Torn page

This is an easy fix and I think it’s important to restore children’s books as much as possible. I was able to color photocopy the final end pages. Then I sprayed the copy lightly with matte acrylic spray to give the page a little more strength and dirt resistance.








Trim the page

Trim the page


Trim the page to a 1/4″ stub using a self-healing mat or other protection.




Dry fit the page on top of the stub. You can trim the top and bottom of the page now, but leave the edge of the page till later.

Insert waste paper under the stub.

Insert waste paper under the stub.

Insert waste paper under the stub and apply glue. Attach page, protect with waxed paper on both sides and set a flat board and weights. After drying the right edge of the page may need trimming.

A satisfying repair as it is invisible unless you inspect the back of the page!


What is it ? #2

I was at the library needing one of these one of these last week. I had finally figured out that I have to use a hair dryer to remove tape, but then I still had a sticky residue left over. Knowing that no one in the library would have one of these, I went on a hunt in dusty corners to see if I could find an old rubber cement bottle because in the past I have used dried up rubber cement to remove sticky crud.

Wa-a-ay in the past (before we had computers on every desk) when laying out a page for publication we had to physically paste the parts together before it was photographed.  We used rubber cement or sometimes wax to glue the parts of a newspaper page together.

Rubber cement oozes and thickens so sometimes there’s a little cleaning to do. The best tool for that is the rubber cement pick-up.

Little rubbery thing

Little rubbery thing

Removing tape

Don't do this!

Don’t do this!

This book was lovingly and neatly repaired with clear ADHESIVE TAPE! Unfortunately it stiffens the page, adds bulk and fails to fix a book for more than the short term.
I’ve wrestled with removing tape: peeling, solvents, swearing and finally tried a hair dryer. The best yet, but all that blowing around-I felt as though I was using a leaf blower. The noise! The chaos! And not having enough hands! The AHA! moment came when I realized that weight and plywood could be my third and fourth hands. And the weights that I use for drying books could anchor anything.
Using the hair dryer is a little hot on the hands while trying to pull up a corner, but tweezers work nicely after that. Keeping the tape close to the surface (peeling it back on itself) while aiming the dryer is the best strategy. The tape leaves a residue some of which can be removed with a rubber cement pickup (do a search for a picture.) Or if you still have jar of rubber cement around you can make it into a ball as it dries.  I’ve thought of using talc on the very last of the residue, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea and it’s difficult to get a small amount of talc without excessive scent.
I since have tried an embossing heat tool (used in scrapbooks), but it is too hot for the majority of tapes-I had hot little gelatinous puddles.

Before and after: spine label fix.

before and after

I have a full artist’s studio with so many materials stuffed in, I’ll never be able to move, but it comes in handy for trying out stuff. I wanted to clean up this label without making it too new. I cleaned the label with alcohol to remove grease and oils and then I used acrylic gold paint, but not too heavy a coat, just stroking with a soft brush into areas that had the most losses.

Spine Repair part 1 and 2

I spent a little time the other day introducing spine replacement. I had intended to have several books partially repaired so I could show the steps, but I wasn’t that organized. (I guess I’m waiting for a writer and production crew.)

Aran Galligan has posted excellent videos. I have scrutinized them many times. Keep in mind that there are different details on other videos (and we have come up with some of our own), but the process is similar.

Fixing an old repair

Years and years ago, we used a gummed linen tape to attach a book to its covers. The tape has hard, sharp edges and it’s much stronger than the paper, so the book pulls away somewhere else. Sometimes the page tears away at the tape edge (although not in this case).

The tape peeled away pretty easily with a slight dampening, but a residue was left.  I soaked the edge of the page in water. Looking back on it now I think I should have soaked the whole page to avoid any edge stain. And I might have washed it after, but I always think I’m going to remember! (You can see why I’m not working with costly books.) I used tap water, but distilled is probably the correct choice for a valuable book.

Next I used absorbent unprinted newsprint pieces (recycled from packing) and weights to remove moisture, changing out the paper until dry. Then I had a flat page that I could tip-in.

Glue,barely visible at edge of page

Glue, barely visible at edge of page

What is it?

What is it?

You might think this is a tool that only a tool freak would need,
or as unnecessary as a winter coat in June (unless you’re in the
Southern Hemisphere), but I have used it a lot in a previous
life as a landscape designer. I also used it for my work
as a technical illustrator.

