Tag Archives: Endpaper

Hardcover Bookbinding – The Gravity Press

Photo of gravity press

The Very Practical Gravity Press

Always full of creative ideas and short of cash, I tend to seek less expensive, but practical ways to do things. So when I took up bookbinding, I outfitted my small bookbinding lab with a mix of tools I found around the house, at garage sales, the hardware and the dollar store. I also designed and built most of my equipment where possible.

Punching Cradle2

This punching cradle is made from fiber board. The template is a piece of aluminum angle with evenly spaced holes.

It is easy to drool over the shiny brass and exotic hardwood bookbinding tools you find on the internet. There is something about the feel of a quality handmade tool. It’s a feeling of empowerment, of confidence that with this tool you can do first-rate work. You can even make excuses, reasons that you must have a certain tool in order to improve upon your craft.

6x9 Stitching Frame

My home made 6×9 stitching frame

But seasoned crafters know it is not the tool that makes the difference so much as the hand that guides it. A good craftsperson is aware that there are multiple ways to accomplish most any task, from design, to cutting, to fitting and gluing. So it is with bookbinding.

One of my best tool innovations is the gravity press. This idea, while not original, has some very big advantages over a traditional book press. The first, of course, is the low-cost. This is because almost anything handy will do for the main functioning element of the press. You can use lead, steel, concrete, sand, beans, sawdust or about anything that can be cut in blocks or contained in a sack. I use bricks (wrapped in paper to avoid unnecessary abrasions and dust).

I also use a series of flat, thin fiberboards cut to various sizes to assist in the various clamping operations. They are used to distribute the weights evenly over a given area. By stacking the bricks I can apply a wide range of pressures anywhere I need to.

Gluing Headbands

Using bricks to hold spines upright for gluing headbands

Another advantage is that I can replicate the clamping setup so that I can perform similar operations on a number of projects at the same time. I can easily vary the size, position and pressure as needed.

I use some form of gravity press when gluing end papers onto the bookblock. A light weight distributed along the glue line will hold everything together for the short time it takes the glue to set.

I sometimes use bricks to hold a number of bookblocks for gluing the headbands to the spines at once.

Improvised nipping press

Improvised nipping press using dowels.

But the most useful application of a press when crafting a book is to compress the finished piece in order to help to form the hinge joint, and to ensure that the book finishes flat. This is sometimes done with the aid of a nipping press, but can be accomplished with the gravity press just as effectively. Knitting needles or dowels laid lengthwise can be used to take the place of the rigid metal edges on a nipping press.

Another good use of the gravity press is to help flatten materials with a curl in them. For porous bookboards, I will sometime mist them with water to relax the fibers and place them under a flat board with bricks distributed evenly. Multiple boards may be stacked with wax paper between them to prevent sticking. Drying overnight in this way usually eliminates any tendency for the boards to curl afterward.

Photo of curled bookboard

Bookboard with a curl

Misting Bookboard prior to gluing

Misting bookboard prior to gluing

I have a small stock of these laminated boards made up that have been allowed to equalize according to the ambient room temperature and humidity. In other words, they lie flat before I will use them to construct covers or boxes.

Gluing Out Bookboard

Glue both surfaces

Two thin boards can be laminated with the grain perpendicular to one another and placed in the gravity press to make thicker boards with less tendency to curl. It helps to mist these boards too, before gluing. I use two pieces of .065″ Daveyboard to make a strong 1/8″ laminated bookboard.

Marrying two plies

Assemble plies with opposing grain direction

Using a roller, work the glue out to an even coating on the dampened board. Coat both surfaces to be joined. Align the edges, making sure the grain is at cross purposes to each board and press together using your hands. I recommend using a brayer to roll over the joined boards thoroughly to ensure good contact.

Flat Board against plies

Place a flat board on top.

Lay the glued sandwich on a flat surface and place a flat piece of fiber board on top. Distribute weights evenly across the surface and allow the boards to dry for several hours. You may be able to speed this process up, depending on the temperature and humidity of your work area. I like to let mine cure overnight.

This method will produce a good, stiff board suitable for larger or more substantial covers. Even so, I often find that in a few hours after removal from the press, boards laminated in this manner will sometimes tend to exhibit an undesirable curl when completely dry. When this happens, I will physically massage (or bend) the board to get it to lie flatter.

Distribute weights evenly on top of flat board.

Distribute weights evenly on top of flat board.

By bending the board while it is dry, the tight fibers will stretch. Then I mist the stubborn board again and leave it in the gravity press usually overnight. It is best to prepare your book boards well ahead of time to be sure that they will lie flat when you you need them.

