Category Archives: historic bookbinding equipment

If You Desire Perfect Fitting Covers; or, the Joint Groove

The International Bookbinder, Vol. 2, No. 4 April 1901.  p. 14

This is an odd looking machine. The stand it is on resembles a typewriter or sewing machine table, which suggests to me it was used while the operator was seated. The foot clamp must open or close the jaws, which were also heated, if it is a gas line coming in from the back. The heat and pressure would soften the animal glue to define the cloth case on the bookblock. I’m not sure if 32 machines in use is impressive, or just a good start, or if any still exist. The cabinets under the table might contain different thickness of jaws for defining the joint groove.

The joint groove is the term Nicholas Pickwoad uses in his Language of Bindings dictionary of bookbinding terminology, and one that I especially like.  It is succinctly descriptive, yet comprehensible to users of older terminology (the French joint, the American groove) without attributing it to a specific nationality or time. It would sound odd to refer to a 17th century Dutch stiffboard parchment binding as having an “American groove”, for example. Reportedly a book based on the Language of Bindings website is forthcoming from Oak Knoll Press.

I recall from a college linguistics class that prescriptive language changes have a poor track record, since language tends to change transactionally and dictionaries usually record usage. Possibly it is different for a very small group of book people using specialized terminology. Will fuzzy language searches and the ease of sharing images negate some of the need for a very strict terminology?  Time will tell.

Images from Zaehnsdorf’s “A Short History of Bookbinding”

Zaehnsdorf’s A Short History of Bookbinding, originally produced as promotional material, contains some nice images of his premises and details of several steps in binding. Even in these low-res google scans, interesting details can be observed: the headbander using an upside-down plough, the massive finishing press with wood top (replaceable, to protect the press from glue?) used for spine lining and finishing, the sewer working inside the frame, etc….

Notably, some of the steps are described as a generic action — “backing” — while some have the specific names for positions — “collater, cutter-out and coverer”. Small clues like this can help to understand the divisions of labor in Zaehnsdorf’s large nineteenth century bindery.

 

The folder also has a slitting knife to her right.

Interesting a man is doing this, usually I see women doing it. Maybe his great beard got him the job!

Look how long the lay cords are, both to save money on the sewing supports and an indication that only one book at a time was sewn.

Press pin still stuck in the press, indication of the speed of work? It also looks like it either does not go through a hole, or new holes had to be drilled? Usually the holes are drilled completely through at 90 degrees to each other.

Upside down plough. Likely worn out, since the brass holder on many English ploughs would get in the way even if the blade was removed. The women seem to be wearing different aprons, while the mens all look the same.

The rectangular guide rails are on the end of the cheeks of this finishing press, much like Tim Moore does for his modern lying presses. Love the massive cheeks. I want this press! And we know he is using hot animal protein glue, note the pot with a gas line hooked up.

I wonder if he is cutting on a tin, or cutting board. The knife has a handle. In shoemaking, the cutter-out (called the “clicker”) is one of the most skilled and highly paid positions, since they have to decide how to make best use of flaws in the skin. He does have primo bench position, right in front of a window.

I would guess they are covering on litho stones. The man in the foreground is using a sharply angled bone folder to turn in the leather in the cap area, and I suspect supporting the opposite end of the book with his stomach. Are there band nippers also on the stone?

A better view of the same press used earlier. It looks like three sides are covered with extra pieces of wood. I really, really need this press.

 

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I also noticed that Zaehnsdorf’s The Art of Bookbinding is available as a 6 hour audio book.  It would be an interesting experiment to listen to his instruction, while following along. I doubt I will do this, but if you do, let me know how it works!

Historic Book Structures for Conservators, 2017

Historic Book Structures for Conservators
The Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library. June 1-30, 2017.

