FINISHING: Tools & Supplies Finishing tools:
The simplest tools are the most satisfactory. Leaves, buds, flowers, should all be separate tools; sprays, flowers with leaves, etc., all on one tool may be useful for rapid work, but in the end they are less useful. The simple elements (if each is separate) can be combined in a hundred different ways not possible when in fixed combination. Tools with a large surface should be avoided. A single tool having a superficial area greater, say, than one-half inch square, is difficult to use because of the strength needed to make a bright, clear-cut impression. On some leathers, which may be hard and unyielding, such tools result in very unsatisfactory work. It is very unsatisfactory, also, to use tools made after the stock patterns which are shown in print by the various tool-cutters. As few tools are ever kept in stock, it is almost always necessary to have them cut, so it is no more expensive to have one's special ideas reproduced, than to have stock patterns cut.
The binder should be able to make a drawing to scale, indicating in a general manner at least, what pattern is wanted. While small tools, such as leaves, small buds and flowers, may be quite flat on the face, the larger tools should be slightly rounded, as it is desirable to rock them from front to rear slightly to get a firm pressure on each part of its surface. This rounding should be very slight, however. As each tool is marked on one face of the shank, the binder should early acquire the habit of using the tool with this mark pointing away from him when used. It will also be convenient to get into the habit of having this marked side of the tool when in use to point towards the bead of the book.
Unless one has some general habit of this nature, it is not always easy to remember which way the tool was applied when it was usedsay for blinding-in. While conventionalized flowers, for instance, may have each petal a duplicate of the others, there are always minute differences, so that the best results are attained if some general rule is followed by which the tool is always impressed with the same part of it coming just where it did when the original impression was made. Tools as received from the engraver may perhaps be used, but it is always best to inspect them carefully with a good glass to note whether the sharp edges have been rounded offno sharp edges should be allowed.
Fillets, gouges, lines, dots, circles, etc., may be rubbed with very fine sandpaper or emery cloth, enough to round slightly the sharp edges felt when the finger is pressed firmly on the margins. The amateur in the country, or where no engraver is readily available, may be obliged to make many simple tools, such as straight lines, dots, squares, diamonds, etc. All that is needed is a small vise, a few files, sandpaper, emery paper and some pieces of brass rod-round, square or oblong as may be. A person with ingenuity can in this manner help himself out of many a difficulty. The beginner should be careful not to have finishing tools made by an engraver not accustomed to such work.
Many a good engraver may know nothing of the limitations of finishing tools and may produce tools which cannot be used at all; or, if used, work unsatisfactorily. I recently saw a set of tools made in a Western city for an amateur, all of which were so clumsy that they must be re-cut before fit for use. Lines, fillets, gouges, etc., should not have a section of wedge shape, but the two sides should be quite parallel; at least that portion which is pressed into the leather. Fillets: These are made of various sizes; 3 to 3.5 inches in diameter are most useful. Smaller ones are in use, but experience shows that it is easier to follow a straight line with the large size, and becomes more and more difficult as the size diminishes. As a rule fillets are found in stock with one side quite flat and the other a curve, as indicated at (a). Before purchasing, have it put in the lathe and the edge turned to the shape shown at (b).
These are fillets with wide surfaces, on which an ornamental pattern has been cut. Good binders do not use them, because they do not wish to use the same pattern on more than one book or set of books. Another objection is, they are quite expensive. Tools with rounded edges produce more brilliant results than if the edges are sharp and the face quite flat. This is especially the case in straight lines, curves, dots, etc. This is because a fiat, gilt surface is not so good a universal reflector as a curved one. A tool with a sharp edge and flat surface makes a depression in the leather which, in section, looks like this: With edges smoothed off and the face (say of a line) rounded, the sections like this: - In the first instance the only reflecting surface is A, and it is only bright when in one special relation to the eye. In the second case the reflecting surfaces are at B, and are brilliant in some one part at all times. Multiplying this difference by the hundreds of points of reflection in the average design, it may easily be seen that one method produces a more brilliant effect than the other, irrespective of the quality of material or work. The following styles are ample for a beginning:
Fillets: Single line, light. Double line, light. Single heavy line. Double heavy line. Very heavy and light combined.
Straight lines: 1/4 and 1/2 inch and 1 inch long should be secured to match each of the fillets, the lines being of the same width.