The Beginners Guide on “How to Press Comic Books with a T-Shirt Heat Press”

Save money by pressing your own comic books with a T-Shirt Heat Press Machine.  Most supplies can be purchased directly on eBay to save time, money,  and shipping costs.  I started a personal journey trying to learn the tips and tricks of pressing comic books.  I wanted to learn techniques without showing any evidence of pressing or damaging a book.  There have been some bumps along the way through some trial and error.  This is still a guide for beginners and the basis for a way to get started.  It is very humbling but you will damage some books along the way.  Start small with some cheap dollar bin comic books or reader copies.

This guide will require countless hours of patience, practice and time.
Updated on 2/17/2018 at 18:52 PM PST

SHOPPING LIST
You will need the following:

  1. A Digital controlled T-Shirt Heat Press Machine.  I have used two versions:
    Clamshell digital heat press machine: http://ebay.to/2Em91An
    Swivel mount Tivor digital heatpress machine  http://ebay.to/2yMY7fq
    I prefer the 15×15 clamshell press for better control and built in alarm. Because it’s 15×15 it has a larger surface area for a better press.  Both are available for a very affordable price on ebay. They can go for $100-$200 typically.  The Tivor swivel unit requires regular adjusting of the bolts because they come loose over constant use.
  2. Patience and time for all the countless hours you will put into learning this technique.
  3. Box of 100 pairs of powder free latex gloves. Bookmark that reorder button page, too!
  4. Silicone Release Paper (SRP) package of 250 pre-cut sheets.  ULINE has boxes of 1000 sheets cut to size for $85 shipped SAME DAY.  (recommended)
  5. Conair Clothing steam humidifier gun or you can  make your own Hydration Humidity Chamber  (Optional, Advanced)
  6. Dental tools, specifically a dental pick and scraper.
  7. Absorene. 
  8. Gum kneaded eraser.
  9. Mr Clean Magic Erasers, no scent or fragrance-free.  Cut your own 1″ cubes to size.
  10. Lots of non glossy cardboard comic book backer boards of various sizes and thickness.
  11. 21″ box fan that uses 3 settings: Hi, Med, Lo.
  12. Golden Age sized Mylite2+Fullbacks for transporting/handling/cleaning/flipping/spinning books
  13. UV Black Light inspection flashlight  for detecting color touch or amateur restoration
  14. 1 gallon of distilled water.  Not spring water, not bottled water, not tap water.  Distilled water only.
  15. Phone or tablet for photos of your process
  16. Lotion free Kleenex tissues, a dust cloth, or a can of compressed air to blow away dust shavings while cleaning and prepping
  17. Sealing Tack Iron for dimples, divots, and stubborn spine dents (Optional, Advanced)
  18. 4 ft x 5 ft work space area at minimum for your press and supplies in a climate controlled room.  Do not press comics in your attic or garage.


DOES THIS BOOK NEED TO BE PRESSED?
The first question you should ask is: Does this book need to be pressed?  Signs the book would benefit from a press or dry cleaning:

  1. Non-breaking color creases
  2. Light bends on front cover or back cover
  3. Bunched spine
  4. Spine roll
  5. Folded comics
  6. Wrinkled front and back covers
  7. Production line spine bends
  8. Preparation for a comic book convention for a signing
  9. Using a third party presser prior to using a grading service for a signature series yellow label
  10. Dirt, oils, light staining

DEFECTS AND WRITING
Dry cleaning and heat-pressing comic books improves the overall look and feel of a book.  It is not divine intervention.  Things pressing will not fix:

  1. Miswraps
  2. Stains
  3. Ink, ballpoint pen, crayon, wax crayon, marker, Sharpie pen
  4. Missing pages, pieces, tears
  5. Staple placement
  6. Rounded corners
  7. Edgewear
  8. Deep indentations that travel through then entire book on every page
  9. Tape (Do not press books with stickers, tape, tattoo inserts, digital codes)
  10. Crease lines with missing ink (color breaks)

 

BASIC PHOTOGRAPHY
Use a phone or tablet to take photos before, during, and after your work.  Photos can provide clues to your own work as a resume for others considering your services.  Photos also can show proof that damage was done to a book before you started working on the book.  Photos can provide  a lot of details and clues to everything.  Lighting is key.   Hold your camera or tablet steady before taking the shot.  Do not take blurry dimly lit photos.  That is worthless to you and anyone else inspecting your work.  Take all your photos under a well lit room with lots of windows during the daytime.  Take photos at every angle of the book so you can see the bumps, waves, bends, creases, and folds of the book in question.  Start a facebook photo album if you don’t own a website or gallery page.  Photos mean everything!  If you don’t have time, make time.

