Position and register with homemade lay gauges

Your form is all locked up, done all your makeready and got your impression just right! (That's the hard bit!) Now your ready to print, but how do you get it to print in the right place?
  • If you have an Adana you will have a lay bar on the bottom of your platen which will support the bottom of your paper or card, my Kelsey or QFB doesn't have one, but you will still need a gauge for the side to position your paper. Originally Lay or Gauge Pins where used and still are by some printers, I have tried to use them but found them a bit of a pain so I use this method instead, quick and easy! First I attach a sheet of tracing paper or transparent film to my top sheet by putting a piece of masking tape across the top (see top photo) I normally use transparent film as you wipe the ink off and use again but couldn't find it at the time (I must get more organised :) next take an impression (spot my typos! I was a bit tired at the time!)

  • Now you need to make a lay gauge, I use a strip of 3pt lead, attach some double sided sticky tape to one side, then take a THIN piece of card, similar in size to your lead, and stick this to the opposite side, again with double sided sticky tape. You'll notice in the photo above that the card has a slight overhang, this will keep your paper in place and act as guide to slide your paper under
  • Next slide your pre-scored card or paper under the transparent film and line up with the impression, on the Adana adjust the bottom lay bar first then lightly attach a side lay gauge, when your happy with the position then make sure the gauge is stuck down firmly. If you are going to be feeding the paper from the right you'll need to place a lay gauge on the left and make sure the card overhang on the lead strips doesn't interfere with your print area.
Happy Dragon Press has an article on using Lay Quads and lots of other great printing tips on its newly designed website, well worth a visit. There's also some quizzes to test your knowledge in which I did well in the Beginners but failed miserably in the Spacing Sums!
Everyone develops there own methods snap& tumble uses picture corners, anybody else have a different method?


  1. Thanks for sharing your technique. It's always so interesting to me to see another printer's process.

  2. Ditto :) Glad to see your workshops are so successful! Jax x

  3. I absolutely love this blog. Just got me an adana 5x8. Can't wait to learn how to use it!

  4. Thanks Phil
    Take some pics and join the UK letterpress group on flickr when you’re inked up and ready to roll ;D

  5. I'm sure this is going to be v. helpful in the future. Thank you.

  6. Hi Jackie, take it you're going to have a go at letterpress printing ;D
    If you need any help just ask and join the UK Flickr letterpress group and add some pics!


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