For the third time, I will be teaching Historic Book Structures for Conservators. For the second time, it will be held on the grounds of the Winterthur. The Winterthur is a museum, garden and library consisting of 1,000 acres of rolling meadows, gardens and woodlands. It is also home to the Winterthur-University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC). The Winterthur is a perfect setting for this class: excellent workshop facilities, a first-class conservation literature library, supportive colleagues, and an atmosphere conducive to sustained and productive learning.

This month long course is designed for conservators to refine bookbinding bench skills in order to understand the craft techniques used to make historic book structures. We will focus on books bound in-boards from the 16th through 19th centuries. The binding of historic models are the basis of the course, although an independent research project will also be required, as well as other assignments. There will be 24/7 studio and library access. There will be field trips; in 2015 this included the Mercer Museum and some tool related flea market exploration. Expect to work at least six days a week. This course is open to anyone passionate about book conservation and intending to make it a career, though I’m hoping there will be a mix of experience levels, from pre-program to mid-career. If a disproportionate amount of your time is spent on administrative duties, this might be an excellent chance to tone your bookbinding muscles.

To apply, please send me the four application requirements listed below. Please submit all of these together in an email attachment, via dropbox, or through a link to your site.

1) A one page personal statement on your interest in book history/ book conservation and how this class will help you in your career.
2) Your resume or cv.
3) A portfolio of bookbinding, book conservation treatments, or other craft activities that exhibit hand skills and attention to detail. You should submit images of two or three books: no more than one or two overall shots and one or two details. Please include no more than a one paragraph description of the book or treatment. Information can include when you did it, how it was made, before and after condition, a treatment summary, materials, techniques, or other information.
4) A letter of recommendation from a professional in the conservation or preservation field, or a teacher who is familiar with your work.

Only complete applications will be considered. After reviewing the above material, finalists will be interviewed by telephone or skype.

The deadline for application is February 15, 2017.

Finalists will be notified March 1, 2017.

Decisions regarding acceptance will be made by March 15, 2017.

The class will be held June 1-30, 2017. You can arrive May 31, and the class will officially begin June 1. The last day of class is June 30, and you will need to vacate the housing on July 1.

Accepted students will receive a full scholarship for tuition costs and be able to live on the grounds of the Winterthur for $550. It is a very beautiful place! Housing includes private bedrooms, wifi, shared kitchen and shared bathrooms. Students will need to pay for their own travel, food, bring a computer, and supply their own basic bookbinding hand tools. Historic equipment and specialized tools — including a paring knife, spokeshave blade — will be provided. There is a materials fee of $425.

This class is a unique and intensive opportunity to geek-out, discuss, explore, and immerse yourself historic bookbinding structures and conservation for an uninterrupted month. If it is anything like previous classes, it will prove to be energizing, exhausting, and unforgettable.

Blog post about the class of 2015.

For questions about applying or the content of the class please contact me.

For other questions please contact Melissa Tedone: mtedone <at> winterthur <dot> org.

 

The Scratches Don’t Lie and The Big Board: Impressions from Teaching in the Netherlands.

Earlier this summer, I spent a couple of throughly enjoyable weeks in the Netherlands, teaching two workshops through the auspices of Restauratoren Nederland, at the beautiful bindery of Wytze Fopma in Friesland. First there was a 3-day sharpening/ spokeshave modification class, a wadlopen and tour of Mennonite sites, then a 5-day 18th c. French binding class. It was all very, very good.

Each time I teach, I keep adding current research. I’ve taught versions of the sharpening class over thirty times, and the French at least a dozen. It sounds cliche, but I do learn something new each time.

This class, Constant Lem, book conservator at Koninklijke Bibliotheek, convinced me of the importance of the 180 degree shoulder that the French bindings often have.  I’d considered and worked on this, however working together we made progress on this historically unique(?) structural feature.

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The steel folder, which Ben Elbel calls “score!”.

