BPG Case Binding

From MediaWiki

Book and Paper Group Wiki > Book Conservation Wiki > Case Binding

This page focuses on conservation treatment of non-rare case bindings held in general or circulating library collections. See also: Circulating Collections.

Original Compilers: Carole Dyal and Werner Haun
Wiki Contributors: Quinn Morgan Ferris, Eliza Gilligan, Jon Sweitzer-Lamme, Christina Thomas please add your name here

Copyright 2024. The AIC Wiki is a publication of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC). It is published as a convenience for the members of AIC. Publication does not endorse nor recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described herein. Information on researching with and citing the wiki can be found on the Reference and Bibliography Protocols page.

Cite this page:

American Institute for Conservation (AIC). "BPG Case Binding." AIC Wiki. June 14, 2024. https://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/BPG_Case_Binding.

Factors to Consider[edit | edit source]

Retaining Original Case[edit | edit source]

Some examples of endsheets that might be retained
Illustrated here are a variety of covers that may be desirable to retain

Outlined below is a standard treatment when the original covering material is worn along the spine, the textblock is partially or fully detached from the cover, and evidence of the original endsheets is to be retained. During this treatment, the textblock will be released from the cover; the textblock spine will be lined; the original cloth cover will be lined; the original fly-leaves will be guarded together; new endsheets will be attached; the original fly-leaves will be sewn into the fold of the back endsheet; and the textblock will be recased into the cover.

The methodology provides an opportunity to batch like items in a production setting, where the intent is to retain most of the original components of the book. However, because in this process the pastedowns are removed, this treatment will not be appropriate in cases where the pastedowns differ from front to back or contain important content. The procedure was based one from Conservation Treatment Procedures, A Manual of Step-by-step Procedures for the Maintenance and Repair of Library Materials (Morrow and Dyal 1986).

Preparing the Textblock[edit | edit source]

  • Release the text block from its cover by easing the loose fly leaf away from the text block and then slitting the super to release the textblock completely. If the book was sewn onto tapes or cords, these should be lifted from the covers, taking care not to disturb the sewing.
  • Strip the old super off the cover and remove the pastedown. Lightly sand the inside cover so the new endsheets will adhere smoothly.
  • Clean the spine of the text block. Remove old cloth and paper linings. It is not necessary to clean the spine completely, but only to remove loose or deteriorated material.

Endsheets[edit | edit source]

Attaching New Endsheets[edit | edit source]

Candidate for recasing with retention of fly leaves
  • Select new endsheets slightly larger than the text block. Using wheat starch paste, attach a 2 cm strip of Japanese paper to the fold of each endsheet to act as a hinge.
  • Lay the folds of the endsheets between strips of wastepaper leaving exposed a width of 1 cm the entire length of the fold of each endsheet.
  • Apply adhesive to the exposed areas.
  • Place half of the width of a strip of Japanese paper over each exposed area and pat in place.
  • Place endsheets between strips of blotting paper under a light weight until dry.
  • Bend the loose half of the Japanese paper strip around the endsheet fold
  • Measure and trim each endsheets to the exact height of the textblock.

Tipping on Hinged Endsheets[edit | edit source]

  • Place the hinges between strips of wastepaper and apply wheat starch paste.
  • Position the endsheet over the text block and carefully lower it so that the hinge fits into the shoulder and the folded edge lines up exactly with the first (or last) section of the book.
  • Bone the endsheet against the shoulder. The hinge should be attached to the text block and the endsheet should swing freely at the fold.
  • Immediately place wax paper between the hinge and the endsheet to prevent sticking.
  • Trim the endsheet to the exact width of the textblock using a ruler and scalpel, cutting on a scrap of board or self-healing mat.

