not cutting square - Peerless Gem Stack Paper Cutter

Hi all,

My 30” antique peerless gem cutter is off by about 1/8” along the 30” cut (cuts slightly diagonally, not right angle). I cannot find any manuals. I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that I am to align the paper so it is flat against the side-gauge and not the backstop. The backstop on this piece is a jury-rigged piece of angle iron that someone welded on before I got my hands on it.

Is there a way to adjust either the blade or the side gauge so as to get a perfect 90 degree cut? Or am I outta luck?

Greg Beckemeier
(636) 542-8560
[email protected]

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usually the back gauge has an adjustment . i always use the back gauge, sometimes not the side at all. if you don’t clamp the paper tight your stock will pull out from the gauge, but this sounds like the back gauge is off, some pictures might help. good luck dick g.

I have an old 23” C&P cutter and the back stop is fixed and not adjustable. I have to use 1/2 pt, point, lead strips on the back stop in places to adjust paper angle so it’s even when cutting.

My previous 19” Challenge had a backstop adjustment.


Since your jury-rigged back gauge is welded it will probably be easier to screw a wooden face-piece to it, this being made at an angle that compensates for the amount the gauge is out of square. To make an accurate template from which the face-piece can be made: set the back gauge 2 or 3 inches back, push a piece of heavy paper the full width of the bed against it so it touches the entire length, and cut the paper.

I’d make the face-piece at least one inch thick and about 4” tall so that it approximates the height of the original gauge so you can cut taller stacks. Add a few coats of shellac to keep it clean and smooth. You can drill a few holes in the angle iron and use screws from the back to attach it. This will give you a true, clean gauge that runs the whole length of the bed.

It will not allow you to cut extremely close to the knife as the original would because it will not have “fingers” that interweave with the hold down. Of course, if you wanted to get really fancy, a wooden face-piece could be made that way like the original. But the flat one will get you going for now and is quick and simple.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

Thank you all for the replies! It turns out that I was mistaken on my original diagnosis. I tested cutting a single sheet of 23 x 30 16 pt paper using the side gauge an it cuts DEAD ON. So as most of you surmised, my problem is indeed the back gauge. I think I also exacerbate the problem by not clamping down hard enough. When I first got the cutter I clamped down so hard that I stripped the removable block the the clamp screw goes into. I spent 250 bucks to have a new block made, which is of much harder steel, and have been afraid that I’ll strip the screw itself since the block is no longer a failsafe.

Also, the angle iron they welded on isn’t straight. It’s actually bowed 1/8” along it’s run! You think they would have checked it before making such a permanent replacement.

That said, I would obviously prefer to continue using the adjustable guide. So, I need to figure out how to attach another backstop to the faulty one. If my pea-sized brain can’t come up with a solution, I’ll have to try somehing else.

Perhaps two large rare-earth magnets? The videos on YouTube show that those suckers will crush your finger! But I doubt they’d remain stationary when your slamming a stack of paper against them.

Question: is it better to align your stack centered under the screw clamp, as opposed to using the side gauge? That would keep the pressure even on the stack?

Is your knife sharp? A dull knife will pull the paper when you cut, especially when cutting against the grain. I prefer to cut short lifts (stacks) of paper to prevent pulling.

Most people I know cut in the center. I know people who swear that you should cut in the center, and others who swear you should cut against the side guide. Some cutters have a retracting side guide to allow cutting small paper (i.e. business cards) against the side. Without it, the paper can be pulled into the blade slot and damage to the job can result. Also, if here is oil or grease on the knife guides it can be transferred to the side guide, and then to the paper - again, ruining the job.

Others will probably weigh-in. Take the advice that suits you.

Thanks for the advice! So, do you simply use the side guide to get the stack straight and then move it to the middle?

Also, can anyone recommend a good blade sharpener in St. Louis, MO?

sharecropper is right, if your knife is dull it will draw the paper the top of the pile will be different size than the bottom. i try to only fill the cutter half way , never cut with a full lift of stock. good luck dick g.


Payver does blade sharping in St. Louis.

I haven’t used them yet but others tell me they are good for this service.

Sadly, I got rid of the manual shear and replaced it with a hydraulic Challenge. The gentleman that did the moving for me described what he did with the turn-of-the-century Peerless Gem: “I watched as a giant claw lifted the cutter of my trailer, and with a couple swings, threw it 75 feet onto the top of a scrap heap.”

This literally brings tears to my eyes. I only wish I’d had the room to store it until I could find someone that could have used it.

On the other hand… GO HYDRAULIC!! WOO HOO!!!!

I have been using the antique peerless gem cutter for long now and have never experienced such troubles but hopefully someone is reading and will give you the most important answers and satisfy your curiosity. Try out the FAQ section you never know it does help at times. - Jordan