WORK AREA AND DESK SURFACE

Be sure your work surface area is clean and smooth. Using mylite2+fullback under the book can prevent surface wear and staple rub.

Be sure your work surface area is clean and smooth. Using mylite2+fullback under the book can prevent surface wear and staple rub.

Before we begin,  always use gloves.  Always.  No fingerprints!   Heat is the number one ingredient for a successful press.   That heat can also transfer oils from your skin to the plate or the comic book.  Before you start using the press, put on some latex gloves.  I prefer the small size so you get a firm sensitive grip.

You can prevent un-necessary surface rub or wear on the book being cleaned or handled.  The best way to do this is to use Golden Age size Mylite2 + Fullback boards to handle and transport books.  You can even use 2 of them above and below the book to flip the book over easily as well.  I use a glass artist table folded down flat with a cutting mat on top of that.  I have placed a sheet of plexiglass down on top of the cutting mat as well for a smooth shiny surface to work with.  It’s a good idea to keep a Golden Age size Mylite2 + Fullback board underneath the book while on the desk surface so you can swivel and slide the book without damaging it.

 

Place a mylite2+fullback inside your cover being cleaned but not all the way against the spine. Don't press to hard either when cleaning you will have a line running down the spine you will have to press out later.

Place a mylite2+fullback inside your cover being cleaned but not all the way against the spine. Don’t press to hard either when cleaning you will have a line running down the spine you will have to press out later.

You do not want to spin the book on a bare table surface.  Ever.  Next you can gently place a Golden Age size Mylite2 + Fullback board inside the cover of the side of the book you are cleaning.  This places firm pressure on the other side of the surface you are cleaning.

Place a mylite2+fullback inside your cover being cleaned but not all the way against the spine. Don’t press too hard either when cleaning or you will have a light visible vertical line running down along the spine you will have to press out later.

 

 

ADJUSTMENT AND PREPARATION
For the swivel Tivor heat press machine, remove the top plastic knob off the rear adjustment screw.  Place 1 large flat washer below the adjustment bolt at the very top rear of the unit.  You will most likely have to search the hardware store for the required washers with a large enough diameter.  Then place your plastic screw knob back on top of that.  This gives you adjustment and a spacer between the plate and the rubber pad.   Sometimes you will use stacks of silicone release paper usually 1/8” thick below your comic book as a spacer between the rubber pad and your book being pressed.  Sometimes just one sheet above or below the book.  A lot of this depends on the thickness of the book.  Graphic novels, square bound, and 70s giant size edition 72 page comic books will require you to back the pressure plate off so you do not apply too much pressure on the thicker books.  Use one sheet of Silicone Release Paper (SRP) on top of the book as a spacer between your book and the very hot pressure plate above it.  Using this trick will also prevent the surface of the rubber pad below to imprint any patterns or surface imprints onto your books being pressed.

 

PRACTICE ON 5 BASIC TYPES OF BOOKS
You will need to practice first on 5 basic types of comic books to learn the process slowly.  Practice on your own books first.  The 5 basic types of comics to practice on are:

1.  Golden Age Books
These books are brittle, require steam, and extra care when handling.
2.  Silver Age Books
These books can also be quite brittle, and have edgewear like crazy.  Watch staples
3.  Bronze Age Books
Many of these books have a different type of paper, semigloss and with inserts.
4.  Modern Age Books with Glossy Magazine Paper
These books can have pages stick together if too hot!  Under 150F and under 5-7 minutes at a time.  (5 minutes on each side)  The pages will stick together otherwise and you will create a razor blade comic book.  It is necessary to place one sheet of Silicone Release Paper (SRP) between each page of the entire book before pressing to avoid pages sticking together.
5.  Foil books (Convention exclusives)
These books are more intimidating if anything.  Watch your fingerprints!  Same rules apply as if it were a glossy modern with glossy pages.  Too hot and too long will ruin the book.

