All Things Wireless & Letterpress

All Things Wireless & Letterpress

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Hearing Back.

I've always been fascinated with talking around a corner to somebody out of sight. Hearing somebody that could also hear me, preferably around a corner and out of sight, some distance away. It was fun when I was very young, about seven, spending summers at my grandparents place which had some acerage, and I learned to make tin can telephones with the neighbour kid, stretching the string across my grandmother's big yard, although you couldn't stretch it around a corner.  When the corner touched the string, the vibration stopped and so would the voice.  
We overcame that eventually with a garden hose.  So we made a garden hose telephone.  But garden hoses are only so long, and we had only so many neighbours willing to let us borrow their hoses so we could connect them together to go between Gramma's house and my cousin's house at the other end of the property.
Some years later in seventh grade my science teacher made the mistake of showing us how to make a real telegraph with a couple iron nails, wire, a cut up Coke can (remember when soda cans had to be punched and were made of ferric metal that would stick to a magnet?) - and a couple blocks of wood.  Just add two 1.5v Dry Cells.  Made both key and sounder.  Even though we had to learn code to use it, we now had a system that could be used over considerable distances so long as there were two wires and a couple dry cell batteries.  Soon our apartments had wires going from one to another as we learnt the ropes of land line telegraphy and DC circuits.
It was just a matter of time before we kids figured out that we could screw a telephone receiver on each end, remove the battery, and simply talk through that receiver.  We read from books in our library that the standard telephone receiver (at that time, 1969) used an Edison carbon button microphone and a Bell magnetic transducer.... which was the original Bell Telephone invention of 1876, and required no battery.  The transducer alone could be used as both microphone and as receiver.  Distances were limited only to the amount of resistance of the wire itself which increased as the amount of wire used increased.  Philadelphia to Washington D.C. was about the limit.  

One day I was talking with my friend Jeff over our little telegraph/ telephone, when suddenly we heard a voice that wasn't part of our group.  Somebody had hacked our line!  Someone calling himself "The Texas Traveler"!  This peaqued my curiosity, and at that point we began to discover how to leave all that wire behind.

By this time we had returned to the U.S. after having lived in Germany for some years and we were living in the Philadelphia suburb of Devon, off the Main Line.  I was given a pair of very inexpensive walkie talkies at some point.  It was amazing what I could hear!  The signals increased when I touch the antenna to a grounded metal object.   What I had was a four transistor pair of superregenerative walkie talkies, a then common kid's toy.  It claimed a range of up to a quarter mile.  I gave one to my friend Jeff who lived upstairs and kept one down stairs in my flat.  These little walkie talkies became a focal point of attention and interest.  Sometimes foreign language broadcast could be heard drifting in and out.   There was a constant rushing sound accompanying these voices unless the loud voice of the Texas Traveler would announce his presence.  When his signal was intercepted, that rushing noise disappeared entirely!   Who was this guy, Texas Traveler?  Was he close?  We would call after him, but it was to no avail, like calling after those foreign service broadcasts we could hear now and then.

I discovered that with the aid of a rubber band, I could park one walkie talkie by my brand new cassette tape recorder, and take the other with me on my ten speed and check my range.  Soon I went from telescopic whip to a wire stretched across the area between my apartment and the next building.  I could ride my bike a little further.  Maybe almost half a mile before losing the signal.  Then I found I could snap two 9 volt batteries together and hardwire it into place.  Then three.  I changed my antenna around to connect to Jeff's balcony above mine.  Sometimes I ran both wires, the one across to the next building and the one leading to Jeff's balcony above me.  I had as many as five batteries wired into this poor walkie talkie!  With each innovation I gained another few yards.  My goal was one mile.  

Then one day it happened.  I made contact with another station.  It went something like this:  I had just added my fifth battery and I took the contraption outside.  I was calling to see if any of those voices I could hear could hear me as well.  

"Is anybody there?" I would call.  Several times.  

Then suddenly the rushing noise of my receiver stopped and a clear and very loud voice came over the speaker:

"Come on back, Yellow Bear".

???  Who is "Yellow Bear"?   Once more the voice came:

"How about it, Yellow Bear?"

Silence.  Only the rushing sound.   I keyed once again

"Are you talking to me?"

"Yes I am.  Are you the Yellow Bear?"

Who was this?  It sounded too young to be the Texas Traveler, who sounded like an older man.  Whoever this was, he was about as loud!  And.... he heard me!!


"I'm Gary. I may have sounded like I said that.  I was calling if anyone was there.  But I can use that name if that's ok."

"Sounds fine to me, Gary.... or Yellow Bear!  Where are you?"

"Oh, I'm walking down Avon Drive!  I'm using this walkie talkie and...

 .... and at that point the walkie talkie made a funny noise, gave out a weird chemical smell, and died. End of conversation.  One battery too many, I guess.  It was beyond my ability to fix, but regardless, the Radio Bug bit.  All it took was another party to tell me that I was being heard.

This became a defining moment for me.  Being heard and hearing back.

Fifty years later, and I'm still hearing back.


vy 73, de wd4nka.



