To gild the edges, the book should be put into the press straight and on a level with the cheeks of the press between cutting-boards, the boards of the book being thrown back. The press should be screwed up very tightly, and any projection of the cutting-boards should be taken away with a chisel. If the paper is unsized or at all spongy, the edge should be sized and left to dry. This may be ascertained by wetting a leaf with the tongue: if spongy, the moisture will sink through as in blotting paper. The edge should be scraped quite flat and perfectly even, care being taken to scrape every part equally, or one part of the edge will be hollow or perhaps one side scraped down, and this will make one square larger than the other. When scraped quite smooth and evenly, a mixture of black lead and thin glaire water is painted over the edge, and with a hard brush it is well brushed until dry.
The gold is now cut on the gold cushion. Lift a leaf out of the book with the gold knife, lay it on the gold cushion, breathe gently on the centre of the leaf to lay it flat; it can then be cut with ease to any size. The edge is now glaired evenly, and the gold is taken up with a piece of paper previously greased by drawing it over the head. The gold is then gently laid on the edge which has been glaired. The whole edge or end being done, it is allowed to get perfectly dry, which will occupy 2 hours.
Before using the burnisher on the gold itself, some gilders lay a piece of fine paper on the gold, and gently flatten it with the burnisher. Books are often treated in this manner: they then become "dull gilt." When intended to be bright, a waxed cloth should be gently rubbed over the surface 2 or 3 times before using the burnisher. The beauty of burnishing depends upon the edge presenting a solid and uniform metallic surface, without any marks of the burnisher.
The manner of burnishing is to hold a flat burnisher, where the surface is flat, firmly in the right hand with the end of the handle on the shoulder, to get better leverage. Work the burnisher backwards and forwards with a perfectly even pressure on every part. When both ends are finished, the foredge is proceeded with, by making it perfectly flat. It is better to tie the book, to prevent it slipping back. The foredge is gilt exactly in the same manner as the ends; it will return to its proper round when released from the press. This is done with all books in the ordinary way, but if the book is to have an extra edge, it is done " solid or in the round." For this way, the book must be put into the press with its proper round, and without flattening it, and scraped in that position with scrapers corresponding with the rounding. The greatest care must be taken in this kind of scraping that the sides are not scraped away, or the squares will be made either too large or lop-sided.
The edges are coloured by fanning them out as explained in colouring edges, and when dry, gilt in the usual way; not quite such a strong size will be wanted, through there being a ground in the colour; nor must any blacklead be used. The edges must in this process be scraped first, then coloured and gilt in the usual way.
The book is gilt as usual, then, while in the press, stamped or worked over with tools that are of some open character; those of fine work being preferable. Some design should be followed oat according to the fancy of the workman.
The tools must be warmed slightly, so that the impression may be firm; the foredge should be done first. Another method is to tool the edge before burnishing, or the different portions of the tooling may be so managed in burnishing that some parts will be left bright and standing in relief on the unburuished or dead surface.
The edge is fanned out and tied between boards, and whilst in that position some landscape or other scene, either taken from the book itself or appropriate to the subject of it, is painted on the foredge, and when quite dry it is gilt on the flat in the usual manner. This work of course requires an artist well skilled in water-colour drawing.
After the edges have been gilt by any of the foregoing methods, the rounding must be examined and corrected, and the book should be put into the standing press for 2-3 hours, to set it. The whole of the edges should be wrapped up with paper to keep them clean during the remainder of the process of binding. This is called "capping up."
Few binders work their own head-bands; the majority use the machine-made head-band. These can be purchased of any size or colonr, at a moderate price.
Head-banding done by hand is really only a twist of different coloured cotton or silk round a piece of vellum or catgut fastened to the back at every half-dozen sections. If the head-band is to be square or straight, the vellum should be made by pasting 2 or 3 pieces together. Damp the vellum previously, and put it under a weight for a few hours to get soft. Vellum from old ledgers and other vellum-bound books is mostly used. The vellum, when quite dry and flat, is cut into strips just a little under the width of the squares of the books, so that when the book is covered, the amount of leather above the head-band and the head-band itself will be just the size or height of the square.
If, however, a round head-band is chosen, catgut is taken on the same principle with regard to size, and this is further advanced by using 2 pieces of catgut, generally one being smaller than the other, and making with the beading 3 rows. To. explain how the head-band is worked is a difficult task; yet the process is very simple. The great difficulty is to get the silks to lie close together, which they will not do if the twist or beading is not evenly worked. This requires time and patience to accomplish. The hands must be clean, or the silk will get soiled; fingers must be smooth, or the silk will be frayed.