Boxcar base and photopolymers

I’ve a “boxcar” base, not made from Boxcar but received from the previous owner of the press. It’s the one with all the magnets inserted in the base (one magnet, one metal string, one magnet, one metal string, and so on)

I’m using European type-height: 0.928” (2.357 MM)

This base has got a height of 22.62 / 22.63 MM.

The Toyobo HF 95 photopolymers I’d like to use has got a height of 0,94 MM

22.63 MM (the base) +
0.94 MM (the photopolymer)
23,57 MM (That’s the European typeheight)

Considering I’d like to use the backed plastic sheets photopolymers, and I need to use the Duplofol adhesive, I’ll overcome the common Europena type-height.

If I’ll use the 0,10mm Duplofol, I’ll have a final typeheight of 23.67MM.

Is a problem or shouldn’t I be afraid of only 0.10 mm on my Heidelberg Windmill 10x15 press?

That kind of “boxcar” base I have is suited JUST for metal backed sheet photopolymers? Or can I use without any problem also with plastic backed sheet photopolymers?


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Boxcar did not invent the aluminum flatbase. They have been around for quite some long time, long before Boxcar arrived on the scene. Not sure of the manufacture of your base (there are many such industrial magnetic bases of different manufacture) but your base will likely accommodate a steel backed plate of correct thickness. Not sure why you would want to purposely abandon that to go to polyester backed and deal with the adhesive, the buckling, stretching?


Hello Gerald,
thanks for the reply :)

In your book you describe them, but actually I haven’t your book near and cannot remember the name. I simply called them boxcar to give them a name, instead of “bases”!

The point is I believe is easier to handle a plastic backed sheet photopolymer instead of a metal one (cut it and so on).

And aren’t the metal one more expensive?



Expense of plates is usually determined by thickness, not necessarily by backing, but it varies everywhere dependent upon raw plate cost from distributors. Some polyester-backs are extraordinarily expensive dependent upon where you get them.

I suppose one could say that a polyester backed sheet is easier to handle in terms of cutting, but one could also make the case that they are messier, in regard to the adhesive; bubbling, likelihood of particulate contamination, etc. I process both for clients, and I prefer the steel-backed in this regard, and that is my preferred plate for my own work.

To each his/her own though. Not my problem.


Okay Gerald,
you convinced me, but how can I cut easily the steel backed photopolymers? And another thing, that magnet is really STRONG. How can I move the metal backed photopolymer easily, for example to register it, or to remove it from the magnetic base?

Returning to my question, is a problem if my typeheight is 0.10mm in more?

Thanks :)

Hi again

Steel-backs are easily cut with a paper shears or even a tin snips. I use a Kutrimmer, which is of German manufacture.

Regarding pickup, see this:

Registration is obtained through the very traditional tool of the line gauge, far more accurate than a base grid.

Slight adjustments:
or screwdriver and tap hammer

I love tools, especially the correct ones for the job!

There is also detailed information on pickup and adjustment in my manual:

To your original question: base and plate must equal the type height required by your press or it’s a no go.

Over and out.


Hello Gerald.
thanks a lot for your time, really.

I love the right tools too :)

I hope to find them in Italy, but I believe you should suggest me a seller for the pad knife, line gauge and for the bookbinder’s brass pallet.

If anyone has got any resource in Europe I’ll save money in shipping.


ps. I’ll read more accurately your book

Pickup of steel back plates is simplified by filing a bevel underneath the corners. Then a makeup rule can be inserted easily. It is a good idea to file all the edges so there is no burr, and an extra swipe at the corners gives a purchase point.
I use PatMags so this helps prevent gouging of the soft surface magnet. But on the stronger Bunting bases, you can get injured if you have a fingertip between the base and a burred edge. You can use the makeup rule to guide the edge down, without slapping onto the Bunting.

parallel_imp, thanks for the reply.

what do you mean for a makeup rule? cannot find what’s.

About the spatula, I’ve found this

It’s the women waxing tool..I believe it can work!

Unlucky my base is already really scratched…

A makeup rule is a compositor’s tool, see recent thread “Tool identification” for a picture:

Thanks parallel imp!