                                                                                                                                      

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Binding a Downloaded or Copied Manual

So, you've downloaded that manual you need to help you with your restoration project, or maybe just for instructions on how to operate that Hamfest find, or you simply need a schematic and a parts list.  You've downloaded about thirty pages, more than likely printed on one side unless you have one of those printers that will do two sides.  Now you have all these loose sheets that are too many to really simply staple.  So, you grab that three-hole punch and knock out three holes so you can just snap those pages into a three ring binder.  Which, isn't actually a bad thing to do sometimes.... unless you've punched into the text or into that section of the schematic or parts list that, it turns out, you critically need.  Is there a better way?
I think so.  Why not bind it like a bookbinder would?  It's not as hard as you might think.
A book composed of single sheets, as opposed to sewn leaflets, or "signatures", is actually little more than a glued paper pad with a cover surrounding it.  This is called "Perfect Binding".  Even hardback (case-bound) books are bound this way.  It's a cost savings for the publisher, and these books actually look really good.  
But it has limited life.  That is, unless steps are taken to build in some strength and reinforcement, so the book, or booklet - won't tear itself up.  I have two hard bound books that are now over ten years old and are doing just that.  Tearing itself up.  The pages have fatigued the glue that holds it in, and once one page works loose, something like a domino effect begins.  More and more work loose and fall out.
In this blog installment, I will attempt to show you how to bind your manual such that you have a shot of keeping it in your inventory for a long, long time, and handle well.  To a book binder, a book is a living breathing thing, comprising of a front cover, a back cover, a spine, and a text block (the assembled pages.)  Everything else is what binds all these elements each other such that one doesn't damage the other in it's normal course of operation.
Lets begin.  First you will need to round up a few things.

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I will use a 60-odd page manual I downloaded sometime back as our project.  We will bind this manual, possibly better than it originally came from the publisher.  I'll go over these items one by one.
1. A bone folder.  this is nothing but a strip of bone, probably cuttlebone, cut and polished in the shape you see in the photo.  It's purpose is to smoothe, to crease, to flatten, and to otherwise apply pressure without leaving a mark.  Other things can be used.  A smooth plastic 150mm ruler, for instance.  Make sure there are no sharp edges, you want the edges rounded, or at least, not sharp enough to create an accidental tear in your project.  I've even used the back of a teaspoon, although be careful using metal to smoothe or rub paper.  Some metals leave a streak or some sort of deposit.  I used a high grade stainless spoon, but only after testing it on scrap paper to make sure I didn't leave a mark.
2.  Open weave muslin, or linen.  This is called "mull" in binding parlance.  It gets glued to the spine and serves a very important purpose in re-enforcing the spine.  More on that later.
3.  The front cover.  If one is included in your download.  They usually are.  I would use cover weight for the front and back cover.
4.  "End Sheets".  You need two for the front and the back.  This can be just a blank 8.5x11 inch blank sheet, although usually I use a nice quality low weight or "text weight" or textured bond paper, like Neenah linen or Classic Laid.  In fact, I usually print out a nice manual using Neenah Classic Laid, classic white, for the text block (the printed pages, the "guts" of your manual.)  You can get some nice faux marble 8.5x11 sheets at Hobby Lobby or almost any craft store.
5.  Your text block.  Now you know what that is... if you read the above.
6.  The back cover.  It might be the downloaded and printed back cover of one is included, if not, it can be a blank piece of the same stock you used for the front cover.  The front cover must be of the same stock type as the back.  The two must match.
7.  Glue.  You want a glue with superior holding power with the materials you use, one that will not change color with age because of acids, one that ages well.  As a binder, I find good ol' Elmer's Glue hard to beat for the money.
Aside from this, some boards and two larger C-clamps would be good.  The photos will give you and idea of the size and type of wood you might use.  I suggest poplar or oak or at least clear pine.  These can be have, almost pre-cut, from Lowes or Home Depot.
You will also need a couple single edge razor blades and a metal straight edge such as a metal 18" ruler. These will be used for final trimming. 

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So, once again, from back to front:
-Back cover (notice how I bent the edge upward.  A little over half the thickness of your text block. 
-End sheet.
-Text Block
-End sheet
-Front cover. (notice how I bend the edge down...a little over half the thickness of your text block.  Can you see what's happening here?)
Let's begin.

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Starting with your text block, stack the several pages even and edge level as possible.  I use a flat edge to "jog" the paper against to insure even-ness.  When you have it even, hold the spine edge firmly and rest it between two pieces of wood as shown.  What I do is lay some wood behind the clamping board so the paper lies flat, then using a flat edge at the front, jog the paper from behind with another clean, straight piece of wood.  I usually apply pressure from the back forcing the paper against a straight edge, another piece of wood from the front, laying down the top piece of wood onto the paper.  Holding it in place, I apply the C clamps.  I then double check the staightness and flatness of the spine end of the text block now held in place by the clamps.

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This is the front, showing the spine end of the text block, which is very level and flat.  The text block is also level with the wood at the front end.

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While the next step can be done in a vertical position, I find it much easier to do the next step if you can hang the clamp and block so the spine is horizontal, as shown.  I used an old wooden wine crate I had around the shack/ print shop.  A cardboard box would do.

