Saturday, November 7, 2009


What do you do when you want to build a kayak, but winter is coming and the house that you rent is too small to build one inside?

You build snowshoes.

What do you do when your loving wife tells you that you can't build the steam box necessary for bending the wood needed for building snowshoes?

You make homemade cream soda.

What do you do when your homemade cream soda experiment fails?

You move on and try bookbinding.

Or in this case, try bookbinding again.  I've already successfully bound one book, using instructions found at  That particular book turned out well.  Well enough that it peaked my interest in the proper art of bookbinding.  I ordered a couple of books to further my education on the subject.  One of the books, Hand Bookbinding: A Manual of Instruction, by Aldren Watson, contains nicely detailed instructions for not only binding books, but also for making the equipment needed to do so.

This morning, several months after reading both books, I decided to make the equipment that Watson explains.  The largest piece of equipment in the book is a book press.  I took some quick notes on the dimensions and materials needed to build one, along with notes on some of the smaller tools shown.  This afternoon, my oldest daughter and I made a trip to Home Depot.  We picked up a single 1"x12"x6' board, a single 1"x6"x6' board, a three foot long piece of 1/2" threaded rod, and four 1/2" hexagonal nuts.  I'll use these as my starting materials.

The book press, though, will have to wait until I can get my hands on some 3"x3" hardwood.  In the mean time, though, I started work on one of the smaller tools.  In particular, the awl.

The awl, used for making holes in the signatures of a book, is basically just a needle stuck in a handle.  Looking around my basement, I found a small piece of scrap wood.  I cut it to the dimensions of the awl shown in the book, and used a hand saw and some sandpaper to shape the handle.  I know this is truly a project, as I ended up slicing my finger open on the saw.  It's not really a project unless there is blood involved.

Once the handle was shaped and sanded to comfortably fit my hand, I found a small nail in my toolbox.  I used that to create a pilot hole for the needle.  The needle came from our sewing box that only gets opened every couple of years.  There are a bunch of needles in that box, so this one shouldn't be missed by any seamstresses or tailors that may show up at our house.  The needle was glued in place.  Once it dries, and I'm satisfied that the needle won't fall out, I think I may stain the handle to give it a nice finished look.

No comments:

Post a Comment