7470RE: [PPLetterpress] Re: die cutting jacket
- Feb 1, 2007I don't know why you have a problem logging in...you use your email
address and password.
Anyway, here is the whole thing from that site, unedited.
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 13:10:01 -0600
Reply-To: Letterpress Discussion List <LETPRESS@...>
Sender: Letterpress Discussion List <LETPRESS@...>
From: Leonard W Molberg <mail-to-mo@...>
Subject: Die cutting - a short primer - it's not that difficult!
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I'm surprised at some of you who haven't tried it. It is really quite
simple process, though, like printing, can have it's challenging
It's really nothing more than a straight knife edged rule which, if
serrated, would be a perfing rule. I assume you all perf occasionally.
Use a perfing rule against the side of another rule and you've the
simplest, cheapest and sometimes best perfing setup.
Die cutting is similar, you just do it, more often than not, in other
than a straight line. If you want to just slit something just use a
of cutting rule like a perfing rule.
You need three things - a letterpress, a steel rule die (usually made
a die making specialist) and a die cutting plate or jacket. It can be
done on a cylinder, but I'll stick with platen presses here (I do
all my die cutting on Kluges)
A simple piece of stainless steel sheet, about 20-22 gage, will slip
under the tympan inplace of the pressboard. If your platen is set
high you will probably want to order the die with .918 rule, but .937
seems to be more standard for die cutters for some unknown (at least
me) reason. A piece of mild steel sheet will work, even cut from the
bottom of a galley, but the die seems to raise a 'burr' on it which
fights you when pulling the piece out. Stainless doesn't seem to do
for some reason. You might be able to get a piece from a local sheet
metal shop, cut to your platen size.
For narrow dies, you can tape down the side of a perf or cutting or
scoring rule to cut against with good results.
If you decide to spend more ( a LOT more!) money, you can oder a
and ground steel die cutting plate for your platen, but for simple
the cheaper plate is quite adequate. If you're careful about your
impression and makeready, you will not "emboss" the plate and it can
reused hundreds of times. Even if you slightly impress it, it probably
won't keep you from reusing it. I've seen some in pretty bad shape and
still serving well. If you get careless, well...it's just like getting
careless any other way. Bring up the platen packing underneath until
die just cuts properly, level the platen with the platen screws if
necessary, then if any piece of the die rule doesn't want to quite
makeready under the bottom of the die with "lick and stick" gummed
or tape or whatever you wish, just like bringing up a low spot of your
type from under the type, rather than trying to makeready under the
You can also have combination cut/score dies made, but it gets more
complicated, as you have to consider the stock thickness and order the
score rules appropriately high. On cylinder presses, the dies need to
have higher rules in one direction than the other, so it pays to start
You can put the plate under the tympan, bring up your packing until it
just "clicks" through the tympan, then cut a margin around the die
(preferably after setting your gage pins) then tape around it with
tape just outside the die area. If your clearance is too tight, fasten
the plate down on top and double sticky tape home made gage pins of 6
slugs to the plate. I do this all the time, the Scotch double sticky
is thin enough that it doesn't cause problems and it stays put even
the press at higher speeds. You can double sticky tape a "tongue"
2 pt lead to the top of the slug. If you nick that kind of gage pin or
tongue, you probably won't damage the rule in the die.
Lock up the die just as you would any other job and, of course, remove
the rollers from the press before you die cut.
If you have a real problem getting the sheet out of the press without
coming apart, you can "nick" the rules slightly to provide a very thin
bridge to hold the sheet together, but when hand feeding it should
a big problem.
You'll figure out things as you go, but it's really a fairly simple
operation, especially things like circles, windows in covers, and
simpler shapes. You can even cut your own rules for rectangular or
holes and lock them up just as you would any other form. If your lead
slug cutter is good and sharp, you can cut rule on the back side
hurting the cutter, then you can slighly bevel the ends on a bench
grinder to get a tight corner. Then, if you wish to keep the setup you
can cut wood and glue around the rules, using your chase and quoins to
clamp them while glueing. I have several home made dies made this way.
You will need "corking" or ejection rubber around the rules to keep
sheets from sticking on the cutting rule, especially in corners or
or whatever. You can use half inch thick weather stripping rubber
sticky back with good success, though die makers have many special
of "corking" available to suit the application.
Rolodex cards are easy to die cut with a good die, but harder to get
of the sheet due to the little slots in the bottom wanting to hang
have my rolodex dies made with a rule clear across the bottom, then
small pieces come out over a home made "striping" die with a home made
punch and hammer. I just finished a 43,000 run of 2-up door hangars
have a simple stripping die made of a piece of die board (plywood or
anything else) with two holes slightly larger than the punched hole,
up in a spare chase with a few reglets sticking up at approximately
gage pin locations. This allows me to punch out a whole stack of
try to keep the die set up to allow the piece to come out whole, then
break out the die cut places in stacks.
Be inventive. I'll try to answer questions if you have any, as would
probably a hundred other list members.
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