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Take a piece of cotton, and wet it.  Not dripping, but wet enough to make the paper damp as you rub this cotton over the spine edge of the paper.  We do this to encourage the glue which is next applied, to penetrate a bit into and around the paper just a "nanometer".  Just a little bit.
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Next, run a bead of glue down the center of the spine.  You want enough to rub over the entire spine leaving a good and level coating of glue.  Try not to get any glue on the wood, or at least, not a lot.  You don't want the paper to glue to the wood.  Let set until the glue is almost dry, but not quite.  At this point, apply the mull as shown, and run yet another bead of glue down the middle.  Again, you want enough to leave a level coating.  Try to cover only the glued area of the spine, as best you can.
When dry, release carefully.  You might wish to have a kitchen butter knife to separate the text block from the wood, no doubt some part of the spine will have a little adhesion to the wood here and there.  The knife (I use a paring knife) will cut through the glue but leave the paper undamaged.
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This is what you should have at this point.  The mull should overlap the text block by about the width of the spine itself, maybe a tad more.  It's not that critical just so there is some overlap which can be bent over and glued, which is the next step.

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At this point, place one end sheet over the front of the text block.  The mull will be folded over and and glued to this sheet.

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This is another view of the above step.  The end sheet is placed atop the text block, ready to be glued onto the mull.

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Run a bead of glue as shown.  Smooth out with your finger.  Then fold the mull over, letting the glue penetrate the mull.

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I use my finger for this because I can feel when the glue layer is penetrating the mull.  Some use the bone folder, which is ok, so long as you clean off the bone folder afterward.
Now that you did this side, repeat the above steps on the other, and let dry.
The next steps are the application of the cover.

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Once the mull is dried, turn the text block to the back side and run another bead of glue over the folded mull, and smooth out with your finger. You want a smooth and level layer as much as you can.  Don't be sparing.  Note that we are starting to apply the cover from the backside first.


Apply the glue to the spine as well.  The reason is when you apply the rear cover, that fold we made at the spine edge of the printed covers will overlap onto the spine.  So it will be glued over the mull on the back atop the end sheet and to the spine.

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Use your folder to smooth down the cover where it is glued.  Smooth out any bubbles or irregularities such as you can.  We want a sharp angle where the fold is.  Smooth out that spine.  At this point, repeat on the other side using the front cover, of course.  Note that when you fold the front cover folded edge over the spine, it will go over the back cover fold you just applied.  Apply glue to the inside of that fold, and smooth over the spine and mull with a folder, bone or otherwise, as before.  You want firm and even contact with the mull, as the mull is making firm and even contact with the end-sheets and the spine.  Can you see how these elements all play together?

The next steps involve the final clamping.  If you have a nice bookpress, you can use that here as well.  I am assuming you don't have one of those.  Nice as they are, they are seriously overpriced these days.  Mine is a home shop made "nipping press", but that's another story.

Back to our project:  Here is where I use either a transparency or a piece of wax paper.  In the photos below I am using a transparency folded to fit over the spine, the front and the back.
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At this juncture, the glue is only semi dry.  Get your boards and C clamps ready, we are gonna lock this puppy up to dry under pressure. 

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Can you see how I apply pressure on the spine as well as the front and back cover?  When I clamped up the manual, I left just a tad bit of the spine to poke just beyond the wood clamp, and set the whole think upside down onto the spine.  No extra pressure needed, the weight of the wood, clamps and manual itself is sufficient.  Let dry for a couple hours.  Sometimes I let it set overnight.

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At this point the manual is dry, released from the board clamps, and needs trimming.  Here is where you need your single edge razors and your straight edge.  Unless you happen to have a commercial cutter or a guillotine, as I have.  What I will describe is what is known to binders as a "plough", essentially a blade that slices through all the sheets, guided by the straight edge.
First of all, here is why we probably need a final trim.  When you folded the cover to leave a folded edge with covered the spine, you actually shortened the width of the cover.  The text block is probably poking out beyond the cover by this width as well.  I have never seen a manual that did not have enough manual to trim this excess off and still have sufficient margin. 
Lay your straight edge where you cutting line will be, the edge of the cover.  I sometimes cut a couple molecules off the cover too, to ensure a level and flat cut.  Having secured your straight edge (I often just apply pressure by hand.), carefully, slowly and methodically begin to slice with your razor.  It needs to be a new razor.  Let the blade to the cutting.  This is the way books were trimmed by this sort of plough for almost 500 years, since Gutenberg.  You can made a very professional trim using this technique.
Watch your fingers, especially the hand holding the straight edge if that is how you are doing this.  Slow, even slices.  You are in no hurry.  I would use scrap wood to cut on. 
And there you go.  Your new manual.
A word about my manuals: I always prefer single sided printing of manuals because each page has a blank page facing it for notes.  These manuals will handle just like a work book.
I usually print schematics using three or four overlapping pages, pages trimmed to about a half inch all around to fit into a pocket I make by gluing a pocket cover inside the rear cover.  I like seperate overlapping sheets for schematics because I can, if needed, join them all together but more often than not I am dealing with only a portion of the schematic at a time.  Just my personal preferences.  My manuals serve as a workbook as well as a manual.

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Here is the rear pocke of my latest manual for my Hallicrafters HT-37.  I also have the schematic bound into the manual, but I made four separate overlapping schematic sheets so I can have both the schematic section I am working on, as well as the manual freed up to flip to whatever page I need, such as the parts listing.

