We’ve been making books for about 10 years now. And by “making,” I don’t just mean writing and illustrating, but physically producing by trimming, scoring, folding, stapling, glueing, etc.
We started by trimming with X-acto knives. Our first book was about 170 pages long, and we had to trim all four sides of each page, one at a time with a single blade. It was awful. Tedious. Mind-numbing.
Robbi did it.
Then we started Idiots’Books and knew we needed better tools, so we got a Carl rotary trimmer.
Pros: cheap, lightweight, easy to deal with.
Cons: only lets you cut a few pieces of paper at a time, requires constant replacement of trim guard, and is not 100 percent accurate/square, etc.
When we started doing a higher volume, we purchased a guillotine cutter (pay no attention to the lingerie model in the background).
Pros: cuts through many pages at once.
Cons: heavy and cumbersome to store and set up, damages top and bottom sheets of a stack of paper when clamped, almost impossible to get a 100% square cut, and is much more expensive than the Carl.
Now that we’re doing letterpress jobs, we have a couple of options:
We can either pay the company who sells us the paper to cut each job for us ahead of time or we can order large sheets of paper and cut them ourselves. The latter option is much cheaper, of course, but it’s also riskier. With letterpress, it’s absolutely critical that each piece in a series (say we’re printing 200 invitations, for example) be exactly the same size, the reason being that, because each color is printed separately, in order for all the different colors to line up for every single invitation, every single invitation must be exactly the same size to begin with.
So we needed a cutter that was extremely accurate and not likely to damage the paper. And, ideally, one that would cut more than a few sheets at a time.
We prowled the letterpress listserves (ok Robbi did all the prowling; I’m not much of a prowler) and found the Kutrimmer, which is, apparently, accurate, reliable, and affordable (a relative term, I realize).
We placed our order and, a few days later, a large box arrived. It was heavy. I was excited.
Jodi helped me unpack.
The Kutrimmer is too much for just one man to handle. (Maybe a larger, stronger, more ambitious man could handle it).
Jodi inserted a piece of paper. The real question was this: would the Kutrimmer cut an 8.5×11 sheet of paper exactly in half, creating two identical, 8.5″x5.5″ pieces of paper that lined up with one another exactly.
You may not think this is asking a lot, but with either of the other two trimmers the answer is either “no way,” or “not without a whole lot of dinkering.”
And so we made our first cut. Like butter, it was.
The resulting sheets? Exactly the same size. And EXACTLY SQUARE!
The verdict? I love the Kutrimmer. I love it very much.
Why we have been so long estranged, I cannot say. But that stretch of sadness ends now.