Inventor and Book Conservator, Penn State University Libraries.
Five Essential Tools for bookbinding is an intriguing question.
While thinking, I tried to imagine trying to bind a book on a deserted island, or at home during a pandemic. What tools are essential?
For a Simple/Basic Pamphlet:
Tool: Needle — If paper were available, it can be folded without a bone folder, it can be wetted and torn, and then folded to a codex for sewing with thread, so the needle seems to be essential.
For a more elaborate book with some precise details:
Dividers (see note), straight edge, knife/cutter, and maybe a scribe (awl) or pointed bone folder? No ruler, no scissors; no pencil, etc….
Note: Initially, I thought dividers were needed, but then Karen Hanmer suggested a piece of paper for duplicating dimensions. Essentials!
PERHAPS the most important and essential tool (if we can call it a tool) is what we have learned. Someone shared their experience and their ideas that allows us to grow and expand beyond the basics. In essence, what we have learned is a tool that allows us to build beyond our inner talent. Someone inspired us to work beyond what we know, which allows us to experiment and grow ever more.
While we might have the very best tools, it is how we use our skill with those tools that is the ultimate and essential.