Category Archives: bookbinding machines

Shaker Press

“The Shakers: America’s Quiet Revolutionaries”  is a fantastic temporary exhibition at the New York State Museum, located in Albany, New York. In addition to shaker artifacts, there are a number of gorgeous WPA-era photographs of shaker communities. Another part of the exhibition focuses on inventions, which include a flat broom, washing machine, water turbine, folding steroscope, swivel foot for chair legs, and many others.

I particularly liked their very simple method to turn a press screw, pictured below. Usually this is one of the most complicated areas of a press.  By simply offsetting the holes ninety degrees, a tommy bar (called a press pin in bookbinding) can be alternately inserted to complete full rotations from one side of the press. Genius! Also note the simple two part platen holder, which looks a little rinky-dink but apparently has functioned for many years.

 

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Detail of double cheese press. https://www.nysm.nysed.gov/exhibits/special/shakers.cfm. My Photo.

Free Foredom Flex Shaft Class

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.

Getting Started With the Flex Shaft Video Tutorial

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Bookbinder Suicide By Guillotine

Suicide d'un relieur qui se guillotine avec un massicot dans l'imprimerie rue de l'Amiral Roussin a Paris. Gravure. Une du journal "Le petit parisien" le 19/06/1910. Collection privee. ©Lee/Leemage

Suicide d’un relieur qui se guillotine avec un massicot dans l’imprimerie rue de l’Amiral Roussin a Paris. Gravure. Une du journal “Le petit parisien” le 19/06/1910. Collection privee. ©Lee/Leemage http://www.gettyimages.it/detail/illustrazione/suicide-by-guillotine-of-a-bookbinder-in-a-printing-grafica-stock/134362253

Added 10 May 2015. Description of the illustration.

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Feeding Fingers

Appletons’ Modern Mechanism Supplement of 1895 contains an excellent bookbinding machinery section. The article mentions that machines haven’t changed significantly in the past decade, but performance and efficiency are improved. Chamber’s rotary board cutter is a particular beauty.  I find these hybrid cast iron and wood machines quite interesting since we usually think of machinery as consisting one of the other, not both. Note the automatic board advancement pins on the bed of the machine, which are called “feeding fingers”. OUCH!

Leonard Bailey’s Copy Press

It is a surprise when a well know name from one area of toolmaking suddenly appears in a different context. Leonard Bailey is best known for his many improvements to woodworking hand planes; in fact the modern metal plane made by virtually all companies is due to Bailey. Eventually he sold his business to Stanley, who often gets credit for his work. Patrick Leach’s Blood and Gore is a great site for Stanley info, BTW. Bailey was also the inventor of several copy presses and by 1903 had nineteen patents related to typing, copying, and pressing.

It is indicative of the popularity and demand for copy presses at the time, that someone like Bailey would devote sustained attention to them over at least a twenty year peroid. But was this really, as the advertising below proclaims, “the only perfect copy press”? It is certainly “elegant and ornamental”, with enough pin striping to pimp out any Victorian office.

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New Britain Directory, 1882-3. Price, Lee & Co. (The Winterthur Library F104 N53a 1882), 280.

The top part of the press is an adjustable wringer which was used to partially dry the blotting pad before making a copy in a book. The drawer at the base stored the blotting pad. The double action Acme screw (coarse and fine) allows the press to rapidly rise and fall and provide lots of pressure. There are several actual photos of this machine in Rhodes and Streeter’s Before Photocopying, 229-231. Unlike most copy presses, this one can generate sufficient pressure to use as a nipping press. Almost perfection for a bookbinder, if you can live with the minuscule amount of daylight.

1903 Oswego Lever Cutter

lever cutter

The Paper Box Maker and American Bookbinder, Vol. XI, No. 8, June 1903. (p. 8)

Needless to say, I wouldn’t recommend trying this with your own lever guillotine.

A Cool Press

Luke Herbert. The Engineer’s & Mechanics Encyclopedia, Vol. 2 , 1849 (p. 333)

The above press won a prize for it because it demonstrates the five mechanical powers of a simple machine: the wheel and axle, lever, wedge, inclined plane, and pulley. Sometimes a screw is also considered a sixth basic function, although it is essentially an inclined plane wrapped around a cylinder. Herbert’s article on presses also illustrates a number of high tech screw presses used by bookbinders from this time. The state of the art information contained within this book is reflected by its binding: my 1840 edition is in a caoutchouc binding, which was invented in 1836.