When using water-based glues to adhere bookcloth, the boards will become damp again, but only on one side. This will cause the boards to curl as the glue cures. However, this effect can be offset by misting the other side with water and then placing the cover under the press until the glue cures.

Attaching Bookblock

Carefully gluing the super with a minimal amount of glue.

Sometimes I find the end sheets are too delicate or thin to use PVA glue to adhere the sheet to the inside cover. For these types of papers I find it much more practical to use transfer adhesive instead.  The bookblock is mounted onto a nice, dry flat cover with a minimal of glue used to adhere the flap of super to the raw daveyboard. The wax backing is peeled from the adhesive-backed endsheets and carefully pressed into place. The last step is of course, to place the book in the gravity press until it is dry.

More about making endsheets or endpapers in a future post. Until then, happy holidays!

P.S. I sure would like to see some comments and suggestions from you bookbinders out there. Maybe you can give me some tips on how to make my bookbinding projects easier and/or better.

Mike riding backwards on bicycleMichael A. Faris
mfaris1950@gmail.com

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Dissecting Old Hardcover Books

Photo of old books

Lots of old worn out books can be found at garage sales.

Garage sales are a great source of antique books. These musty old relics hold a bit of information beyond the printed words and pictures… at least for book binders. For as little as fifty cents, you can find old books that can be dissected in order to learn how they were constructed.Photo of Old Book Disection #2

It is not uncommon to find books over a hundred years old, many of which were bound by hand. Books may have become damaged over time, their covers torn or missing. Pages are dog-eared and stained. These dinosaurs have outlived their usefulness as texts, but stand in the spotlight for the aspiring book binder.

Photo of Old Book Disection #4

This book has tapes that pass through slots cut into the entire text block, rather than sewn in.

Book covers have been made from all sorts of materials ranging from leather to fine silk book cloth. Most, however were made by wrapping and gluing some sort of fabric around a stiff book board. I have seen book covers made from wood and even woven mats of bamboo.

Covers are usually attached by gluing heavy end papers, supplemented by the addition of a cloth backing glued to the spine. The end sheets are sometimes decorative, and the paper may have been hand made or individually hand colored. Some striking examples of marbled papers can sometimes be found inside the covers of old books.

Removing the covers almost always involves severing the end papers from the text pages. In some cases, the end papers may be moistened and peeled from the book boards to release the cover and reveal the spine.Photo of Old Book Disection #3

Older book bindings differ in many ways. Each time I cut into one of these old volumes, I may discover another unique method of construction.

But there are many common elements too. Folded sheets are inserted within each other to form signatures. These are most commonly in fours to make sixteen pages. But it is possible to find instances where the bookbinder used other combinations anywhere from two to six sheets per signature.

Diagram of nested pages

Four sheets of paper nest to make a 16-page signature

Diagram of stacked 16-page signatures

Ten 16-page signatures stack to make a 160 page book

Each signature is stitched along the inside of the fold to bind the separate sheets to one another, and then each signature is in turn stacked and stitched along the spine.

Here is where I find a variety of stitching patterns. Coptic stitching is a general term applied to sewing all of the pages together into a text block. I find quite a few different patterns used, but most employ the use of a kettle stitch to connect the signatures to one another.

Coptic stitching using tapes or bands.

Once the signatures are sewn in place to make the text block, some sort of flexible material (mull) is glued over the stitches, leaving loose flaps on either side. These flaps are in turn sandwiched between the end sheets and the book boards.

The result is a sturdy connection between the cover and the text that will withstand repeated handling throughout the long life of the book. The paper will tear before a page will come loose in this type of binding.

Photo showing Endsheet showing mull backing

Endsheet showing mull backing on text block before assembly with covers.

Next time I will show how I construct and assemble hard covers for several types of books.

I am always open to new ideas about bookbinding and publishing and would relish some comments and suggestions from my readers. I love to share information and to teach my craft to others. So please, comment, call, come by or send me an email with your thoughts.

Michael A. Faris Bio Photo

Michael Faris

Michael

mfaris1950@gmail.com

541-954-6724

Bookbinding – DIY Marbled End Papers

Lately I  have been experimenting with end papers, the sheet that is pasted to the inside cover when binding books.Endpapers or endsheets serve a number of purposes, the most important being to help connect the cover to the signature block. It also covers the more substantial mull flap that actually does the job of securing the text to the cover. In some cases, the endpaper is used to mask side stitches or oozing glue.

The secondary purpose of the endsheet is decorative.  It is usually made of something other than the text paper. Handmade or painted papers are common.

