Binding of: English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century 1600-1660 by Douglas Bush (pt. 3? I skipped a few steps)

Today I finally covered my book with a nice piece of dyed calf. It took me around four hours in class and even at the end, I still wasn’t finished. So I took it home in its girdle (or that’s the only word in English I know for it).


There were some cords that had gotten a bit askew, so I redid the entire thing (which I was supposed to do anyways). Now, I can only wait.


Waiting, and constantly checking my caps because they are being a pain in the ass.


If any of my readers have any tips for me to make this easier, I would be very happy to hear them!




4 thoughts on “Binding of: English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century 1600-1660 by Douglas Bush (pt. 3? I skipped a few steps)

  1. Great job!

    Covering is still a major nuisance for me; it usually takes one hour (give or take) for a sewn-in boards binding with spine bands and by the end of it I’m spent. There are a ton of things to remember and everything has to be done swiftly enough, without mistakes and in a tidy fashion. Nerve wrecking!

    “any tips for me to make this easier” – Do you mean the whole covering process, tightening the leather on the bands, the caps, all of these?
    The process becomes easier if you do the turn-ins later and only paste down the leather on boards and spine initially. Many binders do it in two steps, it has its pros and cons but it certainly takes a lot of the stress off.
    Another thing would be to buy a small wooden press with pegs to keep your book steady while you tighten the strings for the leather around the spine bands.
    As for the caps did you intend to make a “coaf” or not? Can’t tell by the pics. In any case I think they shouldn’t need checking once they are set after covering, unless there’s some particular problem.

    Overall in looks quite nice, at least the portion that is visible in the pictures! You should take some pics of the interior as well, turn ins, inner joints etc.
    Will you be tooling it as well at class?


    1. I’m happy to hear that it takes only an hour (give or take) when you’ve got a bit more experience! I probably could have done it faster if we had the teacher at our table permanently, but she had other people to teach as well. But I was also completely wrecked at the end of it!

      The tips for making it easier would be about all of the things you mentioned. What do you mean with doing the turn-ins later? Do you mean, doing that the next day? Or keep it to the end? Do you glue them up at the same time? What are the pros and cons?

      I did intend to make a ‘coaf’. Not sure how successful they are. But they kept getting deformed while I was working on the book. Which is kind of logical because you put the book down, pick it up at the ends… But the moment I got home, I checked everything for the last time, made sure everything was in the right spot. And now it looks set. Those ‘coafs’ really confused me the most. I just had no idea what I was doing. I understand the theoretical side of it, but doing it is something completely different.

      I have seen those presses, and I have one without the pegs. Can’t I just add some pegs in my existing press? My dad has been planning to make those things. He has everything he needs, just not enough time.

      Tooling is something for a different class (and year). So I probably won’t do that. Unless if I feel adventurous and can get my hands on some material. For now, I’m happy with how pretty and medieval this one looks.


      1. Yes, you can add pegs to your press, it’s easy enough. There’s also an even easier way; you can buy brass screws (there are some that spiral up to a point and the rest of the shaft is just cylindrical but regular ones will do as well) and screw them down. Easy,quick and no rust.

        Coafs are really straightforward, 3steps with simple motions; 1) stretch the leather by placing the bone-folder between the spine and the leather and moving it across 2) bend in the joints using a string that will keep tension while you form the cap 3) forming the coaf with gentle but steady motions that look like peeling off a fruit with a knife. But it does take some getting used to… As you pointed out one of the biggest problems is being careful to not undo your work as you shift and move the book around to work on different areas.

        That relates with what I suggested about covering the book in two stages. If you just paste down the boards and do the spine and leave the margins/turn-ins and coafs for the next day then you minimize the amount of moving around for the book and focus on fewer tasks. For example if you paste the leather and then open the book to do the turn-ins and corners (which usually takes a fair amount of time) there’s a chance your spine leather will shift place or even detach when you open the covers. It’s not always the case and it’s usually just a little but why not avoid it if there’s time? Plus it allows you to work at a slower pace since you have less to do. The con is that it adds an extra day to the completion of the book, which is not very practical if you bind books for a living, and that the leather often feels stiffer and less pliable because the rest of it is set and you only have a small portion to work with, thus it “gives” less making the turn ins a bit harder to do.

        Saw the follow up as well; Don’t worry about the stretch, it’s a bit of a nuisance but you’ll frame cut-it and pare a bit and it will look great. Again, beautiful work – keep it up!


  2. You’ve already helped me a lot! I will get my dad to look at the brass screws. And that he brings over the rest of my equipment. I moved a month ago and all of my presses are still somewhere else. Do you have a favourite bookpress? I’ve got one with little angels painted on.

    If you cover the book in two stages, do you still add glue on the entire piece of leather? Or do you just glue up the book itself? That’s where I get a little fuzzy.

    I think the coafs went better last year because it was on books that had a stiff spine. While here, I had nothing to base it on. If that makes sense? Explaining it in a different language than I’m used to is pretty difficult.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s