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This is my most recent manual, the Hallicrafters HT-37, copied from the original manual which I possess.  I didn't want to mess up that manual, so I made this.  Note that I added a linen spine covering, just for added strength at the spine.  Technically I should trim this, but really, it's ok as it is.  I did not overlap the covers on this manual because I used the linen spine covering (which is none other than regular 'gaffing tape'.  Book binder took vendors sell it as linen bookbinding tape at about four times the price!!  Go to a music store, ask for Gaffing Tape if you want to do this, too.

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These are some shots of my 1908 vintage Craftsman 28" commercial cutter, hand lever operated.  One of my favourite pieces of equipment!  This is what a professional trimming looks like.  If I make your manual, this is how it would be trimmed.  I do have a plough, though, for fine trimming.
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That's it, folks. Hope you enjoyed this installment and find it useful.  There are all sorts of ways to treat this subject, what I shared was my way.   As you do more and more of these, you may hit upon different techniques that may be more suitable for you.  But this is a start!
vy 73 es God bless u es urs.
de wd4nka ar k
-gary


Monday, April 8, 2019

CW Copy Pads.



CW "Copy Pads" are designed to integrate with most logs.  Each sheet is approximately 5" by 8", with data fields at the top of each page which can be entered during the qso.  Included is a date field, time field, frequency field, a field to record the call sign of the station worked, and RST field that can be selected for RST sent or RST received, a larger field to record the QTH, and a comments field to record any needed specifics.  The bulk of the page is blank, to record the qso, or whatever portions thereof the operator normally fills in during the course of the conversation.  (I usually write out the whole conversation, or pretty well most of it, unless it's a contest.)

At the end of each session, the data recorded on each sheet can then be recorded in the station log.  Since the sheets are dated and have a control number (each pad is numbered 000001 - 000100 using an ancient German numbering head!), sequence of QSOs can be easily kept in order if you are like me, and tear the sheets off the pad so I can also use the reverse side if I run out of room on the front.

Pads like these can be handy for contesting, weekend sprints, or general rag chewing and causal contacts.  Useful also for traffic handling: add check and other handling data in the Comments field.

These pads are being offered at a special introductory pricing of $10.00 per pad, in quantities of three ($30.00).  I will pay the shipping for all introductory offers.

To order: Please send PayPal payment for $30.00 to: 


Here is a shot of the actual page itself.  A red control number will appear on the bottom right of each sheet, padded in sheets of 100.  These sheets can also fit in the carriage of most typewriters and mills.
 
 
Here is a short video showing the actual printing of these copypad sheets.  These are printed one sheet at a time on "Ol' 36", my 1936 Chandler & Price "New Series" iron horse, in the exact manner traditionally used for these sorts of things since the very early 1900s. 
 
These particular pads were designed just after the 2019 Novice Rig Round-up last March, in attempts to better organize the pile of papers at my operating position resultant from each session of the contest.  Rather than sifting through countless notebook and pad sheets, reading each one over to locate the logging data I needed, these pads keep this data in easy to find fields, and in order both by date and time, and also by control number.
 
 
 
 
Hope this helps to make things all the more enjoyable and interesting at the operating position!
 
-gary // wd4nka
NRR founder.  (Nr. 8)
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

New, from Anna Coleman, Illustrator, and the Paper Wren!



So, what's up at the Paper Wren?  

Well... on the heels of our first Chapbook project, Anna Coleman, of Anna Coleman Illustrations, approached me about helping her out with the production of her first pocket notebook journal.

Wow, that would be a first for me, too!

So the coconuts collided over design and dimensions and number of pages and how we were going to bind this little booklet.  Enter a vintage piece of equipment that I have kept waiting in the wings for just this very thing: a 1940s/ 50s era power book-stitcher, made by Acme Steel.

Now, apart from being tuned up by Dave Seat back in 2013 when I first got it as part of a package from Mama's Sauce when I did some work for them in 2012, it had never seen use.  As far as Nick Sambrato knows, the whole time they had it at the Sauce, it never had been used.  They had it way back in their Winter Park days when their shop neighbor was Anna Bond, starting her fledgling Rifle Design studio.  I remember it standing against the wall by that cool display counter Joey and Nick had in the office.  Little did I know one day it would be part of the Paper Wren.

So, having agreed to be part of this project, I immediately made a trip over to the Orange City shop where the Acme Stitcher was kept by the Kluge and other larger equipment.  She had been oiled, but needed a touch of lube on the wire spindle holder.  She uses sewing machine oil, but 3:1 will do.  Careful not to get any of it in the wire journals.

Ok, so just what is a Book Stitcher?   These machines were used to saddle and side stitch pamphlets, magazines, small periodicals, - they are a glorified stapler.  Only, these staples are steel, a wider and stronger gauge, and can punch through 3/4 of an inch of densely packed paper, which will deflect a .22 bullet.

These machines go back as far as the Gordon Franklin presses, and paralleled their developmental timeline.  They were used in the first manufactured (read: non hand sewn) case bound books.  School books of the 1860s and 1870s were often side stitched instead of signature sewn, then glued and mulled and cased, just like any other casebound book.  I have at least one book published by a German Verlag in Reading, PA, 1872, with fine woodcuts, which is quarter bound and side stapled.  I did not realize this until I peeled back the quarter spining to check out it's condition.  There, under the endsheet, were three steel staples holding around ten signatures together.  You would never have known it.

This discovery made me interested in obtaining one of these machines.

