The Tools of Chance Press

Posted on by Jordan Hurder

Part of running a small press is working with tools, and that is unquestionably fun.  Most small pressioners could go on at length about tools they would love to possess if they had the money and space (board shear, Vandercook, UV lightbox, awesome homemade silkscreen press, etc.), and as the preceding parenthetical attests, I am no exception.  Here at Chance Press, we use a bunch of manual tools, despite the fact that our books are actually printed with high-tech lasers (and hopefully high-tech droplets of ink in the near future).

While most of our tools are your garden variety craft tools (X-acto knife, bone folder, needle/thread, beeswax lump, pliers, glue brush, etc.), we have amassed some neat tools that this blog post will introduce to the world.  My favorite tools get imaginative names, which I will list here:

Slicey is the first tool we owned – a Martin Yale 7000e paper cutter that was a wedding gift from my parents.  It makes trimming the edges of books a breeze, and it can cut through a ream of paper like a hot knife through vegan butter substitute.  The reason the Oulipo book uses illustration board instead of bookboard is that I didn’t want to ruin Slicey’s blade by cutting bookboard, which has bits of abrasive crap insde.  Illustration board (as long as it is acid-free) is okay for thin boards (like the ones I’m using on this book), and it is constructed like thick card stock, making it more blade-friendly.

Roundy is a new tool – a heavy-duty corner rounding press.  For our previous books with rounded corners (the special edition of the Serafini book and the McSweeney’s book), we used a small corner rounding punch, which was a real pain, and very difficult to get even as well.  This has been on our radar for a while, so we’re happy to finally get it in stock.  Now, if you order a book from us that doesn’t have rounded corners, Roundy will provide a snazzy upgrade over the production model for only $15!  (Enough suckers and Roundy will pay for itself!)

Squeezy is another new tool, a book press handmade by me.  While I could have accomplished the same thing with two pieces of wood and some clamps, I wanted a self-contained unit that would be easier to operate and store.  So, I bought two pieces of wood, sanded them down, and covered the inside surface of each piece with spare book cloth (so the wood surface doesn’t mar the book being squeezed), drilled four holes, and glued in four gigantic bolts.  Extra touches include recessed washers (so the nuts don’t dig into the wood over time (TMI)), and a handy handle, which I added because the already-made one that Talas sells has a handle.

Printy is our Gocco printer, which isn’t even ours.  I borrowed it from a coworker and am scared she’s going to need it back, since they aren’t very easy to find in the US anymore.

Finally, Stabby is my triangular straightedge that I bought from an art supply store.  They gave it to me for less than half price, because it had been there for years.  It works when I need a straightedge, and best of all, the point is so sharp that it could stab someone in the brain.  It’s pretty intimidating.