New Tool: Deluxe Delrin Lifter

The Deluxe Delrin Lifter.

Most lifting tools are quite thin. Usually, this is great. But the thinness of the lifter results in a lack of control at the tip. In order to counteract this, I’ve come up with a very long wedge shape lifter that provides an an incredible amount of control for lifting, twisting, sliding, and prying. The straight cutting edge and rounded corners also aids precision manipulation.

This Deluxe Delrin lifter is designed for the lifting covering materials, backing removal, hinge removal, and tape removal. The cutting edge is flexible and so thin that the white delrin becomes translucent, a feature that could be useful in certain treatments. Delrin has a very low coefficient of friction, close to Teflon. The handle is hand carved out of a bar of Delrin .75 inch thick and an inch wide. The length gradually tapers, and the weight gives this precision tool a solid heft and a tremendous amount of control.

A must for paper, book, photographic, and other conservators and restorers. The length varies between 8 – 10 inches, since it is difficult for me to get a sharp, translucent, and flexible edge. They tend to get shorter and shorter as I work on them! If the overall length is critical to you, send me a note and I will let you know what is in stock.

Between 8 — 10 x 1 x .75 (thickness at the handle) inches. Tapered gradually along the length. The cutting edge is straight with rounded edges, to facilitate twisting and prying. A basic kit for maintaining the edge with instructions is included.

The Deluxe Delrin Lifter $95.00

The Deluxe Delrin Lifter.

The Craft of Nailing

Nick Lindsay was a poet, carpenter, boatbuilder, union organizer, playwright, translator of Gullah oral history, and raconteur. He died earlier this year. A chronology of his amazing life is here. I was lucky to have studied poetry with him in the 80s, and he left a huge imprint on my life. Rest In Power, Nick!

During a Goshen College Mennonite Church sermon in the 70s or 80s, Nick Lindsay told a story about watching and a roofing nailer at work, steadily zig-zagging up a roof. It was not something many of us had thought about at the time. He could hear the Craft of nailing in the sound of nails firmly hit and driven flush with three well-placed blows.

Words, wood — everything , really — he infused with Craft. Three was the most powerful number in his cosmology, imbued with numinous power; “thrice is true” as Lewis Carrol earlier said. I interpreted his conception of Craft as similarly tripartite: understanding the nature of a material worked, knowing the tools to shape it, and skillfully performing the of technique of making.

Nick’s workshops were a masterclass in teaching. He would always have us close our eyes when a fellow student read their poem aloud, to help the audience enter into the world the poet crafted. Poems were an aural dreamscape for him. He often talked about dreams, once where his famous poet father Vachel Lindsay’s death mask was placed on him. Where did Vachel stop and Nick start? Nick often sang and chanted Vachel’s poetry, mixing it up with his own. It troubled some people, but, in the end, it really doesn’t matter. Craft was something bigger than himself.

I don’t drive that many nails these days, but when I do Nick comes to mind. And I strive to drive the them home in three sweet blows. 

A version of this remembrance originally appeared in the Center for Mennonite Writing Journal, Vol. 12, No. 2, 2020.

M2 Hybrid Knife Video

The M2 Paring Knife used for edge and overall paring.

For spines and headcaps in full leather binding and when rebacking, several tools are usually used. Some binders like to use a straight English knife and modified spokeshave or razor blade paring machine for this. Others like to use a straight English style and a round French or Swiss knife to accomplish this. But the M2 hybrid can do the job of all of these, and many like the simplicity and economy of using one knife.

Body cam with heart center point of view!

I’ve been honing my video skills in preparation for more online workshops. Lots of new gear and tech: computer, lights, Vimeo plus, Zoom pro, wireless earbuds, GoPro, and iMovie. Oy!

I’m working on converting my repertoire of existing workshops into online versions. If there is something that particularly interests you, mention it in a comment or contact me directly!

Many thanks to Jeff Altepeter, Head of Bookbinding at North Bennett Street School, Karen Hanmer, Bookbinder and Book Artist, Henry Hebert, Conservator for Duke University Special Collections, and Andrew Huot, Owner of Big River Bindery, for sharing practical pedagogical advice about teaching online!

Using an M2 Hybrid Knife to pare into the skin.