I bought a book which was falling apart, but due to its rarity, it seems appropriate to have it rebound.
Aldren A. Watson’s Hand Bookbinding, A manual of instruction has been very instructional, coupled with this there are numerous short videos on Youtube showing skilled bookbinders explaining their art step by step.
I’ve never rebound a book before so this has been a little journey of discovery for me. So, to begin with, some mention of the tools I have been using.
A cutting mat, a Stanley knife, craft blades, A4 paper, acid free white tissue paper, PVC glue, fine bristled paint brushes with one flat brush, steel ruler, a workbench with a clamping jaw (Black and Decker Workmate), clamps, selotape, needle, linen thread, white cotton handkerchief to cut for mull, board offcuts which can be used as a bookpress in the workbench, scissors, photocopying printer.
Here is the book I wanted to rebind.
The spine is worn and cracked, the top and bottom of the spine no longer hold the book together and some pages are torn and creased, and the back cover has fallen off. The first thing to do was photocopy the cover and spine. This would keep a record of the still visible imprints before tearing apart.
Tearing apart sounds destructive, but care must be taken not to further damage the book. As this is a paperback, the covers were torn away from the book. The book’s textblock is held together in signatures, and the string in each signature must be cut with a blade and each signature freed.
I found that as the old glue was brittle, instead of removing the spine before taking apart the signatures, it was better to remove the old detritus as one freed each signature.
The signatures often stuck together, and gentle easing from the bottom to top helped to separate them. Picking the old glue off can be done after the book has been completely taken apart.
The covers that were stuck onto the end sheets left some remains with the old glue. I useda craft knife blade with a round blade to gently remove all the crud.
It looked much better when it was done.
Once all the old glue has been removed, it helps to mark the block to know the signatures are in order. A simple wedge shape drawn on by ruler and pencil should suffice.
Due to use and the removal of the old glue, some page folds suffered damage over the years. There were also minor tears and dog-earing especially near the corners.
Dog-earing can lead to the loss of the corners of a page, so one trick is to use a wet cotton bud and dab the crease. This soon relaxes the paper fibres to open it out. You can then iron it dry into position again.
To repair paper, you need to see what sort of damage has taken place. A feathered tear where there is a thin overlap of fibres can just be glued together. More serious tears with paper missing requires strengthening with tissue paper.
Thin white acid free tissue is ideal, its dry strength helps maintain the page integrity when it dry after pasting on. Approximately half an inch or just under one and a half centimeters wide times twice the length of the repair area was sufficient for our fold repair. Apply glue to the tissue on a scrape piece of paper. Remove the tissue and lay it flat, bring the folded folio top edge to the centre of the tissue and press down before opening and presenting the other side to the glued tissue. The unglued portion can now be tipped with glue, and folded over the edge onto the inside crease of the folio. When all the repairs are done it is time to sew the signatures together.
There are some excellent tutorials on Youtube which explains the process far better than I could.
Once all the signatures are sewn, your textblock is almost ready.
I folded two pieces of A3 sized card then measured the text block against it before using a Stanley knife to cut out two end sheets. Using the off cuts as a mask, apply glue to approximately a quarter of an inch strip near the fold of the end sheet. Remove the mask and apply it to the text block, for the back and front aligned to the spine.
By tearing a piece of A4 scrap paper into four strips and taping them together, you can create two bands to surround the text block. I found this is a lot easier to make the signatures align better.
Set into the press to give it a bit of a squeeze. Then adjust those bands to tighten and square up the block for pasting.
A piece of cotton cloth was cut from a clean handkerchief and ironed, it is slightly shorter than the height of the book.
Glue the clamped signatures with glue, then lay the cloth over it and apply glue to the spine. Now allow it all dry out overnight.
A piece of book cloth and two book boards and a spine piece were cut out. Add 6mm to the height of the textblock, and take 3mm off the width. This is the size of the board to trim. Watson says use a strip of paper to guage the thickness of the spine. Due to the repairs on each signature, the spine is wider than the thickness right side opposite it. Mine came to 17mm for the spine. The height of the spine is the same as the board. To space the various board pieces, a 6mm plus board thickness (2mm in my case) separates the front and back boards from the spine. I cut two separators of 8mm wide. A gap of 15mm around the boards is needed of the bookcloth.
Using clips and a metal rule enables a straight result after gluing the boards and spine. The separators are discarded.
I forgot to snap a pic of the glued result before adding the text block. However Youtube has a number of great videos on the subject.
The end sheets were glued in and aligned carefully before creating the spine side groove. I used some bamboo skewers placed in the groove before placing a wood board and heavy books over it to make the impression.
It was left to dry under this weight so the book would dry flat.
The finished result
Thanks for reading my adventure. It was most fun to turn something worn to something new and useable.
Youtube Videos :
Repairing torn paper
Several videos from BookbindersChronicle shows the basics of bookbinding.
More instructional videos on the art amongst other art projects from the SeaLemon channel.