The Art of Bookbinding/Chapter 14

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The Art of Bookbinding by Joseph William Zaehnsdorf
Chapter XIV.


Drawing-in and Pressing.

The boards having been squared, they are to be attached to the book by lacing the ends of the cord through holes made in the board. The boards are to be laid on the book with their backs in the groove and level with the head; they must then be marked either with a lead pencil or the point of a bodkin exactly in a line with the slips, about half an inch down the board. On a piece of wood the mill-board is placed, and holes are pierced by hammering a short bodkin through on the line made, at a distance from the edge in accordance with the size of the book. About half an inch away from the back is the right distance for an octavo. The board is then to be turned over, and a second hole made about half an inch away from the first ones. The boards having been holed, the slips must be scraped, pasted slightly, and tapered or pointed. Draw them tightly through the hole first made and back through the second. Tap them slightly when the board is down to prevent them from slipping and getting loose. When the cords are drawn through, cut the ends close to the board with a knife, and well hammer them down on the knocking-down iron to make the board close on the slips and hold them tight. The slips should be well and carefully hammered, as any projection will be seen with great distinctness when the book is covered. The hammer must be held perfectly even, for the slips will he cut by the edge of it if used carelessly.

The book is now to be examined, and any little alteration may be made before putting it into the standing press. With all books, a tin should be placed between the mill-board and book, to flatten the slips, and prevent their adherence. The tin is placed right up to the groove, and serves also as a guide for the pressing board. Pressing boards, the same size as the book, should be put flush with the groove, using the pressing tin as guide, and the book or books placed in the centre of the press directly under the screw, which is to be tightened as much as possible. In pressing books of various sizes, the largest book must always be put at the bottom of the press, with a block or a few pressing boards between the various sizes, in order to get equal pressure on the whole, and to allow the screw to come exactly on the centre of the books.

The backs of the books are now to be pasted, and allowed to stand for a few minutes to soften the glue. Then with a piece of wood or iron, called a cleaning-off stick (wood is preferable), the glue is rubbed off, and the backs are well rubbed with a handful of shavings and left to dry. Leave them as long as possible in the press, and if the volume is rather a thick one a coat of paste or thin glue should be applied to the back. Paste is preferable.

If the book is very thick a piece of thin calico may be pasted to the back and allowed to dry, the surplus being taken away afterwards.

In flexible work care must be taken that the cleaning-off stick is not forced too hard against the bands, or the thread being moist will break, or the paper being wet will tear, or the bands may become shifted. The cleaning-off stick may be made of any piece of wood; an old octavo cutting board is as good as anything else, but a good workman will always have one suitable and at hand when required for use.

When the volumes have been pressed enough (a day's pressing is none too much) they are to be taken out, and the tins and pressing boards put away. The book is then ready for cutting. Of the numerous presses, excepting the hydraulic, Gregory's Patent Compound Action Screw Press is to my mind the best, and I believe it to be one of the most powerful presses yet invented; sixty tons pressure can be obtained by it.