Here are seven sites to help you discover things about print finishing you might not have thought you needed to know. They range from the unusual to the scholarly and a few places in between!
PrintWiki – The Free Encyclopedia of Print
Did a pressman just ask you to bring him a “snake slip?” Is he pulling your leg? Well you can probably find out about it on the PrintWiki. If it’s listed there, you’ll get a good definition. If you’re wondering, a Snake Slip is “a stock or rod composed of powdered pumice and flint used in offset lithography to remove foreign material from the surface of the plate. Also known as an etch stick.”
According to their homepage, “PrintWiki strives to provide a comprehensive, open-source knowledge base of information on the printing and graphic communication industry.” As of January 2015 the site is a static archive with more than 7,500 articles and definitions about anything related to printing.
Originally intended to be an active community wiki, the editors say the necessary volunteer community never formed around the site. Even though it’s not active, it’s still a valuable resource with plenty of helpful information. So when your co-worker asks you to bring them a bucket of half-tone dots, you may want to do a little homework here first.
This is a fascinating wiki-style community dedicated to the letterpress. According to their site, “Letterpress Commons is built by the community, for the community and fosters the exchange of accessible, authoritative, and inspirational letterpress information for letterpress printers by providing a free venue for online articles and multimedia.”
One of the more interesting things is a catalog of 133 OEM equipment manuals and parts lists. If you’re missing a manual for an old letterpress, pay them a visit. It also has articles on Ink, Paper, Type, Maintenance, Tools, and other helpful how-to tips and techniques.
It’s also a great resource for where to go to learn about this venerable printing craft. Experienced letterpress business owners have contributed articles about planning, pricing, employees, and business legal matters.
Interactive Training Program for High-Speed Cutters
This is a great training program for the beginner as well as a good refresher for someone coming back to guillotine cutting. Although it’s offered by Polar and naturally geared towards their cutting machines, the concepts and exercises presented here apply to all guillotine cutter operations.
Lessons cover Equipment, Cutting Quality, Technology, Safety, Formats, and Cutting Procedures. They also have exercises to give the operator practice in determining the correct cutting sequence and how to program it properly.
Google Book Search
Unless you have access to a big library, it can be difficult to find books and magazines on obscure subjects, like bookbinding, print finishing, or any other aspect of printing. Google’s Advanced Book Search is a useful tool that lets you set numerous parameters to find nearly anything both online and in print.
For instance, a search for books that contain the phrase “paper folding machine” returned 6,460 results. Narrowing it down to those books published in the last ten years narrowed it down to ten results.
Sappi Paper Education & Support
To the best of my knowledge this one of the most comprehensive online knowledge bases for paper from a paper supplier. If you work in print finishing, the more you know about paper, the better. In particular, these three pages are useful: The Standard, Sappi Technical Publications, and Sappi Technical Tips.
It’s a lot of reading, but well worth it. If you just do a chapter a day you’ll cover a lot of knowledge in no time at all. Newcomers to printing will get a good basic through advanced education. Experienced bindery operators might find the solution to a vexing problem.
If you like book preservation, conservation and traditional bookbinding, visit Jeff Peachey’s site. He is a Professional Associate of the American Institute of Conservation, a teacher, a writer, and is in the business of preserving the “historic, artifactual, intrinsic, and monetary value” of old books.
His blog includes articles on some obscure subjects including:
- Tiny books and gargantuan books
- Unusual scissors and how to cut properly
- Neolithic knife sharpening stones
- How to draw a heart
There are dozens of articles on specialty tools I’ve never heard of but which undoubtedly mean something to the dedicated bookbinding hobbyist or professional. Interesting stuff!
This site is not for the faint of heart. Steve Litt takes you on an in-depth tour of the Universal Troubleshooting Process. Litt says his process can be used by managers, technicians, and trainers in any industry to help solve any kind of problem.
Since nearly everyone is involved in some level of troubleshooting, especially in the printing industry, it pays to research techniques to improve the process. There is plenty of good content available for free on his site. He also has training courses and books available for anyone with a serious interest in his process.
If you have an unusual online resource of your own, please feel free to share it below. To find out how our unique Bindery Success resources can make your print finishing life easier, click the button below.