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.

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.

Knife skills

We use a small knife with a very sharp blade (Xacto is a familiar brand name). I’ve been using these blades for a really long time, but sometimes volunteers need help with knife skills. And I need the reminders, too.

We don’t cut everything with a blade. Occasionally, we need a torn hinge because it has a softer edge. On inspecting old repairs we see cut hinges tearing the pages.

Good knife position, hands a little white- knuckled- suggesting too much pressure

Good knife position, hands a little white- knuckled- suggesting too much pressure

Safety rules

1. No running or gesticulating.

2. Know where your fingers are at all times

3. Put the knife away. Don’t let it get buried under things.

Use a sharp blade. Notice how it “grabs” the cutting mat. A dull blade runs over the paper denting it and or cutting unevenly. When your blade isn’t sharp it tears rather than cuts. And you need to exert too much pressure.

Discard old blades in a container for blades or somewhere safe. (At home I have a glass container that I will eventually bring to metal recycling.) And don’t try to save money on blades. Change. Change Change.

A little tricky: when cutting hold the blade perpendicular to the cutting surface and against a metal straightedge (ruler). The handle won’t be perpendicular The grip is pretty much like a pencil grip. You use relaxed pressure to cut paper.

With your other hand, your left hand for you righties, you will apply pressure with stretched thumb and forefinger to the metal straightedge.

(Metal because the edge won’t get nicked when you accidentally veer into the blade.) This is the time when your check that your splayed fingers are positioned on the ruler so that you won’t injure yourself.

Here’s where the safety of a sharp blade comes in: you won’t need a lot of pressure to cut through the paper so you have a lot of control-no death grip on the knife.

Cut away from the area to be saved. For example, if you are trimming a spine label before you glue it on to a new spine, line up where you want to cut (that might be another post!) and position the ruler over the protected area. Cut on the waste side and if your ruler slips!!! you have not ruined the spine. On the last spine I forgot. Fortunately, I checked my hand in time and gave myself a mental dope slap. (See rule #1.)

Trimming spine. Hands look relaxed, blade not quite perpendicular

Trimming spine. Hands look relaxed, blade not quite perpendicular

Lining the spine

torn endsheets

I was working on this new book. Had someone thrown it across the room in a Keith Richards moment of wild abandon ?

At the same time I (randomly) opened Conservation Book Repair to page 81 and found the information about spine liner malfunction. As she points out if you’re going to go through all the trouble to rebuild the book, you might as well give the spine a little help in distributing the weight more evenly so you don’t end up with the dreaded V-shape.

You can download Conservation Book Repair from  It’s free! I have a copy at home and one at the library.

Until the glue is dry the spine liner feels cool to the touch.

spine liner malfunction, p. 81

Comb binding #2

Not too long ago we were celebrating our success with fixing a spiral binding. Our reward is that several more have crept in to the fixit pile!

Tonight I found this article:Spiral Bindings in a Hard Cover: An Alternative to Rebinding – by William Minter.  You can find the article at,  Archival Products NEWS Volume 5, No.1, page three.

This article would not have changed how we fixed our problem book, but it may be a way to protect the books we already have. I’m going to have to study the diagram when I have more brain space.

spiral binding helper