I need to saw the spines off some books at work in order to feed the
individual pages into a very fast scanner (with auto document feeder).
These books are internal company documents bound together like a modern
softcover book (ie. some kind of flexible glue holds the pages together, not
thread or staples or fabric). For thinner books, I normally just use a
utility knife and a ruler. But because of thickness and volume, I'm
thinking about using my bandsaw. Has anyone ever tried? How about a table
Seems like the toughest part will be getting very smooth edges that
won't clog the auto feeder. My father tried the exact same thing - TS
to cut off the end of a book. He ended up with basically a mess.
Badly frayed edges; looked like someone had just riped off the edge of
the book (and not ripped in the woodworking sense of the word...) I'm
sure a sharper blade with more teeth and a zero-clearance insert would
have helped a great deal, but my point is to do a test run - scrap
paper or maybe a junk book. If I had a lot of books to cut up on a TS,
I think I'd try to make some sort of sled and a thick sacrificial
push-block to hold the pages tightly together immediately over the
Good luck, and let us know what works.
I have cut out numerous shapes etc from coloured paper for my wife to
use at Kindy. She's the teacher ;).
I typically use my scroll saw. Sandwich about 100 sheets of coloured
paper between two pieces of 3mm ply, Nail were the blade ain't gonna go
and cut away. Works fine, the shapes look like they have been stamped.
I have done the same thing on the band saw when she needed a lot, a
bloody lot, of thin strips of paper. Works ok. If some of the ends do
get a bit tatty I just hit em on the belt sander while they where all
still clamped together.
Have one of your local print shops cut them with their guillotine
paper cutter. (It's designed to cleanly cut a stack of paper up to
2-3 inches high.)
I'd like to make a suggestion that hasn't been posted yet. Sandwich the
book between thin plywood sheets the same size as the book to cut down on
tear out and use your bandsaw. The TS blade runs in a circular motion that
will cut faster, but cause likely more rough edgdes than a fine tooth
I've done just this on my bandsaw, and have cut the spines off of dozens of
thick and thin crossword puzzle books for my father. He loves the
crosswords, but hates the books, preferring to do them on flat clipboards.
I've also de-spined books for teachers in my kid's school for them to
shuffle content to suit their taste instead of book publisher's. The edges
are perfect, certainly better than necessary to feed into a copier.
I use a 1/4" 6 tpi blade, but probably wouldn't change the blade just to do
a couple of books. I set a fence about 1/4" from the blade to stay well
away from the glue. Works just fine and is very fast.
Michael Latcha - at home in Redford, MI
Never tried what you're contemplating but suspect the edges might be too
"frayed" to feed properly through the scanner's ADF. I have enough
problems with the ADF on my scanner using good quality 20lb repro paper.
The problem will be getting the pages to feed singly - any rough edges
will cause them to feed multiples.
If you have a jointer, what about making a jig consisting of two pieces
of 1x pine to clamp the spine area (say 1/2 to 1/3 of the left half of
the book as you face the cover.) To clamp it, a couple of bolts (fence
side countersunk, of course)safely above the area to be trimmed. Run it
through as many times as needed to give you clean edges.
I suppose the same trick could be used on the table or band saw.
Time to go into the "lab" and experiment, Dr. Pulpmonster!<g>
I did this with a technical manual at work a few years ago.
I used by jointer with sharp knifes and clamped the spine between scrap
pine boards and then jointed the whole thing. Work good. I never feed
the books pages through a ADF however, I rebound the book with plastic
coils so the book would lay flat. Looking at the book now I don't see
why it would not have gone through the ADF we have in the office.
When this is done at university libraries (MIT no less) it's done with a
You should make up some "phase boxes" (simple mounting card and paper
tape boxes) to put the sawn books in before scanning. Otherwise you
_will_ drop at least one of them.
You should also check that the scan software works, not that it's a
crappy piece of Perl written by some undergrad that will fall apart when
recording a thick book and will randomly mix pages from one book to
another. Not that I've ever seen this happen, oh no 8-(
The rightness of the idea of university libraries sawing up their books
at all is a topic for another thread.
Back when I worked as a tool & die guy I was charged with doing the same
thing. I took the books and
clamped a piece of 3/8 MDF on the each side (front and back) and then off to
the bandsaw. Cranked up the speed to nearly as fast as it would go. Little
if any tear out happened. After completion, I left the books between the
MDF and ran a file down the edge a few times.
Read all the 'answers', so far.
Agree - the easiest, and 'cleanest' for through-put is the print shop
Agree - for sake of 'BUT, I want to do it MYSELF !! . . .' - the bandsaw and
wood 'sandwich' technique . . .
However, I seem to remember - from either the Iturra catalog or the
'Timberwolf' info - there is a 'knife' blade for exactly this type of
project. If you don't mind the under $30 cost.
Regards & Good Luck,
This might be radical, but I'll throw it out there for consideration -
a jig saw. I've seen knife style blades at my local tool store that
are for soft materials i.e. leather, paper, cardboard. I have no idea
how well they work, have never tried them, but it seems like they
might do a decent job.
I have done this exact thing on both a TS and an RAS. The critical thing is
to keep the pages clamped tightly together. If you don't you will get
fraying. If you do, it will be a cut as smooth as hardwood. I suggest
clamping between sheet of mdf or the like.
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