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  • Julie Stackpole

Parts of The Book


Steps In Making A Full-Leather Fine Binding, Traditional Style


1. Plan materials and techniques

2. Prepare the text: "pull" the old binding, remove the sewing, mend the paper, guard the outsides of the weak sections' folds; or fold new sheets into sections. Press the sections of text.

3. Prepare endsheets: 2 sections made up of blanks, decorative flyleaf and hinges

4. Prepare for sewing: mark the sewing holes, set up the sewing frame

5. Sew the sections together, on hemp cords for raised bands, or on linen tapes or frayed-out cords for a smooth spine, with linen thread

6. Hammer down the bulge near the spine, caused by the thickness of the thread.

7. Glue up the spine, kept square or perpendicular to the pages

8. Trim front edge, if wanted

9. Round and back the spine with a hammer, making the spine have a low arch shape and 90° shoulders into which the boards will fit (tight joint)

10. Cut boards for the "covers" of Binders Board, a dense pulpboard; cut larger than the book on 3 sides to leave a protective overhang ("squares")

11. Attach the boards to the book with the slips, the ends of the cords or tapes

12. Trim top and bottom edges of the book, if wanting to

13. Make a gilt or colored topedge at this point

14. Set the boards (final position)

15. Protectively wrap the inside of the book

16. Softly bevel or cushion the boards; sculpt them if part of the final design

17. Sew headband and tailband, collectively "headbands" or "endbands"

18. On spine, straighten the raised bands; polish flatter the rest

19. Line the spine with gauze, mull or linen, and papers, sanding in between

20. Make a tube or "hollow" lining on the spine, if not a tight back

21. More lining over the tube

22. False raised bands applied if it was not sewn on real ones, or left smooth

23. Card or bristol on the boards

24. Cut "carrots" in boards' corners near the spine; sand the edges

25. Cut and pare the leather: thinned at a bevel where it will go over the edges of the board and ends of the spine, and other places, using a binder's paring knife, spokeshave, paring machine or other gadget

26. Dampen and paste off the leather and cover the book; make mitered corners and headcaps

27. Open and exercise the boards; clean out the joints inside

28. Pare and place leather hinges inside the covers over the joints

29. Trim the turn-ins of leather on insides of boards

30. Fill in the insides of the boards between the turn-ins with papers

31. At this point do any "finishing" outside i.e. the title tooling, decorative onlays and tooling on the boards and spine, or whatever

32. Endsheets put in: a boardpaper or doublure pasted inside the boards and fly leaf tipped onto the hinge and blanks, if not done earlier when the endpapers were prepared. The pull in of the doublure has to match the leather bending the board out, so choice of lining papers and glue or paste has to be done carefully to finish with a flat board.

33. More finishing or leather dressing. Exercise the pages. Done. [30-60 hours]

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