James Reid-Cunningham’s Five Essential Book Conservation Tools

Jim’s five bookbinding tools. “I wonder if my choices are the most essential, or just the ones I enjoy using the most.”

James Reid-Cunningham

Bookbinder and conservator in private practice

Caselli spatula: I’ve had this one since 1984 and I use it virtually
every day.

Splinter forceps: a cross between a tweezers and a needle nose pliers
that allows you to securely hold onto something very small.

Pin vise: for holding needles, drill bits, small files, etc. I have
30-40 pin vises of different shapes and sizes. This design is useful
because the wooden handle rotates in your hand so you can use it for
drilling very small holes.

Dividers: A four-inch divider bought at a flea market for $1, it was
made by the L. S. S. Co. in Athol, Mass. The design was patented in

Teflon spatula: I carved this from a lab tool called a “policeman,” used
for cleaning tubing. This shape of spatula has a thousand uses for
lifting and splitting.