These old folding machines used to make a delightful thwack sound, rather like two long strips of wood being smashed together. The noise was loud, but nobody in those days wore ear protectors. Back in the sixties we’d have thought it a sign of weakness to do something like that — so we’d just go resignedly deaf in our old age. The folding department might well have been larger than the pressroom. When all your presses were delivering flat sheets, folding could easily become a bottleneck. In order to accommodate a variety of impositions you might have several different types and sizes of folding machine.

A buckle folder works by pushing the sheet up into a 45º holder; when the edge of the shed hits the top of this the sheet buckles at the bottom as the rest of the sheet is still being propelled forward. The resultant buckle is gripped between rollers and pulled forward with the upper and lower halves of the sheet following on to form the fold. The “First Fold” portion of the following video shows this quite clearly. A knife folder works by pressing down with a blade above two rollers which pull the folded paper down and onward to the next folding operation. The Second Fold and Third Fold in the video are knife folds. In the past these two operations would have been performed by different pieces of equipment. (You’ll need to click on the YouTube icon at the bottom right of the video screen, as the owner has set it up to be viewed only on YouTube.)


Kepler: Astronomia Nova. Photo NASA. This pull-out has a double gatefold.

Kepler: Astronomia Nova. Photo NASA. This pull-out has a double gatefold.

A gatefold is something different. As a reader you are more likely to recognize it under the label pull-out, or fold-out. This is a page wider than the rest of the book, folded over and tucked into the book. The part folded over must be narrower than the trimmed width of the book or the fold will simply be trimmed off in the bindery, leaving you with a loose insert rather than the whole thing. The entire piece will need to be tipped in, though it is possible to envisage a double gate-folded insert which might be wrapped around a sig, or inserted into the middle of a sig to be bound in as part of the regular book binding process. A paperback with French flaps might be viewed as an analogy for a wrapped double gatefold.photo