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Scratch some Success

Put scratch pads to work on your next promotion...

Professional Padding Press Scratch pads make great giveaways, and promos but many smaller companies shy away from the cost of custom pads, and most stock houses don't offer much in the way of distinctive designs. Making your own is easy though with the help of this low cost padding press.

I've seen dozens of ways people go about making scratch pads -- from a brick on a stack of paper, to C-clamps on the dining room table. Sheesh. With this press you quickly do a professional job, and can even take orders, to pick up some extra cash.

You should be able to build this press for around $20. It's the exact same press we used to manufacture 30,000 sets of padded play money and playing cards for a board game. It will handle anywhere from 100 to 5,000 sheets of paper.

In a moment we'll show you how to download the full set of instructions, along with pad templates.


You're going to need two pieces of plywood, 12.5 x 11 x 3/4; a piece 14 x 9 and a piece 14 x 5.
Your local lumber yard should have this in the scrap pile.
These will make the sides, seat bottom and seat back for your press.
You'll also need two sticks of a good hardwood like Oak, Poplar or Maple, measuring 11.25 x 4 x 3/4. These will be the top-back and bottom-back braces. See the web site for the actual bill of materials.

Take along the building plans to the lumber yard, and they'll size everything for you -- and should do it for about 50-cents a cut. Insist on good grade AC or AD 3/4 inch plywood. You want the press to be nice and stout.

For hardware you'll need pairs of 4, 5, 6 inch or longer 3/8" carriage bolts, depending on how many sheets you want to do in a whack. To make it expandable, you can use carriage hooks, top and bottom, joined by a length of chain -- that way it's adjustable.

Building the Press

Since this is so simple, I won't go into complicated construction instructions. The pictures will guide you through the process.

Just use Elmers' Wood Glue, and 2-inch hardened wood screws to assemble the sides, seat and back. If you're handy in cabinetry you can see all sorts of ways to make it fancy. Throw a coat of paint on it if you're worried about appearances. We didn't.

You'll notice from the plan, the seat bottom and back have been rotated about 6-degrees so it leans back. This makes a slanted surface to jog your paper stacks into, and hold them while clamping. (Here are the plans. More complete diagrams and plans, along with templates for scratch pad designs are available in the Publishers Warehouse)

Next: making the pads...

Padding Press DetailsOnce you've printed your designs onto paper, you'll want to spoon out stacks to be interspersed with chip. Get a nice thickness of chip -- don't chintz. (The printers use a "spoon" to pick up a specific number of sheets.) Either eye-ball the number of sheets for each pad, or count out the number of sheets per pad, and then size the other stacks accordingly. If you've got an old fashioned ruling pen, you can probably open its mouth wide enough to give you 25 to 50 sheets of bond. Engineers dividers will do the same chore. Slip a sheet of chip between each lift throughout the stack. You'll want to begin and end the stack with chip.

Now jog your stack to a nice smooth edge. We'll talk about layouts later. Get the edge to be glued as smooth as possible, and lay the stack in the on the base board, on the press seat, snugly against the back board.

With the stack of paper/chip in the seat, carefully lay your top board on top the stack and slip your bolts up through the holes. Slide on the washers, and tighten with the wing nuts. (I like wing nuts because they're easy to deal with, and finger-pressure is sufficient to clamp the stack. ) Once clamped, you can lift out the clamped stack, rotate it, and paint the whole side with your padding cement. It should try to the touch in about a half hour, and I would go back and paint on another coat. Some will recommend thinning the cement for the first coat so it penetrates the paper, but read the instructions on the bottle. We never thinned it.

If you've geared up for production of thousands of pads, you can make an extra set of seats and tops, lift out the painted stack to dry, and begin padding the next lift.

Let that cement dry overnight. They say it dries in an hour, but overnight is best. If you printed multiple pads up on the same sheet, now you can just take the whole lift over to your local printer or Kinkos for cutting.

Following these easy steps you'll be rewarded with stacks of nice scratch pads ready to give away. Remember: you can always send me a finished pad, so we can show off your masterpiece to the rest of the DT&G readers.

Thanks for reading

Fred Showker

See: my recent article on more padding press promos


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