I’ve read that discussion but I believe it’s easier to inserti a wood stick, to prevent further scratches on my base..

Thanks a lot for sharing however :)


Hyde Tools makes smoothing tools for drywall, plaster work, etc. They are plastic and come in a number of sizes and work quite well for laying down the plate and shifting it around. Quite inexpensive.


I have a question about cutting plates. You have said that steel-backs are easily cut with a paper shears or even a tin snips. I use a Kutrimmer.
Doesn’t the paper shear or Kutrimmer’s blade dull quickly cutting metal? And using tin snips would seem to make it hard to get a clean cut.Do you need to file the edge of the plate after it is cut?
Are these only for making straight cuts to the plate or can you cut the plates in odd sizes/shapes?
Thanks in advance for your answer…and anyone else who has experience with these.

Cutting metal-backed plates on a Kutrimmer or even lighter cutters shouldn’t be a problem. You do need to maintain blade tension (inward pressure as you push) so both cutting edges stay in contact; if not the blade can drift out and just bend the metal over, ruining material and wearing the blades. Some cutters have the guide near the hinge of the blade, others away from it; starting your cut near the hinge has more leverage and a stronger cut. On the other hand, starting all cuts in exactly the same place may lead to a nick in the blade.
Cleaning the residue of the photopolymer off the blade is important, and in my experience wiping the blade with a slightly damp cloth before cutting can improve the cut because it reduces the drag of the photopolymer.
I always file the edges to remove burrs; one careless motion and you can get cut otherwise.
For irregular shapes you can use a nibbling tool available at Radio Shack. It takes bites about 1/4” wide by 1/16” deep; drill a hole, and you can stick the cutting head into it and remove an internal area. Slow work.

thanks a lot!!


Fabio, I’ve got a spare set of make up rules for sale. Might be handy when you want to do some typesetting. And do follow Gerald’s advice and steel backed plates. Printers would often make their own tools to lift plates from their bases. I’ll make a picture of the one I’ve got and send it to you. I simply to put the base onto the radiator or even on an electric cooking plate, warm it up evenly and remove the adhesive and the plate in one go.

Girl with a kluge

I use a Kutrimmer for cutting plates as well. I’ve had the blade in it for over 15 years and it does not appear to be dull (for this purpose). These are somewhat indestructible. I recently bought a new blade but have not yet installed it. I also bought a new larger Kutrimmer but I am using that strictly for cutting paper.

Note that there is a lower blade that is adjustable. If you are getting a slight linear bend along the edge of your plates the lower blade can be adjusted level. I use spacing material beneath it to keep it in position.

I’ve not used a tin snips for cutting plates, though a couple of my clients do and they seem to have no problem with it. I would think you’d get a bent and curled edge. But, yes, a tin snips would allow you to do non-linear cutting.

I don’t clean the edges of plates (as a slight burr can facilitate cling, especially for folks using a Patmag) though I do occasionally use a corner rounder (just for fun).


That same burr can abrade the rubber magnet and makes lifting more complicated. PatMags can last a long time if treated carefully, but many I’ve seen in use are badly gouged from trying to get tools under the plate (and pitted from spray adhesives). I’ve used them for almost 15 years, have five or six in various sizes, and only needed to have one resurfaced.

Girl with a kluge

There are many things you should worry about but dulling your blade should not be one of them. For the past 20 years I have been using a paper cutter (18” x 18”) to cut metal for my wife’s jewelry business. I cut silver, gold-fill and copper in thicknesses up to 18 gauge (0.040”). The blade cuts as well today as when we got it. Perhaps it’s because the metal we cut is softer than the blade. Recently I am cutting metal backed photopolymer plates and am having no problems at all.

Ginkgo Leaf Press

Well, blade damage is possible, depending on use. At one place I worked, the boss insisted we use a Jaques shear to cut plates, never the school cutter over at the shipping desk. And because the shear had the guide away from the blade hinge, there was repeated cutting of full size plates, all hitting at a specific spot in the middle of the blade. And eventually it got a nick there, requiring sharpening, and the shear was then made off-limits and plates went to the school cutter, 24”.

thomas gravemaker:
thanks! When you can please email me with the photo of the tool.

About make up rules, let me know in the mail please :)