Before the workshop, I visited Ben Elbel, of Elbel Libro, in Amsterdam. He has a large studio, is doing some very nice work, and has a board beveling machine that I plan to steal at some point. Ben gave me a nifty steel folder which he sells. It is a nice size for detailed work, fitting comfortably in the hand, well made, and is also useful for blind lines. It comes in an attractive die cut storage folder. Metal folders keep popping up every now and then in the history of bookbinding: the earliest I’ve seen was patented in 1889.

Below are images from the workshop.

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Examining a spokeshave blade while sharpening.  Photo copyright Anke van der Schaaf, 2015. All rights reserved. http://www.fopmawier.nl

One of the most important aspects in freehand sharpening involves looking at reflections and scratch patterns in the blade, in order to understand what you are doing and what needs to be done. The visual feedback lets you know how to alter your hand pressure or technique. The scratches don’t lie.

 

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Tallying up The Big Board.  Photo copyright Anke van der Schaaf, 2015. All rights reserved. http://www.fopmawier.nl

The Big Board is a learning tool I use in the French class to keep track of questions, deviations from historic practice, instructor mistakes, material differences, etc.  Whoever has the most observations wins a prize, in this case a small lifting knife. Often there are over 150 observations. This helps keep us aware of inaccuracies generalized from our modern craft training that can creep into the historic style we are trying to understand.

As invasive treatments continue to become more infrequent in book conservation, the type of knowledge gained from making historic models will help keep book conservators relevant (I hope!), by increasing our knowledge of how these books were originally made.  Conservation as interpretation?

 

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Beating a textblock before sewing. Photo copyright Anke van der Schaaf, 2015. All rights reserved. http://www.fopmawier.nl

Not only did we have a custom made beating hammer, but we borrowed an anvil from the Blacksmith. A wonderfully solid substitute for a beating stone!

 

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Wytze’s large standing press. He said it took nine people to tilt it back upright after it was brought in through the door. A huge blocking press is on the left.  Come to think of it, EVERYTHING in the bindery was super heavy duty. My photo.

Wytze has the most massive operational standing press I’ve ever seen. He mentioned that it is the largest in Holland. He is operating the worm drive. Once the center screw is tightened as much as possible, to generate even more pressure, the drive can crank the main press screw another turn or so. The drive can be easily disengaged to quickly raise or lower the press. As a demonstration, he pressed some of our textblock paper so hard it sunk into the MDF pressing boards, creating a clamshell. It had little to do with the class, but was too impressive not to mention.

 

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Some of the class at work. Photo copyright Natasha Herman. http://www.redbonebindery.com

 

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The finished books. Photo copyright Anke van der Schaaf, 2015. All rights reserved. http://www.fopmawier.nl

On the left is an 18th century skull the Wytze found, the finished books, an 18th century (?) French (Dutch?) beating hammer on the right, and in the back, the printed handouts for the workshop bound en-broche by Wytze and Herre. We started with the same tan calfskin; the color variations on the finished books resulted from varying applications of glair, paste wash, and warm burnishing. These are powerful and inert ways to control the color and surface sheen of leather without dyeing.

The skull and beating hammer literally and symbolically bookend this workshop: we were working with the head and the hand, using theory and praxis, to learn more about the nature of 18th c. French binding.

 

 

Upcoming Workshops in the Netherlands, 25 May — 4 June 2016

I’m really looking forward to these upcoming workshops.  The organizers are making a beating hammer so I don’t have to carry mine! Dutch hospitality! If you are considering traveling from North America, Iceland Air has reasonably priced flights to Amsterdam and you can arrange a layover Iceland if desired.

 

Two workshops by Jeff Peachey – 25 May – 4 June 2016

organised by Restauratoren Nederland, the Netherlands

Two specialized bookbinding and conservation workshops lead by American bookbinder, conservator and toolmaker Jeff Peachey. Jeff combines his research of eighteenth-century French leather bindings with his practical knowledge of conservation, bookbinding and toolmaking. He will be teaching these workshops at Boekbinderij FopmaWier, a professional bookbinding studio in the Frisian countryside. Surrounded by an enthusiastic group of international colleagues and hopefully bathed in a warm spring sun, these workshops promise to be the perfect working holiday!

