Book binding

This is a new hobby for me so I’ll be posting the books as I bind them- complete with pictures, of course!

June 16th
Just some thoughts on bookbinding- I never realized how many different materials go into binding a book nor how many of them are subject to being eaten by insects. There’s leather, linen or cotton cloth, linen string and paper and the adhesives are (typically) hide glue, flour paste and egg whites. It’s amazing that any old books have survived with that kind of appetizing buffet!

July 13
I’ve been thinking about how I could engineer a temporary sewing frame. I don’t need a “real” sewing frame- I don’t intend to be sewing a lot of books- just this one and repairs here and there, maybe. The problem was, I kept thinking about how it might be used since I have never actually seen one in use. Then I crossed this picture:

and the way a sewing frame is used became perfectly obvious to me. Also the solution. I have a square embroidery frame that has slits in the long dowels. I can thread my cords on those and tape them down so they can’t migrate, set the frame vertically instead of horizontally and voila! Sewing frame.

Now. My other problem has been trimming the pages. I had thought to use the guillotine on each signature but I can’t really do that because I think the action of sewing will change the fore edge. So. I will not buy a plow- that’s a ridiculous expense to lay out for one use. But, looking at the pictures of ploughs- they aren’t anything but a really sharp knife on a jig to keep the cut straight and even.

So what’s wrong with a wood plane? I can use my brass edged boards in the press to protect it, turn them flat side down and shave the edge with my plane.


I couldn’t keep it even- I bought a plow. I love it.

July 21
I got tired of waiting for Brazen Device on etsy to message me back or relist the book press I was interested in. He said it would be up by the end of the weekend two weeks ago and I still haven’t heard back. So alrighty then- obviously my money is not wanted there. Instead I bought this one from Phyllisann:

It’s not as pretty but I am sure it will work at least as well (maybe better) and I know that she will send it to me- I’d be dubious about ordering from Brazen Device anyway since he’s been so slow to answer messages. I’d be worried he wouldn’t ship it for weeks and weeks. Plus this one is less expensive and has free shipping- saving me about $100. Phyllisann doesn’t have a lot of feedback on etsy but she lists the same things on ebay where she has over 2000 feedback- 98% positive

July 7 2014: More Adventures in Bookbinding
I have learned:

  1. Never use doe skin for bookbinding
  2. Put scrap pieces of paper before and after to plough
  3. Cut the boards taller than the signatures
  4. Let the glair dry completely on the cover before laying on leaf
  5. Vinegar in the glair will discolour the leather
  6. Roll the book before backing to create the rounded spine
  7. Rice flour paste works really well
  8. Lifting endpapers is at best difficult and sometimes impossible

Rice Flour paste:

    1/2 cup of water and two spoons of rice flour.
    Mix to remove lumps
    Add two whole cloves. You can leave the cloves out if you want or use clove powder but the scent of the cloves in the paste keeps insects from finding your book tasty.

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