Melbourne Museum of Printing
Cutting Formes
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A cutting forme

Cutting and Creasing Formes

CUTTING AND CREASING FORMES A cutting forme is like a printing forme, made up in a chase, but instead of types and engravings it has cutting rules and related items.

The forme, once mounted in the press, will cut and crease the paper, instead of printing it.

Any letterpress can be used, either cylinder or platen. The inking rollers are usually removed. In some cases they are removed permanently, if the press is never going to be used for printing.

Very heavy presses, purpose built for forme-cutting are available.

In U.S. English, the word is spelt form. This may be seen by some as too easily confused with another meaning also common in the printing trade.

Many familiar items are made in a printing press with the aid of a cutting forme. Usually the sheets are printed first, then forme-cut in a separate operation.

The strips of cutting rule are often bent into complicated shapes. These produce the many kinds of tabs, slots, hooks and interlocking parts of boxes and, for example, point-of-sale displays.

Other material used in cutting formes includes creasing rule, perforating rule and hole-punches. So in one pass a plain sheet can be cut to shape, creased in several places for folding, have slots cut in it, a window cut out of it, a tear-off section perforated, and holes punched.

The various pieces of rule are inserted into a base; this is usually a block of wood, in which slots have been cut to receive the strips.

When every printer had letterpress printing machines, they would usually do their own forme-cutting. Simple formes would be made up by the printer. More complex formes would be made up by a trade house specialising in cutting formes.

Trade houses which specialise in the cutting itself also arose. These are more in demand now that many printers are without a letterpress machine.

Our Collection

MMOP holds a few hundred cutting formes. A few examples are mentioned here of the kind of articles they relate to. In some cases we also have a sample of the finished item.

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