Making and sharpening knives: a rational approach, and modifying a spokeshave

https://www.restauratoren.nl/agenda/workshop-jeff-peachey-1/

This workshop is an intensive three day introduction to one of the most basic human tool making activities – making and keeping an edge tool sharp without the use of jigs. This workshop will use 3M micro-finishing film, but the freehand techniques learned are applicable to water, oil, or diamond stones. Participants will be provided the materials, instruction and equipment to make several knives by stock reduction of their choosing, and to resharpen any type of edge tool they bring with them as time permits. The specific tools of bookbinders will be examined: paring knives, lifting knives, scissors, hole punches, spokeshaves and board shear blades. Tool steel, edge geometry and grit progression will be discussed. A Stanley 151 spokeshave will be modified for leather paring, and there will be time to learn how to use it. The goal of this workshop is to free participants from the plethora of misinformation and mystique that surrounds sharpening and to instill confidence in sharpening, maintaining and resharpening bookbinding knives and other edge tools.

Course: €375, Materials: €175 Dates: 25-27 May 2016

 

Late eighteenth century French binding structure

https://www.restauratoren.nl/agenda/workshop-jeff-peachey-2/

Apart from the French Revolution, one of the most exciting aspects of late 18th C. French culture is the existence of two full-length bookbinding manuals. This five-day workshop will focus on reconstructing a typical full calf French structure of this time period, by comparing and contrasting the descriptions in these manuals and examining extant bindings. In some respects, this structure is the end of 1,200 years of utilitarian leather binding —50 years later the cloth case begins to predominate. This class is a hands-on explication of a written text. Some of the interesting features of this book include: beating the paper, sewing 2-on on raised cords, beating pasteboards, trimming edges a plough in-boards, edge coloring with vermillion, sewn front-bead single paper core endbands, parchment transverse spine liners, edge paring calf, “marbling” the leather, and achieving various shades of brown without using leather dyes. Reproductions of 18th C. French tools, constructed from plates in Diderot’s Encylopedie (1751-1780) will be available for experimentation. Participants will learn to use and maintain a plough, and gain experience in translating written descriptions of bookbinding into the construction of a model. Extensive notations (in English) on Gauffecourt’s Traite de la Relieure des Livres (1763) and Dudin’s L’Art du Relieur-doreur de Livres (1772) will be provided. An overriding theme in this class is to interpret historic bookbinder’s techniques by reconstruction. Basic bookbinding skills are a prerequisite.

Course: €540 Materials: €100 Dates: 30 May — 3 June

Excursion

On Friday afternoon, June 3, the eighteenth-century French binding structure course will be followed by an excursion to the local archives and rare books library: Tresoar, Frysk Histoarysk en Letterkundich Sintrum. We will look at several examples of eighteenth-century bindings from this collection using our freshly gained knowledge.

Adress: Tresoar: Boterhoek 1, 8911 DH Leeuwarden. We will travel together in available cars.

How to get there: https://www.tresoar.nl/over/Pages/Route.aspx

The tutor, Jeff Peachey

Jeffrey S. Peachey is an independent book conservator and toolmaker. For more than 25 years, he has specialized in the conservation of books and paper artifacts for institutions and individuals as the owner of a New York City-based studio. He is Professional Associate in the American Institute for Conservation, has taught bookbinding workshops internationally, and was recently awarded a fellowship at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Italy. He is the inventor of the Peachey Board Slotting Machine, used in conservation labs around the world. His most recent publication is “Beating, Rolling and Pressing: The Compression of Signatures in Bookbinding Prior to Sewing” published in Suave Mechanicals: Essays in the History of Bookbinding, Volume 1. More information at: http://jeffpeachey.com

Registration

Please register by emailing: herre66@gmx.net

Please indicate which workshops you would like to register for.

