1-101: Book Repair Guidelines
Save Your Books’ Book Repair Guidelines
While this looks like a list to follow, not every book will need every point applied. Each book needs to be examined separately and what you choose to do from this list may change for each repair. The following guidelines are a sort of hierarchy to consider for each book.
- No Video
- PERPETUAL CAVEAT: Never repair rare and/or scarce books. When in doubt only do preservation treatments and consult an accredited professional.
Clean, Color, Correct, Paste, Protect
- CLEAN. Test first! Be gentle. Don’t use harsh chemicals because they might make the colors run or destroy the foil stamping. (See the 1-105: Book Cleaning Guidelines for more)
- COLOR. Less is more! Coloring is an advanced repair. Use archival materials such as colored pencils or acrylic paints. Only color new materials such as tissues used for hinges or places where the color is damaged by scraping.
- CORRECT. Line it up. The text-block and cover need to be square and the pages lined up. Nothing should be upside down or crooked.
- PASTE or Glue. There is a difference! Paste is very wet, dries crisp and is easily reversible. Glue is dryer and dries more flexible. (Good quality glue that is.)
- PROTECT. Keep your repair from coming undone. Various archival methods can be helpful such as using an archival polyester film cover or applying various archival waxes as needed.
Why is there a hierarchy at all? If you don’t clean first then you can trap dirt in your repairs. Then, if you glue first, any new color can’t soak into the fibers. When you glue things in place before you straighten them up they will stay crooked. There are always exceptions. Be sure to test any substances (like paste or color) in an inconspicuous location such as the rear turn-in to make sure it won’t damage the covering material.
Here are some examples of how the hierarchy can be applied: These will make more sense as you take more courses and become familiar with the terminology.
Broken Inner Hinges
- Clean: Remove things such as previous repairs, fragments of paper or bits of hard glue.
- Color: Color the Japanese tissue or other materials as needed.
- Correct: Line up the pages and text block.
- Paste: Solidify anything that was askew, then attach any new materials such as tissues using paste or glue or a mix.
- Protect: Dry thoroughly before closing the book. Keep waxed paper in the shut hinge awhile or at least rub the area through waxed paper carefully.
Be sure you don’t glue the hollow spine area shut. (On case-bound books)
- Clean: Erase gently
- Color: If needed, color (tint with colored pencils) a piece of Japanese tissue before applying the tissue to the tear.
- Correct: Line up the scarf edges of the tear so it is correct with the recto bits on the recto side and the verso bits on the verso side.
- Paste: First tear the tissue to the right shape. Use paste not glue on pages. It is ok to use glue right along the inner 1/8th margin to re-attach pages.
- Protect: Dry thoroughly and rub with wax paper a bit.
Avoid tape. Even archival tapes can be hard to work with. You want to create a repair weaker than the paper you are repairing.
Unwanted Writing on Pages
- Clean: Try eraser, then knife, then sand paper. Be sure to have a flat clean board slipped under the page you are working on.
- Color: Re-color scraped area if needed
- Correct: Really there shouldn’t be anything to align in this application.
- Paste: Nothing to paste
- Protect: Rub area with wax paper to flatten out the fibers.
Don’t get rid of important marks that indicate provenance.
Grimy Book-Cloth Covers
- Clean: It depends on the type of cloth: Try Eraser or MixedDamp cloth wiping then Knife scraping if necessary. Test first!
- Color: Less is more! Use acrylics or color pencil. Touch up black lines with archival pens.
- Correct: There may not be anything to align in this application. Maybe a folded over book-cloth area.
- Paste or glue any frayed places as needed.
- Protect: Add “Mylar” polyester film covers that are .oo5 mm thick. Or possibly apply an archival sealant such as Micro-crystalline Wax or possibly an archival spray fixative if you used coloring to keep the colors from smearing.
Harsh chemicals might make the colors run or destroy the foil stamping.
Follow these book repair guidelines: Clean, Color, Correct, Paste, Protect and you can avoid some costly mistakes.
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