How to stop paper on cylinder from “flapping”

I have a Vandercook cylinder press and am having trouble with registration on the end portion of the sheet that I can’t hold to the cylinder with my hand as it goes around and contacts the plate. Are there any tricks to help deal with this? I tried affixing double- sided tape to the cylinder/tympan, but the tape damages the paper when removed. Any suggestions appreciated, thank you!

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Hello Sylvia,

You could try using press points (click here and scroll down about 2/3 of the way: I got some of these from Dave Churchman (see the Yellow Pages) and they make a big difference. Another thing you might try is printing on longer paper and then trimming it to size. If you use the “work and turn” method you might not even have any waste.



3M BLUE removable tape——-it’s used for masking off woodwork, window frames, etc. while painting——it’s
3/4” wide in a roll that costs about $5.-$6.
Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes——everyone carries the
3M BLUE roll——-tape the end of the sheet—full or partial—
then remove after printing——experiment a bit and maybe
the tape could be used more than once—-the tape should
NOT harm the sheet in any way—-just pull the tape away
SLOWLY——-good luck!

Most Vandercooks had margin guides that would keep the press smooth to the cylinder, though many have been removed. Yours is an SP-15, right?

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Yes it’s an SP-15. It doesn’t have margin guides— can those be replaced?

Thanks for the above suggestions, very helpful!

You’d have to ask Fritz. The SP-15 had guides made from phenolic resin. He might have some still sitting in a box.

They can be a bit pesky though— you must always remember to set them outside of the image area or they will smear your printing and accumulate ink.

For someone who works methodically they can be quite nice, but for a public studio such as mine they are best left off the press.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Do you happen to have a link to a photo of a press that has the guides? I’m not sure how to visualize them.

You can sort of see them on sheet no. 281 in the SP-15 manual. Look for the piece marked ‘friction finger.’

If you don’t have a manual you can get it from NA Graphics or download a copy here:


I do have the manual, I’ll take a look. Thanks again.

Just to state the obvious – it’s always best to plan your job so that you offer the long edge of your sheet to the grippers; it will reduce the chance of minute variances in angle at the front of the sheet which will be magnified to a greater degree at the end of the sheet.

That’s one of the problems with most Vandercooks: unlike real production cylinder presses, when printing the largest sheets the gripper edge has to be the narrow edge of the sheet. It also is a serious challenge to the typical Vandercook inking system. Assuming consistant feeding to the headstops and side-guide, then fish-tailing, and sagging into the blank areas of the form are two major causes of misregister, and blue low-adhesion tape is the easiest solution to those problems (short of frisket-tapes). All press-points will correct is tail-slur.
The only Vandercook I have seen with sheet width greater than length is the 232 or 32-28, and that’s really a two-up narrow sheet design.