Bookbinding is one of the fine arts that appeal to all cultured persons, who, possessing good books, naturally desire good bindings. It is an art particularly suitable for women, whether taken up as a trade or as a hobby - a good crutch in either case, fur as a hobby it has an absorbing fascination, while from the money-making point of view, everyone who owns a book is a prospective customer. Patrons are found in all ranks, from the Royal family downwards.

But I must give one word of warning and advice before I begin to deal in detail with the technique of the art. It is a difficult art, calling for patience and infinite care; above all, for precision. For a little mistake in little detail may ruin the effect of the book when finished. Therefore, no one should attempt the work who does not intend to go on with it with thoroughness.

Fig. 1.   Paper pasted down centre of sheet to strengthen it.

Fig. 1. - Paper pasted down centre of sheet to strengthen it.

Fig. 2.   Pasting one half of plain end paper.

Fig. 2. - Pasting one half of plain end paper.

I intend now to describe every detail of the art of bookbinding with such minuteness that the beginner who falls to work, with these instructions as a guide, can make no mistake, of all, a small outfit of tools must be purchased. Complete outfits containing everything necessary are put up by the tool makers, whose lists give all the information about the handling of the instruments. They include presses for pressing and sewing.

Fig. 3.   Coloured and plain end paper pasted together.

Fig. 3. - Coloured and plain end paper pasted together.

Fig. 4.   Pasting narrow edge of second plain paper.

Fig. 4. - Pasting narrow edge of second plain paper.

" ploughs" for cutting purposes, and knives, weights, boards and zinc plates.

There are two branches of bookbinding - Forwarding and Finishing. The first includes all the actual binding work - the pulling to pieces and the putting together of the sheets, until the stage is reached when they are ready for their cover. Finishing means the decoration of the cover by tooling, gilding and inlaying, and the fitting of the cover to the pages.

Fig. 5.   Cutting edges of millboard in press.

Fig. 5. - Cutting edges of millboard in press.

The book that is to be bound may be in sheet form, or it may be an old volume already bound.

The sheets, if loose, require to be folded in the first place with very great care, lest the margins shall prove unequal and the printed lines shall run at any angle but the correct right-angle to the back. Each folded sheet becomes a section, and each section must be arranged in correct order: with title, dedication, preface and contents pages for section A, and with the index for the final section.

Fig. 6.   Book in position for sawing the back.

Fig. 6. - Book in position for sawing the back.

A careful study of the sheets shows how they must be folded; and this folding is the first thing to be done.

In preparing a volume that is to be re-bound, lust, of course, the old cover must be torn oft. When this is done, possibly the glue that has held it to the sheets will come away also, and then the section may be easily separated. But more often the glue remains, and then some trouble must be taken in clearing it away not to injure the sheets. The bands, if any, must be removed, the sewing cut, the thread pulled out, and then, with the help of a fine folding tool, the sections should come apart. But if they still remain obstinate, the glue must be carefully soaked until soft, and then scraped away, with care lest the damp penetrate and stain the leaves. Scraping, too, is liable to injure the back; it is, therefore, the method of last resort.

Now the sections must be looked through to see that all are in order. Some, perhaps, may be damaged, and may call for mending. In this case a thin, strong piece of paper about an inch wide and as long as the pages must be shaved thin with a sharp knife and pasted to the back of the damaged section, which must then be laid out flat, face downwards, under a weight till dry.

The sections, all mended and arranged in order and place, must be put into a press for several hours.

First, a pressing board with a pressing tin on the top is put in the press. Then three or four sections are taken from the loose book, and in ordei to square all the edges the sections are first held with a hand on either side, and are banged down, firmly but gentlv, a few times, until the back is flat; then the top edges are banged down, and the bottom and front edges, until the sections are perfectly square. Then they are placed on the tin in the middle of the press, exactly under the screw, so that the pressure shall be even, and another tin is put on the top. The other sections are treated by instalments in the same way, each having a tin on the top when put in the press, till all the book is in the press. Finally, an extra tin and two or three boards are put in on the top of the pile of sections and the press is screwed tightly clown.

Fig. 7.   Oversewing the sections.

Fig. 7. - Oversewing the sections.

Fig. 8.   String knotted through loop on sewing press.

Fig. 8. - String knotted through loop on sewing press.

(It is advisable, by the way, to cover the tins with clean paper, as they are apt to leave the sheets shiny.)