Finding the grain direction of a paper

Knowing the direction of paper is essential in all aspects of bookcraft and bookbinding. Here is a simple example of the difference.

Finding the direction of grain in a sheet of paper

The picture above shows a sheet of office paper that was folded in half, and then half again. Then one quarter of the sheet was torn out. The folds were not heavily creased. The tears, rather than following the route of the creases, took a path dictated by the grain of the paper. As with traffic, rivers, public opinion, even "life"- it is much easier to go with the flow than kick against the pricks. Our tears tell us that the grain flows parallel to the lng edge.

It is common practice for office papers to be called "long grain". The grain runs parallel with the longer edges. The thumb is holding one of these edges, and the neater tear runs along the grain. The other, wandering, tear is running across the grain.

Another common, but not universal, practice is for A3 sheets to be "short grain". Some manufacturers' catalogues assume every sheet is "long grain except where mentioned". A comprehensive wholesaler might well stock a brand of paper under two headings "A3" and "A3 cross grain". There may also be difference in price.

It is important for the print trade to know the grain direction since some presses prefer it always to run one way. More importantly if a book is being printed the imposition will require folios to be folded with the grain if the book is to open properly.

There are ways of finding the grain direction. We provide illustrations of some other methods.




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