Marking Up And Sawing In

This entry is part 10 of 20 in the series The Art of Bookbinding (Joseph W. Zaehnsdorf, 3rd Edt, 1897)

The books having been in the press a sufficient time, say for a night, they are taken out, and run through again (collated) to make sure that they are all correct. A book is then taken and knocked straight both head and back and put in the lying press between boards, projecting from them about 1/8 inch; some binders prefer cutting boards, I prefer pressing boards, and I should advise the use of them, as the whole can be knocked up together. They should be held between the fingers of each hand, and the back and head knocked alternately on the check of the press. The boards are then drawn back the required distance from the back of the book: the book and boards must now be held tightly with the left hand, and the whole carefully lowered into the press; the right hand regulating the screws, which should then be screwed up tightly. The book is now quite straight, and firmly fixed in the press, and we have to decide if it is to be sewn flexibly or not. If for flexible binding the book is not to be sewing in, but marked; the difference being, that with the latter the cord is outside the sheets; with the former the cord is embedded in the back, in the cut or groove made by the saw. We will take the flexible first, and suppose that the book before us in an ordinary 8vo volume, and that it is to cut all round.
The back should be divided into six equal portions, leaving the bottom, or tail, half an inch longer than the rest, simply because of a curious optical illusion, by which, if the spaces were all equal in width, the bottom one would appear to be the smallest, although accurately of the same width as the rest. This curious effect may be tested on any framed or mounted print. A square is now to be laid upon the back exactly to the marks, and marked pretty black with a lead pencil; the head and tail must now be sawn in to embed the chain of the kettle stitch, at a distance sufficient to prevent the thread being divided by accident in cutting. In flexible work great accuracy is absolutely necessary throughout the whole of the work, especially in the marking up, as the form of the bands will be visible when covered. It will be easily seen if the book has been knocked up straight by laying the square at the head when the book is in the press, and if it is not straight, it must be taken out and corrected. If the book is very small, as for instance a small prayer book, it is usually marked up for five bands, but only sewed on three; the other two being fastened on as false bands when the book is ready for covering. There would be no gain in strength by sewing a small book on fine bands. Continue reading →