This Dude Made a Cool Plough

Check out the video for a really cool way of making a bookbinding plough. Awesome. Blows my mind! The guy’s blog is here. See a close up of the blade here.

Advertisements

Pamphlet Stitching For People Who Want To Try It

OMG My 2nd Tutorial

OK so this is my second tutorial, and it comes straight after my last post which was also a tutorial. Freaky. I like sharing my knowledge, so expect to see more. And, please comment and help me improve in any way—if it needs it. I love getting comments anyway so comment away!

Pamphlet Stitching is Easy

As you may know, this stitch is intended for thin, single-section pamphlets, and can be used in a few simple binding structures. I have used it in the past for other things as well, like birthday cards for my wife and our wedding invitations, both of which consisted of a heavy (200gsm+) cover and a lighter sheet of paper as the single section. It is very easy to learn and adapt to your own needs.

All Pamphlet Stitched Up

Above is an illustration I created to enable the visual among us (like me) to see what to do instead of interpreting a confusing list of in-this-hole, out-that-hole instructions. I started to type out a list of instructions, but it started to get long-winded and probably not very easy to follow. However, if you want me to I’ll include them.

On thing I didn’t include in the diagram is the final knot. You should use a reef or square knot. My colleague gave me this little ditty to remember how to tie it: right over left and under, left over right and under. Right and left in this case refer to the right an left ends of the twine or thread. Make sure that you start the knot with the thread ends on either side of the long stitch so that the knot ends up holding onto it.

To do a 3-hole stitch, simply cut out the last loop to the left and right in the above diagram; to do more holes, just add more in-and-out loops. It is possible to sew an even number of holes—you’ll just end up with an uneven number of stitches either side of the knot. In either case, don’t try starting sewing at the last hole.

What You Need for a Very Simple Book or Card

You will need the following tools and materials:

  • Text paper—1 if you’re making a card, more if you are making a book.
  • Cover-weight card. For the cover. About 200–300gsm is good.
  • Thread, twine, or string—about 3 or 4 times the length of your spine.
  • Bookbinding needle (you don’t even have to use a needle, just make the holes bigger each time you pass thread through).
  • Bodkin or Awl, or something else spiky. The sharper the better.
  • Scissors or knife.

You do not have to have shiny new expensive bookbinding tools—use whatever you have that will get the job done. In the past, I have used bamboo skewers to pierce the holes for little pamphlets, and some plasticky type of string instead of linen thread or whatever. Also, you do not have to be too exact with your sewing-hole placement—random can be quite cool.

With the paper and cover stock, make sure that your grain is in the right direction. I mostly cut A4 in half parallel to the short edge to give me 2 A5 sheets, which I fold in half again to give me an A6 notebook. Because A4 office paper is usually long-grain, this means that I end up with short-grain A5 sheets which are perfect in the grain direction department.

Steps to Success

  1. Gather your tools and materials

  2. Fold your text pages and cover in half

  3. Pierce your holes (freehand it or measure-and-mark it)

  4. Sew the pages together using the instructions above

  5. Et Voila! You now have a little notebook, created in four (4) steps.

The End

I hope you liked this little tutorial. It actually turned out to be a two-in-one: how to do a pamphlet stitch, and one idea about using it.

I’m trying to keep the posts up, in an effort to keep my readers interested. More to come soon, including a proper look at what I gave a sneak peek of a little while ago. I am also planning a bookbinding phrasebook section of my website. Stay tuned.

Little Sacks of Weight

Heavyweights II

Weighing in at 750g…

I made these heavy little guys soon after I started bookbinding. My first bookbinding teacher Rosemarie inspired me to create them one lesson. They are great for holding things down (duh), especially when I am sewing sections together. I also use them when something has to dry under weight. I prefer them to a heavy block of metal or a brick because they are soft and supple, they feel nice, and because the make a cool sound when I toss them from hand to hand; they also double as stress balls. They will not dent your boards or whatever when you drop them either. They are dead easy to make; one just has to find a gun shop that will sell one some lead shot. I forget the size I got. Make sure when you do get some that you put them into a strong container—or several—because man it is heavy for its size.

Heavyweights I

How to Make a Heavy Leather Bag of Lead Shot

This is pretty easy so I won’t even explain each step, you’ll be able to figure it out.

