Order Up!

This is a case of careful what you volunteer to do after a few beers. I had made notepads a long time ago and understand the process. When my favorite adult beverage professional (and one of my favorite human beings) was saddened by the discontinuance of a specific format notepad she uses for order taking (definitely not for football pools) I said:

“I can make those easily *hiccup*”

  • Print paper
  • Stack paper w/ backing cardboard intervals
  • Clamp paper
  • Apply padding glue to edge
  • Separate into pads

How hard could it be?

Doing the layout in MS Publisher was the best option since if I hit a snag with my limited experience, my wife is a pro. Layout is just (3) 3½” columns full height in landscape, 8½”. That leaves a small edge to trim off.

Screenshot of layout in MS Publisher
So far , so good…

I figured a full ream of 500 sheets of paper would yield about 1500 pad pages, I’m good with math like that. Sent it to my home laser printer which printed about 20 sheets and promptly threw an error message.

OK fine.

About an hour later I unloaded/reloaded the paper from the printer and tried again. Same result 20 sheets then error. I realized that what I had found is the difference between a cheap home machine and one designed for continuous use. It was getting hot and shutting down.

OK fine.

I can still do this, I will send 15 pages at a time every once and a while and by tomorrow night I will have them all done. “Error: Low Toner”

OK fine.

Called in a favor and asked someone who has access to a monster printer to run off 500 sheets for me. Done and delivered. Ut oh, the crappy paper handling path on my home machine means the ones I printed are not perfectly registered with the commercially produced ones or each other. I am hoping the faint grey guidelines wont be a big distraction on the sheets that show them.

OK fine.

I insert the heavier card stock pad backs at random intervals that are about one pad thick. I will cut this stack on the big paper cutter we have in the maker space. It is a rolling 900 pound cast iron professional shear with brake, this can easily cut a ream in one shot. “What? That cutter wasn’t ours? It’s gone?”

OK fine.

Staples will make the cuts for a fee, 3 cuts at a few bucks a piece. At this point I can smell victory so…

OK fine.

If you look at the list of steps above you will see that after several weeks we are still on step 2. I just wanted to share my despair, thank you.

Staples did an excellent job cutting these consistently in a way that minimized my registration errors. Sizing is consistent so that will make getting a good working edge easier. Using the table saw and one of the pages as a guide I cut 2 pieces of ¾” particle board to use as a stiffener before clamping. I was going to use multiple clamps but this setup seemed to be very rigid and tight.

bottle of padding compound
Use a good quality brush

I split the stack as it was too tall to comfortably clamp with any precision. This also splits the danger of a catastrophic fail. I started with a cheap acid brush but the stickiness of the compound started pulling bristles out of it. Switched to a high quality brush and had no further issues.

clamped stack with compound dripping
This is one heavy coat

The second stack I just put on the edge of the workbench and used a piece of scrap left over from making the other blocks.

second stack being coated
Size of the block was not so important after all

I put 2 coats of padding on these and when separating them they seem pretty well bonded. I think I would try a 3rd coat and find a way to get a much smoother edge to work on. Overall these came out great and I learned/relearned a lot doing it.

large stack  being cut into individual pads
Almost done !

I wrapped these in stacks of ten with an elastic then wrapped the whole bunch in heavy brown paper so they travel well until I deliver them.

Suddenly thirsty !