Studio, Machines and Tools Space needed:
Living in a crowded city as I do, and seeing a good deal of work done by others where space is valuable, I have of necessity devoted considerable thought to economy of space. While this is not a matter of importance to all, still I think a majority of amateurs are obliged to consider the question. We are not all fortunate enough to have a special workshop. All the work that I have done has been accomplished on two tables or benches, four feet long by two feet wide, fixed in front of two windows.
Three feet is a convenient height, but this depends upon the height of the worker. One table is devoted to forwarding, and has under it shelves and racks for holding pressing-boards, paring stones and the miscellaneous paraphernalia needed. The edge next the window has a raised ledge of six or eight inches, on which are arranged knives, straight-edges, etc. The other table, used mainly for finishing, holds the gas stove, etc. Above it on a side wall a small set of shelves gives room for the various small items needed in this branch of the work. This table has a number of drawers for storage of papers, leathers, gold cushions, etc. The raised back edge of the forwarding table, with an adjustable support on the front edge, holds the cutting-press when in use. This is not convenient, however. When possible, the usual “tub” should be on hand for daily use. The press, be it the usual standing-press or a strong letter-press, must stand on the floor or on a separate block. Almost all the processes of binding may be carried on by artificial light, but in this case it is well to have two lights, so as to avoid strong shadows. I advise strongly, however, against using finishing tools under artificial light. It can be done, but it is difficult and not satisfactory even for an expert worker.
Tools and necessary appliances: The most important thing is the cutting-press and plough. The standard size made for use in commercial work of all sizes, is too heavy and clumsy to be used by a beginner. A smaller size is made and may be ordered through the regular dealers. It is much lighter and is easily handled and answers all purposes, as it takes books up to sixteen inches in length. The price is the same as for the standard size. As it is always made to order, it takes a few weeks to get it.
TOOLS: 1 and 3, Fillets; 2, Agate Furnisher; 4 Hammer; 5 and 6, Metal Burnishers; 7, Band Nippers; 8 and 15, Paring Knives; 9 and 14, Paper Knives; 10 and 11 Compasses; 12, Paste Brush; 17 and 18, Drawing Tools; 19, Gold Knife; 13 Pattern for cutting corners of leather in covering
The standing-press may be of wood or steel and ranges in price from twenty dollars up. An amateur may, however, get along very well with a strong letter-press. I know of a number of amateurs in New York who are doing good work and who use only a letter-press. Another amateur living in the suburbs has converted to her use a small press formerly used in a cider mill.
Finishing Press: A press of this variety, 14 to 16 inches between the screws is ample for the beginner. It should be lined with skiver on the inside and on the upper surface. This is convenient in many ways, especially when small books are being handled.
Skiver is the inner or flesh surface of the skin which is left ,when leather is “split.” It is very useful for many purposes and can he had for a trifle Knives of various kinds are needed as follows:
Paring knives: Two at least are needed, the one most useful is shaped as shown in the illustration (a); another shown at (b) is known as the French style, and is very useful in paring out backs and also for finishing the paring of edges; it renders them more even. One knife, to be kept only for the cutting of paper, of the shape indicated herewith should be in the knife rack. Only the rounded edge should be sharp. One or two knives with blades of this shape should be provided, also, for miscellaneous use.
Whetstones: All cutting apparatus should be kept in good condition, as a torn edge of an end paper, a section, a piece of leather, caused by a dull knife, may result in hours of irritating repair work, and even then be unsatisfactory. One good oilstone and an ordinary whetstone (to be used with water or dry), a strip of sole leather, 2 or 2 1/2~ by 14 inches, coated with oil and fine emery powder, are necessary. The other laid on the table when paring, one end under the right edge of the paring-stone, is in constant use when paring leather.
While it is necessary to have knives ground only from time to time, it is constantly necessary to sharpen up the edges, and even a novice may learn in a short time how to use all the above. It is absolutely necessary to know how in order to save ones self constant annoyance.