There are more to practice on, but this is a great head start for the learning process.  Different books require different angles of approach.

PRESSURE SETTINGS ON PRESS
Use the adjustment screw and washer to adjust for pressure sensitivity against thickness of book.  It takes time and practice to master this through experience.  For the swivel Tivor model of heat press machine, you will need to watch that top long bolt at the very back top side of unit the adjustment knob resides on.  Over time the entire shaft or bolt itself becomes loose.  It is necessary to finger tighten the bolt when consistently using the swivel action back and forth between presses.

 

INSPECTION PROCESS

Use a UV Black-Light inspection flashlight to detect signs of color touch.

Use a UV Black-Light inspection flashlight to detect signs of color touch.

Wear a fresh pair of latex gloves as you get started.  Take a moment to examine the book.  Always lift comic books out with the backer board as you slide them out of the bag.    You do not want to scratch the back cover.   Do not press books with stickers, tape, tattoo inserts, or digital codes.   Mark Jeweler insert comic books and other books with centerfold posters should be okay.  Look at every angle, every corner of the book.  Take photos with your tablet or phone.  Take extra time to inspect the corners and spine around the staples.  Look for and count spine ticks and which have color breaking lines along the spine.   Are the corners rounded?  Is there edge-wear along the spine?  Is there edge-wear along the top and bottom covers?  Flip the book over using another backer board so you do not stress the spine.  Look for scrapes or light scratches on the back cover.  Use the black-light UV inspection flashlight to detect color touch or amateur restoration techniques.  Super valuable key books should be inspected for color touch, just in case.  It’s also a good idea to inspect the staples to look for signs of replacement.  One sign of staple replacement is when staple indentations do not line up with the current staple heads position.

Use a dental pick and scraper to carefully lift and place tears or folds where they should be before pressing or cleaning.

Use a dental pick and scraper to carefully lift and place tears or folds where they should be before pressing or cleaning.

Look for corner flaps and tears that need to be set in place.  This step should be done first while the book is dry and not under any heat or pressure.   You will use a dental pick and scraper for this step.

It may be tempting to just use your fingernail, but could potentially rip or tear the crease worse.  Dirt and oil under your fingernails could get trapped in the paper fibers as well.  Golden age books are very forgiving with corner flaps and minor tears.

You want to do this step first before cleaning or pressing.  This step is important to try to inspect the book carefully and turn each page for inspection.  You are also looking for cutouts, missing pages, and missing centerfolds during this stage.

DRY CLEANING COMIC BOOK TIPS

Rolling Absorene lightly across the surface of a book to remove oils and dirt.

Starting with latex rubber gloves, use a dental pick for lifting up folds and creases.  Do this first.  Lightly dust off and wipe the surface clean lightly with a lotion free Kleenex, dust cloth, or a can of compressed air.  Use Absorene first to delicately lift dirt and oils.  You roll lightly and gently across the surface to remove and clean the paper at its fibers.  If you do not have Absorene, try using a gum kneaded eraser.  You will have to knead and work in the eraser until it becomes soft like the Absorene.  Never rub the kneaded eraser, always blot or push downwards then lift upwards with straight up and down motions.  Never use the kneaded gum eraser sideways or against the paper grain.  Most of the time, 90% of the time, the silicone release paper will naturally lift up most stains or dirt and debris.  The heat exchange process and the lifting of dirt happens naturally during the pressing process.

 

Go slow with the Absorene around corners and tears. You should place a perpendicular mylite2+fullback against your hand so that you do not lift up the cover or page being cleaned.

Go slow with the Absorene around corners and tears. You should place a perpendicular mylite2+fullback against your hand so that you do not lift up the cover or page being cleaned.

 

HOW TO USE ABSORENE

Roll Absorene gently across the surface of book.

Roll Absorene gently across the surface of book. You want to alternate along the spine and with the spine. Do not press hard.

