Upcoming Delrin and Bamboo Toolmaking Workshops, Fall 2021

Making tools is not only engaging and fun, but entirely practical since the result is set of tools you can use daily. Book conservators, other conservators, bookbinders, technicians, artists and others will find this workshop valuable. Filing, scraping and polishing are meditative activities, no previous experience required. Working Delrin and bamboo is a great way to start toolmaking and we will make folders, lifting tools, microspatulas, hera, and creasing tools. Most of the skills and techniques taught are transferable to wood and bone toolmaking too. Fair warning: making your own tools is highly addictive!

Thankfully, the pandemic is subsiding in New York, but I originally created this workshop specifically to teach online with a kit, and it has worked well for the past four sessions, so I will keep it up for a while.  So far 49 students from 7 countries have completed this workshop.

All aspects of making tools with delrin and bamboo will be discussed in detail: design considerations, cutting, filing, rough shaping, final shaping, and polishing. The workshop consists of two 3- hour synchronous zoom sessions with PPT’s, videos, discussion of handouts, demonstrations, Q&A chat sessions, and working together. Also included is one month access to web resources, PPTs and videos demonstrating key techniques.

The workshop includes a kit with enough materials to make nine tools with a retail value over $300. A set of hand tools is also included: a cherry bench hook, scraper, burnisher, a file for plastics, and a variety of sanding and polishing supplies.  All you need is a stable work surface, a few common hand tools, and some time to work outside of class.

DATES: There will be three sessions:  September 11 + 18, October 16 + 23, November 13 + 20

Saturdays, .  12-3pm Pacific,  1-4pm Mountain, 2-5pm Central, 3-6pm Eastern, 8-11pm GMT, 9-12 CET, 10 – 1am EET, 5am – 8am (+ 1 day) JST, 6am – 9am ( +1 day) UTC

COST: $390 US  Register here

International participants need to contact me confirming they wish to attend, I will save a seat and send you an invoice enabling you to pay by credit card. I will hold the seat for 24 hours after I send the invoice. The cost is $440 Canada, $465 EU and other countries, and $490 Australia and New Zealand.  This includes kit shipping. Up to 3 kits can ship in one box internationally, so if you place one order for 2 or 3 people there will be substantial shipping savings, with the second and third places costing $390.


A generous patron has offered a scholarship (worth $390 — $490) for the “Delrin and Bamboo Toolmaking Workshop”, to be held November 13 + 20, 2021. The award is intended for a book conservator, bookbinder, or technician new to the profession, with less than five years working experience, who is in need of financial assistance. Domestic and international applications are welcome.

To apply, contact me with the subject heading “Tool Making Scholarship Fall 2021”. 

The application should consist of two paragraphs, the first explaining why this scholarship is necessary to the applicant, the second detailing how it would benefit the applicant’s work. Applications are due September 1, and the successful candidate notified September 7. Submission not adhering to this application process will not be considered, and unsuccessful candidates will not be notified.

Some versions of the tools you will make in this workshop.

Henry Hebert’s Five Essential Book Conservation Tools

Henry Hebert

Conservator for Special Collections, Duke University Libraries

Preservation Underground Blog


1. A decent laptop with an internet connection: Thinking about the tools I use every day, this one is at the top of the list, because there is so much work that goes into a successful conservation treatment before you even touch the object. There is the research: about the object, about the materials you will use, or about different treatment methods you could potentially employ (and maybe haven’t even done before). There is the communication: with your conservator colleagues, asking for their experiences working on similar objects, with curators to get more information about past and potential use by researchers or students, or sometimes even with the creator of the object. There is the documentation: the written condition report, the treatment proposal, and the lists of treatment procedures and materials you ended up using. In a pinch, you can even use the camera on the device to take photos before, during, and after your treatment.

Henry’s handmade elk bone folder.

2. A bone folder: If I could only have access to one folder, I would probably choose bone over Teflon for rigidity and quality of the edge. Out of the drawer of folders that I have, the one I gravitate toward most is a piece of elk bone which I shaped 10 or so years ago. It’s a little over 8″ long and mimics the shape of a butterknife. One end has a sharper edge that works well for scoring, while the other is wide and flat for compressing sections or consolidating a board corner.

The olfa silver snap blade knife.

3. Olfa 9mm stainless steel slide-lock knife: I probably use this knife the most, because I end up making so many enclosures and the snap-off blades allow for a quick refresh. You can also fully extend the blade to cut through thick ethafoam planks for custom supports. There are so many little design details on this Olfa that I love. The removable endcap serves as both a pocket clip and blade snapping tool. The blade case even includes a small compartment to store old blade fragments. (I get to bring a pack of blades, too… right?)

Customized  #2 Casselli microspatula.

