What can I use to weigh down paper so it won't roll up?
February 22, 2021 7:50 PM   Subscribe

This is a ridiculous question but here goes: I have 12 very large charts, currently rolled up in tubes, that I need to flatten out and closely examine over a period of several weeks. What can I use to weigh them all down?

I mean, I could probably use forks or books or cans of soup. But surely there is some better solution? I just need some type of object, that can be purchased in multiples, that is small and heavy and cheap and non-marking and won't roll away. Please help, this is impossible to google :)
posted by Susan PG to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Plastic sandwich bags (the closable kind!) filled with sand would be inexpensive, non-marking, and wouldn't roll.
posted by anadem at 7:53 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]

They make weights for holding sewing patterns down on fabric: search for fabric pattern weights.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:02 PM on February 22 [12 favorites]

I don't have time to find the cheapest ones but try googling "book snake weights".
posted by praemunire at 8:06 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]

Tying up spare change (or lead shot if you have it) in scraps of cloth makes a nice pattern weight.
posted by clew at 8:07 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]

Metallic table? Magnets.
Otherwise, I use metal 90° ‘squares’ (framing rulers), levels, or random 2x4 cut-offs to keep blueprints flat on the work table. Tile pieces also work well; just pick up a few 4” bathroom tile squares.
posted by sudogeek at 8:08 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Could you just buy 48 large nuts from the hardware store?
posted by my log does not judge at 8:12 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]

I was taught to always roll up drawings with the image facing out - so edges curl down to the table instead of up.

It would be tricky to re-roll but give it a try - use a cover sheet or make sure the tube is clean and well sealed to keep the outer-most drawing from getting beat up.
posted by sol at 8:18 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]

As a sewist who balks at buying specialized sewing weights to weight down patterns, I have used or heard of using: butter knives > forks, dried beans, all my canned goods, and at times, big books. You can also lay them down in a stack instead of all out separately, maybe with plain packing paper between if you're concerned about transfer. 1lb bags of dried beans are probably the most economical.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:18 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]

I feel like it ought to be something that you can use once you're done with these charts otherwise at the end of this you'll end up with a lot of things you have no use for. So cans of soup or vegetables or cat food would be a good way to go. Or mason jars filled with rice if you're into home canning and have lots of jars.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:24 PM on February 22

Seconding baggies with rice or beans in them. You don't have to fill them all the way, materials are cheap and they can all be reused after.
posted by sonofsnark at 8:32 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]

I use metal washers as pattern weights for my rolled, heavy paper patterns. Cheap and easily acquired, easily stored.
posted by assenav at 8:44 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]

Marble coasters.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 8:45 PM on February 22

I won't contest the budget argument, but book snakes won't mark or rip your papers (without a lot of effort) or get knocked over or roll away or spill their contents. Not that I've ever had janky improvised paperweights do any of those things.
posted by praemunire at 9:20 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]

Socks full of rocks or coins
posted by wowenthusiast at 9:46 PM on February 22

You want map weights — it's what they use at the framing store when they lay your piece on the table to chitchat with you. They're leather bags filled with buckshot and are weirdly gorgeous IMO.
posted by Charity Garfein at 10:02 PM on February 22 [6 favorites]

I re-roll large sheets in the opposite direction they were rolled in and they usually stay flat afterwards. Proceed with caution if the charts need to be handled delicately.
posted by pendrift at 11:42 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]

I used books for this very purpose, worked great. I'm sure lots of things will work, but books are flat and ubiquitous. Don't overthink it.
posted by axiom at 11:43 PM on February 22

My work had some construction going on the acreage out back of the office. There was a lot of left-over rebar bits.

I was working with a lot of oversized architectural drawings at the time.

Grabbed a few rebar scraps, turned out really utiliful (don't just weight down the corners, weigh down entire edges), then I asked a contractor on site that I was friendly with if they'd be willing to cut down some lengths for me (a couple of 18"ers and a couple of 24"ers).

They ended up oxidizing dark (but not rusting) and didn't leave marks on paper or anything. They don't roll away and are pretty "grippy." I thought about cleaning them with (strong white) vinegar but never really needed to.

I had a few ~6" pieces I kept afterwards for general use, but forgot to grab them when I got let go from that job.
posted by porpoise at 11:45 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]

I like long thin things like meter sticks, personally. Keeps a larger part of the edge down so if I catch it things don’t buckle as much. You can pick up strips of balsa wood or similar at a hardware store no problem. Not much height means I can swing another chart out across the first one without much issue, too. If wood strips are too lightweight, ziptop bags filled with something like dried beans or rice work for the corners and can be plopped down on top of the strip ends so you still have the whole edge kept down.
posted by Mizu at 11:50 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]

I use a sheet of toughened glass, or sometimes Perspex for this. I want to get a sheet of non-reflective glass though.

oop, just seen "cheap" - So, a salvage-yard window maybe.
posted by unearthed at 11:51 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]

You can purchase custom made weights for this purpose, which are archival etc.
posted by mani at 1:01 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

Bean bags. Dried beans in a handkerchief or bandana, secured with a rubber band. The frame shop has fancy ones made of leather, which protects the artwork, but cloth should be fine.
posted by theora55 at 6:07 AM on February 23

In ye olden times when we used to draw on vellum or paper on a drawing board, you’d use drafting tape (like masking tape, but supposedly easier to remove) to stick the drawing to the board so it didn’t move around on you.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:15 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

I would be tempted to buy a 48 pack of half height play doh or some other crafty thing that comes in lots of small containers that are at least as wide as they are tall. Liquid is pretty heavy, so even paint in pots would work. I wouldn't open any of them until the project is done.
posted by soelo at 7:26 AM on February 23

River rocks.

Pretty, flat, can be found at hardware/landscaping stores...and river banks.
posted by hannahelastic at 8:01 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

Google "draft stopper bean bag".
posted by SemiSalt at 8:10 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

I usually just put them under a rug. You'll want to have something between the papers and the floor, and the papers and the rug, so that they don't get damaged. But it does a find job of flattening them.
posted by sacrifix at 8:29 AM on February 23

Response by poster: OMG thank you. For the people telling me (directly or indirectly) not to overthink this, that ship has sailed. I bought enormous washers at the hardware store earlier today, and they will be fine for this particular project. And I think a variety of weights may be in my future -- because, as Charity Garfein said, some are weirdly gorgeous. Thank you all for giving me the language for this stuff :)
posted by Susan PG at 11:50 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

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