Talk:Case Binding Repair for Circulating Collections

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Suggested Changes:Kkelly (talk) 17:02, 10 March 2017 (CST)

Wiki Contributors: Eliza Gilligan, Quinn Morgan Ferris, please add your name here

Change name of Page to Circulating Collections Repair

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Circulating Collections Repair

Case Binding Repair

...keep all content from Carole Dyal and Werner Haun...

New 1/4 Cloth Case


The following procedure has been taken from the University of Virginia Library manual (insert reference#).

Once the textblock has been completely consolidated and forwarded, it is time to make the cover, known as the case. The case is made “off the book”, meaning that it is structurally separate. The book is then cased-in by adhering the textblock to the case via the end sheets.

There are many ways to make a case. This 1/4 cloth style was designed so that heavier weight cloth could be used on the spine area, placing strength along the joints. Then, a lighter weight cloth goes over the boards where strength is not needed.

This methodology also allows for more economical use of cloth and fewer odd-sized off cuts that can clutter a work area. Case making is broken down into two steps: fitting the spine and then trimming the fore edge and covering the boards.

Making the Case

The use of a brass jig for measuring and cutting is particularly helpful in streamlining and standardizing the process of making a case. Using a jig also ensures that books with new cases have a consistent look within the collection, regardless of who made them.
  • The jig consists of a 2” piece of brass with a ¼” x 1/8” rectangle glued on one edge (pictured at left)
  • Remember that your textblock should be completely forwarded before you begin making the case—mended, with end sheets, trimmed, etc. If not, it may not properly fit its case when finished.

Fitting the Spine


    • Brass Jig
    • Binders board
    • Heavy-weight book cloth
    • PVA adhesive
    • Waste Paper
    • Brush
    • Pencil for marking
    • Bone folder
    • Spine Inlay (usually cut with spine lining to with of spine)

1. Take two pieces of binders board, cut to desired height for case (height of textblock + 2 squares [each square should be somewhere between 1/8- 3/16” depending on the shape of the book])

2. Take piece of cloth, grain parallel to the spine, and trim to height of board plus enough for turn in at head and tail (turn ins should be approximately ¾” each)

3. Using brass jig, mark boards from spine edge by placing jig against long edge of the board with the rectangle against the side of the board, mark the edge of the jig with a pencil, this will be where you place the edge of the heavy weight spine cloth


4. Take one board and apply glue from pencil line toward spine edge, place spine cloth, carefully lining up edge of glue with the edge of the cloth and centering head to tail, smooth with bone folder

5. Flip the board and cloth so that the inside of the case is face up, place the jig with the wide piece of brass on top of the board and the rectangle next to the spine edge, the rectangle represents the width of your joint, mark this with a pencil, the line will also serve as a placement marker for the spine inlay. Extend a line from the head and tail of the boards to mark the borders for the spine inlay and the other board.


6. Take the spine inlay, make sure it is trimmed to the height of the boards, apply glue and then place on cloth. Place one long edge along the pencil line, smooth with bone folder, working from one long side to the other to make sure there are no bubbles (see below):

7. Hold jig against the other side of the spine inlay and mark the edge of the spine cloth for placement of the second board, cut off excess cloth (see below):

8. Hold rectangle of jig against edge of cloth to mark joint for second board.


9. Take second board and apply glue from pencil line toward spine edge, place on spine cloth and smooth with bone folder (see below):


10. Apply glue to turn-ins and turn in, work the turn ins with the bone folder to make sure there are no bubbles along the edge of the board and that the cloth over the spine inlay is completely adhered.

11. Wrap the case around the textblock and crease the joints with your bone folder.

12. Place the text block and case between two edged boards and place in a press for several hours until the glue on the case has dried. Allowing the case to dry on the book helps to set the joints and fit the spine of the case to the spine of the book.

Fitting and Covering the Boards


  • Made case with fitted spine (from previous section)
  • Light-weight book cloth
  • PVA adhesive
  • Waste Paper
  • Brush/roller
  • Pencil for marking
  • Bone folder

1. Remove case and textblock from press and place on bench, the FIRST time you open the book mark one of the pastedowns and the board so that they will match up again—this can be done with a simple “X”

2. Mark the fore edge square at the head and tail for one board, flip the book over and mark the fore edge square at the head and tail on the other board

NOTE: Marking at the head and tail is important because:
  • The fore edge of the text block is not necessarily square and this allows you to customize
  • You won’t be able to hold the bottom edge of the board flush against the bottom gauge of the board shear because of the turn ins along the spine so you can line up the marks along the edge of the board shear

3. Remove the text block and trim the fore edge of each board, lining up your square marks along the cut-edge of the board shear (see below):


4. Trim a light weight piece of cloth for each board, with the cloth grain direction parallel to the spine, height of the board plus two turn ins (approx. ¾” each), and the width as measured from the edge of the spine cloth (with approx 1/8” overlap) plus one turn in (approx ¾”), (see below):


5. Apply glue to cloth and place board, trim corners leaving one board thickness at the corner and wrap turn-ins on head and tail, then fore edge (I find it easier to place the board on the cloth, but you can also place the cloth on the board, the important thing is to get it even).