4. Modified #2 Casselli microspatula: The 6 1/8″ Casselli micro-spatula is great for lifting. Two modifications have really improved the working properties of this tool for me: shaping the ends and making the center handle thicker. I’ve added a single bevel to the rounded end to make it more like a blade. The unmodified octagonal handle is fine for quick work, but really becomes tiresome on the pads of my index finger and thumb after lengthy use. I have wrapped the center of mine with Elastack (by Sutton Scientifics) to increase the circumference of the handle and make it more comfortable to hold.

Muji mechanical pencil.

5. Muji “Low Center Gravity” 0.5mm mechanical pencil: I often use a mechanical pencil to make small measurement marks on material that I am cutting or folding. Sometimes it is necessary to number loose pages to keep them in order during treatment, and a mechanical pencil with thin graphite is the best tool for the job. I’ve found this $9 mechanical pencil, with a weighted and knurled aluminum tip, is one of the most comfortable to use and great quality for the price.

There are a number of other tools which I very reluctantly pushed off the list, including: Staedtler Mars white vinyl erasers (because you always have to dry clean first, right?), spring dividers, a Starrett pin vise with insulated octagonal handle, and (of course) a straight edge of some kind would come in handy. I really like my 12″ rigid Starrett rule with both metric and imperial graduation, but I often find myself wishing it were longer.

Five Inexpensive Holiday Gift Ideas for Bookbinders and Conservators, 2018

Peachey branded microfiber towel. $5.00. My first foray into merch! A stylish and practical way to show your support for Peachey Tools. This is a heavy duty, professional grade microfiber towel: 16 x 16 inches, 300+ gsm, 4-thread edge stitching, .1-.2 denier microfibers,  80% Polyester/ 20% Polyamide blend. Perfect for cleaning your knife and microfinishing film during sharpening, the floor, your cutting mat, and even removing excess grease from your nose. The dye sublimation printed logo seems durable on my sample, but it is not possible to have a super dense image on the three dimensional microfiber surface. The fibers fluff up over time: the towel in the image above was washed seven times. The great thing about microfibers is that they trap everything. The terrible thing about microfibers is that they trap everything, so the towel will turn grey over time, likely obscuring the logo anyway. But you will still know it is there! What could be a nicer gift for all your staff members, as well as a gentle reminder to keep things clean? They should be in stock December 11 at Peachey Tools.


Seal Skin Thimble. You can cut the strap a bit more to fit larger fingers.

Seal Skin Thimble.  $5.00.  A fantastic tool. Much more comfortable than a metal thimble. I purchased this one in an antique store in Adamstown, Pennsylvania, then a quick google search confirmed it is a traditional Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic craft object. The images of them are remarkably consistent, almost identical. For example, they all have a length of thread holding the crimping in place at the tip, and a clever slit that functions as a finger attachment. The seal skin is rawhide (?), stiff enough to resist a needle head puncture, and the fur is a comforting joy to stroke if your sewing is not going well. It also makes a great finger puppet, though this can be a warning sign you have been working alone a bit too long. Available from Quilted Raven Alaska.


Londonderry Linen Lacing Thread. Wonderfully soft and not tightly twisted, just like older threads.

Londonderry Lacing Linen Thread, Size 4.  $7.00.  I love this thread. Seriously. I can sew *almost* everything with it. it is perfect for joint tacketing or sewing extensions during board reattachment. Since it is loosely plied, it is easy to flatten it out inside a gathering to minimize swell. Check out this naturally packed sewing.  A loaded stick also helps to control sewing. The soft thickness of this thread gently supports weak or brittle paper. Mary Uthuppuru, proprietor of Colophon Book Arts Supply, is a wonderful, kind, knowledgeable supplier, a true pleasure to do business with. Available in from Colophon Book Arts Supply.


Shop Knife. I’ve used this one for a number of years and altered the handle for comfort.

Shop Knife Style “F”. $13.84. This is a knife that I use dull. It is a perfect size and shape right out of the box for cleaning spines and other general scraping tasks. Where it really excels is for marking binders board for boxmaking: the tip is just the right angle, and a knife mark is much more accurate than even a .3mm mechanical pencil. It is easy to carve the handle a bit to make it more comfortable, especially where the blade transitions to the handle. Available from McMaster-Carr.



Delrin Hera. $40.00.  I know what you are thinking. $40? Inexpensive? Please allow me to explain. This tool is so useful that you will end up using it constantly. For example, it is great to gently pry some material for lifting, lift a page to turn it, insert adhesive under a detaching fragment, hold down something for photography, score tissue before dry tearing, and so on. You might like it so much you will keep it with you even when you are not working. Seriously, I use this tool at least an hour a day when doing conservation work. Therefore if you use it an hour a day, for 300 days a year, for 30 years, it only costs 4 thousandths of a cent per hour. Inexpensive or dirt cheap?!  Available from Peachey Tools.


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