The location

The picturesque village of Wier is situated in the north-west of the northern province of Friesland. In 2009, FopmaWier bookbindery was established in this village of 200 inhabitants. Wytze Fopma, owner and director, specializes in unique graphic productions, mostly in limited editions, for designers, artists, printers, editors, photographers and collectors. Wytze welcomes you into his studio to experience the quiet and space of the Frisian countryside during the most beautiful time of year. What better way to welcome in the spring of 2016?

Boekbinderij FopmaWier, Tjerkepaed 16, 9043 VM Wier, www.fopmawier.nl. Contact person is Wytze Fopma: info@fopmawier.nl

The nearest train station is Leeuwarden. From here, bus 71 leaves for Wier 1-2 times per hour. You can also be collected at the train station if you inform us in advance of your arrival.

Accommodation

The small campsite “De Brinkhoeve” is located within a two-minute walk from FopmaWier bookbindery. Here you can pitch your tent on an open field with view of the village’s historic church. Two recently renovated trailer homes and a cabin are also available at very affordable prices (€10-25,- per person, per night). Booking can be done directly: http://www.debrinkhoeve.com/ or by phone: 0031 (0)518-462287. We strongly advise you not wait too long and please tell the owners you are coming for the workshops at Wytze’s studio. If you would like to share a cabin or trailer with other participants, please advise us and we will get you in touch with other interested participants.

If the campsite is not what you are looking for and you don’t mind missing out the evening social contact with colleagues, please contact us for further information on alternative accommodation in the vicinity of Wier.

Meals

During the day, coffee, tea and lunch (Dutch bread with a variety of toppings) will be provided. This is included in the course costs. Breakfast, dinner and lunch during the excursion are at the participants’ own expense. We are happily to recommend good restaurants, supermarkets and grocery shops in the neighbourhood. It is also possible to cook at De Brinkhoeve, a good occasion to enjoy the end of an inspiring course day together with colleagues.


Organisers

Herre de Vries, contact person: herre66@gmx.net

Natasha Herman,

Wytze Fopma.

Review of Suave Mechanicals Vols. 1 and 2

Both volumes of Suave Mechanicals received a strongly positive review by David Brock in The Book Club of California Quarterly News-Letter this month. In general, he “…marveled at how unique it [Suave Mechanicals] is. This is not a survey of the history of bookbinding, nor is it a manual, yet it has a foot in each camp.” (p. 19)  In particular, he mentioned my 2013 essay, “Beating, Pressing, and Rolling: The Compression of Signatures in Bookbinding Prior to Sewing”, in a complementary paragraph, reproduced below.

Both volumes are available at The Legacy Press. Get them before they are out of print!

 

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Source: David Brock “A Review of Suave Mechanicals: Essays in the History of Bookbinding” The Book Club of California Quarterly News-Letter, Vol. LXXXI, No. 1, Winter 2016. (pp.18-21)

 

Millboard Shears

Three years ago, I wrote a post about board shears and their relationship to boarded and early case binding.  But before the board shear (aka. board chopper, table shears), which likely entered bookbinderies in the 1830’s, millboard shears were used for trimming book boards square.  They are essentially large tin shears, bench shears, or tin snips as they are commonly referred to. I had never seen a pair of these, except in early manuals and in a great photo from Middleton’s Recollections on page 37.  The caption for the photo, taken in 1999, notes that this was the first time he had used them since 1960.

But a couple of weeks age, I found something very similar in an antique store…

Fig. 1. Large tin snips with a 12 inch ruler on the bottom.