Absorene comes inside a small plastic storage tub.   It looks and feels like Play-doh.  You want to take small 1/2″ cubes and roll it across the surface of your book covers and pages for dry chemical free cleaning.  You will roll very lightly with light pressure as you roll “logs” across the surface being cleaned.  I also have great results with warming the book up in the press for 5 minutes on each side on low heat at 150 degrees.  When using the Absorene, take great care along cover edges and corners or you will lift up the cover unexpectedly and cause a crease.  Worse yet, if you go too fast due to being impatient with your time – you can cause a rip and tear the cover.  It helps tremendously to use backer boards to the left and right of the areas being rolled with Absorene.  Try it to see if this works for you.

USING MAGIC ERASERS AND ABSORENE

Cut 1" cubes of Mr Clean Magic Eraser to alternate from Absorene and Eraser along spines.

Cut 1″ cubes of Mr Clean Magic Eraser to alternate from Absorene and Eraser along spines. Never reuse a magic eraser cube. Apply firm but gentle pressure against book. Erasers are best used for white or light covers. Avoid red and black with the magic eraser!

Magic Erasers are great for white rear covers or white front covers.  Warning: Black, Red and Yellow ink are easily lifted off the cover with the Magic Eraser!  Use a Mr. Clean magic eraser very carefully.  Always cut fresh 1” cubes with scissors.   If you try to keep re-using the same magic eraser, you will start rubbing dirt into all the crease lines of comics, which creates new dark crease lines and makes the visual appeal start to drop significantly, so be warned about the magic eraser!  Use this product with light pressure.  Never use circular swirls when trying to lift up staining with a magic eraser.  Make swift light strokes in one direction, never back and forth, and never in swirls.  This will take time.  Do not wax on and wax off.  You only wax one way.  You do not want to send the very same dirt lifted up from the magic eraser into a crease line crevice or crack on cover.

 

For small spaces or around dark print area, use a pencil eraser with a tiny torn off piece of clean magic eraser material. Use the pencil as a hand tool to better control the magic eraser around corners, spines, or red/black/yellow print area.

For small spaces or around dark print area, use a pencil eraser with a tiny torn off piece of clean magic eraser material. Use the pencil as a hand tool to better control the magic eraser around corners, spines, or red/black/yellow print area.

This is why you should alternate with the Absorene and the Magic Eraser.  After using the Magic Eraser, it causes white powder dust shavings filled with dirt and oil.  Even using a new Magic Eraser cube will push those shavings and dust back into the cracks and crevices of the spine being worked on.  You will need to blow the dust away with a can of air.  Alternate and use the Absorene to clean the area just cleaned with the Magic Eraser.  Back and forth.  Patience is key.  Sometimes it feels like the Absorene just isn’t working but it is.  Keep at it and you will eventually start to see staining and other debris being lifted slowly.  It takes time to figure this one out.  The magic eraser is very forgiving on white or light covers.  However, use extreme caution using this technique on all black covers or very dark covers.  The magic eraser does lift ink!  Because of this, most professionals do not advise using a Mr Clean Magic Eraser.  Most will suggest to use Absorene, because it is actually made for cleaning historical documents and archival paper such as the Library of Congress.  If you are just starting out and learning the whole process, try using these products on some cheap books first to get a feel of the process.  Remember, this is just a guide for beginners!

Before and after back cover photos of upper right corner dirt oil buildup along a staple  bump. Magic Eraser and Absorene did wonders to this corner with minimal effort to lift the staining.

Before and after back cover photos of upper right corner dirt oil buildup along a staple bump. Magic Eraser and Absorene did wonders to this corner with minimal effort to lift the staining.

Before and after upper left corner crease with dirt and oil buildup across crease. Magic Eraser and Absorene did wonders to this corner with minimal effort to lift the stains.

Before and after upper left corner crease with dirt and oil buildup across crease. Magic Eraser and Absorene did wonders to this corner with minimal effort to lift the stains.

 

 

STAPLES
Staples can push through the front and rear cover.  Dirt and oil like to get trapped around elevated bumps along staple on back cover.  If you can already detect staple rub on the front or back cover you should probably use copy paper or a backer board inside the cover.    Press with lighter pressure using the adjustment screw on press machine.  Squarebound books like Silver Surfer #4 or Giant Size X-Men #1 have this effect with staples and pressing.  Cleaning staples is not recommended either.  Watch for rub and try not to clean them or scratch them up too much.  It can be evident if there is staple cleaning with third party Grading Companies such as CGC and CBCS so I caution you on scuffing up staples.  Rusty staples should be lightly scuffed but I would not recommend it.

