Work-and-Turn Your Way to Elegant Two-Sided A1 Note Cards

Today at The Norlu Press, I am printing elegant two-sided personal stationery on Basis A1 Folded Note Cards. The trick is that although the stock is cut to the A1 folded size of 4 7/8″ x 7″, I am going to print two note cards on each piece of paper with an imposition technique known as “work-and-turn” and trim them to the A1 flat size of 3 1/2″ x 4 7/8″.

Our notecards will include the name on the front of the card, and additional information (today I printed the contact information for my shop) on the back. This format is the result of an evolution in personal stationery and is ideal for a quick note of thanks or just to stay in touch with friends and colleagues, without having to write a lot.

In order to understand the work-and-turn process, the picture below shows the form that I built alongside the printed front and back panels after being trimmed. Keep this end result in mind as we work through the project:

Work-and-turn form on the left and finished printed pieces on the right.

Doing imposition for a work-and-turn job can seem a little daunting at first, but there is technology that can help beginners. My friend Ernst Schaefer, a printer in California, introduced me to the Quick-S Setzbinder (Quick-S Fastener) from Germany that I used to build the form. During the fifty years, I have been around letterpress print shops, I had never seen one of these nifty pieces of technology. Using it for the first time, I found it true to its advertised qualities of adding stability, saving time, avoiding errors, and reducing costs.

Cover page of the German Quick-S Setzbinder (Quick-S Fastener) manual.

To use the Quick-S, one chooses from several lengths of what appears to be spring-loaded slugs and fastens them together to form a frame. I was able to construct a frame that measured the same size as the flat piece of paper by inserting slugs along the inside edges of the assembled Setzbinder. This expanded the frame to nearly the exact size of the stock I am using, as shown in the photo below.

The Quick-S Setzbinder configured for work-and-turn A1 note cards.

With this stable frame, I was able to identify the halfway mark, which separates the printed matter of the front panel from that of the back panel. The pictures below show the progression of building out what is actually two forms within the single Setzbinder.

Placing a slug at the halfway point of the Setzbinder makes it easy to know where the front panel and the back panel will print. I added the typographic elements of both panels easily and accurately.

With the imposition complete, I locked the form up in a chase, put it on my press, positioned and set my gauge pins, as shown below:

Working-and-turning on the circa 1863 Gordon Jobber press.

The video below helps to see what is actually happening in this process:

The Setzbinder isn’t required for doing the imposition of a work-and-turn form, but it can be helpful. I wasn’t able to find it for purchase online, but Ernst obtained his at the International Printing Museum in Carson, California. A visit or e-mail may help you to learn more about the Setzbinder.

CutCardstock.com offers Basis and other great papers in the A1 folded format that ship flat and are perfect for this project. For a slightly larger card that can be printed with this same technique, consider their many A2 folded papers.

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One Comment

  1. What a clever little setup! I enjoyed the video of the process and am now certain these printed cards are a must have.
    Having the eagle card up close and personal is such a joy. Thank you so much!

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