I went out to the shop, and ran the Acme through it's paces for a couple hours, shop manual in hand.  There are several controls on this machine, and as far as I know, parts are no longer available, so I have to baby this thing.

I made a short video of the test stitches.


I hasten to add: under normal operation, fingers never get this close to the stitch-head!  It was a controlled environment when I did the testing here.  But the percussion of the punch was intimidating nonetheless.   A little oil came through with the staples, but after a time, cleared up.  There is a little dimple at the crown of the staples, but aside from this, the machine did a great job.  I think the stitch wire is as old as the machine itself, which is pretty cool.
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The paper selected for the cover is French Paper's Speckletone, which is what I used for my Pocket Caroler.  The text pages are Neenah's natural white Classic Laid.  There are 15 sheets used to make 60 face pages, saddle stitched.
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The cover design is the creation of illustrator Anna Coleman.  Attribution for both Paper Wren Press and Anna Coleman Illustrations is on the back cover.  The cover itself is printed on a 1936 Chandler & Price "New Series" 8 x 12 Gordon Franklin Letterpress, which is my press at home.  
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The following are a series of photos taken during the printing and bindery operations.  Anna is no stranger to letterpress, and took to the feed and draw table very nicely.

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The collating, printing and folding was done at my home over a period of two days.  Afterword, all the signatures, covers, and guard sheets were brought over the the Orange City shop where we did the binding and final edge trimming off the 1908 Craftsman Guillotine.




These Pocket Notebooks will be available through Anna Coleman both at her shop, and at the Deland Indie Market which will happen 2 December 2018.  Also, some of my limited edition Pocket Carolers will be there as well.

So, that's hot off the Press at the Paper Wren.  If you are in town, check out the DeLand Indie Market, and swing by Anna's booth!   





Tuesday, October 2, 2018

"A Pocket Caroler" : The Making of my Latest Chapbook Project.

Order details are posted at the end of this installment. 


The Genesis of this three year project began more then five years ago when my wife and I was in charge of our Church's College and Young Adult department.  It was discovered that many if not most of our kids simply did not know the traditional Christmas Carols that we would try to lead them in during our Tuesday Nite get togethers during the Holiday Season.  Most would scurry to their cell phones or tablets to Google the lyrics.  I began to envision a small booklet like this just for our kids.  I would just run 'em off on my computer printer.  I went as far as making a few lyric sheets just for us ten or fifteen gathered people... scarcely enough to warrant a booklet.
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It wasn't until I joined a few printing groups that I learnt about the "Chapbook" and became fascinated with letterpress publication that I began to consider actually using the presses at my own shop "Paper Wren Press", which is a 19th century-modeled printery which normally printed stationery, wedding announcements and business cards with the typical spongy paper and deep impressions.  I was never entirely comfortable  using my presses for this purpose, those big Iron Horses were designed for words, for publications, for page-production work!  But alas!  The "Letterpress Revival" was married to printing deeply impressed images upon thick, unsized, spongy card stock.  And if my letterpress shop were to earn its keep, I had to print what people wanted, and toe the line with the public's expectations of "Letterpress".
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All the while, I found myself deeply engrossed with 17th and 18th century books.  I had collected these books since Junior High School, and in the process, fell in love with the ancient way of doing things.  The very simple and straight forward approach the old Devil's Tail printers used was very appealing to me!  And although I did not have a wooden English "Common Press" like Ben Franklin's or Sellers & Sellers or Kristof Sauer, and while I did  not have enough metal type to even consider book printing, I did have good plate makers that could make nice dies not unlike what was used in the mid 19th century.
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At one point I joined the 18th Century Parsons group, and discovered it was created and run by James Moore, a bookbinder par excellence that specialized in 18th century era Bible reproductions with absolutely authentic, eye popping leather binding.  Right out of the era I so loved.  I began to think that maybe I, too, could contribute something to this group with my own ancient machines.
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And thus the two ideas began to emerge.  A Chapbook, printed following the protocol and methods of the 18th century, containing... Christmas Carols!  
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Why not? It seems a whole generation is growing up with little or no contact with these wonderful songs.  And to make it 18th century-ish would add that historical bit of awesomeness. 
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So I began my research in 2013 after a serious, life threatening bout with major surgery.  What would such a book look like if printed in 1769?  After doing a lot of Googling and web-tracking, Library visiting, and talking with other printers around the U.S. and the U.K., I discovered very... very little.  
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Finally I contacted Colonial Williamsburg.  They seem always to have "A Colonial Christmas" theme during the Holidays, heck, they even published a book by that title!  They must have some ideas I could use!   So, calling the foundation, I was referred to one of the historians.  I'll never forget his response to my initial query as to the purpose of my call.
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"Oh.... That.....!"
"W-what do you mean 'Oh, That!'? I responded.
"That, sir, is a fiction." was the response.
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He then went on to relate that "A Colonial Christmas" was mainly a venue to showcase Colonial events in one place at one time.  No, on Christmas they didn't chase a greased pig, they didn't go around caroling, they didn't hold sumptuous parties, they didn't deck the halls.  In fact, in most of the Colonies at the time, Christmas revelries, public celebrations, caroling and such were, if not outright banned, certainly discouraged.  There were Christmas services at Bruton Parrish, to be sure.  There is a record of a private party being held at a residence in Williamsburg one Christmas, the songs they sang were from a contemporary operetta performed in London, the lyrics having been published in the Gentlemans Quarterly.   Only the Germans, especially in Pennsylvania, celebrated Christmas anything like publicly.  In Great Britain, London even had to pass a ban on street caroling because roaming drunken bands were literally demanding money for their "caroling" at the door step of the residents of that good City, and were known to burst in and ransack the home if the residents refused!
"Now bring us some Figgy Pudding, and bring it right here!  We won't go until we got some!"
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"Sir", the historian continued, "what you have pictured in your mind is more of a "Dickensian" Christmas of the early to mid Victorian era." - which made perfect sense.  And indeed, I do get a lot of my "historic Christmas" imagery from "A Christmas Carol"... and, of course, my German family.  I did live in Bavaria growing up, so I familiar with many of the ancient 16th and 17th Weihnachten traditions, and I do know that Germans did make a big deal out of Christmas, with the Christkindlemarkts and the Weihnachtsfests,  and especially what goes on at  Oberammergau every ten years, with their passion play dating back over 500 years!
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And so the idea of a Colonial Caroler of actual historic significance evaporated, to be replaced by a "Dickensian" version.  And it was probably for the better.  My presses are, after all, of the Victorian era (1869 in design.  Specifically, the Gordon Franklin design.)
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I did opt to stay with my beloved 18th century Caslon fonts, although it had passed from prominence in the printing world about the time the "tall 's' " fell from use.  (That's the 's' that looks like an 'f'.)  I chose, however, to at least keep the cover page entirely 18th century.  I love 18th century title pages, both boxed and unboxed (bordered and unbordered).  I love the use of the tall-s.  I love the courtesy of the 18th century book, making the last word of the page the beginning word of the following page so the reader won't lose the thread of thought.  How courteous!  To me, the most reader friendly books are the books of the 18th century.  And the most enduring.
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As such, I compromised.  The Title Page is indeed modeled after a typical frontspiece of 1760.  The rest of the book thereafter.... is 1850.  
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Designing the Chapbook