 

THE HUMIDIFICATION PROCESS

How To Flatten Folded Or Rolled PaDer Documents

Paper records such as maps, newspapers, and documents that have been rolled or folded for long periods of time often may be safely flattened using carefully controlled humidification.

Not all books require moisture.   Some books would benefit from humidity.  Brittle pages, Golden Age books, frustrating blunted corners without color breaks, blunted spines, spine rolls, and rolled up or folded in half comic books.  But why would you use moisture on books?  The reason for this is the fibers of the paper must be relaxed for the process of pressing to actually take hold and remain.    You can do this with a simple humidifier or clothes fabric steamer.  Use the steamer for a few seconds to only make the pages curl.  As soon as paper movement is seen, move to a different area or stop using steam.   When creating new centerfolds, fixing spine denting, and working with golden age books – you are required to use steam.  This is a very delicate process and should be used with moderation.

 

DISTILLED WATER
Always used distilled water.  There are no minerals or dirt in distilled water.  Otherwise you will get water spots and staining from the minerals if you do not use distilled water.  Always empty the water chamber when not in use either, or you will get mildew.   Mildew and water are paper’s worst nightmare, so this is not an easy process to learn.

 

USING HUMIDIFICATION 
Time and patience will guide you.  Always better to use not enough steam with a slightly disappointing press with no damage to the book and do it again than to use TOO MUCH steam and ruin the book, right?!  As soon as the paper starts to curl, is when you stop steaming in that area.  Do not over steam the same area!  Too much humidity and too much heat can cause edge flaring and a wavy cover.  Also,  steam from a safe 1-2 foot distance so droplets of water don’t splash on the book.  This can create light circle spots when dry.   Also do not over steam staples or they will rust.  The safest method would be to make your own hydration humidifier chamber with basic supplies at Home Depot.

There are several websites available online, including the Library of Congress at your disposal.  According to the National Park Service, “Paper records such as maps, newspapers, and documents that have been rolled or folded for long periods of time often may be safely flattened using carefully controlled humidification. ”

DO-IT-YOURSELF SPECIALIZED EQUIPMENT

“There are three basic steps to humidification: cleaning, humidifying, and weighting or flattening.   Each step requires somewhat specialized equipment that can be easily constructed from materials gathered from common sources, such as hardware and fabric stores.

DRY CLEAN FIRST, HUMIDIFICATION SECOND, PRESS LAST
It is important to remember that any dirt on the surface of the paper may become muddy during humidification and will set further into the paper fibers. This will make the paper difficult if not impossible to clean in the future. The surface of the paper should at least be swept with a soft, natural fiber brush before humidification. If the papers are heavily soiled, consult a paper conservator about surface cleaning before proceeding.

Before proceeding with humidification, remove fasteners such as clips, staples, brads, and rubber bands. “

Extreme care must be used when initially opening papers that have been folded or rolled.  While some papers remain supple over time, others may grow increasingly fragile due to inherent weaknesses, widely fluctuating temperature and relative humidity, or exposure to light and/or to chemicals in the atmosphere. As a result, paper remembers creases, folds, and curls. If records are not flattened carefully, they may crumble and their valuable information will be irretrievably lost.  Never attempt to open a rolled or folded piece of paper if you are uncertain of its physical condition, particularly if the climate is extremely dry (less than 35% relative humidity).

SOURCE: https://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/conserveogram/13-02.pdf

 

DO NOT REMOVE THE STAPLES
So with that in mind, you really should remove the steel staples from the comic book.  With that disclaimer stated, we aren’t going to remove the staples from the comic book.  We are not restoring the comic book.  We are only cleaning and flattening the book.  Removing/replacing staples counts as restoration, and we don’t want that.  Since the duration time period inside our homemade humidification chamber will be only be 15-30 minutes, I do not believe that is long enough for iron oxidation to set in on a staple that currently shows no signs of rust.  Scientifically, and depending on your climate conditions, it’s more realistic to assume light rust would begin to set in at the microscopic level within 2 days.  Steel can start to corrode (microscopically) immediately upon exposure to the elements.  Since we are leaving the comic book in for 15-30 minutes, it’s probably not going to cause rust.  The heat press will absorb the humidity moisture and dampness of the book within minutes before rust can take proceed.

