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Create Signatures

This step was performed on all three books.

In rebinding, where most bookbinders spend most of their time, one is provided with the signatures. But in making blank books, one makes one's own.

I used 80 gsm white laid A4 paper (approximately 21 cm x 30 cm) in all three books. It was folded quarto with a bone folder. That is to say, it was folded into quarters so that each page of the folded signatures had 1/4 of the surface area of the original sheet. This meant that the grain of the paper was vertical, which is desirable in bookbinding.

folding signatures I found that folding the pages quarto led to a number of diagonal creases due to the thickness of the paper. They are slightly unsightly in the finished books. In general, I now cut or tear the pages in half before folding them, so my quarto books do not have these creases.

This is the stage in bookbinding to decide what one will do about endpapers. I have been using an unusual (not to say eccentric) way of making sewn endpapers for my books. When I rebind a book, I need to ensure that I have at least four blank pages on each end. However, for these blank books, all I had to do was be willing to sacrifice the first and last pages of each book.

2005: Further research and experience shows that this is not really that eccentric a technique. I use different endpaper constructions at different times, but using a 4-page sewn signature at either end of a book is actually a very high-quality way to go about it.

marked for sewingOnce the signatures were all folded, I divided them into three book blocks and marked the backs for sewing. I find it's easier to get a good, precise marking by putting the signatures in a clamp. The illustrated markings are for the two books sewn on tapes (red and blue). The green book, meanwhile, had a single line where each of the cords was to go. The two end marks, common to all three books, are for the kettlestitches.

Note the assymetry in the tape positions, which guards against any signatures being sewn in upside down. (This is not important for a blank book, but crucial for any printed matter).

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