BACKING THE BOOK
size is determined by the thickness of the cover board. The trimming mark
is penciled on the end sheet where the shoulder is to begin and will be
the guide for the backing boards. To compensate for the fold-over of the
1/16” is added to the guide mark. The backing boards are positioned on
the guide lines on both sides of the book. The book and boards are lowered
into the press projecting the boards about ½” above the top of the press.
Before tightening the press it must be certain that the book is in a level
horizontal position and the round of the book is a good shape, not twisted.
The press is tightened to the most pressure possible, using an iron bar
for leverage, if available.
Should the book shape change under
pressure, because of the swelling, raise the book and board unit about ½”
to relieve the pressure. In this position a preliminary shaping with the
claw of the hammer will relieve the pressure and the book can be lowered
to the original position. The claw of the hammer is used for the initial
backing between the bands to prevent damage to the threads. Downward
glancing blows are applied down the entire center of the backbone, first
to the right of center then to the left of center. The claw is then
applied below center in like manner. Finally the claw is applied down to
the backing board area. Gradually the sections will turn forming the
shoulder at right angles to the book. The end view of the book will
gradually show a bending of the sections from the top center to the right
angles at the shoulder.
After the claw hammering has influenced
the sections to a proper shape a wooden backing block is used between the
bands to smooth the back and sharpen the joints to a right angle. A
backing block is made of end-grain hardwood, ¾’’ square and 2”
long, with the wood grain running in the 2” direction. One end of the
block is made flat, the opposite end is made concave to conform to the
shape of the backbone. The concave end is placed on the backbone, and the
flat end is then hammered with considerable force between the bands. The
wooden block can be moved to any position between the bands.
When the shoulders have been formed and
the backbone made smooth, the cords are straightened with band-nippers and
repositioned. The book is removed from the press. One of the lined cover
boards is squared at one end and the long end is placed against the
shoulder to test for size and squareness at the head and tail edges.
Shoulders made too small are re-backed and made larger. Shoulders too
large may be rubbed down slightly with the edge of a bone folder. An
alternative is to use a thicker board and bevel the edges. After backing,
the book is ready for board attachment or head or tail plough trimming.