Full Book Repair

1 of 34

These are the tools needed for book repair (from left to right) top row: cheesecloth, PVA (in white container), needle, thread, bee’s wax; (from left to right) bottom row: sanding stick, bone folder,  scissors, scalpel, small brush, pencil, large brush, paper knife, awl or drill, ruler, scrap paper.

Books needing full repair have weak or broken joints.

Remove boards and spine with paper knife.

Remove excess material from board edges using scissors and sanding stick.

Peel excess material from original spine.

Peel any loose material off the spine of the text block. Scrape with paper knife, if necessary, to remove excess paper and dried glue.

Tip on any loose pages. Place scrap paper along the shoulder of the text block and apply a thin line of PVA to the shoulder. Remove scrap paper and attach loose page.

Gather materials for repair. Cut two strips of linen that are the height of the text block.

Cut spine liner (made from acid-free wrapping paper) to be the thickness of the spine and slightly longer than the height of the book.

Cut spine inlay (made from folder stock) to be the thickness of the spine and the height of the boards.  Attach a security strip to the inlay.

Cut a strip of bookcloth that is the height of the covers plus 4 cm. The strip needs to be wide enough to overlap the front and back boards by at least 1.5 cm.

Trim original spine using board shear or scalpel and straight edge.

Assemble tools: PVA, glue brush, needle, thread beeswax, bone folder, awl, damp cheesecloth. Assemble materials: two linens, spine inlay, spine liner, buckram.

Line up books separately along the bench, keeping cut materials with each book. Spines of books should hang over the edge of the bench slightly.

Tip on linen strips. Place scrap paper along the shoulder of the text block and apply a thin line of PVA to the shoulder. Remove scrap paper and attach linen.

Use awl to pierce 5 evenly spaced holes through the shoulder of the book. The holes should go through the first 3 sections of the book. Flip the book over and repeat.

Cut thread 2.5 times as long as text block. Wax thread. Thread needle and begin sewing at one end of text block. Insert needle at top of shoulder and draw it out of spine.

Hold the end of the thread and sew through the first hole again. Go to the next hole and sew through the shoulder and out the spine.

Continue sewing to the end of the text block, inserting the needle from the top and coming out the spine. At the end of the first side, flip the book over and continue sewing to the end of the text block. Sew through the last hole twice. Cut thread leaving a tail 1.5 cm long.

Remove glue brush from water. Swirl in waste basket to remove excess water. Apply PVA to spine of text block.

Place spine liner on book spine. Rub with damp cheesecloth to shape liner to spine.

Press liner with bone folder. Use scissors to trim spine liner to exact height and width of book spine.

Place bookcloth on scrap paper. Apply glue to bookcloth and remove scrap paper.

Center spine inlay from top to bottom and side to side on bookcloth.

Put board about 7 mm away from spine inlay. Put text block in place so shoulder edge is directly above inlay edge. If the text block overlaps the inlay, then move board farther away from inlay. If there is space between the edge of the text block and the inlay, then adjust board closer to inlay.

Put text block in place so it covers the pastedown exactly. Use bone folder to work bookcloth into joints.

Pull linen back toward shoulder.

Put scrap paper under linen. Glue out linen. Remove scrap paper. Pull board onto text block until it is perpendicular to text block. Use hand to pull linen up onto board. Smooth out air bubbles.

Insert bone folder under board edge and apply gentle pressure. Use bone folder to work bookcloth into joint from outside cover.

Leave books in an open, supported position until the linens are dry. Then turn the books over and glue linen over back joint. Allow to dry in an open, supported position.

Stamp the date and use pencil to write your initials on the linen of the back cover.

When both linens are dry, support book between two bricks. Place original spine on scrap paper and apply glue.

Put original spine on book and rub with a bone folder through clean scrap paper.