Guarding Original Fly-leaves Together[edit | edit source]

An example of guarded fly-leaves.
  • If the fly-leaves are uneven, they may be trimmed to provide a clean edge.
  • The fly-leaves are guarded together with a strip of water-torn Japanese paper to form the inside of the folio and to provide greater support for the sewing.
  • If the fly-leaves create a continuous image (e.g. a map), they may be guarded on the outside of the folio.
  • Fly leaves may then be sewn into the new back endsheet.
Detail of sewing
Sewn endleaves

Lining the Spine[edit | edit source]

Cross-section of spine lining with alternative materials
Attaching Japanese paper to the spine
  • Cut Japanese paper the width of the spine and approximately 3 mm shorter than the height of the textblock.
  • Apply wheat starch paste to the spine of the textblock, and attach the Japanese paper by gently tamping with a brush or carefully rubbing with a bone folder to assure proper adhesion. Be sure the Japanese paper lining completely covers the sewing.
  • Cut super for the spine 6 mm shorter than the text block and 5 cm wider than the spine.
  • Apply a thin layer PVA to the spine.
  • Position the super with approximately 2.5 cm on either side and evenly between the head and tail. Bone the super down securely.
  • Measure and cut a spine strip from scrap endsheet paper the width of the spine and 3 mm shorter than book height. The grain direction of the strip should run parallel with the spine. Apply adhesive to the strip, position it carefully, and rub and bone securely into place.

Cover Treatment[edit | edit source]

  • With the inside of the cover facing up, use a scalpel to slit through the turn-ins 2.5 cm on either side of the spine. The slits will allow the turn-ins to be peeled back from the cover board.
  • Peel the original inlay away from the spine of the cover.
  • Slowly peel the covering material away from the cover boards until it is even with the slits in the turn-ins. Take care not to tear the weakened cloth.
  • Pressure sensitive tape may also be used to delaminate several layers of board in order to compensate for the thickness of the reinforcing material.
  • Trim the inlay to height of the cover boards. The width of the inlay should be exactly equal to the width of the spine of the text block with its new spine linings attached.

Reinforcing Materials[edit | edit source]

A variety of reinforcing materials may be used: book cloth; Japanese paper; muslin; or airplane linen. If the original cover color is desired, the reinforcing materials may be tinted or dyed using water colors or conservation grade acrylics.

  • Cut reinforcing material to the width of the inlay plus 5 cm. The length of the material should be equal to the height of the cover boards plus 5 cm.
  • Hold the cover so that the spine and the peeled back covering materials are exposed and apply adhesive. Work quickly and use adhesive sparingly.
  • Position the reinforcing material over the adhered area and pat in place. Lower the cover and bone the lining gently against the original spine of the cover.
  • Flip the cover right side up and smooth frayed threads in place with the fingers. Wipe away any excess adhesive.
  • Apply adhesive to the cover boards where they were peeled back from the covering materials. Flip the cover right side up and bone the original cloth down.
  • Apply adhesive to the inlay, center on the inside of the spine, and bone into place.
  • If more strength is desired in the head-cap, cut a piece of 3 mm unbleached cotton tying tape the width of the inlay plus 1. 5 cm. Attach the reinforcement to the inlay at the head of the cover across the hinges and slightly up onto the cover boards.
  • Trim the new cloth spine lining even with the original turn-ins at the head and tail.
  • Apply adhesive to the turn-ins and reattach over the inlay.

Casing in the Textblock and Pressing[edit | edit source]

  • Shape the spine by rubbing it lengthwise against a dowel rod or pole until it assumes the proper curved shape.
  • Position the text block on the open cover. Check again to ensure the cover and the textblock are lying in the same direction.
  • Attach the flap of the super to the endsheet with adhesive, brushing up and down from the center. Continue brushing in a fan pattern until the entire front endsheet (including the super) is evenly covered with a thin layer of adhesive.
  • Carefully close the cover and bone in the hinge. Be sure the spine of the textblock is secured snuggly against the spine of the cover.
  • Repeat steps for the back endsheet.
  • Place wax paper between the folds of the endsheets and press the book between metal-edged boards in the book press.

New 1/4 Cloth Case[edit | edit source]


The following procedure has been taken from the University of Virginia Library manual (Gilligan and Ferris 2014).

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[edit | edit source]


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[edit | edit source]

Supplies needed:

  • 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[edit | edit source]

Supplies needed:

  • 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[edit | edit source]

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

Supplies needed:

  • 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.  