Although I think these are actually large tin snips, but I doubt that there is much difference if they were made for metal or binders board. The Peck, Stow & Wilcox Co. lists an almost identical bench shears, availiable in a variety of sizes. Likely, earlier ones were a bit larger than my example, but this size works quite well. They will be interesting to use in the workshop I teach on early 19th century bookbinding –bringing us one more step closer to using tools appropriate to the time period of the binding.    This shear has a 6″ cut, and is stamped “Roys & Wilcox Co. / East Berlin Ct. / Cast Steel / 5 ”  The slight bend to the end on the top handle on the upper arm, is very important, because it keeps the heavy arm from pinching your hand as you operate the shears.  The other handle was bent, I believe, to insert into an anvil for the smith to secure it while cutting.  The shear is quite stable when clamped in a lying press.

Fig. 2.  Mill board shears in action.

The Whole Art of Bookbinding, 1811, simply mentions cutting out of boards with “the large shears” (p. 8)  Martin, in 1823, states that “The pasteboards being roughly cut with shears to something like the size (p. 14). Cowie, in 1828, interestingly mentions a “press-shears” for squaring the boards after lacing on, which must refer to these types of what later became know as millboard shears (p. 19).  Middleton notes that millboards were availiable to binders as early as 1711, and the last hand-made millboards maker ceased production in 1939.  Did the name, millboard shears stick, perhaps because paste boards were soft enough to be cut with a smaller shears or knife?  French bookbinders, from around this time, used a large pointe to cut their boards.

Fig. 3. Nicholson’s table-shears. Observe the lack of gauges for cutting-there is only an outer gauge, the foot clamp, and the graceful positioning of the worker’s left hand and feet.

Nicholson, in 1865, makes no mention of the millboard shears, but does refer to board shears as “table or patent shears” (p. 65), suggesting this was still a somewhat new machine, at least in the US?  One can almost imagine the evolution from a millboard shear, somewhat difficult to use because of its short cutting length, being reconfigured with larger blades, one fixed, like clamping the bottom blade in a press, and a handle, added for leverage on the other.  The table also prevents flexing of the board, which improves accuracy in cutting. Note that the table shears In the 1920’s or 30’s, Hickock, in catalog #88, subtitled their board shear as a “Gauge Table Shears”, on page 10.

Fig. 4. Image from 1892 Harrild and Sons catalog of millboard shears.

The Harrild and Sons catalog has a picture of their ‘millboard squaring shears”, stamped with their logo– note the the market was large enough for them to carry three different sizes, a 7″, 8″ and 9″.

Fig. 5.  Crane’s illustration of how to lay out mill board for cutting with the millboard shears. This is very similar to how French boards were cut 100 years earlier.

Crane, in 1885, somewhat oddly, provides the above illustration for the marking of millboard for cutting with a millboard shears but does not include an image of the shears.  First the boards are divided with a large compass, marked off with a bodkin, then the cutting lines drawn using a straightedge. He does include instructions on how to use the millboard shears. “The Boards are generally cut up with the millboard shears. These are screwed up in the end of the laying-press nearest to the operator, and, the millboard being placed between the jaws, the dege of the upper jaw coenciding with the mark upon the board, the upper handle is worked by the right hand, and the board is readily and quickly cut. The millboard is held in the left hand during the operation.  In most regular establishments of any pretensions, the shears are now almost superseded by the board-cutting machine… (p. 67)”

Fig.6.  Image of Mill board shears from Zanesdorf.

Zaehnsdorf, 1903,  also provides some instruction on how to use mill board shears. “To use the shears, screw up [!] one arm in the laying press, hold the board by the left hand, using the right to work the upper arm, the left hand meanwhile guiding the board. Some little tact is required to cut heavy boards.  It will be found that it is necessary to press the lower arm away with the thigh, and bring the upper arm towards the operator whilst cutting. (pp. 52-53)” The photograph of Middleton, in Recollections, shows this exact method of holding the board. (p. 37)

Fig. 7. Cockerell’s improved millboard shear attachment.