 

SPINE ROLL FIX

Start with a light press using backer boards and SRP with the 15x15 press.

Start with a light press using backer boards and SRP with the 15×15 press.

After 5 minutes on each side completely flattened out, lightly fold the book back over and press down to make your new fold.

After 5 minutes on each side completely flattened out, lightly fold the book back over and press down to make your new fold.

Spine roll fix alignments can be fun.  I mean that sincerely.  They can be real fun and rewarding to work with.  One trick I’ve seen now in the pressing world is to adjust that spine so all the spine creases and dents move to the back of the book for a better eye appeal when in a graded case.  This does not trick the graders nor are you trying to pull “a fast one” but you are making the book have a better curb appeal when considering reselling or displaying the book.

 

 

An example of how to create a new centerfold for spine roll fixes. First begin by laying the book flat in a hydration chamber for 1-2 hours. Next, lay the book flat face down in the press with 2 backer boards at the staples on top and botton. Flip the book after 5 minutes on 160 degrees. 1977 Ms Marvel #1

An example of how to create a new centerfold for spine roll fixes. First begin by laying the book flat in a hydration chamber for 1-2 hours. Next, lay the book flat face down in the press with 2 backer boards at the staples on top and botton. Flip the book after 5 minutes on 160 degrees. Begin making your new fold by folding the book in half and pink the edge tight and make your new fold with the press for 2 minutes. Proceed to press as normal afterwards. 1977 Ms Marvel #1

An example of how to create a new centerfold for spine roll fixes. First begin by laying the book flat in a hydration chamber for 1-2 hours. Next, lay the book flat face down in the press with 2 backer boards at the staples on top and botton. Flip the book after 5 minutes on 160 degrees. 1977 Ms Marvel #1

An example of how to create a new centerfold for spine roll fixes. First begin by laying the book flat in a hydration chamber for 1-2 hours. Next, lay the book flat face down in the press with 2 backer boards at the staples on top and botton. Flip the book after 5 minutes on 160 degrees. Begin making your new fold by folding the book in half and pink the edge tight and make your new fold with the press for 2 minutes. Proceed to press as normal afterwards. 1977 Ms Marvel #1

 

 

When aligning the spine, the first step is to flatten the entire book at the centerfold.  This can be very stressful on the outside spine, and the staples inside.  You can crush the staples right through the book if you are not careful!  You can also create new stress lines on the outside of the book.  Here is how to prevent all of this:

  1. Steam the book with some humidity.  Do this with a clothes steamer or a Do-it-Yourself Humidity Hydration Chamber.  Set the press to 160 degrees. This part of the process does not matter if golden age/silver/modern/foil.
  2. Get a 1/8” stack of backer boards, gloss free, or at least put the gloss away from the covers. Place them down the center of the rubber pad on press.
  3. Get the book in question. Find the staples.  Find the center.
  4. Flatten the book from the inside face down, staples down. Set the book carefully onto the stack of backer boards 90 degrees perpendicular to the pad.  If you are using the Tivor Swivel Mount Heat Press Machine, you will have an overhang obviously.  That’s fine.  You’re going to rotate in 5 minutes to do the overhang side if so.
  5. Stick one backer board on top of your spine. Carefully and slowly lower the press onto the comic and make sure the spine flattens out.
  6. Keep the book this way for 5 minutes.
  7. If you are using the Tivor swivel press machine keep reading.  Otherwise skip to step 13: Now swivel everything around and press the overhang portion of the comic book spine. Press for 5 minutes.  If using the larger 15×15 heat press machine, press for 5 additional minutes.
  8. Now remove the book, keep the boards there. Maybe take the bottom backer board and put on top in case there was a staple indent.  Flip the book over on its opposite side, with the staples now facing up.
  9. Set the book carefully onto the stack of backer boards with the staples facing up – 90 degrees perpendicular to the pad. You will have an overhang obviously.  That’s fine.  You’re going to rotate in 5 minutes anyway to do the overhang side.
  10. Stick one backer board on top of your spine with the staples facing up. Carefully and slowly lower the press onto the comic and make sure the spine flattens out.
  11. Keep the book this way for 5 minutes.
  12. Now swivel everything around and press the overhang portion of the comic book spine. Press for 5 minutes.
  13. The book should now be completely flattened out after 10 minutes total duration of pressing flat against cardboard backers.
  14. You are going to make your own new centerfold now. Remove all backer boards and anything left in the press.  Only should have a rubber pad and a metal plate above, nothing else.  No SRP Paper, either.
  15. Using latex gloves, you are going to fold the book carefully in half. Stand the book up on its bottom edge when doing so.  Pinch the middle center with your index finger and thumb TIGHT so no movement happens between pages.
  16. Stick the pinched comic with your fingers in sideways, allowing 7/8 of the comic’s surface on top of the rubber pad. Bring the metal plate down onto the comic and press down .   You want your fingers so close to the plate that it will almost press your thumb down.  Do not let the book move or travel with the press.  You get only one shot at this!  The reason you are using 7/8 of the surface is to minimize travel of the book when the press goes down on the book.  If you barely place the comic in close at the spine, the entire book will travel and move on you as its being pressed!   This step will take you time and practice to get the hang of it.  Start small on simple dollar books to practice spine roll fixes!