I tend to favor a more substantial sheet with stiffer properties. Thin papers present problems when pasting them onto the bookboard. They tend to tear more easily during assembly. In use, thin papers make for a weak hinge joint that will eventually fail.

Since only two papers are needed per book, the additional expense of a better sheet is trivial. Even handmade papers are affordable for the purpose. You can even add color or designs using your inkjet printer.

Image of real marbled paper

Marbled paper – A chunk of the real stuff.

Ahh! But marbled paper! That’s the stuff!  Fascinatingly beautiful marbled endsheets. Hand marbled papers are exclusive, that is, no two are exactly alike. Mastery of the technique takes time and patience, but the results are outstanding.

I Googled marbled paper images and studied them carefully. I saw basically two types, a more or less repeated pattern of loops, and a random swirly version that actually looks like real polished (stone) marble. I researched the process enough to develop an appreciation for the effort it takes.

If you are really a rough ‘n ready do it yourselfer, you can try marbling your own paper. The process is time consuming, messy and a little spendy.

But I’m an old printer, and my tendency is to look for a way to get the same effect digitally. I naturally tried to simulate the beautiful peacock’s tails and marble-like swirls on the computer. I am fairly adept at Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator. I thought surely I could come up with something that would work.

image of Maharaji Paper

My own Maharaji Paper! Made in Photoshop.

“Work” was the magic word here. I tried starting with a pallet of colors sprayed in a sort of soft rainbow. None of Photoshop’s stock filters produced the desired effect. So I imported my rainbow to Illustrator and dinked with the tools I found there. I got some very interesting results, but nothing even came close to the marbled look I was striving for.

Next, I tried making a series of hard-edged circles and shapes, and then applying the various filters and experimenting with the different drawing tools… with only marginally better results. Each time I tried, I developed a better appreciation for the the art form. It was easy to become discouraged.

But then I tried working with photographs as a base.

Photo of Brick Wall

Original Image of brick wall

Using a picture of a brick wall, I used the liquify filter and a small size brush. By experimenting with the brush size, density and pressure, I was able to get the effect I was after.

Marbled brick image

Brick wall after applying liquify effects in Photoshop

It takes a lot of time and patience to simulate marbling in Photoshop, as the “comb” used only has a single point, in contrast to the multi-toothed combs used by the true marbling artisan.

This means you have to drag it multiple times in order to achieve the same results. I would painstakingly make a single stroke and possibly delete it and try again. Each time I liked the effect I would save it. In this way I finally fell into an acceptable rhythm of strokes and the process became easier.

I was able to work the image to my satisfaction by taking my time. I came up with a pattern that reminded me of the old Checkmate TV series in the 50’s (for you old fogies out there). It looked like swirling liquid candy to an eight year old kid.

enlarged section of brick marble

Enlarged section of brick-marbled paper

I saved several versions, each with a different overall look. By manipulating the colors using the hue pallet in Photoshop, I was able to generate and save several different colored versions using the same basic pattern.

Photo of Climatis and chives.

Original photo of Climatis and chives.

I produced a number of interesting patterns using a combination of tools and effects in both Photoshop and Illustrator. Exactly how I did it makes no difference. The point is that with a little clicking around, you can generate your own patterns, using pictures, drawings or any number of colored shapes using a drawing or photo program on the computer.

The next image I used was a photo of a purple climatis. Using the same tool, I tried to achieve the peacock swirls. To do this, I soon discovered that my strokes had to be more uniform and less random. It took significantly longer to produce this one and I was not as pleased with the effect.

Image of Climatis and chives with liquify filter applied

Climatis and chives with liquify filter applied

I would like to see someone develop a tool to be added to the liquify filter in Photoshop, one with several points to be dragged at time. This technique could be really interesting if it was applied to other colorful subjects such as an American flag or a circus clown.

Image of Climatis + Chives (marbled) closeup

Climatis + Chives (marbled) closeup

I had some of these patterns digitally reproduced on an ivory colored 100# Parchtex cover. I made full 12×18 images using these patterns so that I could make endpapers for any size book that I was likely to bind. I also did a job where I used one of these patterns on a gloss white stock with good results.

One advantage of making your own patterns and printing them digitally is that you have full control of the scale and colors, making your options practically limitless.

Do you know of a way to make interesting patterns for endpapers? I would welcome some advice on how to simulate real old fashioned marbled paper using digital tools. Show me your work. Let’s share some ideas. Make a comment.

Until next time,

Michael

image of 4 Different Marbled Brick Colors

Four different colors generated from the same pattern.