In the olden days before computer assisted design I really needed it.
Yes, that is an eraser in the tip. And there’s a plug and cord, too. It’s an electric eraser! The little metal card-shaped thing is an erasing shield.

If you think about how hard it is to erase something at the edge of a page, you can see that holding the shield over the area to be erased will hold the paper down. The shield will also protect areas you don’t want to erase.

You can buy cylinders of different eraser refills: abrasive, pink, vinyl and more. The ones I’ve used are around 6″ long and you just advance the eraser as it gets used up.

Most fiction is printed on a porous tender paper. It takes some practice to use an electric eraser-it would be easy to sand right through the paper. Right now, I would use an electric eraser to remove pencil marks if there were a lot of them, but for some reason most people who have to write in library books write in ink or use highlighters. I am unable to use anything other than a softish pencil with a light touch-on my OWN books.

Working with Glue, part I

I thought I had written exhaustively on glue, but I can’t find evidence. I suppose I’ve thought about glue a lot because it’s hard to teach a feel for the glue and it has a way of dripping where you don’t want it. Even if I have written about it already, maybe I’ll uncover a new idea. Here I’ll cover hinge tightening and torn pages. For part 2 I’ll have a chart with tipping in and hollow spine.

Our glue is different

We use PVA*, polyvinyl acetate, available through library and art suppliers. It looks like the white glue that’s sold everywhere in the bottle with the orange top**, but it’s supposed to be more flexible and non-acidic.

*PVA: synthetic resin emulsion, phthallate, surfactant, vinyl, water

**The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for the brand with the orange cap doesn’t list ingredients. The closest I could get is “proprietary non-hazardous ingredients.”


We apply glue with a bellows glue applicator (see Bellows glue applicator), knitting needle (Fixing loose hinges) and brush. The thinness of the hollow needle in the bellows glue applicator lays a tiny line of glue right where you want it-way easier than trying to mask a page with waste paper. (A topic for another time.)

Glue is viscous

I would use it straight out of the container for loose hinges, but for tears or paper replacement, thinning with a little water or methyl cellulose* mix makes it easier to spread. With water or methyl cellulose added the glue takes longer to dry so you have longer time to adjust the paper edges. When you thin the glue, however, you don’t get that instant, confident feel of stickiness. You have to place the paper repair making sure adjacent surfaces are protected with waxed paper, weight the book and inspect in 20 minutes to half an hour. By that time you can gently handle a repaired rip to see whether it’s going to “take.”

* methyl cellulose is a white powder made from cellulose and used as an adhesive. It’s not as strong as PVA.

How much to use

When using a brush, choose the largest brush possible. For installing a hollow spine, (see Hollow spines) for example, spread the glue on the surface quickly with, say, a 1” flat brush so the spine is still wet when you finish. Keep the layer of glue thin, maybe a half a millimeter. Pay special attention to the corners. (When I inspect repairs made, the corners often are lacking glue.) Spread another thin layer on the spine. Each layer of glue will have chance to soak into its respective surface. Then to insure a good bond burnish with a bone folder and weight the glued areas.

Seeing the glue

While the glue is wet it is shiny. If you can move the book around a bit to get light to reflect from the wet spots you might see a drip that will save you grief down the line! But it’s not always possible to wave around a delicate repair, so protect repairs and adjacent pages with waxed paper.

Removing drips, overflow

A slightly damp cloth will remove extra glue- but only while it’s wet. Be sure to use waxed paper over the still damp spot while the page is drying. The waxed paper is cheap insurance, better than the awful feeling you get when the pages are stuck together.

Here’s a chart for torn pages and loose hinges. Part 2 will include hollow spine and tipping in.

torn pages small brush, miniature glue applicator (like a miniature Q-Tip) Inspect both sides of a tear-sometimes the inner paper has a wide edge to spread glue on. If it’s a really big tear I do a little at a time starting at the area last torn. Protect the page underneath with waxed paper and burnish the repair lightly with the bone folder. Insert waxed paper above and below. Close the book, add weight and check in about 20 minutes for adhesion and misplaced glue.
loose hinges knitting needle Roll the needle in the loose hinge area taking care not to apply glue in the hollow spine. Use the side of the bone folder to rub gently where the end papers crease. Some glue will probably come out the ends: use a finger or clean cloth to wipe away excess. Insert waxed paper, close the book and rub the outside of the hinges. Finally, put rubber bands (I usually use 3) on the book to hold the bamboo skewers on the hinges, then weight the book. Usually this kind of repair doesn’t need extra inspection.