Preparing for Sewing
Books are often rebound where the sections have been irregularly folded, so that the fore edges and tail show great differences in depth of sections. It is necessary to trim them to some standard. After the sections are ready for sewing, take the book between the hands, knock the back straight, then reverse and do the same at the head, taking care to keep the book straight; then turn the head toward you, sight along the fore edge and select one section about midway in width between the widest one and the narrowest one ; take the section out and measure it accurately with compass from back to fore edge, then knock the book into shape again; sight along the tail and select another section to get the average height. Take this measure also.
We now have a standard for height and width, to which all sections should conform; none should exceed these measures, though some may of necessity fall short. We are now ready for trimming. If we have a regularly graduated paper- or boardcutter, this is easily done; no machine, however, being the rule among amateurs, other methods must he used.
The following is simple, easily arranged and within the reach of everybody: A cutting board, or square of millboard, considerably larger than the section, is laid on the table. Two lines are drawn -A and B- at right angles (use steel square), and at the points indicated by X strong pins or fine wire brads are driven. Care must he taken that these pins stand straight and lean neither to the right nor to the left; the points should go through the linesnot alongside. (It is preferable to use a sharp folder to make the lines, as pencil lines are always of varying width and should never be used when accurate measurements are required.) The line A being used as a base line, two points are determined (C C) by the measure previously selected as the standard for the width of the sections. Pins are driven here also. We are now ready for trimming the fore edge. Take one section at a time, place the back against the line A, head against the line B. Place a straight edge on fore edge of section, the straight-edge resting against points C C, and with a very sharp paper knife cut off whatever shows beyond the straight-edge. Some sections will fall short and need no trimming. The fore edge is thus equalized.
We now take two more points (D D), using the second measure previously decided upon as the standard for height. Drive two more pins here. Now place each section back against line B, head against line A. With the straight-edge resting upon the section as before, and against points D D, the tail of each section is trimmed, if it projects. Always keep the sections in their proper sequence. It will now be found on knocking the book into shape that the fore edge and tail present a more regular appearance. It is not desirable to cut much off the fore edge and tail (unless edges are to be full gilt), especially in books printed on hand-made papers.
In order to have a good surface to trim on, it is advisable to place a strip of zinc on the cutting line several strips of zinc of various widths and lengths are very useful to have on hand for this and similar purposes. The sections may also be trimmed by cutting a mill-board accurately the exact size decided upon, and placing it on each section in order; cut off the projecting edges. This method is satisfactory in expert hands, but the former gives better results in the long run. Beating: Binderies should be equipped with a heavy iron or stone heating block with a beating hammer. The amateur, however, may make shift to do with a heavy lithographic stone resting on a somewhat yielding bed, and the beating may he done with a heavy backing hammer. After the sections have been cleansed of glue and collated, the book should he thoroughly beaten in order to more completely consolidate itthis is especially necessary if it is a new book taken from the ordinary casing. If a thin book (say 1/2 to 1 inch in thickness), all the sections may be beaten at once. If thicker, half of it may be taken at one time. After each half is beaten, join them again and beat the whole book once more. Care must be taken to beat each portion evenly and strike squarely so the edge of the hammer-face never touches the sheetsif it does it will mar them. Beating should be practiced on some useless books. The sections may now be knocked up so the back and head are quite square, placing pressing tins between every five or six sections; the whole is then put in the standing press under the greatest possible pressure and left at least twelve hours.