I found a wonderful digital font that was a dead ringer for Caslon No. 337 Old Style that even included archaic ligatures (two letter joined together as one piece of type) and the tall-s.  It's called "Wylde", and kerns very nicely.  In fact, it is used interchangeably in this book. I also found the formal blackletter digital font "Cloister" to be not only a dead ringer for the font used in my 1685 copy of "Visions of Government" (Edward Petit), but it also duplicates my metal Cloister fonts (ATF, 1890) as well.  Again, used interchangeably with no perceptible difference.  These digital fonts were used to create printing dies that put me well ahead of schedule  time-wise and cost wise.  The other option was to order several metal fonts from M&H to suppliment what I already had, a several hundred dollar proposition I simply had no budget for.
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The paper I chose for the Caroler is the same type used by many reproduction binders for their 18th century work, Neenah Classic Laid, natural white.  It shows "lay lines" not unlike the original laid printing papers commonly used in prior centuries... and better fit my budget. I wanted the final price of these chapbooks to be within reach of most folks whom I felt might wish to have such a Caroler.
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All told, most of the pages are digitally designed and polymer plated.  Only the Colophon is handset. I thought this to be a good blend of more modern and traditional technologies.
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Printing the Chapbook (the trials and tribulations of the Printery)
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This is my very first foray into book publication.  I have printed Hornbooks, but not bound page books.  Even a relatively small booklet like a single signature Chapbook can be a fearsome challenge to behold!  Though there are only twelve carols in the Caroler, this book contains the binding equivalent of a 48-face-page book!  While the actual press printing itself might take days... possibly stretching into weeks, the rest of the process, the trimming, folding, collating, stitching, gluing, and time in the nipping press to set may take months.... even into the next year! 
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2015 marks the starting year of the Pocket Caroler project.  It was when I placed my first ideas  on a vector drawing board.  The completion of the design was finalized in 2016.  But at that time I could only go with metal dies.  While less expensive than ordering more metal type fonts, it was still a hefty cost package.  Coinciding, we were facing a possible home foreclosure at the time, so work had to stop.  In fact, as the next year drew to a close, I had already closed the Paper Wren as a business, and began to post much of my equipment for sale.  We were in bail-out mode.  It looked like by 2018, the Paper Wren, along with the house and possibly my vintage amateur radio station WD4NKA would be history.
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Ultimately we did find refinancing, and the Paper Wren was saved, but so only as a hobby, no longer a registered business.  Nonetheless I had the presses!  Then, another thing happened: the sale of some items made it possible for me to purchase a Boxcar Base, which enabled me to use Polymer dies on my older Chandler & Price letterpress!  While the base was pretty expensive, the polymer dies used with it are not!  And so, "A Pocket Caroler" was again on the drawing board!
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By spring I received the dies I needed for printing and had enough matching type to handset the Colophon.  I was able to order the Neenah Classic Laid from Amazon, and the Cover stock from French Paper Co.  Money was tight, and I had to charge a bit for materials, but the gears were finally turning and things were happening!  And so by the start of summer, the press was inked, the paper cut, and the process of actually making a Chapbook began!
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The photo above shows my handy mock up, which I used to help me avoid confusion as to which page backed which page.  It also served as a centering guide.  The mock-up was printed on my computer printer, exact size and colours. The mock-up is resting on pre-cut waste paper used for set-up and registration, which in turn is resting on 250 sheets of French Paper cover stock, which in turn is resting on the page stock, numbered for each leaf.  .  I dreaded mixing up those pages because  I could not buy more stock.  This was it, it had to go through the first time!  It was a scary proposition but I did have some old books on the subject that were immensely helpful.  Also helping me in the form of advice over the phone was Emily Hancock, of St. Brigid Press, who served as my long-distance encourager and mentor in this endeavor.  Thank you ever so much, Emily!  Also, to you Carl Nudi, from TBAS!  You were the one that helped me make up my mind as to which binding method I should use.
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No printer is an island.
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The cover is printed in two stages.  The border chosen was inspired by the work of the Roycrofters, of East Aurora NY and dates to 1900.  It is a beautiful interlaced leaf pattern.  The center design would be printed in black.  There was a design up my sleeve that always captured my imagination, and served to inspire the one and only illustration this chapbook has.
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Yup.  A Christmas Seal. Nothing speaks Christmas in the English Speaking world than three gents hauling in the Yule Log, blowing a celebratory trumpet.  Hmm.... maybe they did get loud celebrating Christmas in the year 1200!  That might be fun to research.
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 I redrew the design by hand, then edited pixel by pixel in, believe it or not, Microsoft Paint!  Old as that program is, when it comes to single colour raster editing, it is still my go to for fine editing of images.  It came out very nicely, I thought.  Now, to be absolutely authentic, I might could have engraved it on end grain boxwood.... but again, cost.  Time and cost.  You might guess why a book might cost a month or even several months earnings the prior centuries.  As it was, editing this image took about as it would have to actually do a woodcut.  But.... I didn't have to buy any specially prepared wood!  
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I try to keep my eye on the final selling price.  I did not want to go over the twenty dollar per-book mark.  This book is, yes, collectible, but it's goal is to be utilitarian.  I want folks to actually use it, not merely add it to their collection under glass.  Which is why I both hand stitched the text block and used an end-sheet glued cover technique.
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I had to include a shot of my trusty 1908 28" Craftsman Guillotine cutter.  This is the most valuable machine in my shop, aside from the presses themselves!  No printery can long sustain without a means of a good paper cutter.  Especially if you are doing publishing, even on a small scale!  This old gal even has safety features that would amaze OSHA today!  Like magnetic lock-out, a stock feature cast into the iron of the blade-head.  In this shot, I am cutting the cover stock.
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Assembling the Chapbook
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Along with never having actually printed a book of any kind before, neither have I collated and assembled one!  I had to collate the pages, that much I knew.  But how should I bind everything together?  I wanted these books to reflect real hand-work, so I opted to hand sew the signature, or page-groupings.  This required a punching cradle and a punch awl.  Also a punch template so I knew where the holes went.
