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Tucson, Arizona, United States
I work as Panther Peak Bindery and am a bookbinder, conservator and instructor working outside Tucson, Arizona for individual and institutional clients across the country. I am a two term President of the Guild of Book Workers, was a Fulbright Scholar, taught at North Bennet Street School for over nine years and was the fastest in my middle school class at running up and down a flight of stairs (really!).

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Title stamping with a Kensol

As I posted earlier I bought my Kensol through an auction for around $275.

It was easy enough to die stamp, using the honeycomb chase that came with it. But when I started looking into doing multi-line stamping I was a bit shocked. It was going to cost me about four times the price of the machine to do some titling on books. I wasn’t interested.

To my understanding the method is to place type in these pallets:




These pallets are then placed into a chase:




I believe this is to allow for proper centering and alignment. But it also allowed for spending too much money, which didn’t interest me. You’d need one pallet for each line and then the chase to put them in. The ability to do five lines would be a bit over 750 bucks with shipping. And that would be for one font size. You’d really need a set for every size of type, to my understanding.

I’d stick with my Kwikprint for titling. It worked perfectly fine.

Then I started thinking about what they had used in Sweden. I looked through my pictures, but had never photographed their method for putting type in a chase. Still, it gave me an idea.

A block of aluminum isn’t all that expensive. I went to Grainger and found aluminum that would be the right size, and it was well under a hundred dollars. Around that time a friend came by and we were talking about it. He’s this insanely nice guy who seems to think that my problems are his problems.

He said he’d take some scrap aluminum he had and would mill it down to whatever dimensions I wanted. I wanted it the size of my dovetail mount, so about 5 x 8 inches.

This is what I ended up with. All I had to do was drill out and tap in a couple of screws to attach it to the dovetail.





To allow for full use, my friend milled the corners like this:




Then I went back to Grainger and bought aluminum to use as spacers and fillers, which I cut to size.







When it’s set up it looks like this. The key is to have enough spacers to even out the lengths of the lines. It also helps to put strips of paper along each line to even out any microscopic differences in the sizes of the type. If you don’t do that, letters will fall out. Lastly, you need to put pretty good pressure on the type or it will fall out. But not like Superman pressure. More like Lois Lane pressure.

I center the lines using a ruler, which seems like it would take forever but goes pretty quickly.





I have two thicknesses of spacers.





The thin one is .4 mm and I’ll often double or triple up on it and still not equal the thickness of the thicker spacer which is 1.6 mm.  






Obviously, you can line up the titling any way you want. There are many ways to do it. If I’m only doing one or two books, I’ll make up a piece of binder’s board and place it on the book where I want it. Then I’ll push the book until it just touches it on two sides, clamp the book down, and stamp. Works great, and is really quick.





This is aligning the type. It might look harder than it is.




I’m sure there are other ways to stamp multiple lines on a Kensol that don’t involve buying a dozen or so backbone pallets and a chase or two, but this way worked for me and for only a bit over $200 or so. A machinist could do this easily and for not much money, so that shouldn’t scare you off.

But, for me, figuring this out showed me that it’s nice to have friends. And Grainger.








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