Most of the easily available bookbinding books that aren't craft soft of
things are reprints, often from around the turn of the 20th century. They
expect a lot of equipment and some stuff, such as supplies, that aren't as
easily available today.
The other problem with traditional bookbinding texts is that the goal of
those bookbinders was to put the book together so it could be taken apart
and rebound in a couple of hundred years. That not only complicated the
process, it meant they deliberately limited themselves to tried and true
materials and techniques.
Diehl's book is a fascinating read and includes a lot of examples of
classic bindings, history of bookbinding and a discussion of 'current'
issues (such as an inexpensive but serviceable library binding). However
for practicality, I'd go with Lewis' "Basic Bookbinding."
I'd disagree with that, compared to today's practice.
Craft bookbinding (i.e. no more than a handful of each title, done by
individual craftspeople not machines) today is even more of a high-end
specialisation. 100 years ago (or even 50) there was a large trade in
simply putting books together. These days craft bookbinding is pretty
rare at any level and owing to the cost of it, it's even more
restricted to just the most valuable of books. Who can pay ten times
the cost of a book to bind it, especially when it's still in print ?
One bookbinder I work with has a horror of all case binding as cheap
and shoddy work, fit only for lending libraries - all spines should be
sewn onto cords. As the books I work with when with him are typically
400 years old, he's taking a rather narrow view, but understandable.
It depends on what you're trying to do.
If you're dealing with valuable antique books, these practices may well be
justified, but most of us aren't. Most amateur bookbinders want to produce a
good-looking binding that will wear well and that's about all.
Under those circumstances, and lacking the tools and skills of the
turn-of-the-century bookbinder, it makes sense to use more modern materials
and different methods. (I tend to agree with your friend about case bindings,
btw, but that has at least as much to do with liking the look and feel of
cord-sewn books as their greater durability.)
And there are a lot of reasons for binding books by hand besides the
conventional ones. I know someone who has carefully and lovingly rebound an
entire set cheap, perfect-bound paperbacks in signature bindings between fine
leather covers ornamented with iron reinforcements. Of course the books in
question are John Norman's Gor novels.
--RC (who bound his first book -- a cheap paperback poetry collection at 14
and still has it.)
I made the mistake of asking the reference lady at the local
library (while I was there) instead of sitting down and checking
the index myself. She came up with nothing (a 3 page in-house
book repair sheet which she printed out for me), I found THIRTY
FREAKIN' SIX books on the subject in the index and just ordered
8 to scan or peruse.
Thanks. I usually try the library first, then buy if the book is a
"keeper." Ebay has been really good for cheap prices on books
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FWIW, Van Arsdale's book was the one I followed when doing a shoji
window treatment (
). He gives
very precise set-by-step instructions, and if you follow them to the
letter, you should be OK.
Of course, on a project like that, the devil is in the details. It
was absolutely the most exacting woodworking I have ever undertaken.
Tiny m&t's and half-laps, tight tolerances, fragile wood, etc. make for
a pretty intense woodworking experience.
And the glueup was ridiculous. You need approximately five hands to
So yes ... I am encouraging you to give it a try. At least once.
BTW, I just went to Amazon and ordered Toshio's book, a mobile base for
my DJ20 and this "Making Japanese-Style Lamps and Lanterns
by Edward R. Turner" Thanks for the heads up on Toshio's book.
Andy Dingley wrote:
That's interesting how people are different. Of course 35 would be too
many for me but I just spent the evening with SWMBO trying to convince
her that I need to have 3 projects at any one time. My rational is
this. If I'm in the finishing stages of a project and I'm tired of the
sanding and finishing or I just get impatient, I can go to another
project and work on that stage. By having 3 projects at any time I
will have a beginning, middle and end stage project. Right now I have
a flag display case that got the last glue up last night and needs
sanding and finishing, a jewelry box that has some rough cuts and is
just about mid way and I just started the plannign and budgeting for a
cabinet for the bathroom. When I get home tonight I can either sand
wood, cut wood, or buy wood for my next project. YMMV
I work the same way. Especially if one project is intricate and you need a
mental and/or physical break from something.
At times I have a dozen things I'd like to start but can't decide what is
On 29 Sep 2004 10:27:09 -0700, email@example.com (Ron) wrote:
A real good way to do it and avoid burnout. Unfortunately my line of
not quite finished projects is getting unwieldy. I also mix in some
general carpentry projects, electrical work, plumbing repair and shop
furniture construction. Never get bored, just need more time to get
On 29 Sep 2004 10:27:09 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (Ron) wrote:
I tend to have 3 or 4 projects going at a time, but they're usually
very different from each other... a book stand for the wife, a shelf
for the garage, etc...
Which one I work on is usually dependant on what mood I'm in and
whether I feel like routing, dado'ing, sanding, etc..
... and that's _exactly_ what I would do if I didn't exercise some sort of
discipline. Nothing would ever get finished. Sort of the woodworker's
corollary to "Physician, heal thyself" .... "Wooddorker, know thyself". ;>)
I get nagged unless I start another project with out finishing the current
one. usually because I want to buy more wood, "you haven't finished the
last project you started you don't need to start another one!"
and yet she has all manner of unfinished projects, huh imagine that
Ba r r y wrote:
Make some shop furniture - no pressure - they just
have to serve their purpose. Get away from plywood
and face frames and have a go at solid wood stuff.
The joinery involved should keep things interesting
and challenging for as long as you want to stay in
An early shop furniture project was a wall hanging
tool cabinet. Started with routed dovetails for the
carcase/carcass and then started making modules
for various tools using finger joints, dovetails, sliding
dovetails, stopped dadoes ...
Kept finding space for more modules and finally quit
after making a 4x4x3" dovetailed little drawer.
If there are kids in the neighborhood then Kid Projects
might get the juices flowing.
Know anyone who does water colors? Maybe they
might like an easel - that folds into three different
configuration AND will fit under the bed when not
Perhaps some books - Krenov's The Fine Art of
Cabinet Making or The Impractical Cabinet Maker,
any by Doug Stowe, ...
As for getting rid of a stationary machine - Buy
Once, Cry Once and Will It to a Woodworker.
This too will pass.
So don't just build piddley stuff.
There's a whole lot of "useful" "house" stuff that's useful to own,
but basically tedious to make. Worth doing if you want to keep things
off the floor, but there's no reward or real pleasure in making the
stuff. Do to omuch of this and anyone will get stale.
If you've always wanted to, make yourself a lute (conga drum, boat,
carved jester or whatever) Do something with no real point, other
than the pleasure of actually making it.
I'm just finishing off a small medieval ark - like this
only half the size. It's of no real purpose, except that it's a
chance to make something with a "clamped front", an early precursor to
frame and panel construction.
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