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This is the punch cradle and awl.  Both are home made.  That black tape you see down the middle is gaffers tape, linen based.  It has seen over a thousand punches by now.  I use a folded index card as a hole template and lay it atop the center fold and just punch right through.  Hey, it worked, and I got consistent spacing.  But before I punched the first hole, I needed to decide which stitch to use.  I opted for a five-hole pamphlet stitch, which I found on the internet.  It will better endure the tension of the book being opened and closed several times each year.  The stitching thread is tied off in the center.  I wound up using two types of stitching thread, the first twenty-odd books use a darker waxed linen thread, but when I ran out, I discovered my source for this particular thread no longer existed.  So after book twenty, I used waxed silk thread instead.  Both are good, but the silk is white, while the linen is a brownish.  Either way, you don't see it since the cover covers it.
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After I punched one hundred books,  I then had to stitch one hundred books.  Do you know how many Hallmark movies that is??  Days bled into weeks.  Remember, I have a full time job and other things to do in life!  The summer wore on.  I had considered asking for help to get all this done, but decided not to since I didn't know what my schedule to accomplish all this would look like, week to week.
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Eventually I got the textblock stitched.  Next came applying the cover.  This turned out to be a bit more involved than I had planned.  First I had to decide just how that cover was going to attach.  Should I stitch through the cover ?  If so, that would maybe speed things up, but how would the cover wear over the years with five holes and stitches forcing a crease in the spine as it bent back and forth many times?  Also, there was the question of aesthetics.  How would the exposed thread on the spine look against the cover?  If the cover was darker, maybe it would look ok, but I didn't want a dark cover, I liked what I already had.
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After considering options, I decided to tap into my case-binding background and borrow a bit from formal bookbinding techniques which I will show below.  I opted to use a type of end-sheet, which is normally glued to the inside board of a case bound book (hard cover).  This serves three purposes: 
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1- It covers the board covers folded inside the boards, 
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2- It adds to the securing of the cover binding to the spine by relieving some pressure from the cover hinges. 
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3-It relieves pressure from the text block itself.  
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All these things play into the making of a book, chapbook or otherwise, which is in itself a living organism, to provide for it a long and non self-destructive life.
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Applying all the above to the chapbook: I stitched in the end-sheets to serve the dual purpose of being the Title Page cover and function as an end-sheet.  Normally, the end sheets are tipped in, not sewn in to the text block.  However, this was not practical in this application.  I thus glued the cover to the spine of the text block, and allowed the glue to travel a bit beyond the actual spine, so the cover is actually placing part of it's opening and closing tension on the end sheets.  About half an inch or less of the end-sheets attach to the cover.  When you open the chapbook, the end sheet opens with it, but it still protects the title page.  It seemed to be, and has worked out to be a nice compromise for a robust cover, especially considering this is a paper back book!
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This is a mid-progress shot.  The books in the foreground box are awaiting stitching.  The box behind it are where the pages were arranged awaiting collation.  The double deck shelf that looks like an Inbound Outbound tray is actually where I square and bone-fold.  The collated, folded sheets are placed on the bottom tray to await punching and stitching.
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After all the stitching was done, I had to trim the text-blocks on two sides, open and top, to both level the pages so they would fan well, and also the top, for page even-ness and to be size proportional to the cover which is about to be glued over the block.  The trimming was done on a Logan Mat Cutter.  Normally a "plough" is used.  This is a sliding blade that evenly trims the pages of a text block.  The guillotine cutter is best not used for trimming of a book unless a lot of margin is being trimmed off.
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I used the punch cradle for this operation.  I nest the cover, with a decided fold, just as I would if I were punching.  This serves to create a trough for a bead of glue.
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I lay in a thin bead of glue.  I used what is essentially Elmer's Glue-all.  I use it for all my binding, even restoring 300 year old leather bindings and textblocks!  
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I run my finger down the center to smooth out the glue bead, and let it sort of push up the side of the trough just a bit, maybe half inch or less.  You can sort of see it doing this in the photo.  Now remember, the cover is paper!  It will lose stiffness at the fold if you let it get to damp/ gluey, so you will need to develop a "feel" for what's right.
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Next, I remove the cover and set it on a flat table surface to ensure squareness.  I slip the text block directly into the cover fold and glue.  The textblock is also resting on the surface, which means the cover and the text block will be flush at the bottom.  Even, but flush.  However if the cover is a bit larger than the block, you have to slide the textblock up just a bit to split the difference between the distance from the top and bottom of the cover.  Work quickly!  That glue sets pretty fast!  After a few times, I got the feel of it.  Once the textblock sets well in the cover, fold the book.  Then open, grasp the text block and push it in to the cover to make sure it has contact.  You will see some glue appearing at the top and bottom.  You want that.  It should be just a little, easy to wipe off.  Then close the book, and put a binding clip on the open end for the next step.
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Here's a shot of the textblock tightly in the cover.  There may be a minutia of space depending on the thickness of the thread used.
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When folded, before I do any clamping, I check the squareness of the corners of the open end.  Remember the glue does relax the spine a bit, so you have to actually put the book into square if a lot of glue is used.  Once I am satisfied both top and bottom are even with each other, I put a binding clip on it.
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Ok, bottom side looks good, too.  In the case of my Chapbook, there are slight variations in sizes, maybe less than 1/32".  These are hand made, hand cut, hand trimmed books, machine perfection does not happen here.  Each book has a personality all it's own.
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At this point the books are clipped and clamped between two pieces of wood to set for a few minutes before I place them in the nipping press.  I found that once held in place the glue sets well with the pressure exerted by the clamps, the binding clips providing just enough hold to keep the edges of the book from "drifting".  This is all new territory for me, who's relatively light background is entirely involved with case binding and repairing 18th and prior century books.  And yet some principles hold universal.
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After clamping with those wooden paddles (did you recognize them?  Battledore paddles used for Hornbooks!  They sure come in handy for lots of other things.) I place them in my nipping press, which is double layered.  It was custom made probably around 1945-50 at Waukesha, Wisconsin, and was discovered in a maintenance closet at a missions school.  I've never seen one like it.  The boards are Phenol, which was used as high current insulation during the War.

