Bookbinding I: tools

I have an apprenticeship in bookbinding. That means I dedicated three years of work and school to it, and I got a scroll-y, hopelessly large and pompous diploma, proving it.

I have not worked as a bookbinder for over 20 years. For some reason, now is the time to start again. But to find the tools I need is not easy: either, people have thrown it out as they don’t know what it is, or, it is collecting dust in barns and on lofts and basements, because people don’t know what it is.

I search for “nipping press”, “gilding press”, “sewing frame” – but if you don’t know that that is what you got, I will never find it.

So there seems to be no way around it. If I want it, I have to make it myself.

First out, is the sewing frame. It is a must. I don’t care how many arms you have, or how many weights you have in your kitchen. You cannot make books without one.

So I used one of the most high-tech piece of custom manufacturing, to make a thing that will enable me to make something in a way unchanged for centuries.

The CNC mill. To make a sewing frame.

It is a simple piece, but don’t be fooled – it has been unchanged for centuries for a reason. They knew what they were doing, back when.

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