  • If short on time, it is possible to allow your case to dry on the book once you’ve reached this step. However, casing in right away is preferred.


Casing in is the last major step in the repair of a book, and in some ways, one of the most straight-forward actions provided that time and care have been taken to be sure that your new case properly fits its text block. Just as was true in the earlier section on text block preparation, the steps for casing in are the same both for a new case on a repaired textblock and for a repaired original case to fit a repaired textblock.

Before you begin:

  • Make sure your text block is completely finished, all loose pages are tipped in, end sheets are trimmed precisely, all the spine linings are completely adhered, dry and smooth, and all loose ends of thread or tissue are trimmed.
  • If there are tapes, they should be trimmed just shy of the cambric hinge


  • New case (from previous section)
  • PVA adhesive
  • Waste Paper
  • Brush/roller
  • Blotter
  • Remay or Holytex
  • Bone folder

1. Align the textblock within the case, make sure that the marks you made on the inside of the case and the cambric hinge are on the same side and that the head and tail are even (unless it is a Case Flush Bottom), check to make sure that the joints of the case fit the joint of the textblock.

2. Have waste paper and two sheets each of Remay (or Holytex) and blotter ready. The Remay and blotter should be layered so that one sheet of Remay and one sheet of blotter are together and can be easily placed with the Remay next to the paste down (to prevent any excess glue sticking the pastedown and flyleaf together) and then the blotter (which will absorb moisture from the glue and prevent it from going into the textblock).

  • At this point, make sure your press and edged boards are clear of any clutter and ready to go.

3. Place the book on your bench with the spine pointed away from you and the fore edge pointing toward the left or right, whichever is most comfortable (see below):


4. Open the case without disturbing the placement of the textblock, let the board lie flat on the bench, lift the paste down, with your other hand holding the textblock in place and give the pastedown a little tug open (you’re trying to create some extra openability so that it is easy to slip in the blotter and Remay once the paste down has been glued).

5. Place the waste paper under the paste down (waste paper is more crucial if you’re using a brush)

6. Lift the cambric and brush or roll on glue in a thin layer in the joint, working from head to tail (your non-glue hand should be holding the book in place on the case), (see below):


7. Lower the cambric hinge onto the pastedown and place your fingers on top to hold the text block in place

  • DO NOT apply any glue on top of the cambric hinge!! The glue under the hinge will come through the weave of the cloth once the book is in the press
  • By keeping your fingers on the cambric hinge you will be able to hold the textblock in place while applying glue to the rest of the pastedown but your fingers will not get gluey since very little glue will squeeze through the cambric (See below):

8. Apply glue to the rest of the pastedown, working from the edge of the hinge toward the fore edge, in long strokes if you are using a brush, since this will help the paper stretch toward the fore edge, it will also help to keep the paper from buckling too much since it is wet from the glue. Rollers work better since you can apply a thin, even coat more quickly. Remove waste paper, and place the Remay/blotter under the pastedown with the Remay on top.

9. Once the pastedown has been completely glued, the board can be lowered into place, start by sliding your fingers under the board and lifting just a little. You want to put the joint into place first, by lifting it over the shoulder of the textblock and matching the joint of the cover with the joint of the textblock. Once the joint is set, then lower the cover into place (see below):


10. Flip the book over and get ready to glue the other paste down, again make sure your Remay, blotter and waste paper are handy and ready to go.

11. Repeat steps 1-10 for back cover.

12. Set the joints on each side of the book with the side of a bone folder. Do not use the point of the bone folder or you might puncture the spine cloth. If the cloth is original or lighter weight to match original cloth, you can place a knitting needle or dowel in the joint and then apply pressure on top with the flat of a bone folder.

13. Place book between edged boards and place in press, make sure that the book is centered under the screw of the press, lower the platen and check to make sure that the book hasn’t twisted out of place.

14. Be sure to remove the blotter on each side after 20- 30 minutes, but leave the Remay in place until book is completely dry.  


Gilligan, Eliza and Quinn Morgan Ferris. 2014. "Book Repair Manual: Instructions for the Construction of New Cases and Components for the University of Virginia Library’s Circulating Collection". Internal publication of University of Virginia Library.

If you are willing, I think it would be great to upload the whole document as a pdf for others to use.