Spine Lap Repair[edit | edit source]

Case Flush Bottom[edit | edit source]

Case Flush Bottom (CFB) is an excellent option for books with heavy textblocks that fall out of their cased-in cover. This technique is particularly useful for folio-size, fine art books or very thick reference books. The technique can be applied to either a new case or retain case treatment. In the instance of a retain case, the original case is put back on the textblock with the bottom of the case flush with the bottom of the textblock. The square at the top of the case is now much larger and remnants of the original paste downs may be visible, but aesthetic considerations are not as important as the book’s ability to withstand use. For a new case treatment, a case with squares at the top and fore edge can be constructed, allowing for a more proportional look. CFB is also available as an option for commercial binding.

Reback[edit | edit source]

See also: Board Reattachment § Rebacking

Depending on damage to the case spine, a full reback may need to be performed. The replacement material may be new bookcloth (pre-colored or newly color-matched with acrylics) or paper. Original pieces of the spine may retained if text or decoration is present, depending on their condition.

Board Repairs[edit | edit source]

See also: Book Boards

One of the most common repairs on circulating volumes is repair and consolidation of damaged and exposed boards. The approach is very similar to that of non-circulating materials , though adhesives like PVA may be used if a more robust repair is needed.

Board Reattachment[edit | edit source]

See also: Board Reattachment

References[edit | edit source]

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.

Morrow, Carolyn Clark and Carole Dyal. 1986. Conservation Treatment Procedures, A Manual of Step-by-step Procedures for the Maintenance and Repair of Library Materials 2nd ed. Little, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited.

History of This Page[edit | edit source]

The page, as originally developed for the Book Conservation Catalog, was titled "Case Binding Repair for Circulating Collection Items". An October 2019 Call For Content resulted in improvements to this page and the creation of the new page, BPG Circulating Collections that focuses on the larger topic of preserving circulating collections.

As the wiki structure developed, this page was at different times named Case Binding Repair for Circulating Collection Items, Case Binding Repair for Circulating Collections, Case Binding Conservation, and Circulating Collections Repair.

Book and Paper Group Wiki
Wiki Editor Resources

Contributors' Toolbox · Reference and Bibliography Protocols · Accessing Conservation Literature (AIC) · Help Wanted · Template for New Page

Materials and Tips

Annual Meeting Tips Sessions · Materials, Equipment, and Tools · Adhesives · Adhesive Recipes and Tips · Leather Research · Conservation Supply Sources (AIC) · Gels, Thickeners, and Viscosity Modifiers (ECPN)

Examination, Documentation, and Analysis

Glossary of Terms · Visual Examination · Written Documentation · Documentation of Books · Watermarks · Fiber Identification · Spot Tests · Analytical Techniques (PSG) · Non-destructive Testing and Instrumental Analysis (PMG) · Oddy Tests (R&A) · Microchemical Testing (R&A)


Selection for Preservation · Exhibition, Supports, and Transport · Choosing Materials for Storage, Exhibition & Transport (AIC) · Imaging and Digitization · Housings · Matting and Framing · Encapsulation · Collection Care (AIC) · Integrated Pest Management (AIC) · Environmental Guidelines (AIC) · Environmental Monitoring (AIC) · Agents of Deterioration (AIC) · Light (AIC) · Pollutants (AIC)

Disaster Recovery

Emergency Preparedness & Response (AIC) · Stabilizing Wet Paper (AIC) · Stabilizing Wet Books (AIC) · Stabilizing Wet Skin and Leather (AIC) · Mold

Conservation History and Ethics

AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice · Culturally Sensitive Treatment · Conservation Ethics (AIC) · Sustainable Practices (AIC) · History of Conservation and Conservators (AIC) · History of the BPG Wiki

Book Conservation Topics
Structural Elements of the Book

Endpapers · Endbands · Sewing and Leaf Attachment · Book Boards · Board Attachment · Book Decoration · Fastenings and Furniture

Covering Materials

Animal Skin and Leather · Cloth Bookbinding · Paper Bookbinding · Parchment Bookbinding

Treatment Techniques

Washing of Books · Alkalinization of Books · Leaf Attachment and Sewing Repair · Board Reattachment · Use of Leather in Book Conservation

Bookbinding Traditions

Bookbinding Traditions by Region or Culture · East Asian Book Formats · Ethiopian Bindings · Greek-Style Bindings · Western African Books and Manuscripts

Specialized Formats

Scrapbooks · Atlases, Foldouts, and Guarded Structures· Artists' Books

Circulating Collections

Circulating Collections · Case Binding