However simple it may appear in description to sew a book, it requires great judgment to keep down the swelling of the book to the proper amount necessary to form a good backing groove and no more. In order to do this, the sheets must from time to time be gently tapped down with a piece of wood or a heavy folding-stick, and great care must be observed to avoid drawing the fastening of the kettle stitch too tight, or the head and tail of the book will be thinner than the middle; this fault once committed has no remedy. If the sections are very thin, or in half sheets, they may, if the book is very thick, be sewn “two sheets on.” The needle is passed from the kettle stitch to the first band of the first sheet and out, then another sheet is placed on the top, and the needle inserted at the first band and brought out at band No. 2, the needle is again inserted in the first sheet and in at the second band and out at No. 3, thus treating the two sections as one; in this way it is obvious that only half as much thread will be in the back.
With regard to books that have had the heads cut, it will be necessary to open each sheet carefully up to the back before it is placed on the press, otherwise the centre may not be caught, and two or more leaves will be detached after the book is bound. The first and last sections of every book should be overcast for strength. With regard to books that are composed of single leaves, they are treated of in Chapter III. They are to be overcast, and each section treated as a section of an ordinary book, the only difference being, that a strong lining of paper should be given to the back before covering, so that it cannot “throw up”.
When a book is sewn, it is taken from the sewing press by slackening the screws which tighten the beam, so that the cord may be easily detached from the keys and lay cords. The cord may be left at its full length until the end papers are about to be put on, when it must be reduced to about three inches.
Brehmer’s patent wire book and pamphlet sewing machine is an introduction well adapted to the use of the stationer, where thick and hand-made paper will bear such a method. It will not, in my opinion, ever be found eligible for library or standard books. Its high price will debar it from the trade generally: but it is to be feared that a sufficient number of really good books may be sewn with it to cause embarrassment to the first-rate binder, who will be baffled in making good work of books which may have been damaged by the invention of sewing books with wire. The novelty of this machine is, that the book is sewn with wire instead of thread. The machine is fed with wire from spools by small steel rollers, which at each revolution supply exactly the length of wire required to form little staples with two legs. Of these stapes, the machine makes at every revolution as many as are required for each sheet of the book that is being sewn – generally two or three, or more, as necessary. These wires or staples are forced through the sections from the inside of the folds; and as the tapes are stretched, and held by clasps exactly opposite to each staple-forming and inserting apparatus, the legs of each staple penetrate the tapes, and project through them to a sufficient distance to allow of their being bent inwards towards each other, and pressed firmly against the tapes. With pamphlets, copy-books, catalogues, etc., not tape is used, the staples themselves being sufficient. About two thousand pamphlets or sheets can be sewn in one hour.
Another machine, and I believe the latest, is the “Smythe.” The sewer sits in front of the machine and places the sheets, one at a time, on radial arms which project from a vertical rod. These arms rotate, rise, and adjust the sheets, so as to bring them in their proper position under the curved needles. As each arm rises, small holes are pierced, by means of punches in the sheets, from the inside, to facilitate the entrance and egress of the needles. The loopers then receive a lateral movement to tighten the stitch, and this movement is made adjustable, in order that books may be sewn tight or loose, as required. About 20,000 sheets can be sewn in a day, and no previous sawing is required. Thread is used with this machine.