The lower deck holds the books that have already been clamped.  The upper deck is used for the books that come right off the wooden clamps, where they dry under pressure.  So, top is where they dry, bottom is where they stack afterwards.  Both under some pressure.... not a lot.
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In this photo there are two stacks of three books on the lower deck, and the upper deck there is two, as you can see.  The decks are notched to fit between the "cheeks" of the press.
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Now the platen is placed atop the second deck and those two books.  When the next two books are set, the two on the second deck will be stacked on the lower deck, the fresh books replacing them, and so on as a cycle.
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Here is the completed nipping press with ratcheting screw brace. The cheeks (the two steel side bars) stand two feet high, which makes this device multi-functional for sizes up to 7 x 11 inches.  Great for smaller books up to 6 x 9 inches.
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Whew!  Done!  One hundred Pocket Carolers.  Awaiting inspection and then signing and numbering which will probably be done in pencil, as we did will all our limited edition work back when I did custom framing in a fine arts gallery in another life.  Its amazing the things you pick up and carry into another field of endeavor.
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Pricing and Ordering Information
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"A Pocket Caroler" will be available by 12 October 2018.  The price for the first and only edition (so far), signed and numbered is $18.60, which includes shipping. PayPal is prefered, but we can handle other forms of payment.  To order, drop me a line at paperwrenpress@gmail.com.
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Late note (as of 27 Nov. 2018) :  I have had a lot of response!  Much more than expected. As of this update, 27 Nov. 2018, there are only a few books left, and it's not even December yet!  Supply is limited.  Order now, while inventory last!
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G. Johanson, Printer.