After the ends are finished, which operation will be materially assisted by a paper knife having one pointed end, the corners must be attended to; the superfluous leather meeting at the angle must be cut off, the head and foot must be first smoothed down, and then the fore-edge portion folded over them. This requires to be done carefully to look well, and before doing it the binder must see that the covers are lifted over the projecting ledges of the back into the position they ought to occupy. While the leather is soft and moist with the paste, anything may be done with it, and by the help of the folder it may be moulded so as to form a good-looking head. The leather should be pressed in at the corners where the small pieces were taken off the boards, and the folder passed once or twice up and down the hinges of the cover to ensure their opening easily. Lastly, a piece of thread may be tied round the indented corners of the back from end to end, and the whole left to dry.
For half-bound books, which are more easily managed, the back and covers are put on separately, the leather being pared in the same way, and small waste bits being used for the corners. When a volume has dried after covering, the ends must be pasted down, and it should remain a little time in the press.
For this purpose provide a book or two of gold leaf, a plain single bookbinder's fillet, a few alphabets of capital letters, a gold-cushion, which can be made by stretching a piece of calf leather rough side up wards over a pad of wadding on a board 10 inches by 8, and some other small items, the use of which will presently appear. First wash the cover with clear paste water, water in which a little paste is dissolved. Such parts as are to be gilded must then be coated twice with glaire or albumen, which is the white of eggs first whipped into froth, and then suffered to subside into a clear liquid. Do not glaire the leather all over, but apply it with a camel-hair pencil and ruler only on the parts where the fillet of gold is to appear. To gild, spread a leaf of gold on the cushion with a knife and blow it Hat, then cut it into strips about 1/8 inch wide. Heat the fillet at the fire until it is just hot enough to fizz under the wet finger; if it sputters it is too hot, and will burn the leather; touch its edge with a rag slightly moistened with sweet oil, and with the same rag rub over the part of the book to be gilt.
Roll the fillet softly on the strips of gold, which will adhere to it; when enough is taken up, roll it with a heavier pressure along the glaired lines, and the gold will be in- . delibly transferred to the leather, what is superfluous being easily wiped away with a soft rag. When the sides of the book are being filleted it may lie on clean paper on the cheeks of the press, or on a pressing board; but when the back is being done it must be screwed in the press in a horizontal position, the back projecting an inch or two.
Place an open vessel half-full of water on the fire, and let it boil,, and set a small empty tin pot floating within it, loading the pot with some weight that it may sink low in the water. Obtain some ordinary printing types and arrange them in the required order as a compositor would, in one of those brass frames with wooden handles used for marking linen, and screw them tight in their place, taking care to have them all level with each other on the face. Lay the face of the types in the tin pot, in which some simple contrivance should be placed to prevent their being damaged, and let them get as hot as they will, as in this situation they cannot get too hot. Cut a piece of real morocco leather larger than the size of the label wanted, breathe on it, and give it one coat of glaire; when the glaire is dry rub it slightly over with the oil-rag, and lay on the centre enough leaf gold to receive the impression of the types; place the label on a lather hard pad, and stamp the types on the gold with a sharp even pressure.
On wiping off the gold with the rag, the impression of the type remains clear and full, and if well done is far more close and distinct than anything which can be done by the most expert finisher with the brass letters of the bookbinder. The label is now cut to the proper size, and pasted evenly in its place on the back of the volume; to look well, it should be pared round the edges with a sharp knife until the extreme edge is as thin as paper. After it is dry, a gold fillet may be passed over the juncture of morocco with the calf or other leather by way of finish. The above is the easiest mode of lettering for the amateur, but it is practicable only on real morocco, the heat which can be imparted to printers' metal by hot water not being sufficient to burn the gold into ordinary leather; it is, however, a permanent method.
Screw the book tight in the press between pressing boards, and rub them briskly with an agate or a dog's tooth. It is important that the press should be tightly screwed, otherwise the leaves will cling together when the operation is over.