Cockerell notes that if “The straight arm of the shears is the one to fin in the press, for if the bent arm be undermost, the knuckles are apt to be severely bruised against the end. Any blacksmith will bend the arm of the shears and make the necessary clips.  This method saves considerable wear and tear to the ‘lying’ press. Where a great many boards are needed, they may be quickly cut in a board machine, but for ‘extra’ work they should be further trimmed in the plough, in the same way as those cut by the shears. (pp. 126-127)”  I’d be curious if anyone has a lying press with some telltale indentations at the ends? I wonder if board shears of the time gave a slightly rough, crude cut, or was it just tradition to later plough the edges?  Ellen Gates Starr, an American who spent 15 months studying bookbinding with Cockerell, seems to mention this method of attaching the shear in the 1915  Industrial-Arts Magazine. “The boards are roughly cut to approximate size (We do it with a huge pair of shears of which one handle is made fast. I have never seen a pair except for my own in this country) (p. 104).”  Were millboard shears that uncommon in the US?  It seems that by the 1920’s, millboard shears had gone out of fashion.  Thomas Harrison remarks in 1926, that, “…millboard cutters are now used instead of the shears…” (p. 65)  But he includes an image of the Cockerell type attachment, although given the similarities of the renderings, I’m tempted to speculate that Harrison was at the least highly influenced by Cockerell’s drawing, or it may be a copy with slightly altered perspective.

Fig. 8. Harrison’s version of Cockerell’s attachment.

In my own experiments, these shears cut binders board quite well.  They are obviously slower to use than a board shear and take more skill to operate. With a fairly large sheet, it is difficult to rejig it with the blade for each cut, so a little longer blade would be advantageous.  The reason the shears are often positioned about 45 degrees to the press, is so that they are roughly in line with the eye of the user.  The thickness of the blade requires that the board be parted during the cuts. It is difficult to realign a cut when in the middle of it, so it the cut strays from the line, it tends to be for the length of the blades, which may a clue to identify how 19 century boards have been cut and what size millboard shears were used to make the cut.  I’ve tried it on both Davey and Eterno board, .080 and .098 thickness, and I imagine, although haven’t tried, that large tin snips might do a decent job of rough cutting of sheets to size, before trimming with a straight edge and knife– easier for those who don’t have a board shears.

Even today, one of the most common difficulties, for those who lack a Kuttrimmer or Board shear, is trimming binders board to size.  Cutting through a wide section of binders board is very difficult with an Olfa type knife and a straight edge– the board tends to pinch and squeeze the blade.  Cutting a narrow strip (1/2″ or so)off the edge of a board is much easier, since the board can be pealed of pulled away, making room for the thickness of the knife blade.  This is also why I prefer thinner knife blades.  Millboard shears could be useful for binders who mainly do fine binding, and don’t make boxes, or for those who have a smaller Kuttrimmer, incapable of cutting a full sheet of board.  Perhaps there is still a use for this almost obsolete bookbinding tool?

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Tom Conroy for information on early board shears,the Middleton, and Peck, Stowe & Wilcox references.

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[NA] The Whole Art of Bookbinding. Owestry: N. Minshall, 1811.

Cockerell, Douglas.  Bookbinding and the Care of Books.  New York: D.Appleton And Co., 1902.

Cowie, George. The Bookbinders Manuel. London: Cowie and Strange, [1828].

Crane, W.J. E. Bookbinding for Amateurs. London: L. L. Upcott Gill, 1885.

[G. Martin] The Bookbinder’s Complete Instructor. Peterhead: P. Buchan, 1823.

Harrison, Thomas.  The Bookbinding Craft and Industry. Garland Publishing, Inc: New York & London, 1989. [1926]

Middleton, Bernard C. A History of English Craft Bookbinding Technique. New York & London: Hafner Pub. Co., 1963.

Middleton, Bernard C. Recollections: A Life in Bookbinding. New Castle and London: Oak Knoll Press and The British Library, 2000.

Nicholson, James B. A Manual of the Art of Bookbinding. Philadelphia: Henry Carey Baird, 1865.

Zaehnsdorf, Joseph.  The Art of Bookbinding. London: George Bell And Sons, 1903.