To Score or Not to Score...


We score tons of paper here, covers, brochures, cards, etc.  We are often presented with a job to bind into booklets and the question comes up as to whether or not to score the covers.  In general, most booklets look better if the cover is scored, particularly when the stock is 80# or heavier and the fold will be against the grain.


With a little planning as to the grain direction, we can often avoid the cost of scoring, particularly when binding thick booklets.  In fact, with correct grain direction, many books turn out nearly perfect without a score, depending on the particular paper in question.  Grain direction also permits the booklet to fold better around the spine, eliminating the tiny cracks that often appear even with a perfect score.


With digitally produced (laser) covers, the paper is dried out and grain direction becomes more important, and a good letterpress score is often the only solution.


Heavy text or book weight papers can be a real challenge to score properly, even on a letterpress, but we have some special scoring rules that yield excellent results.  For best results, folding with the grain is the preferred method, but trying to score thin papers with the grain may not change the foldability of the job, so in some cases it is actually better to print the job so it will score against the grain.


A simple method to get an idea of whether or not to score a job is to simply run a single sheet through your own folder and check the results, to help you with your decision.


Padding Carbonless Sets

Padding sets of carbonless paper can sometimes seem to be full of mysteries if the end results are less than satisfactory, resulting in sets that may be both sticking together and falling apart within the same few sets.

Going back in time to the early days of carbonless paper, instructions were pretty much the same as they are today: “Trim the binding edge to even it up, jog well, stack evenly and don't put too much pressure or weight on top to hold the stack together.  Apply glue evenly out to the edges, being careful not to use too much or too little.”

That sure seems to leave a lot of room for error, doesn't it?

Trimming the binding edge slightly will produce a smooth, even edge likely to take glue evenly and minimize padding problems.  As far as how much glue to apply, the main idea is to apply enough to give a momentary wet look, being extremely careful to paint from the center of the pile out left and right so as to cover all the way to the edges, but not onto the sides of the stack.

Now for the secrets they don't tell you:

For best results, cover the bottom of your padding rack with some wrapping paper or something to keep any buildup of regular padding and carbonless glues from transferring to your paint brush, onto the stack and then back into your bottle of carbonless padding glue, where it will likely build up in concentration and eventually cause problems of forms sticking together.

Since slight problems tend to appear in the top and bottom sets on the pile, a good practice is to put a small ¼" - ½" pile of plain paper on both top and bottom of the pile, and let them be the ones that absorb either too much or too little glue.

Then another piece of wrapping paper on the top board of your padding rack for the same reason.

As to the glue, be sure that it is the correct glue for your paper.  These days it doesn't appear to be as important as it once was, when multiple brands of carbonless paper each required their own glue.

The seemingly innocent practice of using a bottle of glue down to the last drop caused lots of grief before the solution was figured out.  According to one of the paper mill reps way back then, when using a little bit of glue at a time on lots of small jobs, each time the lid is opened and some glue used, oxygen gets in to work on the top of the glue.  After lots of times it enables the glue to become slightly concentrated and possibly even contaminated with dust from the paper, which results in jobs sticking together mysteriously.  The solution?  Easy.  When the glue in the bottle gets down to the last ½", throw the rest away.  I know it's hard to do, but just do it.  If the bottle of glue gets used up in less than a week or two, as in the case of larger jobs, it doesn't seem to be a problem to use that last drop.

Don't even think you can clean a regular padding brush clean enough to prevent regular padding glue residues from contaminating your carbonless glue.  We used to keep about a dozen different brushes on hand, the plastic ones with different colored handles simplified identification.  Why so many?  Because we found early on that a brush with even the slightest dampness could cause sets to fall apart by very slightly diluting the carbonless glue.  For that reason we put any brushes used today into a box not to be used again until tomorrow when it would be completely dry.