Online Delrin and Bamboo Toolmaking Workshops, Spring 2021.

Some of the tools you can make.

Making tools is not only engaging and fun, but entirely practical since the result is set of tools you can use daily. Book conservators, photo conservators, paper conservators, bookbinders, and others will find this workshop valuable. Filing, scraping and polishing are meditative activities, no previous experience required. Working Delrin and bamboo is a great way to start toolmaking and we will make folders, lifting tools, microspatulas, hera, creasing tools, tongs and more. This workshop also is a great way to learn how to maintain and modify your existing tools. Fair warning: making your own tools is highly addictive!

As a class, we worked through the process of making bamboo tongs, which turned out to be a great introduction to mechanics by jumping into the deep end!

OVERVIEW 

All aspects of making tools with delrin and bamboo will be discussed in detail: design considerations, thinking through working procedures, cutting, filing, rough shaping, final shaping, and polishing. The workshop consists of two 3- hour synchronous zoom sessions with PPTs, videos, discussion of handouts, demonstrations, Q&A chat sessions, and working together. Also included is two week access to the workshop website, which contains information, links, videos and PPTs. The workshop includes a kit with enough materials to make nine tools with a retail value over $300. A set of hand tools is also included: a cherry bench hook, scraper, burnisher, a file for plastics, and a variety of sanding and polishing supplies.  All you need is a stable work surface, some time to work, and an interest in making tools.

Using a Delrin lifting tool upside down to apply pressure to a paper repair.

SCHOLARSHIP

A generous patron has offered a scholarship for the “Delrin and Bamboo Toolmaking Workshop”, session to be held April 10 + 17, 2021. The award is intended for a book conservator or bookbinder with less than five years working experience, who are in need of financial assistance. International applications are welcome. To apply, contact me with the subject heading “Tool Making Scholarship (your name)”. The message should consist of two paragraphs, the first explaining why this scholarship is necessary to you, the second detailing how it would benefit your work. Applications are due February 20, and the successful candidate notified on February 27. Submissions not adhering to this format will not be considered, and unsuccessful candidates will not be notified.

SCHEDULE

Two 3-hour sessions for each workshop. The workshop will be offered three times on Saturdays. February 13+20, March 13 + 20, and April 10 + 17.  12-3pm Pacific,  1-4pm Mountain, 2-5pm Central, 3-6pm Eastern, 8-11pm GMT, 9-12 CET, 10 – 1am EET, 5am – 8am (+ 1 day) JST, 6am – 9am ( +1 day) UTC

INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPANTS

Email me for an invoice to pay by credit card. I will hold your place for 24 hours after I send the invoice.

COST

$375 US ($425 Canada, $445 other countries, includes shipping)

REGISTER HERE

https://www.peacheytools.com/shop/online-workshop-making-delrin-and-bamboo-tools

The Most Important Tool for Most Crafts

A couple of months ago, I asked a number of colleagues what they considered the five most essential bookbinding tools. But nobody — myself included — mentioned what I now think the most essential tool for any craft is.  Ok, it may not *technically* be a tool, but it is fundamental to most crafts.

Many animals use tools like this, for example the chipmunk that used the wood stairs below to break open an acorn. The tool or piece of equipment?  A workbench.

A chipmunk used these wood stairs as a workbench to crack an acorn.

Workbenches are important to book conservators, both practically and conceptually.  A wobbly or insubstantial bench makes the most common activities much more difficult. The term serves as a shorthand for how one was trained: bench trained, apprentice trained, program trained. Every book conservation lab I’ve seen has a dedicated bench space for all full time technicians and conservators. Bench time is often specified as a percentage of work time distinct from other duties in job descriptions, though I’m always interested to hear from colleagues how accurate this turns out to be!

Why are workbenches are called benches. Aren’t they really worktables?

It turns out not to be a big mystery. Scott Landis, in his wonderful out-of-print book The Workbench Book, traces the workbench to an Egyptian carpenter’s bench from  ca. 1475 B.C.E. And guess what, early workbenches look very much like a modern bench, not a table.

Roman workbench from Scott Landis, The Workbench Book, Taunton Press, 1987, p. 8.

Landis describes a Roman bench ca. 250 B.C.E. that looks pretty much the same: a solid wood surface (about 2.75 x 14.5 x 102 inches, four splayed wooden legs, mortised into the top. Both appear roughly  knee height. In other words, a bench.

