Book binding

Ah, back to the actual physical side of making books – paper, glue, bits of cloth.
My book binding equipment
Here we have my fancy bindery. The wooden book press came mostly from Hamish MacDonald’s bookbinding blog. It was my biggest woodworking project ever. Then I asked my husband how to do some modifications and he took it and smartened it up a lot.

The other inspirational website was Temper Productions book binding howtos. Although I’m not completely sold on the fan glue technique, his in-depth analysis of what goes on in the spine of a book is great stuff.

His idea is, instead of making the spine stronger and stronger, make it more flexible instead. The strong stitched spine made sense in the days when they used vellum, but thread bites through paper and today we have different glues available. His binding uses PVA glue and some cotton cloth – not loosely woven cheesecloth as some binders use, but more tightly woven.

A hand bound hard back book with flexible spine.Here you can see one of my home binding attempts. It’s my Draft Hymnal. See how the spine bends so the pages can open out flattish? The fan gluing seems to get more glue into the gaps between the pages which tends to tear the pages a little when you go to open it out flat. I think Mr Jermann of Temper Productions was using different paper and glue so that might explain the different results. Mr Macdonald’s technique of using folded 4 page signatures glued together without fanning them out from side to side seems to work better on photocopy paper.

Perfect bound book from LuluIn the picture to the right the spine is rigid. This is a perfect bound paperback from Lulu (another Draft Hymnal). Mr Macdonald’s paperbacks might have a similar look as he finishes the spines with hotglue, similar to POD publishers like Lulu. The hotglue forms a hard spine that joins the case to the spine. The hotglue dries quickly so makes book production much quicker. It is quite strong unless people force the book open flat.

It is amazing how many people apparently oblivious to the structural integrity of the book will try to open it flat. Watch next time. Especially when they are singing something under duress. All that pent up energy seems to go into that little area at the base of the valley of the open page. Watch for the little rips in the cover there and the way the book will open to that page again. Such books need extra protection from a plastic adhesive sort of covering.

A few home bound booksSo after having made a few books, here is the question. Shall I endeavour to make 200 copies of the Draft Hymnal at home? Or shall I outsource this work to a place like SOS Printing and pick up the ready bound books in boxes? Is the celloglazing, offered by the binders, enough protection for the books, or will I need to apply a plastic adhesive covering to each book?

In the meantime, I have a new craft, just in time for making Christmas presents.


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