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Tolkien Collector's Guide

Adventures in Bookbinding (2020-)

Mar 26
2022/3/26 19:42:50 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia


A few people have mentioned in passing that they would interested in seeing some of the bookbinding work I've been doing over the last couple of years. So, here's a thread!

Obvious disclaimer: 100% amateur bookbinder here. I regard myself, now (after two years), as fairly well read on the basics; the more advanced stuff I continue to research & absorb. I have a reasonably solid set-up now in terms of basic equipment: decent sized workspace; finishing press & plough; papers, cloths, leathers; brass finishing tools—enough tools, equipment, & materials to allow me to produce a decent variety of work.

I've been working very much in the "traditional" craft style in terms of technique up until now. I've approached each project aiming to execute something new, although I have returned to particular techniques quite a few times to perfect, or simply because the book required a particular binding structure. I am indebted to the teachings of Darryn Schneider, who posts online as DAS Bookbinding (YouTube & blog). I really should be a paid up patreon.

I don't have any firm posting format in mind here, but I already have quite a few early projects with notes already. So, for some of these earlier projects, I think I'll simply post these working notes (mostly final/fixed at this point) & a few photos. I'll maybe leave off discussing in depth until more recent projects; particularly the Tolkien binding projects, which are probably of more interest here on TCG. Apologies for old phone camera for some of these earlier projects; I promise you they get better...


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Mar 26
2022/3/26 19:46:28 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
I’m really looking forward to this thread! There’s no need to focus on Tolkien titles, all of your projects are interesting for us to see.
Mar 26
2022/3/26 19:53:56 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Project #1

Still very pleased with how this very first "rebind" (it's a case "binding") turned out. It was rather unwise to start with this, what with the book having a large signature count (to be sewn), it required extensive paper repairs (to gatherings), and overall it was probably just a bit too old for a novice to tackle. It was falling apart though...

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Mar 26
2022/3/26 19:55:34 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
So am I, perhaps if I pay close enough attention to Khamûl's instructions I may be able to do the minor repairs a couple of my Tolkien books need.
Mar 26
2022/3/26 20:18:02 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Project #2

Another history book. Again, I should have probably left something of this nature to when I was more experienced. Paper was very soft & easy torn when sewing, the original binding had a lovely stamped emblem I wanted to preserve (didn't plan what I ended up executing), and it also had extensive interleaved plates.

Turned out reasonable in the end. Shoulders ended up far too large (overworked) and the gold-tooled spine label (the first such attempted) was only a partial success.

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Mar 26
2022/3/26 20:44:54 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Project #3

Another book that I really should have set aside for later. Probably the smallest book I've bound; some things just work out easier with smaller books e.g. measuring. Re-sewing was a lot more straight forward here, if I recall. It had pastedowns which had printed adverts on them; I pared them, removed, & then re-applied. Of moderate success. The recessing of the old spine label worked great, as did the buckram slipcase.

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Mar 26
2022/3/26 21:07:09 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Thanks for posting these. I've been looking forward to seeing more of your work. One day I hope to have the time to learn some of this myself.
Mar 26
2022/3/26 21:42:47 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Project #4

Not strictly a "paperback" conversion (but wanted some naming consistency across different projects); this was an old MacLehose (Glasgow publisher, printer, & binder) temporary binding, which would then have been bound by the owner in the style/expense of their choosing. Unfortunately, at this late date, the spine was too rigid to be manipulated much (rounded), although stable enough to not require re-sewing. The finishing on this one was a lot more simple & I think better executed overall.

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Mar 26
2022/3/26 22:48:26 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
Project #5

First attempt at (what I thought would be) a simple re-casing job; spine was shaken & the endpapers had cracked all along their length. I'd hoped the binding itself was sound & that I could simply remove from case, re-do the endpapers, and put back together. Wrong. And just wrong generally to assume re-casing a book is a small task.

As it turned out, once the case was removed, I decided to fully re-sew. New endpapers were needed; for this I moved past the simple tipped-on endpaper, which are weak, being only glued. Constructed "made" endpapers (a coloured & a plain laminated together) that would be sewn on (visible) with a hidden-cloth joint (for strength). This endpaper (& variations) are the most common ones I've used since. The case was repaired, the page-block & case were then brought back together.

The end result was okay: the endpaper colour is a bit plain & the opening is a little stiff (due to poor casing-in technique no doubt); but it's presentable & the binding is now sound. Being a book I paid ~£25 for (very much as a collectable copy) I should probably have stayed clear of meddling with this copy. First state/edition copies of this Machen title are actually worth quite a bit; altho' this copy was already a second-publisher re-issue of the original sheets.

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Mar 26
2022/3/26 22:55:10 (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time, London, Dublin, Lisbon, Casablanca, Monrovia
These projects look amazing. I really want to try my hand at a project sometime and seeing all these images makes me want to get started.
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