Very similar workbenches continue until the 18th century for many trades, with subtle variations. Woodworking benches often had mortices for bench dogs or vices attached.

Bookbinders are often portrayed working at one of the three fundamental tools of the trade: a lying or cutting press, a sewing frame, or a standing press. In the second quarter of the 19th century, the shift to case binding as the predominate structure likely created a need for a more table like work surface.  Many trades have different names for similar tools. For example, what most trades call a “tommy bar” bookbinders call a “press pin”. But the term workbench may have been borrowed from other trades.

Match That Workbench Contest 4
Workbench from Diderot. Do you know what trade? Source: https://toolsforworkingwood.com/store/blog/201

Joel Moskowitz of Tools for Working Wood had a fun quiz on his blog a couple of years ago, trying to match seven workbenches found in Diderot to the trade associated with them.  Although the prize is long gone, it is still quite fun to imagine  how each bench may was used. And as he mentions, no cheating by looking it up!

The Conservation of Leather Bookbindings Workshop Review by Kasie Janssen

One month ago, I was able to attend The Conservation of Leather Bookbindings at the University of Notre Dame. The American Institute for Conservation (AIC) and the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC) supported this 5-day workshop that was taught by book conservator and tool-maker Jeff Peachey. Conservation is a field that requires a constant love of learning new skills and techniques, so when I saw this workshop was hosted not too far from Cincinnati, I jumped at the opportunity to increase my knowledge on the conservation of leather bookbindings.

Jeff demonstrating a leather reback.

Leather is an interesting topic in book conservation, as many of the historic books we work on have full or partial leather bindings. Leather, like paper, comes in a variety of qualities, and has inherent issues as it ages over time. And we, as conservators, have many ways to combat these issues to make the books in our collections accessible to all.

This workshop offered an in-depth look at the many ways leather can be conserved, while also discussing the pros and cons of the various types of treatment options. This level of understanding is crucial part for us.  Think of it like taking a test – you can simply have the list of answers, or you can study and understand why the answers are in fact correct (any teacher will tell you they prefer the latter of these two options, and we do too!).

Joint tacketing and sewing extensions.

While the leather on the outside of a book is what most of us see when we look at our books and bookshelves, a large portion of the workshop focused on how those books are put together. If you’ve seen a leather book, you have likely seen a book that has its covers detached or missing. We talked about reattaching covers using techniques such as joint tackets, sewing extensions, slitting and slotting the boards, and tissue repairs. These are techniques that need to be considered before a leather reback, which was the final technique we learned, would take place.

One of the most beneficial aspects of the workshop was that we were able to practice these techniques on our own books. (I’ll take this time to note that these were not collection items! We like to practice on models or personal books first.) Being able to learn about the techniques and then practice them was a great way to use the hand skills needed for these types of treatments. Having our own personal examples that were treated also provides an application of how these techniques work and wear over time.

Detail of sewing extensions that come out under the original sewing supports.

The workshop also covered leather dying, as well as knife sharpening – a crucial tool for working with leather, and leather paring techniques and tools.

I have to say, the workshop happened in the week before Covid-19 began impacting the United States on a massive scale. All of the attendees remained in contact with their home institutions and families throughout the week as news progressed. The workshop, though, provided a sort of conservation utopia where we could turn off the news and focus on the profession that we all love. Jeff Peachey was an incredible instructor, offering vast amounts of knowledge and insight that we can apply to our day-to-day work. And the staff and facilities at the University of Notre Dame provided the perfect environment for our leather conservation deep dive. A sincere thank you to Jeff, the University of Notre Dame, AIC and FAIC for the wonderful workshop.

While I continue my work-from-home, I will be finishing a few of the treatments I had started during the workshop, and also practicing things like leather paring, leather dying, and repair techniques. This will ensure that when we are back in The Preservation Lab, I’ll be able to provide assistance on many of the damaged leather books that are waiting for our tender loving care.

Paring leather for a reback.

In the meantime check out some more photos from the workshop on our @ThePreservationLab Instagram!  And follow us if you don’t already to see what we are up to in our work-from-home spaces.

 

Kasie Janssen (PLCH) is the Senior Conservation Technician of The Preservation Lab, a collaborative hybrid lab of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and the University of Cincinnati Libraries in Ohio. She works on both special and general collection items for both institutions. She holds an MSLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has been working in the field of conservation since 2014.