if that makes a difference.

Thanks for reading! If anyone has a nice paper cutter for sale in or near Southern Indiana, please let me know! I’ve sent a few messages to people with classifieds on here but haven’t heard anything back.

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Do you use a sheet of fairly thick chipboard the width of your stack on the bottom and top (the top sheet protects the stock from denting by the clamp, the bottom sheet ensures a clean cut at the bottom of the stack. If your cutting stick is worn or deeply indented by the blade that will cause the ragged edge at the bottom. You can rotate the cutting stick to another side or turn it around 180 degrees to get a fresh cut on the side that is up now. Also, check to be sure when you cut that the blade stops before going further than just touching the cutting stick — the chipboard will also help preserve the cutting sticks. The chip board does not need to be the full size of the sheets, just the full width and a bit wider than the clamp, with about 1/4 inch extending beyond the cut. I have used cut-up cereal boxes successfully for sheets smaller than that.


In addition to the above,! perhaps stating the obvious, (apologies) when you knock up your pile to be cut, presumably it is presented to the bed and registered against the Backstop and offered up to the side Guide/Stanchion that accepts the side slicing action of the blade.
Unusual comment maybe, but we see here frequently, that the work is positioned dead centre, with no side support, on the basis that the Back stop, (by virtue of wear in the Slot and Guide) gives better accuracy,? believing that the clamp is the be all and end all.

Again, as implied above, (A.L.P.) generally the cutting stick can be flipped to give a good edge, BUT in this day and age, cutting stick,s are normally now Hard Plastic or Nylon and can be flipped at least 8 times.
Here U.K. even in production houses, with Multi Thousand $/£, *Wohlenberg* and *Polar Mohr* guillotine.s etc, it is standard practice to treat the bottom 2-3 sheets of stock as sacrificial, especially with Art paper.

Even, in “born again”, Letterpress mode this is still a helpful gimmick, if actual stock is at a premium, 2-3 extra sheets of the same weight work well, the raw edge can be studied etc. especially when setting the depth of drive of the blade, as (A.L.P.) above.

Is there ANY lost motion on the descent of the blade, traditionally shows on the very last few sheets, or thousands of an inch final descent, do You have? the means and the facilities, via the adjusting Bolts,*** to set the blade for 100% Parallel to the Stick, usually checked, (WITH SAFETY PARAMOUNT) via 3 slivers of accurate stock, left right and centre under the clamp,! and bring the blade down (if possible) by hand cranking, should be able to observe on final *Kiss* contact with the stick, test slivers, just begin to curl up simultaneously = prove or disprove lost motion, and/or remedy.

***Frequently, the elongated slots in the blade reach the limit of their travel, and by default, can not do the job 100%,???

If the above be rubbish, apologies but may prompt in depth help.

Good Luck. Mick

I frequently have several thick pieces of chipboard underneath my stack, and a much larger stack on top. I also don’t cut 600 gsm Lettra in more than 1” lifts. It’s a pain in the neck to cut, but if you set it up correctly, you should get square edges.

Don’t give up on your cutter yet.
When cutting lettra there is an inside and an outside to the cut. This is true for other papers as well but for thick lettra because it is so soft it is critical. The blade on most cutters is like a chisel. When you cut 600gsm lettra one side of the cut will be clean if you have a good sharp blade and your pile well secured. The other side toward the beveled edge of the blade will have each sheet slightly pinched and not perfectly clean.
I have cut lots of 600gsm on a small cutter with good results, but it is critical that when edge painting you are using a sharp blade and painting the inside cuts only. The outside cuts will make a total mess.

Oh…Sorry… I just looked at your paper cutter. Yeah, I think that’s going to be a problem for 600gsm.

That is, indeed, not the highest quality of paper cutters but as long as you’re cutting short lifts carefully, it should handle the job. I’d limit it to 1/4” to 1/2” lifts, myself.

One thing beyond what has been recommended above (all of it good): I would suggest is getting your blade professionally sharpened. 100% cotton stocks are very hard on blades. You may have to get it sharpened after every job or every other job. This sharpening requires special equipment, so look around your local area for industrial saw and knife sharpeners. For instance, the company we use at my day job here in Memphis is “Tennessee Saw & Knife”.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN