The cover is made of Davey board aka bookboard aka strawboard. The board is cut to cover the textblock with some overhang to protect the paper edge. How much is a visual decision for me. The thickness of the board should be proportional to the size of the book, I am using 3mm in this project. I don't like the harsh edges from cutting so I like to trim the edges at about 45 degrees. One can also use sandpaper to round the edges a little more. Avoid breathing the dust! Notice in the picture the black line on the Davey board. I do this on large sheets before I cut them down to indicate the boards grain.
Once the board is ready, it is time to prepare for the flat-back case binding that I am doing. Flat-back means that the spine will be flat (not rounded). Case means because the textblock is surrounded by covers. I like the rounded back but it typically requires a wider spine then this project. This technique is useful for handling the spine bloat of a large binding. It also feels good to hold, for me anyway. I am also using a half-leather binding, meaning that the spine will be covered with the same material as the corners. This is done so that the edges (which wear the most) will be protected by a sturdy material. In this project I am using leather. Quarter-leather means only the spine will be covered.
The next step in the flat-back binding is to add the spine covering. You can see how this is laid out in the photo. Notice a few things in that photo...
- I like to leave messages on the Davey board.
- Flat-back - everything is flat!
- The space between the spine & cover Davey board is to allow the covers to hinge properly & hold the textblock.
- The space is wrong (which I fixed) leather stretches and left hand side is wider then the right hand side. I wanted a 12mm gap.
- Notice on the inside edge a slight cut in the Davey at the top & bottom edge. This is to allow for the thickness of the leather to not bunch up when the book closes. There are many other ways of handling this.
I am making two books, one with brown goatskin leather that has lots of character and the other with a thicker reddish cow leather. The red one I did first and forgot about the slight cut in the Davey for leather allowance. And the red leather is the thicker one, which I also cheated by not paring it down for turning on to the cover. I will pay for this when I complete the cover - I will have to build up the other covering material. Paring is a skill that gets quickly lost when not practiced, so I opted for the cheat.
I wet the leather with a water & a light wheat paste. Then I apply a mixture of PVC glue & wheat paste. I place the covers & spine on the leather and then fold in the leather edges. I put this all under weight to make a good bond between the leather and Davey, using waste sheets to absorb the moisture out of the paste to prvide a good bond and minimize warping. I placed little pieces of Davey on the turned in leather in the space between the spine & the covers. You can see it in red leather picture.
Once the leather has dried, cut excess leather, careful not to cut the Davey board too much! I ruined a book once doing that. Next we have to build up the cover height to match the leather. Cheating earlier now catches up with us. I paste two materials to match the leather height. I did not pay attention to the grain of the two buildup pieces of paper on the cover *to* the grain of the Davey & it warped. I am hoping that I can pull the cover back by the inside buildup paper. Now the inside will be built it up partially, which I was not going to do - I can cheat like this because one of the endpapers will be pasted down and hide this height sin a little. And I'll also paste down a piece of marbled paper to make it look nice.
Now its time to paste the cover paper. When applying paste you push the bristles into the paper from the centre to the edges. This gives a good distribution of paste into paper fibres and avoids getting paste under the edge of the paper. Once applied, cut the corners leaving enough to cover the edge of the Davey board. I wanted to do a half binding, but I am running out of time, so its only quarter leather (no leather at two corners, just paper). To be meticulous, I will trim the excess marbled paper on the inside edge to match the leather turn ins. Recalled to trim when freshly pasted, otherwise its hard to remove!
Put this all under weight and periodically remove waste paper so book dries properly with minimal warping.August 27, 2009.