Sunday, 28 April 2013

Bookbinding Week 2 (Or How Not to Use a Scalpel)

Last week we had got to the point where we had nearly finished the central block of pages. We started this week by adding the small, decorative headers to the each end of the page block at the spine. You don't get these headers on all books but they provide a nice finish and look decorative. This is done by sticking them to the spine so that they just overlap the edge, standing very sightly proud. At this point the spine is also reinforced with a folder piece of brown paper glued on the inside. 

Once this is done you can trim the mesh and tape so that they are equal, angling the edges to ensure that they don’t show on the finished book. This is your pages block complete.

Next you need to cut your boards and spine. On a board lightly larger than your block find, or create a true corner. Use this to measure out your cover. The cover edge should be located 3-4mm in from the spine and there should be an over lap of 3-4mm round the other three edges. It can be smaller depending on how much bigger you want your cover to be than the block of pages. Cut out one cover and then use it as a template to cut an identical one. Your spine should be the same height and the width of your page block plus the thickness of 1 board. 

You need to make a template so that you know how the spine will sit. This allows you to accurately cut out the cover. Sandwich your block with your two boards and then position on a table with the spine slightly off. Position the spine and then wrap a length of paper around it. Mark on this the position of the spine and the edges of the covers. Use these marks to make a spine template on some stiff scrap paper. 

Next cut out your cover on buckram or book cloth. It was at this point that, despite years of working with scalpels, I managed to slice my thumb. However a quick bit of first aid and a few illegally acquired plasters (because of course first aid kits don't have plasters in them anymore) and I was ready to go again.

After clearing up any blood splatters, position the two boards with your template in between and cut out the cover with a 3-4cm border. PVA one side and position the 1st board. PVA the other side and lay out the spine template and other board. Use a ruler to make sure everything is aligned and then remove the template and stick the spine in its place.

Cut of the corners at 45 degrees of your buckram leaving a 2mm gap from the board. This is to ensure the board is not visible.  Now foldin the borders starting at the top and bottom, make sure you stretch it equally. Use a bone folder to smooth the edges and then still using the bone folder create a pleat at the corder, tucking in the loose triangle. It's a bit like an inverted origami fold. Do this at all four corners and then fold in the end borders. 

Put under something flat to dry. 

Now you need to attach everything. Position your block in the cover as you want it to appear finally. Sandwich scrap paper between the end papers to protect them. Starting at the mesh and tapes PVA one of the end papers. Holding the block in position, otherwise it’ll shift out, fold over the cover and press lightly. Open and check that the block is still aligned and then starting at the spine smooth out the end papers with a clean rag. Flip over and repeat with the other side, again making sure everything is still aligned before finishing off with the rag. 

Use a bone folder to define the spine and if you have one use a nipping press to give it a quick press. You now have a finished book!

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