Most of the books nowadays are not bound at all, they are merely cased, and that in such a way that the covers pull off after a little wear and the leaves are injured by deep saw cuts, or wire threads holding the sections. But as often these poorly bound books are printed on good paper, or have some association which makes them worthy of preservation the rebind-ing of them is worth considering, and is often developed into a lucrative craft. This is especially true in small towns, where the public library may give an opportunity for keeping books in repair. Binding music and rebinding old music books are also remunerative.
If an old book is to be rebound it should be looked over carefully to see that no pages are missing, and any torn places should be mended as described in the paragraph on mending. Each sheet should then be registered, that is, held to the light to see if the printing on the upper right corner of the first page coincides with that on the third, if not, it should be refolded so that it does, and the new crease rubbed down on glass with a bone folder. Each sheet should be corrected and put in its place, so that the pages read correctly. The next step is to cut the top, commonly called by binders the "head," the bottom being called the "tail" and the front the "fore-edge." Probably you may have observed that in many books the margins are unequal in different sheets. It is a distinct improvement to cut them so that every head-space corresponds. To do this, a pair of dividers must be very carefully set to the distance from the top of the printing to the top of the paper in the sheet which seems to be the shortest. Generally a section of eight leaves can be taken at once. Two little marks are made with the dividers, and a try-square is laid across these, the handle-side resting against the back of the book. The upper edge of the try-square is then followed along with a sharp knife, a potato-knife or pen-knife will answer, on a piece of glass. Each section should be cut in this way, or if the sheets seem fairly uniform, possibly it may be enough to cut each section. This provides a "head" which is exact enough to be used in "knocking up" the book. This is done by holding it so it is vertical, head down, between the palms of the two hands, and knocking it against a perfectly horizontal surface, a piece of glass or a paring-stone. Knocking up is a very important process and must be repeated at nearly every stage in the work.
End papers, or what are sometimes called the "fly-leaves" of a book, are important and should always be of paper similar to that of the book, and used so the grain of the paper runs lengthwise. With a large steel square, get a square corner, measuring from this four sheets one-half inch longer and one inch wider than an open sheet of the book. Mark each of the four corners with a cross, and cut the edges with a knife, along the lines formed by the square. Paste an inch wide strip of book linen on to form a "tip" or guard as in the guest book, but unlined.
When the end papers are made and laid in the position on the ends of the book, tip out, with the corner marked X at the top, the book is ready to be put in press. After the "head" is cut by hand, the "fore-edge" and "tail" or bottom may also be cut by hand, but it is a tiresome process, and can be done better on a cutting machine in a bindery.
For pressing a letter-press answers very well, if the book is left in long enough, say forty-eight hours. The book must be knocked up at the head and back with great care, and laid on the center of a board. It must be tested with a try-square. If it stands vertical, place another board on top and put it exactly under the screw of the press. Test it to see that it has not slipped, as, if the sheets are pressed in a wrong position the defect cannot be remedied. The press should be screwed as tight as possible. Several books may be pressed at one time if care is taken in putting in and removing them, with boards between.
When the book is pressed, the next step is sewing. Knock up the book and divide the back with dividers if it is to be sewed on four tapes, into five parts, the one at the "tail" being a little the longest. At each end, mark a point one-half inch in for the kettle stitch. Draw lines across the book with a soft pencil, using a try-square, one for each kettle stitch, and one for the center of each tape. On the bottom of the sewing frame, which is shown in a photographic illustration, measure corresponding distances for the four tapes and tack each one in place, then carry each one to the top of the frame and pin it over the ring. Place the book in position and test with a try-square to see that the tapes and marks on the book are vertical. Screw up the rings.
The book should be sewed with medium sized book-binder's thread, or with embroidery silk, a soft green being satisfactory. The needles should be large. In very careful work a hole is pricked for every stitch in each section. Tie the end of the thread to a tack at the right of the book, and begin sewing the end paper, starting in at the outside of the first kettle stitch. If it is necessary to make a knot, it should come between the tapes; the best way being to attach the new thread with a weaver's knot, pulling the knot through so it comes on the inside of the book.
In sewing tapes, it is well to catch every third thread with a button-hole stitch. The sewer may sit in front of the frame, as in the photograph, or at the end, but her position must always be such as to allow her left hand to go behind the tapes, in the middle of the sections she is sewing on. When the sewing is finished the ends should be fastened with a double kettle stitch and each thread put through into the book, cut off about three-quarters inch long, and frayed out like a tassel so it will be flat. The tapes may then be cut off two inches from the book, and the book taken out. It should be put in the finishing press, back up, and the tapes pulled very tight.