 

Blunted non color breaking spines can be intimidating.

Blunted non color breaking spines can be intimidating.

SPINE ALIGNMENTS AND BLUNTED CORNERS
You can actually do the spine realignment on any book, even a brand new modern book!  I recommend this for blunted corners and deep spine indents or  bunched up corners.  This method is preferred instead of just shoving backer boards into your centerfolds and interior covers.  If you only use backer boards or stacks of paper, you risk imprinting edges of the paper or backer boards into your books.  Evidence of this is a simple vertical line that travels the length of the spine.

 

USING SILICONE RELEASE PAPER (SRP)

 "Pebbling" can cause divots on the surface of a book if not the press plate or pressure pad isn't clean.

“Pebbling” can cause divots on the surface of a book if not the press plate or pressure pad isn’t clean.

First of all, make sure the silicone mat and pressure plate are clean and free of debris.  Make sure the pressure plate and silicone release paper being used against the book is clean and free of dirt.  “Pebbling” can cause divots on the surface of a book if not the press plate or pressure pad isn’t clean. This is caused by anything from a speck of dust, dirt, or cleaning shavings from using Absorene or Magic Eraser.

 

 

Be sure to use Silicone Release Paper (SRP) on your books and documents inside press.

Be sure to use Silicone Release Paper (SRP) on your books and documents inside press.

Place one sheet of Silicone Release Paper (SRP) on the pressing mat.  The comic book being pressed should have one sheet of Silicone Release Paper (SRP) inside the centerfold.  Some books should have one sheet of Silicone Release Paper (SRP) inside the front cover on first page and one sheet of Silicone Release Paper (SRP) inside the back cover on last page.  Place the comic book on the sheet of SRP you placed on the pressing mat.  Now you will place one sheet of Silicone Release Paper (SRP) on top of the comic book so it is between the hot pressing plate and the book being pressed.  You are now ready to press the book.

 

INITIAL PRESS
Make sure when the hot metal plate is going down on the book that it clamps down with firm yet little resistance.  You are not wanting to press the handle down so hard that it takes great feats of human strength to clamp down on the comic book.  If you are doing this, then you are creating razor blade spines to shave with.  Do not create razor blade spines.  This also can cause staples to push through front cover or spine.  This is known as “staple popping”.  This can also cause the staples to appear sunken into the book as well.  Use caution and self control when pressing the plate down on the book being pressed.  This is crucial to a successful press.  The goal here is to press with the mindset of a grading company looking at your book.  Smoothness and glossiness.  Deep folds and color breaking crease lines cannot be fixed.  Press so that is is not evident you pressed the book.

 

TEMPERATURE SETTINGS
Most books can be safely pressed at 175 degrees but not any higher.  I typically run at 150-160 degrees.  Brand new modern age books, foil books, glossy paper books, magazines, and books with inserts should be at a lower temperature, at 125 degrees but left in the press a lot longer to compensate for the lower temperature.  I have also seen success with 160 degrees for just 5 minutes on each side and cooling down for glossy moderns.