  1. Get some lead shot and put about 750g into a separate container.
  2. Cut yourself a template from some breakfast-cereal-box card according to your desired size. Remember to allow for your seam.
  3. If you’re using leather and hand sewing, I recommend pre-punching holes. I marked the holes’ positions on the template so I’d get an evenly spaced blanket stitch.
  4. Cut two pieces of leather, old jeans, or some other heavy fabric according to your template.
  5. If you’re using leather, use your awl if you have one to pierce holes for sewing. Remember to protect your work surface.
  6. Start sewing around the outside of the paper weight with some strong thread. In the picture above, the red and the white stitching is linen bookbinding thread, while the blue is a couple of strands of embroidery floss.
  7. Once you have only about 2–3cm remaining, make a funnel from some heavyish paper (roll it into a cone, then cut a hole at the bottom, and cut the top down so it’s manageable), and pour your shot in. If it all won’t fit, or you need more, that’s cool, just play it by ear.
  8. Complete the sewing
  9. Et voila! You have a heavy bag of lead. Use it for peaceful purposes only.

If you want to make it more secure, you can either use a sewing machine, or make an inner bag out of some thin strong fabric—preferably sewn using a machine—and cover that in the leather or your covering material of choice. Also, I wrote this with blanket-stitching in mind. If you wanted to use another stitch you’ll have to mark and pierce holes according to whatever stitch you’re using.

My First Tutorial

That was just it. Please let me know if it needs editing or a bit of clarification. Just let me know.

PS: I wonder how many Higg’s Bosons a little ball of lead-shot has…

A Simpler Nipping Press

Keeping it Simple

I have been wanting to make one of these babies for a while. Probably what held me back was an overly complex first design, complete with dovetail joints and everything. Also the timber I planned to use was not too square or true—I was planning on planing it by hand to square it up. Instead, I am planning on using some timber I bought a while ago which is square: some lovely Blackbutt.

The Joints, or, Simple but Strong

I am going to join the 3 base pieces by edge-gluing them together, then clamping, after cutting out the tenons on my table saw. Then I will, after cutting the mortices by hand, drill a hole in the tenons, and after assembly, wedge wooden pins in said holes. This will keep the joints together, and allow for a bit of flexibility in that I will be able to knock the pins out and take the thing apart for flat-packing (thanks IKEA).

I originally wanted to use dovetails (as can be seen in the image above left) for the joints, for their strength and beauty. But I think that wedged mortice-and-tenons will work just as well, and will be much easier to make.

The Platen and Screw

The platen for my simple press will be simple: probably made from MDF with some Blackbutt strengtheners. I didn’t put it into the new SketchUp because I was lazy. I bought one of these shoulder vises from Carbatec, and I am going to use that for the press. I am thinking of repainting the cast bits in black.

A Simple Finishing Press and Plough

Side of the Press

…Finally!

I had wanted to make a finishing (lying) press for ages. In my dreams I was going to buy on of these wood thread tools, some dowels, and make some wooden screws. Because they are just so cool and I love the creaking sound you get when you turn them. That was a long time ago. I didn’t ever get around to it.

Then, the other weekend, I decided after a flash of inspiration to just make a very simple version with some long bolts with wing-nuts for ease of tightening. I never wanted to make one like this, because I wanted the beautiful wooden screws mentioned above. I also tend to have very grand ideas that I have to think about for ages and that are too hard for me to accomplish, thus they never get done!

To make the press, I cut two cheeks on the table saw out of 25mm MDF (while wearing an old pair of pyjama pants as a dust mask—MDF dust is bad to breathe in). Next I drilled holes through both cheeks, and finally made the holes on one cheek bigger for ease of movement over the threads. All I had to do was thread the bolts through the holes and tighten them until the square bit under the cup-head sank a bit into the MDF.

Plan View of Lying PressPloughing in Progress

Chisels into Ploughshares

Part of the reason that I made this was because I wanted to use one of my chisels as a sort of plough for finishing off the head, tail, and fore-edge of some books I was working on for Christmas gifts. After making the press as described above, I gave one of my chisels a sharpen and a strop on leather, then set about testing the setup. It worked very well, but with some possible areas of improvement. In thicker books, I found that standing with the press perpendicular to me and using a pulling motion on the chisel was much easier and safer than trying to push it through left-to-right or right-to-left.

The Result III (Fanned Edge)
The Result IIThe Result I

Improvements

After using the press and chisel–plough to finish the edges of some small books I was making for some christmas presents, there were some things I wanted to improve. I  got longer bolts so that I could make the press cheeks thicker, which I’ve done by adding on another bit of MDF to each side, doubling each cheek’s thickness. The 25mm by itself tends to bend under a lot of pressure, and also is not quite wide enough for the chisel to rest firmly and securely—on 50mm the chisel is much more stable, and doesn’t bend as much.

I also want to build a better plough, more like the traditional bookbinding plough. I have found that the results from the chisel are OK, but it tends to leave lines in the paper, where I might have moved the chisel slightly up or down between passes. I want to make a blade from some old hacksaw blades too—one that can be used pushing and pulling.