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Making books is fun! (to watch)

A fantastic short documentary film about the making of books in the 1940’s. Produced by Encyclopedia Britannica Films.

Areas covered

  1. Typesetting (preparing the story to be printed.)
  2. Melting metal into moulds set by typesetter
  3. Arrangement of lines by ‘composer’
  4. Setting the melted word blocks into a metal frame
  5. Evening the lines of the text blocks so that none of them stick out
  6. Pressing wax onto the text blocks to get an imprint of the plate
  7. Dipping wax plate into melted copper so that a harder plate is formed ready for printing
  8. Cutting through the copper plates with a circular saw
  9. Arranging the plates on the printing press/press bed and secures. The guy who does this is called the ‘ready man’
  10. 64 pages fit on one bed
  11. The press machine then starts with paper travelling around the drums and rollers spread ink over plates. The plates are then presses against the paper
  12. A workman then examines the sheets
  13. The sheets are then passed to a folding machine in the binding department where the sheets are folded down to the size of one sheet
  14. The pages are checked to make sure all the ‘folders’ are in the correct order and that the page numbers follow each other correctly
  15. The folders are then passed to the ‘gathering room’ where the folders are gathered into piles and put into the correct bin.
  16. The folders are then gathered in order by a machine from the front to the last section of the book
  17. The assembled folders are then sewn together with strong thread by a machine
  18. After the books are sewn they are passed onto the trimming shop where the pages are trimmed to the correct size by sharp knives
  19. Strong book covers are next made from paper board.
  20. Paper board is cut to the correct size, then fabric is glued to the paper board to strengthen it and increase its aesthetic appeal
  21. The name of the book is next stamped on the book
  22. The covers are then glued to the pages of the book
  23. The book is now complete and ready to be shipped out.

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the art of making a book

A fantastically filmed short video (3:40) on the methods of making a traditional book from setting the printing plates to adding the leather covering.

One of the best short video documentaries I’ve seen on bookbinding, well worth a watch.

A simple overview of the bookbinding process

Setting the typeset at the printers into words and lines. Plates are inked and prepared for the printing process.

Paper sheets are then pressed on the inked type. Continue reading →

Nipping Press

Q&A: What is a Nipping Press?

A nipping press is a small press used by bookbinders for various bookbinding purposes. Originally the nipping press was designed to make the gutters or ‘hinges’ on the covers of hardbound books; the process of which was done in the following way:

A book was covered in material and as the glue was still drying, two nipping boards where placed top and bottom of the book and clamped in the press until dry. Nipping boards are made from roughly 1/2 inch thick wood with a metal strip attached at one end, this metal strip is slightly wider than the boards; when clamped, these boards pinched (or ‘nipped’) the hinges of the book and when dried, created the groove.

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Following on from our latest post Guest Posting Opportunity: Share Your Projects, Knowledge or Services we decided also to do a fortnightly ‘featured bookbinder’ series and this week we’d like to introduce you to lovely Kris Steward, founder of who’s going to talk today about her bookbinding passion and give some helpful advice about selling on… if you would like to be considered as a future featured bookbinder then please drop us an email!

Thank you Kris for taking the time to introduce the readers of iBookBinding to your life!

My name is Kris Stewart and I’m a bookbinder working near the city of Seattle in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, USA. I caught the bookbinding bug 16 years ago when my son was a baby. As a way to get out of the house, I signed up for a binding class at a local art shop. Three hours later I was completely hooked. Soon I was selling handmade baby books at local craft fairs, but ultimately found that too difficult with a youngster in the house. I studied up and played around with book arts as a hobbyist until my son started middle school. A friend and fellow maker introduced me to Etsy and voilà! Here I am doing what I love!

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