HEAT PRESS STAGE:

  • Glossy Cover Modern Age Books with interior flat NOT glossy paper
    150 degrees for 7 minutes on each side
  • Glossy Cover Modern Age Books with interior with glossy paper
    150 degrees for 5 minutes on each side.
  • Dull Thin Cover Modern Age Books
    160 degrees for 7 minutes on each side
  • Foil Books
    175 degrees for corners pinched, 5 minutes on each side before flipping once.  Then cool down press to 150 degrees for 10 minutes x 2 on each side before flipping and repeating.
  • Glossy Cover Bronze Age Books
    150 degrees for 10 minutes on each side
  • Dull Thick Cover Bronze Age Books
    160 degrees for 10 minutes on each side
  • Silver Age Books
    150 degrees for 7-10 minutes on each side
  • Golden Age Books
    160 degrees for 15 minutes on each side.

After the heat press stage is complete, you will shut off the press.  Leave the book in the press with the temperature shut off and cool down for several hours.  6 hours is minimum time before removing from press.  Probably ideal to leave the book in the press for 12-24 hours or more.

 

DURATION OF PRESS
In order to maintain the pressing, and not have “muscle memory” of creases and spine bumps, you have to let the book be completely cold inside the press before removing it.  Heat is the number one ingredient for a successful press.  Humidity is number two.  These 2 main core principles are crucial to the pressing process.  Most books can be cooled down quicker than naturally.  If you just simply use a standard $20 box fan at the store,  this will cut your cooling down time to 8-12 hours instead of 1-2 days.   You can also buy a second identical press and use that one as a “cooling press” as the other cools down.  Alternate for 2-step pressing to save time and maximize your time constraints.  If you are having trouble pressing a book, leave it in the press for several days or even a week!

Basic one time press under high heat for 10 minutes and left in press machine for 24 hours. This book could use another press one more time to get that last bit of faint vertical bend traveling along spine.

Basic one time press under high heat for 10 minutes and left in press machine for 24 hours. This book could use another press one more time to get that last bit of faint vertical bend traveling along spine.

 

Be sure you feel the top of the plate with your hands before removing any book from the press.  You are making sure the press plate is ICE COLD.  Not even warm or room temperature.  Make sure the press plate is cold to the touch.  If you have a second press, place the book inside the press that has a completely cold press plate for faster cooling.

WAVY COVERS AND EDGE FLARING
If you take the book out of the press too soon or too much heat (or both), it causes corner flares.  This does not ruin the book, but it does require a second press at less heat with an overnight cooldown time of 24-48 hours.  Too much moisture can also cause a wavy cover.  Try experimenting with different humidity times and cool down times based on your climate.  If your book has flaring you should lower the heat duration and humidity levels when pressing the book in question.


REVERSION AFTER PRESS

Check back and verify your book retained a good press after several weeks.  I recommend this step especially if you are pressing a book for a client, friend, or a grading company!  It is entirely possible to come back several months later only to find your hard work performed on the book reverted back to it’s previous state.  If this happens, you are definitely going to have to press the book for a week or longer to keep it’s shape and press.

 

CONCLUSION
150-160 degrees or lower seems to be the “sweet spot” on most books to play it safe.  Pressing under high heat for less than 10 minutes on each side is good for most books.  Keep moisture and humidity to a minimum on your books.  Always keep a timer with you and don’t forget to set your timer!  These steps are some of the things that can be done to successfully press a comic book, magazine, or poster with minimal to no damage to the item being pressed.  These tips will hopefully save you money, and guide you along the way as YOU learn and pick up new ideas and better ways to accomplish things.  I am not a professional presser, and I’m not a professional grader.  However, these are the methods I use when I press comic books as a hobbyist.

All of this is a learning process.  I encourage you all to share your ideas among everyone so that we can all prevent damage to one another’s books.   I am open to any feedback and suggestions.  I also reside in a coastal Northwestern state, which is more humid than inland states.  Your results may vary based on humidity and temperature of the climate you reside in.

Thank you!

 

FIND ME ON FACEBOOK
The KaptainMyke Comic Book Pressing Facebook Group can is at this link:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/kaptainmykecomicpressing

 

 

 

 

 

 

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