Rushing is an insidious demon in craft work. Its lures are many. It occludes the memory of its last appearence, trapping you once again. Resist with constant vigilance!
“I pity those who call themselves cultured and with fine art taste who cannot take from their shelves some few specimens of first-class modern extra binding … giving to their possessors every time they handle them finer feelings and sweeter ecstasy of pleasure than many more costly objects of art they possess.”
-William Matthews Modern Bookbinding Practically Considered. New York: The Grolier Club, 1889. (pp. 94-95)
I recall hearing that most type is about 50% redundant if the only consideration is legibility. If so, I’m interested in why mi-type, or something like it, never caught on. If the entire history of print was reduced by half the material costs—assuming it was just a legible— this would have been significant in labor/ cost/ carbon reduction.
Many bookbinders, conservators and book artists use a Dremel or Foredom tool to cut, drill, grind and polish. Dremels often serve as the gateway drug, once you get hooked, many tend to upgrade to a Foredom. Although they are similar tools, the Foredom is a professional machine: better build quality, more power, versatility, etc. It is also lighter weight since the hand piece and motor are seporate. If you have the dough, you might as well start out with the Foredom.
The EM-1 Manual Dial Speed Control is a useful upgrade, since I never became adept using the standard foot speed controller. A Foredom can function as a small drill press with various attachments, useful for drilling channels in wood boards. Common uses in conservation include thinning or beveling vellum for repairs, and drilling holes for joint tacketing.
Craftsy is offering a free, play on demand video tutorial on basic maintenance, adjustments and use. I like the interface: easy to ask/ answer questions, make notes, jump around within the videos. There is good information as well, covering basic maintenance, adjusting hand pieces, changing bits, drilling, grinding, and other fundamentals. Craftsy may be a good site for someone interested in presenting book arts tutorials, since they don’t have any yet.
Papermaker Katie MacGregor’s structure of cellulose watermark. (C6H10O5)n rules!
Modified 151 spokeshaves are used by bookbinders and leather workers for reducing large areas of the thickness of leather and are especially good at creating a long gradual bevel. They are also indispensable for working calf, which is difficult to pare using a Scharf-Fix machine. I’ve been experimenting with the somewhat new Lee Valley PM-V11 spokeshave blade. PM-V11 is a proprietary steel designed for woodworkers, and reportedly has the ease of sharpening of 01 steel and the durability of A2.
I’m glad they did some testing of O1, A2 and PM-V111 metals, but have some problems with their methodologies. Most importantly, the assigning of a 0-10 rating for wear based on subjective visual examination, rather than the industry standard CATRA testing machine. Then a deceptive XYZ plotting of wear testing, impact resistance, and ease of sharpening all together creating a three-dimensional triangle. Where is Edwin Tufte when you need him? They have developed a clever method of quantifying ease of sharpening, however. Oddly, at the bottom of The PM-V11 story page, they negate the need for testing, and lay on some aw-shucks folk wisdom, claiming that woodworkers don’t need an advanced degree in metallurgy or a scanning electron microscope to realize PM-V11 is a better blade.
In any event, I was still curious. In order to work effectively on leather, first I reground the blade to 20 degrees using a 2 x 72″ belt grinder. Then I hand sharpened an A2 and PM-V11 blade side-by-side. There wasn’t much difference in the time it took. The PM-V11 blade did feel a little gummy, which some woodworkers speculate may be due to vanadium in the blade. Edge retention seemed quite similar, though possibly the PM-V11 lasted a bit longer. PM-V11 did seem to have slightly better initial cutting performance (sharpness), however. Most importantly, PM-V11 was quicker to strop back into action than A2; it felt more like an M3 steel.
Even though PM-V11 and A2 don’t seem to be massively different, I will continue to experiment. Both of these steels are excellent. Yet, concentrating on subtle differences can reinvigorate interest in repetitive handwork, helping to stave off the inevitable boredom which looms at the edges of all professional craft work. Or, put another way, buy more tools.