Andreas Dombrowskyj’s Five Essential Book Repair Tools

Andreas Dombrowskyj

Conservation Technician, Columbia University Libraries.
[ NOTE: I worked with Andreas beginning in the early 1990s at Columbia University’s Conservation Lab. Once they reopen, he will soon be completing 60 years of service! ]
1. My bone folder which I can’t do without.
Andreas uses an older version of this German bookbinding knife. Source:
2. My four knives which I use in different situations, they differ in size and  sharpness. Two are like the one above. What is good is about them is they have a certain amount of flex which I need when I’m peeling binders board from the back of the end sheet. In order to save original end sheets (often maps or other decorative designs), I have to go from the back of the end sheet. This involves peeling different types of binders boards, with different densities. and made of different materials. A sharp knife is needed to peel away the back of the end sheet.
I made this replica of Andreas’s rigid dull knife from memory. I think the shape was caused by 50+ years of work and resharpening, given the thickness of the spine of the blade.
The other two are smaller and have a more rigid back of the blade (see below). They are good for cleaning the book spines.  When I clean the back of the books, a dull knife like these is good because it is a scraping action and not a cutting one.
3. Scissors, a standard bookbinder’s model with one blunt end.
4. Micro-spatula, a Caselli, of course.
5. Sanding block, which is helpful when tip-ins are done. The sandpaper block  is used on any bits of paper that sticks out.
I could list others, but those are ones that I use most.